Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi
Just when people believed reality-based television had gone too far, MTV gave them Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. The spray-tanned, big-haired, loudmouthed New Yorker emerged as the breakout star of "Jersey Shore" (MTV, 2009-12), a documentary-style program that followed eight young, single, carefree Italian-Americans living under one beach house in Seaside Heights, NJ. Cameras caught every hookup, every fistfight, and every inch of Polizzi's larger-than-life personality - from her obsession with eating pickles to searching for "Mr. Right" in all the wrong places. When she was punched in the face at a bar by a male patron, MTV received jeers for glorifying violence against women for ratings. Not surprisingly, the show was loudly criticized for reinforcing the "Guido/Guidette" stereotype of Italian-Americans, causing major advertisers and Italian organizations to boycott the show. The controversy did little to tame the reality wild child, who was hilariously parodied on a "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) skit and fist pumped her way to becoming one of the most outrageous and unforgettable personalities on reality TV.