Minutes before Teresa Giudice took that now-infamous dining table in The Real Housewives of New Jersey The Season 1 Final, Caroline Manzo, objector to the matriarch and ham game, uttered a phrase that has stuck Bravoverse like a piece of meat thrown on a kitchen island: “Let me tell you something about my family. We are as thick as thieves and we protect ourselves until the end.”
That claim has proven largely true. In addition to her sister Dina Manzo, with whom she seems to train frequently, Caroline has stood her ground with her relatives, and there is no greater proof of that than Manzo’d with children, who focused only on her family.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey spin-off starred Caroline, her husband Al Manzo, their children Albie and Chris Manzo, and their daughter Lauren Manzo Scalia, in addition to Caroline’s sister Fran D’Annunzio and all her animals, Lauren’s husband, Vito Scalia, and Albie and Chris’s friend Greg Bennett.
For three seasons, the show shows all sorts of Manzo antics, including a trapeze, zip line lesson, and visiting Texas for research on Caroline’s BBQ sauce recipes. The show also celebrated the main moments in Manzo’s life, such as Lauren’s wedding, the launch of Chris’s children’s book and Albie’s discovering what makes him happy.
Behind the scenes, a lot was happening too. This is what you may not know about Manzo’d with children.
Caroline Manzo wasn’t sure about The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Caroline Manzo was one of the top five stars in the original season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but that almost wasn’t so. In a 2010 interview with MyWorkButterfly, Caroline said that “it was not part of the original equation”, but after some members of that original equation withdrew, the original cast member (and her sister-in-law) Jacqueline Laurita called her to inform her that a camera crew headed her way. “I thought, ‘No way, you’re crazy,'” Caroline recalled. One thing led to another, and she became a true housewife.
She continued: “I would like to think that they saw my children and thought they were as entertaining and beautiful as I think they are, and that’s why they chose me. I am much older than the other girls. I didn’t think I fit in with that group, but I guess Bravo thought differently.”
As fans know, Caroline had a history with three of her co-stars long before RHONJ. In addition to Laurita, Caroline’s sister Dina Manzo and her lifelong friend Teresa Giudice were on the maiden voyage’s main roster.
Giudice touched on the RHONJ Season 1 cast origin story his 2016 memoir Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Prisoner and Vice Versa. She wrote, “When another friend of Jacqueline turned down an offer to do the show, she and Dina recommended Dina’s sister Caroline. Dina also told the producers about me.”
Caroline Manzo’s spin-off was in process for a time
Caroline Manzo left The Real New Jersey Housewives after Season 5, but her time as a member of the Bravo lineup was far from over. When Manzo referred to her decision to walk away from the show in a Bravo blog post in October 2013, she shared that she and her family have already started filming the pilot for a series of outbreaks.
“I can leave Housewives, but my relationship with Bravo will continue when we start production of a pilot, Manzo’d with children,” she wrote, adding, “that if he goes to the series it promises to give viewers a very different vision of the world of the Manzo family.”
There was talk of a Manzo family split before Caroline shared this news in a Bravo blog post. In September 2013 TheWrap reported a series called Manzo’d with Children. It was on the way. Shortly after this scoop fell, Bravo‘s The Daily Dish confirmed that the Manzo family was busy filming the pilot for a new reality show for Bravo.
According to Deadline, Bravo announced at his opening event the following April that Manzo’d with Kids was in development. A few months later, the series was set for primetime: The Manzo RHONJ spin-off family premiered in October 2014.
Cheating rumors followed Caroline Manzo’s departure
After Caroline Manzo announced that she was leaving The Real Housewives of New Jersey in 2013, a source claimed for MI! News that she left because she wanted to keep rumors about her husband Al Manzo’s alleged infidelity away from the cameras.
The source claimed, “Bravo is very protective of Caroline and wants to keep her happy. So, RHONJ is letting her go and giving her a spin-off attempt. The spin-off will be light-hearted and familiar, which is the image Caroline wants to protect. But if she stayed RHONJ, there is no way she can keep the rumors about Al cheating secret and she knows it.”
As Radar Online noticed in 2014, those rumors bubbled below the surface of the Caroline RHONJ season finale. When Andy Cohen asked Caroline about it at the Season 5 reunion, she replied, “For me, for a moment, to think that he’s been completely faithful for 32 years, I think that’s a silly way of thinking.” She added that every time she asks him if he has cheated, he says no. On his Bravo blog after the meeting, she wrote: “Let’s clarify the comment about infidelity, okay? My point is simply this: in life, you should never say never.”
Chris Manzo jokingly talked about this time of meeting on Instagram with a photo of Al “in bed with” the namesake character from the 2012 comedy Ted calling him “TEST on the continuing scandal of my cheating dads.”
There was speculation about the residence of Manzo’s children
At the top of Manzo’d with children in the first season, Albie Manzo and Chris Manzo returned with their parents and sister. It was not a smooth transition, but it was great television. As Bravo’s description from the second episode says, “Caroline and Al deal with the interruption of their children, who happen to be lazy and return home.”
However, after the debut season premiered in October 2014, Radar Online reported that Manzo’s children apparently never left the apartment they moved to a few years earlier.
According to a source, Albie and Chris were allegedly seen in that apartment building after they allegedly moved into Albert and Caroline Manzo’s home. The apartment in question appeared in the 2011 Bravo Boys to Manzo web series. The show followed the adventures of Chris and Albie while they lived in the aforementioned apartment in Hoboken, NJ, with their friend Greg Bennett.
Whether or not the children have returned to their parents’ Franklin Lakes residence full-time, one thing remains certain: the home is where the ham game is.
Manzo’d season 2 reconciliation didn’t last
Just when it seemed that sisters Caroline Manzo and Dina Manzo cut ties once and for all, their tumultuous relationship took a surprising turn. At the peak of the spin-off’s second season premiere, Caroline revealed that she and Dina called for a truce in late 2014, and it seemed their bond was heading in a positive direction.
In a confessional, Caroline said that she and Dina “did not speak for a couple of years,” but ultimately decided to meet to discuss. Caroline continued: “We met for five and a half hours. Since then? Everything is fine. She is here for the holidays, she talks to my kids, Lexie is at the bridal party and we could all go on living. Thank you”. It was a Manzo’d miracle.
However, the Pax Manzo did not last long. In 2016, Caroline revealed to Bravo‘s The Daily Plate that she and Dina were back in disagreement. “Well, unfortunately, we no longer have a relationship,” she said when The Daily Plate asked about her sister. Apparently it stayed like this: When Dina appeared on SiriusXM Jeff Lewis Live in 2018, she said that she and Caroline hadn’t spoken in two years.
Caroline Manzo hardly spoke about her fear for her health
In the third season of Manzo’d with Children Caroline Manzo shared that she found a lump on her chest. The lump was not cancerous, but there was a terrifying waiting period before her doctors could clear it up. As she said in a 2016 episode of Hoy “We had about three or four months without knowing 1000% of what it was. It turned out to be an infection.” Manzo told The Daily Dish in 2016 that “it was a crazy infection that stumped doctors” and they were able to treat it with antibiotics.
Manzo also told her The Daily Plate that she considered not including this story in Manzo’d with Children because she did not want it to cause distress to her children. However, she finally decided that sharing her experience could be something that would help others.
She explained, “But when I had a mammogram, the mammogram didn’t detect it; ultrasound yes. And a lot of women go in and get a mammogram and they think they’re okay. And that’s why I published it because I want to be able to say: ‘No, a mammogram is not enough. Get an ultrasound. It could save your life.”
Manzo’s children’s businesses weren’t just for the show
Chris Manzo, Albie Manzo and Lauren Manzo showed their entrepreneurial side in The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Manzo’d with Kids, and it was not to show. Over the course of the two reality shows, viewers watched them start companies like the blk. water, Little Town restaurant and Cafface Beauty Bar, and they kept those balls rolling after the cameras stopped rolling.
Full-fledged, the drying bar that Lauren opened on Manzo’d with Kids, goes strong as of this writing. Chris’s restaurant Tenth Street Pizza was named one of the best New Jersey pizzerias by NJ.com in 2019. Also in 2019, Albie shared on Instagram that he and a friend started a long-lasting flower brand called Bloom & Birch. And the list of efforts continues, making the children of Manzo some of the most successful in the entire Real Housewives franchise.
Remember when Chris launched a strip club/car wash combination in the first season of RHONJ? And do you remember when Caroline RHONJ frenemy Teresa Giudice hit the strip club/car wash combo in her cookbook, Fabulous? That idea, which unfortunately never came true, was just the beginning of what would be one of the paths for the businesses of the Manzo children.
The family did not know that the end of the show was the end
On February 28, 2017, Caroline Manzo took to Instagram to announce that Manzo’d with Kids would not get a fourth season. Along with a photo of her granddaughter, she wrote: “After three seasons of Manzo’d we went out – Markie falls [mic] – we are always grateful to our viewers, we love them all! #threefingersup #manzod #manzodwithmorechildren.”
A couple of months after this news, Caroline’s youngest son revealed that the family did not necessarily plan to end the show after Season 3; When they filmed the final episode of the season, they didn’t know that it was actually a final series. Chris Manzo said Page Six in April 2017, that he was happy with the way the family spin-off came to an end, but he would have liked to know that it was ending when it was ending. He said, “It was a very long and fun time, and we never had a bad experience with Bravo. I just wish we knew it was over. We would have taken it a little longer.”
Caroline Manzo misses Manzo’d
Following the news of Manzo’d with children cancellation, Caroline Manzo spoke about it on Instagram. In a candid caption that appeared on March 1, 2017, she wrote: “I have been reading all your comments about the Manzo’d ending with children and I have to say that I am completely impressed by your reaction. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We will miss doing the show because we had a great time. I always said that if we ever win an award, I would appreciate the team because they did all the work and got all the glory. Sorry guys, there are no prizes, so this will have to be enough.”
Caroline echoed these sentiments in an April 2019 episode of Albie Manzo’s podcast, Dear Albie, where she told her son that she is homesick for her family’s spin-off. She said, “Once we stop doing Manzo’d which I really miss. Once you go a hundred miles an hour, or a thousand miles an hour, and then you stop and do nothing, it’s like a head trip for you.”
It feels safe to assume that you probably wouldn’t say the same thing about New Jersey’s Real Housewives. In a 2014 interview with Fashion Style, Caroline said she was glad she was done with RHONJ. She told the store, “I made this decision and I am at peace with it, and I am fine. I am happy. I don’t miss it.”
Is there at least one Manzo returning to Bravo?
On March 3, 2019, Hollywood Life reported that there were rumors that Caroline Manzo might return to The Real Housewives of New Jersey. According to the source, Caroline “would be very willing to return to the show full time” and apparently does not care who is or is not in the rest of the cast.
The next day, Radar Online reported their source, saying, “Andy has called Caroline so many times to try to get her back on the show.” Caroline immediately called Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM program to close the tab story, telling her that she was “mortified” and “had nothing to do with it.”
All of this came up again on April 2, 2019, episode of Albie Manzo’s podcast when Caroline said she was asked to return to RHONJ for the tenth season. She told her son that he refused because it would not be a full-time role. He called the “friend of” offer “an insult.”
Speaking to Hollywood Life in November 2019, Andy Cohen said he did not know if matriarch Manzo was asked to return to RHONJ Season 10 as a friend of, but “I would love for Caroline to return.” The following April, he said in an episode of Mira What Happens Live that she was one of the three former True Housewives he misses the most. The other two: Lauri Peterson of The Real Housewives of Orange County and Shereé Whitfield of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.