Family is a complicated, layered concept that changes more than people would like to admit, whether you're on TV or not.
And sometimes, your family - even former family - know how to push your buttons much better (or worse) than anyone.
To wit, Melissa Gorga has recently had a whole lot to say about Joe Giudice on The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Melissa has also taken shots at her former co-star in multiple interviews, accusing him of using her to stay relevant.
According to her, he's just trying to profit off of their disagreements - basically trying to make money at her expense.
Well, speaking to The Hollywood Gossip exclusively, Joe himself says that this is the furthest thing from the truth.
The father of four spoke to THG earlier this month with his side of the story, and now he's back for round two.
From Italy, Giudice explains that the reality is simple: he wants Gorga to stop stressing out his wonderful daughters.
When it comes to using them for storylines, headlines, or anything else, just keep them out of your mouth, will ya?
In his mind, hearing their own aunt go on tirades about their dad on and off of TV isn't doing the girls any good.
And frankly, it's not a good look for Melissa or her husband, is it? Read on to see what Joe has to say ...
Joe Giudice has had enough
Despite extraordinarily unfortunate circumstances, he and his daughters and Teresa are all adjusting to their new reality. He feels like this is made so much harder when Teresa's brother and her sister-in-law dredge up some of their family's most painful moments. And they accuse HIM of using them to stay relevant!
There was a recent, heartwarming family reunion
Understandably, not all ex-husbands want to meet their ex-wife's new boyfriend, and that feeling is often very mutual. But when Teresa and her four beautiful daughters went to the Bahamas to meet up with Joe, Luis and his son tagged along.
It's important for them to see their dad
Joe was ripped from their lives by unjust circumstances beyond their control. While in many ways, he was more fortunate than many victims of deportation, the heartbreak of not being with his family throughout most of the year is unthinkable. Fortunately, the Giudice family pulls out all of the stops to make sure that the girls can spend a lot of time with their father -- while of course putting their educations first.
It was an extended family dinner
Family sometimes means making it work, so Joe and Teresa do what they can for their girls, even when they have their own love lives. Joe and Teresa also both posted very graciously about the dinner afterwards, with Joe giving a shoutout to Luis and to his son.
But every family has its troubles
In case it wasn't already clear that there is some tension between Teresa's brother and sister-in-law and the father of her children, things exploded on last week's The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Teresa's feud with Jackie turned into something very different
She confronted her brother, Joe Gorga, for not defending her earlier ... which spawned a short sequence of events that led to Joe and Melissa's over-the-top explosion.
Melissa was outraged
She noted that Teresa had proved time and time again that she was perfectly capable of defending herself.
The rant was INTENSE
Melissa stood there yelling while Teresa sat in shock as Melissa recalled how keenly she remembered Teresa being able to stand up for herself.
It was all about Teresa's ex
Any time that her brother or Melissa had brought up Teresa's then-husband, Tre had shut them down.
It was a little much
Overturning a plate is bad manners (and an outrageous, criminal waste of innocent cheese that never hurt anybody), but it's part of the gig for reality TV sometimes.
Teresa fired back
Though she did very little talking during this confrontation, she felt that it was a matter of course that she would defend the father of her children, especially when they were married.
This is when her brother blew up
Joe Gorga declared that he places the blame for every bad thing that has ever happened to Teresa squarely at Joe Giudice's feet.
That's not all
Though Teresa (and her daughter, Gia) both spoke on Instagram about how unfair they felt that so many people (from family to viewers who agreed with Melissa) were to Joe Giudice after that episode aired, Melissa continued to take shots at her husband's sister's ex, this time in real time.
Melissa accused Joe of using her to stay relevant
“I’m happy to help him make money, I really am,” Melissa recently expressed to Entertainment Tonight. “Link in bio," she mocked.
She sees herself as the star of his narrative
"I am his clickbait. ‘Screw Melissa, I hate…’" Melissa characterized.
Melissa claims (while talking about him) that she never likes to talk about him
Melissa continued: " … you’ll see on this episode, (Teresa Giudice’s) like, ‘Take his name out of your mouths.’ Really? Because I don’t care -- ever -- to bring him up.”
Joe Giudice responds
"I understand Melissa is upset after 10 years of her trashing me I am standing up for my family!" Joe acknowledges to THG exclusively.
Stick to the facts
"She plays emotional manipulation?" Joe exclaims. "Instead of stating facts about her life of owe money, stealing, financially strapped!"
He sees an alarming pattern
"They continue to demean my family," Joe observes, "and play the game of repeating “I’m sorry” and work their way back into your good graces."
He doesn't have to keep quiet anymore
"Now, I will not stay shut for production!" Joe reminds everyone. As counterintuitive as it may sound, some reality star beefs are kept to a simmer because they would be disruptive, rather than helpful, for filming.
Is he wrong?
"So, do me a favor and tell me if I upset her for stating truth to everyone?" Joe asks.
This doesn't have to be a public back-and-forth
"Let’s skip passive aggressive comments and long drawn-out fight cycle and keep my name out of your mouths!" Joe suggests.
We are past the need for this conflict
"Long gone are the days when the Gorgas can bash Teresa and me with the latest drama," Joe declares.
Don't the Gorgas have enough to worry about?
"They have their own emotional problems and fake news to spill," Joe insinuates.
This is about his daughters
"To clarify," Joe continues, "I really don’t care if you post your fake life or mostly-fabricated scenarios but the Gorgas will not stress my girls out no more."
Enough is enough!
"I can’t allow them to rehash or make up lies about me," Joe emphasizes.
Teresa has moved on; why haven't they?
"I am sorry for the past and both Teresa and I have moved forward," Joe notes. "She has forgiven me."
It's all about priorities
"And spending time with girls is more important right now," Joe concludes, "so I’m removing Gorgas label of scapegoat."
UPDATE: We're back with a vengeance!
Since our first talk with Joe, Melissa has not backed off her claims - and he's got more to say as a result. "IT’S FUNNY HOW PEOPLE CAN COMPLETELY TWIST THE TRUTH!" Giudice tells THG. "Melissa and Joe have been making and taking money off of us and others for over ten years!"
Let him make this clear (again)
"A piece of advice," he continues, pointedly. "I don’t need to make up false story lines to live with my own principles and values."
You do your thing, I'll do mine
"I know how to get along with people and make my own living. If I have done something wrong to my ex my deepest apologies," Joe adds, however, "no one is in the best position to judge other people. You don’t know exactly, Melissa ... You don’t know what [people] are up to and what they are going through."
In defense of his family
"Cause it’s all bullshit!" Joe says of Melissa's meddling. "Just mind your own business. You have a life of your own. Invest your time and energy in making yourself better and keep my name out of your mouth!" Wow.
Fightin' words and a parting shot
To Joe, the idea of him using Melissa to make money is absurd. Why? "Cause honey! You never made me money, and if I had to rely on you we both be broke!" Giudice says, concluding his response with the following parting shot: "You owe me ... say my name, say my name! It’s all you got to make you some cash!" Mic drop.