Now, you’re going to have to hang in here with me, folks. My colleague, bona fide reality television aficionado Brian Moylan will be out for this week’s Jersey Shore recap, temporarily bestowing upon me the great responsibility of discussing most culturally significant show of our time. (His words, not mine.) While I may not have the same encyclopedic knowledge of the infamous icons, I can still appreciate a good Jersey Shore episode when one rolls around.
Unfortunately, this was not one of those episodes. In fact, it hasn’t been one of those episodes in quite some time and if last night’s two-hour opus of sheer boredom was a sign of the rest of Season 6 to come, we’re in for a long winter.
That’s not to say there isn’t something fascinating about the significant dynamic shift happening with the cast. With a then-pregnant “Snooki” (who packed up and took her act on the road… down the street to a slightly smaller beach house), a sober Vinnie and “The Situation,” and perpetually tuckered-out couples running the show, Jersey Shore is like hanging out with your reformed wild child friend. Sure, you’re glad they’ve cleaned up their act, but there’s plenty of other entertaining car crashes out there still to see. It’s called cable.
It’s not that things can’t get heavy on reality TV. Just look at A&E’s entire reality programming lineup. But it’s hard to be hit with the same impact of The Situation grappling with sobriety when the format of the show remains the same. Snooki can move out, Deena can get a boyfriend, Ronnie can occasionally appear on screen, and their poor long-suffering boss Danny can get so frustrated from working with a bunch of goons. Hey, some things don’t change. But the show will never be an expose on what the longterm effects of starring on reality television can be. This can’t be a show that questions “Who am I?” or “What have I done?”, rather, “Is this toxic shock syndrome or am I just tan?” Confucius say, let’s just talk about what happened in this damn episode.
Most of the episode centered around the Deena’s fruitless quest to find a replacement “meatball” as Snooki prepares for impending motherhood and The Situation’s fruitless quest to prove he is a truly reformed man. “I’m tired of the jokes,” cried the man who at one point appeared to be wearing a piano vest. Deena had both a physical and mental breakdown over the course of the episode, but in the pantheon of reality television, both were pretty tame. At one point she thought she had toxic shock syndrome (a storyline that was never quite resolved, but let’s just assume it wasn’t that) and then cried to her mother that she wasn’t like everybody else because she was compulsively obsessed with her boyfriend Chris. Actually, the most troublesome thing was that she turned to Sammi (who at one point got in a fight with Ronnie because… it was 7:30?) for guidance, which is like turning to Jim Lehrer for… guidance.
The delightful irony of calling shows like Jersey Shore reality is they are rooted in just the opposite of that. Reality is uncomfortable discussions about marriage and the status of your Facebook status and crummy karaoke renditions of songs and bodily changes during pregnancy (“King Kong nipples” if we’re getting specific here) and botched, tense surprise parties. So, congratulations, Jersey Shore, you have officially segued into the dreaded reality reality television.
That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of moments of that patented heightened Jersey Shore “reality.” A young woman neither Pauly nor Vinnie expressed interest in made a bold move (here, flashing boobs) that made a bold statement: “This couldn’t possibly come back to haunt me!” (Fun fact: DTF translates to Down To F**k, while DTA somehow translates to Down For Anything. WTF?)
There were some key soundbites (“Ronnie can’t ride anything longer than 30 seconds”) and drunken tomfoolery (courtesy of Deena) and “romance” (both The Situation and Vinnie announced they found girls that maybe possibly kinda who knows might get them to settle down), and, of course the gatorade that fuels reality TV: drama. Last night’s biggest drama occurred when Snooki announced she never wanted to be friends with The Situation again, presumably because she’s met The Situation and may have even tuned in for an episode of Jersey Shore herself at some point.
The most noteworthy moment happened like most noteworthy moments do, in the last five minutes. MTV had been promoting last night’s episode of Jersey Shore as having the wildest fight in the show’s history. But the cheap thrill of watching a bunch of blurred-out strangers pummel each other was long gone when there was a scene of JWOWW getting shoved by her fiancé Roger in the midst of the chaos. When Jersey Shore was at its fever pitch high, the vibe on the show felt very “Someday we’ll all look back on this and laugh.” Now who’s laughing?
What did you think of last night’s very extended episode of Jersey Shore? Has the thrill of the show completely gone for you? WIll you continue to watch until the bitter end? Is this toxic shock syndrome or am I just tan? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
[Photo credit: MTV]