NEW YORK (AP) - Fans of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" may find this hard to believe, but the ladies are getting along.
The show, which airs Sundays on Bravo (8 p.m. EDT), has returned with new episodes, and as this fifth season progresses, viewers will see the five women and their families work on their relationships.
Of course, the road to peace wasn't easy for Teresa Giudice, her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga, cousin Kathy Wakile, and castmates Caroline Manzo and Jacqueline Laurita. As Manzo describes it: "One step forward, 10 steps back."
The New Jersey "Housewives" gathered at a New York City restaurant recently to talk about family dynamics and relationships playing out on TV and how the show has affected them.
AP: When a new season starts airing, do you dread it or look forward to it?
Wakile: Dread! (Laughs.)
Gorga: I think it's a little of both. It's crazy when it comes on because there's a lot said that you don't see that's filmed, and then we've come so far from where we were in the beginning, so it's very hard to rewatch the beginning but you just have to remember it was before the makeup and before everything got better in all of our situations.
Manzo: There's also the social media aspect. The assumption viewers make not really knowing what's going on, not really knowing how things played out and they're not very forgiving in what they have to say. For me it's all encompassing and we film for six months. We don't know what's gonna make it on the shows. We see it three days before you do. The anticipation for us is, "When that DVD comes, what's on this?'
Laurita: It's not always our full conversations. It might be a snippet of it.
Wakile: The whole conversation can't possibly make it. We've done so much work and the episode will air and it will be something that happened so long ago and our good feelings will get ripped apart by everybody making comments and you start to question your relationships again. You've got to be really confident and know in your heart that you did come to a good place.
AP: What did it take for all of you to find peace?
Laurita: The show might be responsible for some of the fighting, but the show is also responsible for bringing us together because if it wasn't for the show and having us there, we would've probably gone separate ways and that would've been it.
Gorga: That's the truth, I believe that.
Laurita: Because you're on a show together, you're kind of forced to face it and get deep to the roots.
AP: Do some viewers prefer to see you fighting?
Manzo: Oh, they love it.
Laurita: They do, but then when you fight they're like, "Why can't you guys get along?'
Gorga: When you're fighting they don't like it and when you're getting along they're like, "Boring!'
Wakile: It's what makes us different than the other ("Real Housewives') shows because these are our lives and our families as well. You may not know why we feel the way we feel. You may see some of what we're feeling but you don't know where it stems from.
AP: Do people on social media sometimes add fuel to the fire?
Giudice: Sometimes they twist it and make it worse than it is.
Manzo: And it's crazy because I don't pay attention to it but it's such a huge part of what this show has become.
Laurita: It's like, "You don't know the full story.'
Manzo: You have to have a hard shell around you. For me, five seasons in I'm bulletproof, but somebody that's new in the game, it's very distracting.
Wakile: And you'd hate for it to chip away on the work that you've come so far and then these people start getting in your head.
AP: Did you ever think it's never going to be fixed?
Gorga: Oh, yes.
Laurita: When you're angry and you're in it, you don't see the light at the end.
AP: Has filming affected your marriages?
Gorga: It's definitely pressure but only the strong survive.
Giudice: It's made ours stronger, definitely, because people are trying to come after my marriage and say that my husband is cheating on me blah, blah, blah, and I'm like, "All right, whatever. OK.'
Gorga: This whole season my marriage is under attack basically.
AP: Teresa, your husband seems like he shrugs off that stuff.
Giudice: Oh, he don't care. It doesn't really bother me because I know he's not cheating. I don't want my kids to hear.
AP: Has this experience made you look at other reality shows differently?
Manzo: When you're watching it, you know (what's real and what's not). It's very obvious to us now. It's like a trained eye.
AP: By the time we see the reunion episode do you think you'll all still be friends?
Manzo: We're hopeful but we don't know what lies ahead of us. We know how our last few weeks of filming was, we know what our final scene was, but we don't know if any of that's gonna make it on. We don't know the story that's gonna be told. So to say if we're gonna be in this same place four months from now, it's an impossible question to answer.
Gorga: We've come this far. It would be really sad to go backwards.
Giudice: I never want to go backwards.