’Sup, bros and lady-bros. Nathan is off teaching the rest of the critics at Sundance how to beat up the beat, so I’m stepping in to help say goodbye to our favorite crew of shellacked, marble-mouthed guidos and guidettes.
I’m glad I get a chance to weigh in on Jersey Shore now, because I believe the past seven weeks have been a really remarkable moment in reality-show history. (For the record, a really remarkable moment in reality show history, in the scope of all history, falls somewhere between the sixth season of The Dukes Of Hazzard and me stubbing my toe last week.) The show will almost certainly be back for a second season, possibly with the same cast, and while it might still be fun to laugh at their mixed metaphors and inability to properly present their breasts in public, the innocence will be gone. The Jersey Shore cast were the best kind of reality show stars: the kind who don’t know how to be reality show stars. Or rather, they have some naive, outsider’s idea of what it means to be a reality show star, which basically boils down to, “I’m awesome, so if I just go on TV and be awesome, people will think I’m awesome!” At a time when society has become so well-versed in the language of reality shows, it’s nice to see a bunch of fresh, leathery faces coming in with no preconception about their “character,” their “arc,” or becoming the next “Speidi.” Not that these kids didn’t do this for the fame; hell, they came into the show with premeditated nicknames. But the manner in which they achieved that fame was so back-asswards and bumbling that it’s actually sort of endearing.
Of course, now the Jersey Shore kids are famous, and worse than that, they’ve achieved self-awareness. There’s no way these same seven people could return to this house and not be playing characters; before you know it, Jersey Shore will have become The Hills, but with punching instead of blank stares. Similarly, if a new cast is brought in a la The Real World, we’re going to get a Situation type or a Snookie type—the organic, natural douchebaggery will give way to calculated assholism, and the magic will be gone. Though as long as there’s still a duck phone, I’ll tune in.
I think the final moments of tonight’s episode, in which Snookie reflects on the way she began and ended her time at the shore house, provide a nice parallel to what I think is most fans’ relationship with this show: She barreled into the house and acted the fool, and we tuned in for the trainwreck; she got punched in the face, and we dissected the show as pop-cultural anthropologists, picking apart guido culture and what it says about violence, masculinity, Italian-American culture, wankwankwank; and, finally, she was embraced by the housemates who once mocked her, and we admitted to ourselves that despite their frequent stupidity, violent outbursts, and terrible taste, there’s something endearing and ultimately familiar about these people. Who hasn’t made some mistakes after a night of drinking? Who hasn’t made questionable fashion choices in their youth? Who hasn’t spent a night in the tank after flying into a ’roid rage and concussing some dude? This is familiar human drama dressed in rhinestones and injected with a huge dose of human growth hormone. Our guidos, ourselves.
“That was deep. Fuckin’ deep.”
Thank you, Pauly D.
Or maybe y’all just like laughing at the orange-faced assholes. That’s cool too. Unfortunately, tonight’s finale focused much more on reminiscing than on their usual monkeyshines. Granted, we picked up where we left off with Ronnie’s act of unprovoked, incredibly violent self-defense, as the rest of the roommates try to figure out how long they should act concerned about him before passing out (except Sammi, who’s just sad that she won’t have anyone to smoosh with that night). And then there was everyone’s failed attempts to get “dates” for Labor Day weekend, which I assume just means someone you can sloppily make out with for 48 hours, no strings attached. The Situation unsuccessfully tried to order up three girls for him, Pauly D., and Vinny, who then had to act like they really wanted to have a sad bros night at the arcade the whole time. (Who needs pussy when you have AIR HOCKEY!?)
And poor Snookie doesn’t understand that leaving Farmer Keith a voicemail that he should come to the shore for the weekend is not the same as him agreeing to a date, nor that dancing like a crazy bag lady in the middle of the boardwalk in the middle of the afternoon is not going to endear you to your ex—who, judging by the way she handled that Farmer Keith situation, was probably some guy she went on three dates with who never called her back. That leaves Snookie to scuff around the house in her dead Muppet slippers, lowing about how unloved she is. Mike, of course, can’t NOT take advantage of this moment of vulnerability; so he first comforts her by laying on top of her, his “support” for her probably poking into the small of her back through the mesh of his banana-yellow track pants, then by conceding to fondle and make out with her in the hot tub for a few minutes. Because she’s like a sister to him, and that’s what family does, ya know bro? Oh yeah, and Boring Ronnie and Boring Sam went on a boring date to Boring Town, and JWoww fell asleep in the beanbag chair after her unfruitful hunt for juiceheads.
Really, pretty tame by Jersey Shore standards. No one even got hit! All they did was happily reminisce about all the fun they had hitting each other and strangers all season. Best summer ever, you guys! Can you believe Sammi and Ronnie are still together even though neither of them was looking for a relationship? So crazy! And remember that time Vinny put a T-shirt on a stuffed bulldog to get back at Mike for putting haterade under his bed, because that’s a good joke? Haha, YA BURNT, SITCH! Good times, good times.
• Check out Pauly D., lounging in the Blacklight Bed with the Israeli chick who stalked his whole life. Guess he really does star-of-David Jewish girls.
• “I regret that I got caught. I don’t regret that I hit the kid because he had it coming.” Who wins at remorse? Ronnie does!
• “She’s 18. That ass did not look 12.” The Situation was not trying to hook up with an underage girl, okay? He was just looking for a friend to boogie board with.
• “Sam is hysterical, I think she’s so funny.” Sorry Ronnie, but Sam is the one character on this show that I can safely say has never done anything remotely funny, because she is the worst.
• When I used to wait tables, I had an 80-something-year-old regular who would come in every day and have a glass of white wine with a maraschino cherry in it; I’m happy to see that Sammi and Ronnie are keeping this tradition alive.
• “One minute you got three girls in the Jacuzzi, the next minute someone’s in jail and you gotta bail them out.” Preach it, Sitch, preach.