Jersey Shore: “Fist Pumps, Pushups, Chapstick”
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Jersey Shore: “Fist Pumps, Pushups, Chapstick”

“I look like one of those guidos on TV, the ones trying too hard.”

And with that one sentence, Pauly D tears open a gaping black hole in the fabric of the universe that swallows up the Jersey Shore and compresses it into a dense ball of super-concentrated irony that eventually explodes, sending tiny bits of irony shrapnel flying through the airwaves to lodge themselves into the eyes and ears of its audience. Seriously, my brain is bleeding after that one. Is this brilliant self-awareness, complete lack thereof, or some sort of misbegotten hybrid of the two, an attempt at self-lampooning that didn’t go quite far enough, or perhaps too far? Even Deena recognizes the ludicrousness of Vinny and Pauly’s guido burlesque: “That’s not a costume; that’s just your normal clothes.”

Frankly, I expect better from the Statler And Waldorf of Jersey Shore than “fist pumps, pushups, Chapstick.” The funniest part of their little comedy routine was the sight of Pauly D’s ungelled hair, reinforcing one of the basic tenets of the show: The castmates are funniest when they’re not trying to be funny. Sure, every now and then, one of them will lob a solid off-the-cuff rejoinder—see: Jenni responding to Snooki talking about how God made her tits with, “He didn’t make mine”—but no matter how hard Vinny and Pauly dance for our amusement, their costumes and catchphrases can’t hold a candle to the comedy of Snooki and Deena barreling off to fight a girl who threw a drink at them, only to emerge from the melee fighting each other. That’s a number straight out of Slapstick 101, something you’d see in an old Looney Tunes cartoon, but it happened for real! That’s the Jersey Shore equivalent of a plastic bag floating gracefully in the breeze. Beautiful trash.

Unfortunately, most of the rest of this episode was trashy trash, or worse yet, boring trash. Mike kicks things off with act two of The Self-Pity Follies, moping around the house in a cloud of wounded pride and Axe fumes, while the rest of the cast talk about him behind his back… and rightfully so. As Jenni says, “How can he get sympathy for a self-inflicted injury?” He can’t, except from “Crazy Legs” Ron, who’s no stranger to self-inflicted injury himself, as evidenced by his totally-not-drug-fueled wipeout at Club 21. After a quick bro-backrub and Stock Platitudes No. 27 and 54 from Ron, Mike’s back in the thick of things, saying “Situation” unnecessarily and engaging in a mind-bending “conversation” with Snooki about their alleged hook-up.

You kinda have to feel for Snooki. Not only is her manicurist playing a cruel joke on her by filing her acrylics into those ridiculous-looking upside-down triangles, but she’s getting mindfucked from both ends by Mike and Jionni, who both engage in some strange, ancient practice of guido rhetorical gymnastics too convoluted for us mere mortals to understand. Mike tells Snooki, “I would hope that I could one day apologize to you” and insists he “was planning on doing something” to rectify the situation (ugh, now I’m doing it) but can’t actually form a sentence that resembles an apology. Yet he maintains a demeanor of condescending rationality that’s doubly infuriating, due to the fact that what he’s saying makes no sense. He acts like he’s saying what Snooki wants to hear but not actually saying it, then plays the victim when she gets angry.

Then there’s Jionni, who responds to Snooki’s phone call telling him she misses him by yelling at her for being drunk, accusing her of hooking up with someone, and calling her a bitch for asking why he’s mad. I can’t even really make a joke about this conversation because it was so unsettling. I’m sure there’s more to the situation (UGH!) than we’re seeing—at least, I hope there is, because if Jionni really is that unstable and easily provoked, and it’s not just a symptom of the skewed reality of being on a reality show, then poor Snooks is in for a hard time of it. If that’s the case and she is in as deep a hole of denial as she seems to be when it comes to Jionni, then perhaps the roommates are right to show concern with their half-assed “intervention.”

Or perhaps, now that the SamRon drama has been neutralized for another week, the roommates are just making a natural shift to the next most fucked-up relationship in the house. Sammi, Ron, and the editors seem to be implying that this really is a new start for real this time, really, by showing us their civilized “therapy” session—with a brief appearance by Vinny in Dad Mode—and confessionals swearing things will be different this time. That almost certainly will not be the case, but considering how front-loaded this season was on the SamRon drama, it would be nice to get a couple weeks’ reprieve… even if it does mean enduring the sight of their sloppy dance-floor makeout sessions.

Stray observations

  • “I can’t do anything for myself; I’m hurt.” Apparently Mike’s drugstore neck brace is causing him to be paralyzed from the neck down.
  • On the one hand, I can sort of understand Mike’s restlessness, considering the cast members have very little in the house to entertain themselves with—no TV, computer, books, nothing. Then again: YOU’RE IN FLORENCE. Get out of the house, walk past the gym and lavanderia, and go look at some statues or something.
  • Pauly’s giant forehead zit is a good object lesson in the consequences of hair-gel abuse.
  • “Am I bleeding?” Yes, Deena, that’s what happens when you roll around in broken glass.
Filed Under: TV, Jersey Shore

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