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MTV’s Jersey Shore has no redeeming qualities.
Never mind the fact that the eight cast members are foul-mouthed, loose-moraled, unintelligent, inarticulate, alcoholic whores (and I’m including the men in that last word as well as the women).
Never mind that it so shamelessly exploits ethnic stereotypes as to make them outlandish and unbelievable.
Never mind that the ambitions of these kids (and some of them aren’t really kids) make the homeless look motivated. From a production standpoint it stinks. The editing, the manipulating of the film, the poor sound quality (nearly all of it has to be subtitled), the repetitive nature of the “story lines,” all add up to a bad show.
And yet ...
I can’t stop watching it.
I know, I know, I’ve got no willpower (bartender, bring me a trough of spritzer). It’s a dumb show, featuring dumb people, poorly made. But there I am, searching for the next new episode (10 p.m., Thursday). Because in the preview, this time it’s Ronnie who gets in a fight on the boardwalk! Not Ronnie!
For those of you who have managed to avoid not only the show itself, but also the incessant media coverage (ranging from Italian-American groups protesting the “Guido”-ness of the characters to women’s anti-violence groups protesting the footage of Snookie getting belted in the chops by a drunk guy in a bar), here’s the breakdown:
In the same vein as its creaky old The Real World, which puts total strangers in a hot tub together, and Road Rules, which puts total strangers in an RV together, Jersey Shore puts eight strangers together in a beach house (that has a hot tub) in Seaside Heights, N.J.
The show gives them all jobs at a boardwalk t-shirt shop, and their living in the house is contingent upon their working, since the shop owner and the house owner are the same dude, Danny.
The eight cast members come from all over: DJ Pauly D, for example, hails from Johnston, R.I. Others are from Jersey and New York. They are all idiots.
Angelina, 22, from Staten Island, is a disgraceful loudmouth who was gone from the show after the third episode, because she simply could not bring herself to work in the t-shirt store. “I’m a bartender,” she said. “I do important work.” In her brief time on the show, she did teach me several new terms, none of which were repeatable on television or here, or in fact should ever leave the lips of any self-respecting female. She left the house and went back home to her married boyfriend.
Jenni “J-WOWW,” 23, from Franklin Square, N.Y., is a sexual psychopath. She arrives at the house with a “boyfriend” back home (the ubiquitous Tommy) but immediately is attracted to Pauly D and his immovable hair, leading to the memorable line: “I saw your penis.” J-Woww likes to get in fights in bars. And she clearly owns stock in the Bedazzler company.
Pauly D is 28. He owns his own tanning bed. He is obsessed with being clean, which leads me to believe that his only redeeming quality is that he probably smells good. He seems to be the perpetual wing man.
Mike “The Situation,” is 27 and from Staten Island, N.Y. This guy’s whole shtick is that girls love “The Situation.” He believes he possesses killer charm. There are two hilarious things attached to this d-bag: 1) Despite the large number of girls he lures into the house, he has yet to actually close the deal, and 2) When he gets drunk (which is all the time) he gets the dumbest look on his face, and loses all ability to enunciate (what little ability he has). Mike’s attraction to Sammi, and Sammi’s subsequent rejection of him in favor of Ronnie, have supplied what little real tension there is on the show.
Sammi, “The Sweetheart,” is 22, from Hazlet, N.J. She’s the “pretty one.” She never stops touching her hair. Upon arrival she held Mike’s hand but then she hooked up with the muscle-bound Ronnie, and they have become a couple. Except when they get drunk at the clubs, which is all the time, and they go through misunderstandings galore and break up and reconcile and have make up sex, which Ronnie calls “smoosh.” I don’t want to know why.
Ronnie is 23 and from the Bronx. He is deeply in love with Sammi. I think. His parents and little brother came to visit and his mother makes Carmela Soprano look like Marmee from Little Women.
Snookie, 21, from Marlboro, N.Y., is like a midget version of a caricature of a Saturday Night Live character. In fact, she has already been lampooned on SNL. She is the only character who elicits sympathetic feelings, and that’s only because she clearly has no clue what’s going on around her, or how to function outside her mother’s kitchen. The best part about Snookie is the fact that no one in the house can get her nickname right: to them, she's Snickers, Snicks, Snickie.
Vinny is 21 and from Staten Island. He is so boring that he has been practically invisible on the show, until the most recent episode. I actually did not recognize him at first when they started featuring him. He thinks he invented the fist pump.
Each episode consists of the kids lounging around, eating, going to work, getting ready to go out, going out, getting drunker and drunker, doing what they consider to be dancing, hooking up, making out, tanning at the salon, working out in the gym (the guys anyway; the girls are slugs), getting in fights and climbing in and out of the hot tub.
Their parents must be so proud.
It’s boring, and yet compelling. It’s like a really bad, low-rent, poorly written version of Groundhog Day. And yet I watch.