We witnessed history on tonight’s Jersey Shore. For perhaps the first time in the show’s storied, almost-two-year history, two cast members engaged in an exhibition of mature conflict resolution.
No, really. I know it was easy to miss, but think back. Before Ronnie and Sitch’s episode-ending Battle Of The Roids. Before Sammi and Ron’s first “I’m done” of this season. Before Snooki and Deena overcome boredom at work by paying a customer to buy them wine and sneaking into the bathroom to chug it while their boss bangs on the door. Way, way back, in the first third of the episode, Deena and Pauly did a pretty good impression of two human adults: They listened to each other’s opinions, offered analysis and suggestions for improvement, apologized, and moved on. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before on Jersey Shore.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: The reason for their disagreement was exactly as asinine and pointless and immature as all the disagreements on this show, some hooey about Deena “pulling a robbery” on Vinnie with Lesbian-For-A-Night Erica and then Vinnie and his hetero-life-mate Pauly displaying their ongoing inability to grasp what a “prank” is by putting Deena’s mattress in the hallway. YA BURNT, DEENA! Yes, Vinnie and Pauly’s slut-shaming of Deena was obnoxious and completely without merit—“Next time I might like the girl,” Vinnie “argues”—and yes, Deena overreacted to their stupid, passive-aggressive move. But after all the crying and “anxiety attacks,” Pauly and Deena had a deep-ish discussion—with an assist from JWoww, who was apparently a Peer Mediator in high school—that hinted at how the Jersey Shore cast members alter their behavior when they’re on camera. For a moment, I could almost believe these were real human beings with real emotions, not characters engaging in overblown, made-up conflicts in their ongoing battle for screen time.
Whether Deena’s overreaction was for real or for the cameras’ sake, I have to say, I’m on her side on this one. She made an honest-to-God effort to address the boys’ “lesbionic” jokes with good humor—“How did you like her, Vin?”—but Pauly, who didn’t even have a dog in this fight, just dug his unnaturally white teeth in and wouldn’t let go. After a night of torment at the hands of VP, compounded with the sense of alienation and uncertainty over others’ motives that comes with being on camera, it’s understandable that Deena was a little raw and may have taken the boys’ actions as more malevolent than they were.
And VP’s actions also may have been a little more malevolent than they would admit. Even when Jenni point-blank told them to tell Deena it was a joke so she’d stop crying, they couldn’t be bothered to hoist their unnaturally inflated limbs off the bed to smooth things over. I definitely got the sense that they were enjoying the game until they were forced to act like real humans once they were actually confronted with Deena’s crying face. Or maybe they just sensed that, now that Ronnie and Sammi are back together, their screen time this season is going to be truncated in favor of more fights about who’s more “done,” so they wanted to get in what drama they could while they could.
At first, it seemed like SamRon’s first big fight was going to be another rote installment of Doucheterpiece Theater. Really Sam? Getting mad at Ronnie for dancing in the vicinity of another girl? That’s the best you can do at this point? You’ve been making up reasons to get mad at this guy for three seasons! By now, you should be keeping a notebook of new ideas to torture him, y’know, to keep things fresh. This is your job, after all; it’s time to act like the professional asshole you are. And Ron, you can go ahead and pretend you’re actually thinking of pursuing something with this “Hannah” character, but we all know you’ve been hypnotized by the fluttering of Sammi’s acrylic nails as they wave aggressively at your face, and you will never extract yourself from this endless vortex of jealousy and spite and vodka-Red Bulls.
Thankfully, Sammi realizes there’s a secret ingredient capable of making this delicious hate-soufflé bubble over, and he’s waiting over on the chaise lounge for Back Up Plan Brittany. With one heavily bleeped sentence—“‘Well Ron says he’s fuckin’ bringin’ home fuckin’ five girls’”—our “Sweetheart” performs her signature deflection move, shifting Ron’s anger away from her and onto Mike while still keeping the drama about her. Sammi likes making Ron mad, but she doesn’t like him being mad at her.
And oh is Ronnie mad. As soon as Sammi dropped the M word, you could practically see his testicles shrinking and his back sprouting acne as the ’roids kicked in hard. After removing all his jewelry while muttering about getting “gully,” he stormed into the other room, upended Mike’s chaise lounge, and this season’s battle royale—which culminates in Sitch getting carted off to the hospital on a stretcher next episode—was on.
Now, let me say, I do not condone violence, and no one, not even Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, deserves to have a friend/colleague inflict physical harm on him or her. HOWEVER. If violence is going to happen on Jersey Shore—and it definitely is, come on, what do you think we’re watching here—I’m glad it’s happening to Sitch, whose sociopathic behavior has gotten more disturbing with every episode. The producers make his role in this blowup clear with some helpful flashback footage of him sowing the seeds of SamRon’s discord over brunch last episode; he is most certainly guilty of manipulating Sammi and Ron, not to mention Snooki and Deena. (Witness the smirk on his face throughout that awkward Sunday dinner.) We know Sitch is gonna be fine; we’ve seen him strutting through the tabloid pages long after this season wrapped shooting. So I’m not gonna cry over Ronnie putting the fear of God and Xenadrine in him.
- Do we think “Sunday Dinners” are contractually mandated at this point? Clearly no one wanted to be there, right?
- The details of Mike and Snooki’s individual accounts of their contested hook-up are close enough to confirm that one of them is telling the truth. Whatever happened, we know it involves The Unit.
- Snooki is committing hard to the Minnie Mouse/Kreayshawn look with that infernal pink hair bow.
- Snooki, are you eating raw pizza dough? I’m pretty sure that’s not on your new diet.
- Pizzeria Owner is really wishing he had gotten a better translator for his negotiations with the Jersey Shore producers right now.
- Wait, did Ronnie really buy Sammi a suitcase full of clothes? I’m baffled by this display of guido courtship.
- Sammi’s “Please don’t do that” response to Ronnie’s “Winning!” comment is the most sensible thing that’s ever come out of that girl’s mouth.
- During Snooki and JWoww’s conversation about Ronnie and Hannah, I thought, “Oh God, it’s going to be The Note all over again.” The producers, who never trust their audience to make any sort of association without the aid of title cards and flashback footage, then immediately flashed back to The Note in Miami.
- “That’s what happens when you take steroids.” —Pauly’s introduction of Ronnie to YAB Skank No. 1
- I like how moving someone’s bed out of their room has become Jersey Shore’s go-to display of dominant behavior.
- You guys, I kind of want to start a collection to make a “Back Up Plan Brittany” T-shirt for BUPB. Whatever’s leftover can go toward her therapy bills.