The Newest ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ Dish: We Don’t Have ‘Evil Energy’

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

Our long national nightmare is finally over. For the first time since the Obama administration—and lasting for more than a month—we did not have a Real Housewives series airing on Bravo.

We Bravo fans did our best to survive. Checked in on each other. Gave hugs. Offered nod and knowing glances that said, “It’s going to be alright.” It’s been rough, but we’ve weathered this time together, knowing that the sunshine was coming after the storm: Finally, the new season of Real Housewives of New Jersey premiered Sunday night. We’re survivors.

Of course, this is RHONJ—stormy weather is always in the forecast. And, if Sunday night’s premiere was any indication, we all would be wise to batten down the hatches for this new season.

Sure, this is Year 473 of sisters-in-law Teresa Giudice and Melissa Gorga navigating difficult and uncomfortable family drama. But the clouds parting now after the rain is that their endless familial drama is not the centerpoint of these new episodes. Having a huge part in evolving the show past that endlessly repeating narrative cycle are cast members Danielle Cabral and Rachel Fuda. The duo joined the series last season, adding a much needed jolt of energy, new dynamics, neon-colored outfits, and lots of glitter—not to mention new, delightful Jersey dialects for viewers to decipher.

In a Zoom interview before this week’s premiere, Cabral arrived on camera beaming brightly in a lime ensemble, looking like the Garden State’s most glamorous highlighter. Told that the video component of the interview wouldn’t be recorded, she jokingly pouted. “I got dressed up for you, and you’re not recording the video?!”

She and Fuda are keenly aware of fan anticipation for the show’s return—and the amount of scrutiny the new episodes would be under.

The trailer, to me, doesn’t even touch on what the season is going to be,” Cabral said. “I think the trailer focuses on a lot of the Teresa and Melissa thing, because that’s where we left off last year. But just wait. It’s way more than that.”

“It’s so much more,” Fuda added. “You really get a backstory on things and you truly see the full picture of what’s going on. The season is even more explosive than the actual moments in the trailer.”

“That trailer was rated PG, wouldn’t you say, Rachel?” Cabral said. Does this mean we’re going to get an R-rated season? “Oh, yeah,” Fuda said. “XXX, baby.”

“Well, that’s psychotic,” Cabral said, laughing. “Now they’re gonna think we’re doing crazy shit.”

At 38 and 33 years old, respectively, Cabral and Fuda are ushering a more youthful spirit to the group, along with their new shades of “crazy shit.” They’re both mothers of young children, and have been candid about their own family issues. In between sparring with the other ladies in the cast, Fuda was open on camera about her journey to officially adopt her teenage stepson, while Cabral tearfully discussed her estrangement from her brother—an emotional wound triggered by Giudice and Gorga’s riff.

In one of the more spirited conversations with Real Housewives we’ve had—and one that revealed that Cabral and Fuda are clearly and refreshingly on good terms, after starting things off last year on the wrong feet—the pair traded war stories from their first season, discussed whether they’d jump on the plastic surgery train, and previewed that this season will have so much more to offer than just the usual sister-in-law scuffles.

Jennifer Aydin, Danielle Cabral, Teresa Giudice, Rachel Fuda in Episode 4 of Season 13 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Jennifer Aydin, Danielle Cabral, Teresa Giudice, and Rachel Fuda

Photo by: Eugene Gologursky/Bravo via Getty Images

It’s exciting to talk to you both right at the beginning of Season 2. How did Season 1 live up to what you thought it was going to be like? Or maybe how it didn’t live up…

Cabral: That’s a good question. For me, I learned more in the second season than I did in the first. I learned how things worked in the first season. The second year was 30 times worse. I’ve experienced things worse this year than I did the first year. So now in the third year, if it happens, I’m gonna be like, “Bring it on!” There’s nothing that can shock me.

Fuda: I think your first year is about finding your footing and figuring out how it all works. Danielle, you would probably agree with this: It’s a lot of personal management—figuring out things like your family and your kids and the filming schedule is a lot. And then you’re trying to navigate this new group of women and figure out who’s friends with each other. “This one’s talking about that one.” And then, in the sophomore season, it’s like, “OK, we know who we like. We know who we don’t like. We know what to expect from certain people.” The rose-colored lenses are off, and we’re looking at things very clearly.

The last we saw of you was at the explosive finale party, with all the various screaming matches. What was it like to return to filming after that?

Cabral: The last time everybody saw us was actually calling each other out at the reunion. That was more intense for us. That was more intense than the finale.

Fuda: Right. We left off with Louis [Giudice’s husband] hiring a private investigator and all of that. So I would even say that thank God we had the reunion, because it let us get [all the anger] out. We didn’t press restart, really, in any capacity. We kind of just moved some chips around and then started going.

Cabral: We made up on that set. We actually went at it, but then we made up and agreed to move forward in a positive way.

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Because you were both newbies last year, did you have any expectations about what your friendship would be like?

Cabral: Yeah, what were your expectations, Rachel?

Fuda: Going into it, I really thought we would be friends and we would get along. I was following Danielle on social media, and I was seeing a lot of her stuff —photos of her kids and the big bows in Valentina’s [Danielle’s daughter] hair. That was me. That was my vibe. So when we started shooting, it was unfortunate that we hit what I call a speed bump. Because it wasn’t like a stop sign, you know? And I’m so happy to have reconciled and to be where we are now.

I think that Danielle and I have very similar spirits. We’re kind people. We have kind hearts. We don't have that evil energy in us. I appreciate having someone like Danielle as my friend in this group of women, because not all of us have that kind of heart.

Cabral: I second that. Moving forward in this space that we’re in now with this group, I very much appreciate our friendship

It must be nice to be a united front, or have someone have your back when you’re going toe-to-toe with the other women.

Cabral: I don’t think any of us need that to argue. What’s nice is the conversations privately, where it’s like, “I know. I get it now. I see.” Those are the times that I appreciate [the friendship]. Because when push comes to shove, you’re in that arena alone, going against some of these women. We don’t gang up. I don’t think this is a show [where cast members] gang up. It’s one-on-one usually.

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What was the highlight—or maybe lowlight—of your first season?

Fuda: Getting to go to Ireland. That was a highlight for me, because I don’t think that’s something that I ever would have done had we not been on this show.

Cabral: Lowlight for me was realizing not everybody likes me.

Fuda: That’s a hard realization. A lot of people don’t like me. I don’t care.

Cabral: She doesn't care. She’s the best. Me? I’ll die a million deaths. She’s like, “I don't care.” I want to be like Rachel.

Fuda: Sorry to, like, Sue in Idaho [on social media].

Does that go for the other women in the cast too, or just the fans?

Cabral: Oh, definitely the other women in the cast. Bravo has very intense fans. The people that want to come out of the woodwork and say bad things don’t bother me. It’s the people that I love in my life and I feel like I have a connection with—when they say horrible things, that affects me. That's hard.

One of the fun things for Housewives fans is to judge how cast members change their look from Season 1 to Season 2. An upgrade in fashion. A nip and tuck. Was there anything that surprised you about how you felt about yourself after you watched in Season 1 that you wanted to change for Season 2?

Cabral: We look the same, right?

Fuda: I mean, you had a little nip and tuck, didn’t you?

Cabral: Yeah. I mean my waist looks good now, but my face is the same. Y

Fuda: I mean, I’m not touching my nose. I’m only 33. I think people forget that because the age range on our show is very vast.

Cabral: You got nice [new] teeth though.

Fuda: I did get teeth. But I had those at the reunion.

Cabral: Jenn Fessler, she wins that award [for most changed appearance].

Fuda: She takes the cake. I mean, she looks fantastic.

Cabral: When I was filming the first season, I remember I would go back and watch earlier episodes. I remember texting Jen and Theresa pictures of, like, Margaret, and I’m like, “Who is this?” They're like, “It’s Margaret.” I’m like, “What!?” Like, hell yeah. What am I gonna look like in my third season? They all look so different now!

ennifer Aydin, Danielle Cabral, Teresa Giudice, Rachel Fuda in Episode 4 of Season 13 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Jennifer Fessler, Rachel Fuda, Dolores Catania, Teresa Giudice, Jackie Goldschneider, Melissa Gorga, and Danielle Cabral

Patrick Redmond/Bravo via Getty Images

So much of the last few seasons have been dominated by the drama between Teresa and Melissa. Could you talk a little bit about how the tension between plays out this season and impacts the group?

Cabra: It’s a supporting character. It’s a supporting B or C storyline. You agree, Rachel?

Fuda: I think it all moved along very naturally. It all kind of just just fell into place the way that it was supposed to. Melissa has a lot going on. Teresa certainly has a lot going on also. I think the viewers are going to feel very refreshed when they see the show. Even for us coming into the show, it was the same song and dance. It’s the definition of insanity, really: We’re doing the same thing, expecting a different result.

So I think it was refreshing for everyone on our show to not have to listen to it because we were all sick of it. I know Melissa was sick of doing it. When there’s that type of toxicity in your life, it’s better to just not have it in there anymore…These shows are based on a group of friends, right? A group of women that hang out together and go to lunch and go get coffee and go shopping, or [whose] kids have playdates. That’s really the core of what it is. And that core is pitted. Like, it’s gone, and it’s very apparent.

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