Jersey Shore: "The Great Depression"
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Jersey Shore: "The Great Depression"

It might be time to officially subtitle this season of Jersey Shore “Ass Clowns,” what with the alleged salad-tossing a while back, Ronnie’s big bloody butthole two weeks ago, and tonight’s plumbing issues in both the house and in Deena herself. Tonight’s episode transitioned from last week’s figurative shit-storm between Sammi and Ronnie to a literal one, featuring poop-based pranks, clogged toilets and colons, and some skid-marked panties. Seriously, this show has never been what you’d called classy, but this is getting ridiculous.

I suppose the scatological bent of tonight’s episode was intended to lighten the mood, as Ronnie’s tear-stained, puffier-than-usual face cast a shadow over the entire house in the wake of Sam’s departure. While I’m sure everyone who was ever bullied by a guy who looked like Ronnie in high school enjoyed a fair bit of cynical glee at hearing him blubber like a baby in the bathroom, there’s really not much entertainment to be gleaned from watching him mope, nor from his roommates’ misguided attempts to cheer him up. Situation’s string of unrelated movie-poster platitudes—“Life’s not cookie-cutter,” “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees”—were lame even for him, and all the ominous music and grainy-film cuts in the editing bay's arsenal can’t wring drama out of watching the girls move Sammi’s stuff from upstairs to downstairs. (I’m surprised they managed to conclude The Mystery Of The Missing Bag in just one episode!)

Frankly, this episode was pretty boring, and the reason is that the castmates seem pretty bored. They spend so much time just sitting around staring and each other and napping, occasionally heaving themselves off the bed or couch to go help hold up the walls at The Shore Store or shuffle off on a producer-mandated stroll along the boardwalk or group excursion to Karma. Of course, this is part of the evil genius of reality television producers, who deprive their subjects of television, computers, reading material (not that they’d read), or anything else that would give them any sort of distraction from meddling in each other’s affairs. And savvy reality-show participants know that in order to get camera time, they must do something other than stare glassy-eyed at that Scarface poster over the stairs for four hours straight, so they either a.) start drama or b.) attempt to be funny and “spontaneous.”

I’ll admit, I had high hopes upon hearing Pauly D intone, “1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a prank war!” But General Elevated Hair didn’t even engage in battle, leaving Lieutenant Watermelon Dick to use his huuuuuuuge brain (bigger than Snooki and Deena’s combined, he boasts, right before those wily editors cut to him splooging a water balloon all over himself) to come up with gems like putting dog poop under a pillow and hanging Snooki’s favorite stuffed animal from the balcony. Wow Vinny, those are almost as good as that “prank” you pulled on Situation in the first season, when you put one of his T-shirts on a stuffed bulldog for some reason that I still don’t understand. Vinny’s mugging for the camera vacillates between genuinely charming and trying-too-hard, and he’s generally at his least funny and endearing when he’s trying to be funny and endearing. Vinny, word to the wise: When even Situation thinks your prank is lame (or “not Defcon 5,” as he would put it), it’s time to retire to your room and brainstorm some new ways to get camera time. Ask Pauly for help, he’s better at it.

Of course, Prank War 2011 may have elevated beyond the “neener-neener” stage if Situation hadn’t played tattletale. Again. What is with this kid? (And by “kid” I of course mean “45-year-old man with poor decision-making abilities.") As we saw last week, Mike is not one for direct conflict, and his counseling of Ron reiterated that fact: Any man whose advice for dealing with adversity is “Put on a little Michael Bolton, a little fetal-position action,” is not a man who’s going to throw down, either in jest or in ’roid-rage. He’s more of a stealth bomber, pulling “robberies” on his so-called-bros, insulting women behind their backs, sowing general discord among the roommates, and cockblocking Vinny by smashing a burger into his and his ladyfriend’s faces—and he does it all with an impish “ain’t I a stinker” smirk on his face to trick you into thinking he’s charming instead of a borderline sociopath. To be fair, Sitch wasn’t particularly evil in tonight’s episode, I just feel like he’s been getting off easy this season, and we could all use a reminder that he’s a terrible person.

Speaking of terrible people, I guess we have to talk about the Sammi-Ronnie fallout a little bit, since it took up the half of the show that wasn’t devoted to talking about poop. We get a brief glimpse at the top of the hour of Sammi and her mom, but it was pretty much Ronnie’s Angsty-Time Variety Hour as the Xenadrined One made up for his absent (ex)girlfriend’s moping by doubling down on the sadface. I don’t think even Ronnie knows whether he wants Sam back or not: One minute he’s sending her and her sister roses (complete with the balloon-chocolate-teddybear mega-upgrade, nice), the next he’s saying they need time apart, the next he’s telling Snooki he’s going to get her back, maybe, if he doesn’t decide not to in the next scene.

But amidst his waffling, he does make the trenchant observation—it’s easy to forget, but Ronnie does have occasional moments of clarity—that the female roommates’ cold-shouldering of him and invocation of “girl code” is pretty ridiculous, considering none of them were speaking to Sammi three weeks ago. Jenni, in particular, has done an extreme 180, going from being Ronnie’s personal cheerleader just a few episodes back to spearheading the Sammi Relocation Project and making not-so-clandestine phone calls to Sam under Ron’s nose. But I think she and the girls are more reacting to Ronnie’s violent outburst than acting out of loyalty to Sam; yes, Sammi is emotionally abusive, but Ronnie resorted to physical intimidation, which really goes against girl code, and human code, for that matter. But fear not, Ron-Ron, for memories are short on Jersey Shore: Ronnie is soon back in Deena’s good graces after he pulls her out of her drunken self-pity-party by explaining that her roommates’ ongoing teasing about her constipation was all in good fun. He plays the “little sister” card before sending her off skipping to bring him food—specifically, buns and ketchup for the burgers he’s grilling, but she should probably bring him a protein shake while she’s at it, just to be safe.

Stray observations:

  • So how aware do you think Ronnie was of the irony of his “Kill Your TV” T-shirt?
  • It’s really too bad that Sammi and Ronnie have to play along with the conceit that they’re not getting paid tons of money to be on a show together. I’m sure that’s a HUGE factor in their ability to break up, since of course neither wants to leave the show. Frankly, that’s a more interesting conversation than another rehashing of that three-way kiss.
  • You guys, how is Sammi going to get by without her job at The Shore Store to support herself??
  • Situation’s not-so-helpful Grenade Taxonomy: grenade < grenade launcher < submarine < tank < A-bomb.
  • The public airing of dirty laundry—literally—was pretty brutal. Of course none of the girls are gonna claim that soiled underwear as their own after the whole house has stood in a circle around it grunting in amusement.
  • Nice to see that Pauly D is expanding into physical comedy with that “cabs are here” pratfall.
  • Mike dubs Deena a “slopopotamus,” then can’t even repeat his own neologism.
  • I don’t usually pay attention to the music on Jersey Shore, since it’s terrible, but one of the song credits listed at the bottom of the screen caught my eye: “Let’s Get This Party Started Already” by Tag Team. I’m pretty sure that’s not the Tag Team of “Whoomp (There It Is)” fame, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it were? 

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