Melissa Ann Marco is an American reality TV star, singer, businesswoman, and fashion designer. She was born in Toms River, New Jersey, USA, and graduated from Jersey City University with a Bachelor of Artin elementary education on 31 January 2004. On 20 August that year, and after about two years of dating, Melissa married Giuseppe “Joe” Gorga, taking his last name,  They have three children, daughter Antonia and sons Gino and Joey.

Because the family settled in Montville, New Jersey, people were unsurprised when they joined the Bravo TV-produced reality TV show, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” – “RHONJ”  -during its third season.

Joe’s older sister, Teresa Giudice, was a cast member from the beginning, with her husband, also named Giuseppe and known as Joe, and their four daughters. While the viewers enjoyed seeing the love mature between Melissa and Joe, and their children grow up on-screen, the show thrived on drama, and one of the primary sources was close to home. After over a decade of constant fighting and disagreements, Melissa’s sister-in-law indirectly accused her of cheating on her husband with an actor, in the 13th season of the show. Here’s what happened and what led to this unproven attack.

Near-constant fighting preceded recent rumors

Teresa has had a long history of starting rumors, and using other cast members and her family members to send a message or defend her. Although she mostly had a beef with her younger brother, she insinuated that she didn’t get along with Melissa in season two, before her sister-in-law debuted. That was proven almost immediately, when during the christening of their son Joey, Joe told Teresa to ‘take a walk, you garbage person.’ He then got into a physical altercation with Joe Giudice, and eventually kicked them both out.

At the start of the fourth season, Teresa badmouthed Melissa’s past dating life, saying that she dated Joe’s best friend, then claiming that Melissa began dating her brother for money, but she eventually changed her opinion. Teresa was no angel; she returned from prison in December 2015 after an 11-month sentence. Several months later, her husband started serving a 41-month sentence, and was deported to Italy in 2019, a year before he divorced Teresa.

However, Teresa’s seemingly most severe accusation came in April 2023, when she accused Melissa of cheating on her husband of 19 years in a roundabout way. That statement came several months after Melissa and Joe missed her wedding because of those rumors. Although unfortunate for the families involved and unsubstantiated with evidence, they made for good TV during season 13.

Melissa helped lift the show

When Melissa debuted in the show, and other media companies praised her in many ways. They introduced her as a stay-at-home mom with a promising singing career, and Bravo TV showed scenes of Joe building a recording studio in their home’s basement; he even bought her a piano, and hired a songwriter. Melissa was preparing to release her single, “On Display,” and stated that she wanted to be an R&B, pop, and dance artist while she raised her three children, Antonia, who was five, Gino, who was three; and Joey, who was around a year old.

Bravo TV also revealed that the season three premiere boosted the show’s viewership by nine percent, and that the first sit-down interview with newcomers Melissa and Kathy Wakile, Teresa’s cousin, attracted 3.4 million viewers. Melissa was also lauded as an aspiring teacher, who was employed a tanning consultant at Tropical Tanning in Bayonne, New Jersey, while working on her career and being a mother.

Melissa gradually gave up singing professionally

Most fans know about Melissa’s singing career, particularly her performances of songs such as “When I Grow Up,” “Never Let Me Go,” “Rockstar,” and “I Just Wanna.” She was often criticized for her poor renditions, without autotune and lip-synching. However, her critics forgave one performance of “Amazing Grace.” in season three, episode five. She fumbled the lyrics and sang ‘a wench like me’ instead of ‘a wretch like me,’ but the mistake drew in many laughs from everyone. That may be what she wanted; it made more people aware of her, and spawned a host of online articles.

Singer Justin Timberlake’s manager, Johnny Wright, heard her music and eventually shattered her dreams during the same season. He considered supporting her career, but she was too nervous to perform before him, but blamed headphones and the microphone. Because he was dissatisfied, he invited her to Orlando, Florida, to calmly go through her music in another studio, and discuss her career prospects. Unfortunately, Melissa admitted that she ‘sounded like a dead dog’ after she heard the playback. That shook her confidence and may have dissuaded her from becoming a professional singer.

She also said that she’d always be a mother and wife first, and wouldn’t readily sacrifice her time and energy. Thankfully, Melissa is still friends with Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Lopez, who could help her launch her career later on. Moreover, she still performs in the show, and even recorded a country song during a Nashville trip in season 12, alongside fellow cast members.

She’s an author

Melissa released the book “Love Italian Style: The Secrets of My Hot and Happy Marriage,” on 30 September 2014, around the start of season six. It presented ways to keep a man happy, loyal, sexually satisfied, and devoted to the woman and his family. It was written from her and Joe’s perspective, and included insight into their 10-year-long marriage. While it received much praise, as it demonstrated traditional ways of maintaining a relationship and had extras such as Italian cooking, tips for raising children, fashion advice, and flirting techniques, it also sparked some controversy.

One section was particularly criticized as it could be misconstrued as marital sexual abuse. Melissa and Joe wrote that women might sometimes like to ‘feel taken by their man,’ which involved actions such as hair pulling and rough play. However, Melissa defended her opinion, saying that everything she mentioned should be consensual and result from an agreement between partners. About four years later, as season nine was about to air, she commented, ‘I don’t believe in those ideas like I used to. I wrote a whole book about it, and I don’t know if I agree with everything that I wrote any longer.’

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Melissa runs a boutique and a podcast

During her time in the show, Melissa opened a boutique in New Jersey named Envy. Its popularity allowed her to expand it to include an online store, Envy by Melissa Gorga, with delivery to Canada, the UK, Australia and Israel.

Another business that Melissa runs online is her podcast, On Display with Melissa Gorga, a nod to her first single, on streaming platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify. She uploaded the trailer episode on 23 November 2021, and has settled on uploading interview-style episodes without a strict schedule every three to seven days. Besides her husband, Melissa has invited friends and reality TV celebrities. Her podcast is an additional source of information for her audience – which she calls “Melisteners” – about her life, her thoughts and feelings on episodes, and business advice.

She recently sent her daughter to college

Another exciting moment in the show was in February 2023,Antonia preparing to matriculate from high school and head off to college. Melissa, who has a university degree, was very supportive. Joe, who avoided the topic of higher education, likely because he didn’t attend or was allegedly working as a stripper at that age, was concerned. Joe said Antonia would waste time drinking, partying, and hanging out with boys. Although his comments resulted from a degree of panic, Joe may be speaking from personal experience, as he was a basketball star in high school, and that reputation likely followed him afterwards.

Nonetheless, Melissa thought that her daughter needed this. Antonia had been very sheltered, never washed her clothes, bought detergent, but bossed around people outside her family. It didn’t help that Melissa and Joe bought her a Porsche for her 17th birthday, which they struggled to take away when she refused to drive her younger brother snowboarding when they couldn’t. With that said, Antonia was recently accepted into the University of Delaware, which she plans to attend. Moreover, she received acceptance letters from Penn State University, and the University of Rhode Island.

A few months later, Antonia’s cousin and Teresa’s daughter, Gia, graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Her other cousin, Gabriella, three years Gia’s junior, got into the University of Michigan. That was a relief for Melissa, as her daughter had cousins close to her age who were experiencing the same excitement, or had gone through it. Additionally, in September of the previous year, her brother Gino started his senior year, while the youngest, Joey, had his first day as a high school junior. Melissa was ecstatic, which was evident in the show.

The tension between Melissa and Teresa is high

Teresa and Melissa have much in common in terms of parenting methods and ideas about marriage. They also try to allow their children to hang out. However, despite Teresa not starting the cheating rumors early this year, she added fuel to the fire and involved her daughters. They started giving Melissa the cold shoulder in March 2023, in a season 13 episode during Teresa’s backyard party, even though facts didn’t back up the rumors. Melissa was hurt and even cried in the bathroom. Joe refused to attend the party because he and his wife also missed his sister’s wedding to Luis “Louie” Ruelas on 6 August 2022, two years after she divorced Joe Giudice, presumably because she didn’t invite Melissa’s family.

A significant portion of the audience was unaware that they missed the wedding, since that episode aired on 23 May 2023. However, Melissa vaguely discussed the event on her podcast. There were some allegations that Louie and Teresa wanted the two to pay for their spot, but Louie said that they ‘weren’t petty and that the Gorga family was missed.’

There were far too many clashes between the two families to count. Still, several significant ones somewhat explain why Teresa didn’t side with Melissa during the cheating rumors, and even tried to bring them to light. Fans surely remember that Joe got up and left at the season 12 reunion because Teresa kept putting him down and throwing shade when Andy Cohen, the host of the special episode, asked her questions. Melissa was tempted to storm off the set, too – that’s when things really started spiraling out of control.

They feuded from the get-go

Melissa and Teresa continued to butt heads after the dramatic event during Joey’s christening. For instance, in the season four finale, viewers discovered that Teresa started the rumors with her friend, Kim DePaola, to make it seem that Melissa worked as a stripper, presumably in her twenties. Joe flipped out and promised never to talk to his sister again.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep his promise, despite the two families going to therapy in season five, which ended in a brawl between the two Joes. Similar arguments broke out during season six, which premiered in July 2014, and things got worse when Teresa’s husband, Joe, went to prison and was deported to Italy in October 2019, leaving her without physical protection.

However, the bad blood between Gorgas and Teresa truly reached a breaking point shortly before Teresa’s wedding. It started when Teresa told the cameras that she wouldn’t ask Melissa to be one of the bridesmaids, however, she didn’t get the reaction that she wanted; Melissa was understanding, saying that she was okay with it. The rumors about Melissa’s cheating and subtle digs that Teresa directed at the Gorgas pushed the couple over the edge.

Teresa was scheming in late 2022

Joe and Melissa initially planned to be at the marriage ceremony, but the May 2023 episode showed that they didn’t attend. The night before the wedding, Joe posted a vague Instagram image and captioned it with, ‘Blood doesn’t make you family,’ suggesting that he was done with Teresa, but quickly deleted it. However, no one took it seriously until an unknown source told US Magazine that Melissa and Joe learned that Teressa invited Danielle Cabral, a mom from Staten Island introduced in season 13, to the wedding, with a hidden agenda.

Teresa allegedly heard the rumors that Melissa cheated on Joe with American actor Nick Barrotta while she was on a press tour about a year before the wedding, roughly in August 2021. However, she didn’t want to tell his brother outright, so she wanted to use Danielle as a pawn in her game and motivate her to confront Melissa at her wedding. When Joe and Melissa heard about it, they skipped the celebration and tried to cut all contact.

Danielle eventually succeeded in being the bearer of bad news, when she talked to Melissa at the Irish Party that another cast member, Dolores Catania, threw. She told Melissa that the rumors had been circulating and explained that she had heard the news from Jennifer Aydin, who joined “RHONJ” in season nine. Jennifer then said that she wasn’t the witness, but had heard it from a woman named Laura Jensen, a close friend of Margaret Josephs, another cast member. Laura allegedly said that she spotted Melissa kissing Nick in the backseat of a car. However, Margaret has a bad reputation in the show, with such information, and shouldn’t be trusted easily. She accused Evan, Jackie Goldschneider’s husband, of cheating in season 11. Then in season 12, she said that Jennifer’s husband, Dr. Bill Aydin, had an affair years ago.

Cheating rumors were the last straw

After the allegations became public, Melissa said that the cheating rumors were baseless, called Teresa a loser, and assured her that Joe wouldn’t pack his bags and leave based on mere speculations. Joe said at BravoCon 2022 that he didn’t regret not attending the wedding, having realized that he would be ‘kicking himself in the ass daily’ if he did.

It was then revealed that Teresa told Joe about Melissa cheating with multiple men about six months before her wedding. However, Melissa and Joe let that go because Joe didn’t believe his sister’s words, and they didn’t want to ruin her wedding preparations. However, he got angry when his niece, Gia, explained that ‘they told him about the rumors because the family thought that he could do better than Melissa’, and previously warned him that she would leave him for a wealthier man.

Joe publicly dismissed the cheating accusations, calling it one of many that they have to ‘swat like flies,’ and revealed that it hardly tested their marriage. Louie defended Teresa, saying that he called his brother-in-law to warn him about cheating, and not Teresa or Gia. He revealed that he’d hired a private investigator, Bo Dietl, who was also among his best friends, and that he dug up the dirt. Louie clarified that he was concerned, and felt that Joe didn’t deserve to have something this significant blow up in his face on-screen.

Reconciliation is nearly impossible

After all the rumors and drama, Melissa vowed to remove all toxic influences from her life, presumably starting with Teresa. A source added that Melissa felt that her sister-in-law unforgivably betrayed them, and that she only wanted to maintain friendly relations with her nieces but that she saw that they hated her, too. As season 13 went on, Melissa stated that she couldn’t go to the wedding of someone who was constantly trying to destroy hers. Joe called his sister ‘scum,’ and both called out Melissa’s former best friend, Jan DeDolce, for further spreading the rumors.

Joe said that he didn’t know if anything could fix the relationship with his sister after the season 13 reunion. He added that Louie and Teresa allegedly scammed him out of $200,000 to $250,000 after the wedding, stating that he came up with the idea for a pizza oven that he would sell with his sister and call Nonno’s Pizza in honor of their father, Giacinto Gorga, who passed away on 3 April 2020. However, Louie allegedly took the money before changing the business concept. Teresa credited her brother with the idea, but said that Louie put the money in and that Joe’s funds didn’t merit a 50/50 ownership split. Finally, at the season 13 reunion, Teresa accused the two of tipping off authorities before they arrested her and her then-husband for tax fraud in July 2013. Therefore, their conflict will likely have a negative resolution, that is – not at all.

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