'RHONJ's Rachel Fuda Calls Out 'Mean Girl' Antics in Jennifer Aydin and Margaret Josephs Drama (Exclusive)
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Rachel Fuda is learning the rules of playing the game that is The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Last week's episode ended with Jennifer Aydin and Teresa Giudice offering a warning to Rachel and her fellow newbie, Danielle Cabral: beware of Margaret Josephs. Both women feuded majorly with Margaret in season 12, after Marge asked questions about Teresa's new man, Louie Ruelas, and exposed Jennifer's husband's years-old affair.
"I understand where they're coming from -- and they're validated in their feelings -- but it just felt a little mean girl," Rachel says of the conversation. "It felt like a little aggressive in that moment ... it just didn't feel appropriate at that point. I wasn't at that point in my friendship with Teresa or Jennifer yet, and I don't think it was for my benefit. I think it was for theirs."
While Jennifer and Teresa were clear they wanted Rachel and Danielle to make their own judgments on Margaret, she couldn't help but feel as if she was being played as a pawn in a game of Housewives chess.
"I think it was more about them trying to bring us in that direction, trying to magnetize us there, instead of [Margaret] having another person on her 'team' -- and I hate that word," she says. "I personally feel that Jennifer has ulterior motives in a lot of the things that she does."
The "keep your friends close, enemies closer" advice about Margaret followed a phone call from Jennifer that left Rachel on-guard; Jennifer called up her new castmate to apologize for making rude comments about her nose job, and after Rachel accepted her apology, started rattling off her thoughts and feelings about co-star Dolores Catania, with whom she found herself locked in a feud, carried over from the season prior. Rachel shut down the conversation, though, seeing as she's known Dolores a lot longer than she's known Jennifer.
"It felt like we were talking smack," Rachel recalls. "I know that things get very mangled in the mess with this group of women. So, I really wanted to be like, 'No, I don't want to talk about this at all...' It just it felt a little similar to the Margaret situation, like it felt like it was reflecting back almost kind of the same thing."
"I definitely think it was one of those things [of], 'Let me give her the history so she could see what's going on here, and then I can have her see from my perspective, so that we're on the same bench,'" she adds.
Rachel called out Jennifer's behavior at a "Love Bubble" housewarming party thrown by Teresa and her now-husband, Louie, which resulted in a bit of screaming match between the two. Rachel ultimately opted to walk away from the battle, even though her husband, John Fuda, encouraged her to stick around and "check" Jennifer.
"I think I'm a little more classier-- actually, I know I’m a little bit more classier, a lot more classier, than Jennifer Aydin," Rachel says of her decision to disengage. "So, I'm not going to stoop to her level and fight the way she fights. I have class. I have a lot more sophistication than she does. I have a better heart than she does."
It may have been in that moment that Rachel cemented herself as a Housewife. Prior to Bravo confirming the lineup for season 13, fans speculated she was a "friend of" the cast. Her full-time slot even seemed to be a surprise to Teresa, who appeared confused on a December episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, after Andy told her he was loving the new Housewives, plural.
"I was actually surprised to hear that she said that," Rachel remarks. "I'm like, wait, is she shading me, or is she just stupid? I'm not quite sure, which one is it?"
Rachel came to the show by way of Teresa's sister-in-law/now-sworn enemy, Melissa Gorga. The two women's sons are friends, and their off-camera history immediately had the fandom labeling Rachel as "Team Melissa." Danielle found herself dubbed a "Tre Soldier," a nod to Teresa's nickname.
"It's so juvenile and annoying because, first of all, Danielle nor I should be grouped as anything," Rachel fires back. "We're an ensemble cast. We all bring something different to the show, and Melissa doesn't need me to defend her. She can defend herself. She can fight her own battles. I don't need to fight for her, and same thing with Teresa. Like, she doesn't need Danielle."
"They've both done it for how many seasons without the two of us?" she asks. "So, it doesn't to me-- I mean, I understand why it's happening, and I get why the fans feel that way. We haven't been photographed in pictures and all these kinds of things, but it just isn't necessary, and I feel like a lot of that stuff that takes place on social media kind of trickles into our cast and makes it worse, where it could be more cohesive and fluid if that wasn't the case."
Social media got Rachel into a little trouble of her own, after one sleuth uncovered an Instagram page linked to her with the handle BravoLover1234. The reveal had some viewers immediately questioning if a "fan" had invaded the cast, resulting in questions about Rachel's authenticity.
"It's so embarrassing," she confesses. "First of all, nothing wrong with being a fan of the show. I mean, we are all watching the show. We're all fans to some capacity, that's No. 1. So, let's say that. No. 2, this was my old Instagram page before I got married."
Rachel says the handle wasn't always BravoLover1234; that's actually what she changed it to while filming this season, in a bid to actually go undetected.
"As the season progressed, we weren't all getting along," she explains. "I'm like, 'I need a finsta to watch these girls' stories.' So, I log onto my old account, and I change the name. Like, deleted everything. I had no followers. There was nothing on there. I guess I forgot to go through [and un-tag] pictures. ... I'm still tagged because I just changed the name; so I was using it as a finsta to creep on my castmates, and I got caught like an idiot. OK? That is it. It's really not that juicy. I swear to god, I will always own it -- even if I’m wrong, I will say it. I am an idiot."
She may have used that handle to spy on Teresa and Louie's wedding festivities last August. Rachel wound up skipping the event, and spent the night with Melissa, who also avoided her sister-in-law's "I dos," after a fiery finale fight.
"A lot takes place during the entire season that really leads up to my husband and I making that decision together," she offers. "You'll have to see what happens to how we come to that decision, but it was for our best interest, and that's what we felt was the right thing to do, and we'll always stand by that."
At this point, the cast appears divided into two camps: Melissa, Margaret, Rachel, Jenn Fessler and Jackie Goldschneider on one side, Teresa, Jennifer and Danielle on the other, with Dolores floating between the two. It's a bit of a surprise, seeing as when two women join the show at the same time, they often form the closest bond.
"In the beginning of the season, I think we clicked pretty well," Rachel says of Danielle. "We have a decent amount in common. We have little girls. We're very girly girls. We're very glitzy and glammy, and pink and makeup, and all that stuff. I just found it hard to connect with her on a deeper level than that. And that for me, I like depth in my relationships. I like to get to know the people that I’m surrounded by, and I I don't feel like we got there."
"I'm not saying we never could," she notes. "I would love to get to know her more, but in the beginning, it was just very played it very safe."
She also doesn't endorse how Danielle's handled herself with Jackie. There was some awkward tension among the three, seeing as both Rachela and Danielle could be called Jackie's "replacement" on the full-time lineup. Danielle leaned into the fight (sparked by Jackie making a snide comment about Danielle's wardrobe), while Rachel tried to stay out of it.
"It also felt very mean girl of Danielle and I to fight with her," she says. "Are [Jackie's] actions justified? Absolutely not. I'm not co-signing what she said, or how she felt or any of that. I'm just saying, I would have probably handled it differently. But I understand where she's coming from. You know, she is in a different role. Danielle and I are new. Jenn Fessler's here, he's new. There's more women, things are changing it's. It could be intimidating."
There's more Danielle vs. Jackie set to play out as season 13 airs. Beyond the group drama, Rachel's excited for the fans to see more of her home life with John, and their three kids: son Jaiden and daughters Gianella (aka "GiGi") and Giuliana.
"I'm excited for people to see the type of mother that I am, and how I navigated all of that, the adoption of my son and what that process looks like," she teases.
Soon after that all plays out, the reunion will air; the overwhelming response from the cast so far about this season has been that "a lot hinges on reunion," seeing as Teresa and Melissa, the show's longest-running stars, seemingly can't stand to film with one another anymore.
"Maybe we can all agree on one thing here, that the reunion will be an epiphany of some sort," Rachel says. "Please, Jesus! I don't really know. I really don't know. I feel like there is a ton of resolution that has to be made, just across the board."
"The cuts are so deep with a lot of these these relationships that I hope there can be some type of progression moving forward," she continues. "It's tough to see, it's the family dynamics, even Margaret and Jennifer, how low they blow each other! It really, it's just downright mean. Like, it's just horrible to watch. So I don't know where it goes from here. Hopefully, it goes in a positive direction, because I don't know how much more negative we can get at this point."
"We'll wait and see what happens, but pray for us," she adds. "We're going to need it."
The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
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