MTV's guilty-without-parole pleasure Jersey Shore is so different from that ol' Real World show, because the location is in the name, and there are eight people. For a while anyway. This is the kind of show that desperately needs to continue for as few seasons as possible. An ingenious slice of life, it's from a pie much too rich to indulge in. It's the Ark of the Convenient, and will burn your face off just the same as the other one. Basketballs aren't as blunt as Jersey Shore, but I'll never laugh as hard at a basketball, no matter what "the Situation."
Everybody has drama in their life. For most people, it's spread out over a span of time. For reality-show participants/stars, it's a different process. But we've grown accustomed to that. So what it becomes is a game of "who's the most interesting sort of person to pay attention to for a while?" Nobody inherently wants to watch a person read statistics textbooks or weld lawnmower blades. Human nature dictates watching people exude sex and animal instinct is the ultimate thrill, and extra points if they all live together on the Jersey Shore. And so America has met eight people less info-caring about the poor than bi-party systems. 'cause that's how things go on the shore.
Fist pump from the ground up for this testostrogen-filled cast. The immediate standout star is Mike, also only known as "The Situation," a future infomercial who bulldozes his ego into and over everyone he meets with chortle-inducing disregard. Ronnie is the aggro-sweetheart whose muscles you can count before you fall asleep. Pauly "It's like we beat up that beat" D. is a popping DJ whose wisdom is disguised as squirrel-eyed naiveté. And on the outskirts of male Guido-dom is Vinny, whose non-immediate standout personality actually gives him more of a personality. Those are the boys.
On the flip side, there's Nicole, or "Snooki," or a dozen variations that the roommates constantly switch between (Schnickers, Sooks, Smeckel). Snooki is a pickle-loving attention whore who attracts more awful circumstances than awesome ones. Sammi "Sweetheart" calls herself "the sweetest bitch you'll ever meet," but she's more like "the bitchiest bitch whose only reaction is overreaction." Don't expect more understanding from Jenni "JWoww," who almost seems like a real human being until any amount of alcohol enters her system. Finally, there's Angelina, who ducks out of the house in the middle of the season when her personality becomes too much to bear. The nicest thing I can say about her is that she's a brunette.
So, what's the point of all this? Essentially, it's watching bronze privileged people get blotto, horny, half-naked, and extremely pissed for a month, all while talking about doing each of those things. They live in a spacious, casually tasteful beach house situated above a T-shirt shop (where the gang works for the summer) on a beach that nobody ever goes to. No one has a firm grasp of wit or responsibility, there aren't any real plotlines, and many of the things that occur are only slightly different forms of the exact same thing. This isn't good television in any sense of the word, but it is surprisingly enjoyable. I assumed I would hate every single moment I sat through, and I didn't. It was like watching a condensed version of myself from ages 17-19, just without all the muscles.
"That's why I don't eat fricking lobster or anything like that. Because they're alive when you kill it." The entertainment here stems from the lack of centered depth. There is love, and there is hate. There is desire, and there is coveting. Mike hooks up with Sammi, who then hooks up with Ronnie, whose pre-Shore mantra was "you don't fall in love at the Shore." But just when you think Sammi and Ronnie are anything nearing genuine, Ronnie dances in front of a girl Mike is dancing with. Sammi is told about this and her backlash towards him is enormous. Have you ever watched two people attempt to fight verbally after they've filled themselves with liquor? There is escalation, volcanic eruption, and then the cycle repeats itself. (For the whole season.) And the alco-brawls aren't contained to just these two.
Except for a brief bit of chest puffing with Mike, Vinny is the only housemate not to get in any kind of verbal or physical altercation. The most hands-on are Snooki and Ronnie (One shot! That's one shot, kid!), though Snooki is usually at the wrong end of those hands. Pauly D. finds himself in the claws of a bizarrely rational stalker. JWoww has boyfriend issues. You will definitely enjoy watching Angelina get the fuck up out of there. Jersey Shore is like a Kit-Kat in that dissecting it will easily give away its simple layers, but if you've never had one, it's pretty good.
The fun is not in picking it apart, but picking things from it and relishing them. Do you know what you do before you read a review about the Jersey Shore DVD? G.T.L. baby. Gym, tan, laundry. Flip it up, and throw in a hair cut that afternoon. You gotta be fresh to death when you read about the Shore. That's how you hook up with the girls, with the honeys. Get yourself looking like a juicehead and hit the clubs creeping for bitches to smush. Just find the cute ones, and stay away from the grenades; let your friends land on those. But don't let them pull a robbery on you, or you might be in the hot tub hooking up with yourself. Just make sure Vinny's not watching.
That wasn't healthy for anyone, but it at least makes sense to you if you're familiar with the show, or perhaps with the lifestyle. Too many shows about real people means a quality average has been set. Jersey Shore doesn't match any intelligence quotas, but it's miles ahead of other shows concerned with viewers living vicariously. I don't give a shit about any actual shores in New Jersey, but I'll be damned if I'm not already thinking about what I'm doing next summer (raising an infant), and if there will be a plane ticket with my name on it (no). Season 2 is already going. Meet me there. I'll be late.
If you can believe it, the DVD set is nearly packed with extras worthy of this non-non-non-heinous show. First and foremost is the uncensored part of the whole ordeal. Apparently you still can't say the word "cum," or show Snooki's thong-area, but every curse word flies, harms some drunk-talk scenes, but adds glorious oomph to many others. Then there's the "Reunion Special," which gets the cast together some months after the show was filmed, and we catch up with everyone. It wavers on interest, but some moments are so uncomfortable they transcend television. And for that, it's a must watch.
Pauly D, Snooki, and The Situation voice commentaries for five episodes that are very funny and challenging to listen to. There are nuggets of actual information that pop up amongst the landscape of giggles and redundant narration of things onscreen. I must admit, though, it's bizarro-meta to hear The Situation agree with his own advice as if someone else were saying it.
A 30-minute deleted scenes feature is funnier than I expected. Most of them are edited bits from scenes already in the show, but a few are self-contained. We get to see more of Mike hitting on women, Ronnie wrestling in a barber shop, JWoww getting greedy, etc. Easily the best one is a dinner scene where Vinny impersonates everyone in the house with impeccable preciseness.
"Jersey Shore Makeover with Michael Cera" is short and amusing. It's exactly what it says. They do Cera's hair and give him a new wardrobe. Oil and water don't contrast as much as this group does with a smart, skinny white boy in the mix. I want more.
The last two features are skippable. One is "Before the Shore," which looks like it was filmed the day before everybody left for the show. More entertaining, though not on the disc, was the episode of MTV's When I Was 17, which featured the cast. It actually went into some kind of depth. This feature is flat. As a last resort, check out "Tips from The Situation and Snooki," which just rehashes everything these two have already told us about how they live and how to look like them. Snooki gives someone's curly hair a poof, so there's that.
Is it finally over? Is the Shore no more? It's okay. Because owning this DVD set, clearly worth the low $15 price tag, means that I can look online for one of the many Jersey Shore drinking games and start everything all over again. I'm going to Jersey Shore, bitch!