Monica Yant Kinney: Real desperation: 'Real Housewives' star Teresa Giudice's bankruptcy

"Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice with fans (from left) Ann Marie and Noelle Ciara, and Bobby Howard.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice with fans (from left) Ann Marie and Noelle Ciara, and Bobby Howard.
Posted: June 16, 2010

On a recent episode of Bravo's The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Teresa Giudice gave birth to her fourth daughter, who, in keeping with the family penchant for excess, exited the womb to wear designer togs. Sitting on my sectional, I gasped at the feathered leopard-print baby hat that matched the luxe loungewear and bedding the "real" housewife bought to make her hospital scenes more glam.

A month after the blessed event, Giudice and her husband, Joe, quietly filed in North Jersey for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

So far, show producers have ignored its stars' financial free fall. Instead, the cameras catch Joe and Teresa celebrating their 9-year-old prima donna Gia's birthday by giving her an ATV and throwing a posh party at the Sweet & Sassy kids' salon, complete with a hot-pink Hummer limo ride.

Teresa fretted about blowing so much cash on a birthday bash, but with a made-for-TV smile suggesting her kids are worth every misspent penny. Later, she drove the Maserati to take Gia to acting class, where the doting mother seethed over a suggestion she hire a dialect coach to de-Jersify the little diva's speech, and insisted for the 100th time, "I'm so not a stage parent."

Read it and weep

Most personal bankruptcy filings are boring, but in this case the broke bloke is burly mystery man-of-few-mumbles Joe; his "co-debtor" is Teresa, the "real" housewife known for her huge hair and creative put-downs. (She calls series villain Danielle a "prostitute whore.")

The 62-page document reveals that the couple have $2 million in assets and more than $8 million in liabilities - a heavy chunk of that being the mostly marble manse they built during Season One.

They also owe an untold amount for unpaid New York City parking tickets. They even stiffed Verizon on the phone bill.

I can't fathom fibbing on a bankruptcy filing, but the Giudices' "Breakdown of Current Expenditures" appears as aspirational as the entire reality TV genre.

On it, the couple claims to spend only $400 a month on clothing. Series fans have seen Teresa drop three times that amount in one drive-by at a baby boutique. Elsewhere in the documents, I tally more than $20,000 worth of credit-card debt the doting mother accrued at her own holy trinity: Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale's.

This is Fabulicious?

In researching all things Giudice, I discovered that Teresa trademarked the term Fabulicious in her quest to spread her singular style around the globe. On, the reality queen sells her line of $29.99 "Bling Bling Tank Tops" with Swarovski crystals spelling out her mantra, "Happy Wife, Happy Life."

Now, thanks to her love of consumption, Giudice needs a new catchphrase.

In Chapter 7, debtors agree to part with virtually everything they own to escape their self-made mess. While the Giudices may get to keep their home, it's hard to imagine them living as large in the future as they have on camera.

To prepare for the pare-down, Joe and Teresa had to estimate the current value of their benighted gains: $2,000 for their girls' sleep sets, $1,000 for go-carts, $600 for the dogs, $500 for the mattress upon which the lustbirds do their oft-mentioned daily marital dance.

I called the court-appointed trustee and appraiser to ask whether a debtor's notoriety could add value for auction purposes, but didn't hear back. Maybe they're busy catching up on previous episodes to take inventory of the bottom line of broadcasting a life lived beyond your means.

The saddest figure in the dismal document is an odd figure found on Page 31: $3,333.33.

That's what Teresa receives each month from Bravo to air her good times and bad breaks. Knowing the real cost of letting each camera in, I would have hoped she'd get more.

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