Friday, October 8, 2010

The Thrill is Gone With Jersey Shore

It was bound to happen sooner or later, given the shelf life of most reality shows. I loved Jersey Shore the first season, and found it hilariously amusing, but the second season has fallen flat. Last night I think it officially jumped the shark.

The episodes in the second season have followed the same formula, which has gotten old and depressing. There is nothing new to see here, and the second a joke or line is found funny by the masses, it is overplayed to the point of annoyance. (“T-shirt time” anyone? Grenades, anyone? “Cabs are here!” anyone?) The fact is, what we are really watching each week is a bunch of people in their twenties getting wasted, going clubbing, picking up women and men, and grudgingly going to work at a gelato shop. While there have been some funny comments this season, mostly from the participants’ “talking heads,” last night’s episode really lost me, and may have lost me for good as a viewer.

It had all of the token scenes that have encompassed episodes of Season 2: Snooki shuffling around the house in dirty slippers with her ass hanging out of a too short dress, Snooki getting flat out wasted with her eyemakeup smeared down her face, Snooki emitting her dolphin pitched whine when she doesn’t get her way, Sammi picking at her eyelashes and eyebrows and patting her hair while displaying permanent bitchface, Ronnie acting like an ass to Sammi, and Sammi putting up with it, Vinny trying to pick up women, Pauly D yelling out “T-shirt time” or “Cabs are here” and popping his eyes out in horror at what is going on around him, The Situation lifting his shirt to show his abs, lowering his sunglasses inside the club to peer over them at the camera, acting like a legitimate jackass in front of throngs of women, cleaning the kitchen, cooking food for the rest of the house, and J-Wow trying to dance while wearing an outfit suitable for a hooker, patting her hair extensions, and acting tough. It also had the standard trip to the beach, gym, laundromat, and tanning salon, a friend from out of town visiting, a trip to the club, a fight between one or more of the roommates, and a quick scene of one or more of them serving gelato.

In short, it should have been nothing more than a typical Jersey Shore episode, but for some reason it was more than that. How many episodes of the exact same thing over and over again can viewers stand? What struck me for the first time last night is how depressing it all seems, and how depressed they all seemed to be there. They are stuck in a house with no television, no Internet, and one landline phone. The house is a mess and no one except The Situation seems to care. They are all sharing bedrooms with twin sized beds and disgusting bedding. The house just looks dirty. They all use one room to “smoosh.” Everyone is constantly crawling into bed in the middle of the day. They are likely forced to hang out together and come and go together, for the benefit of the show. I mean, do these people even like each other? A few of them seem to get along fine, but this is not the “family” from season 1 anymore, no matter how many times they try to tell us it is. There is a huge disconnect that was not there in season 1, and everything that made season 1 entertaining seems to have fallen by the wayside. It’s also possible I’m just getting tired of these people, or am too old to find the continual drama entertaining.

Or part of it may be my disbelief at the big picture. It’s hard to forget that they are all making thousands per episode to essentially sit around and act like idiots and stir up drama. Given MTV’s ratings for the show, that payment is tolerable to me. After all, if MTV is making a lot of money off them, they deserve to be compensated. What bothers me more as this season progresses are all of the other perks that have resulted from their appearance on the show. While watching Snooki stuff herself like a sausage into a minidress and emit high pitched squeals, I’m reminded in the back of my head that this idiot probably makes more money than I do. She’s admitted to reading only two books in her lifetime (one of them Twilight), yet she got a book deal to write a novel. While watching J-Wow push up her fake boobs in a dangerously low cut dress suitable for a streetwalker, I’m reminded that she is releasing her own line of fashions, Filthy Couture. Ronnie and J-Wow also got a book deal. The Situation ends up on Dancing With the Stars. Pauly D gets his own reality show, focusing on his DJing skills. Rumors are that Snooki and J-Wow are also getting other reality shows. Sammi reportedly wants to get into fashion design, and likely someone will give her the opportunity. All of them make thousands just to show up at a club or other event.

You stop and think about people who actually work hard for their money through brains, ambition, or talent and it’s hard to watch people like this get a free pass into the world of glamour. How many washed up “stars” would love to be on Dancing With the Stars? How many struggling fashion designers and writers would love to be given the opportunity that these clowns have been given? How many people would love to be able to attend the VMAs and other awards shows? I suppose good for them, right? But something about it really does rub me the wrong way, particularly since people like this have become “role models.”

If they were all still likeable to watch, it would be much easier to tolerate, and I probably wouldn't even mind.  But…as the season goes on, each of them has become more and more unlikeable. Hearing about Snooki getting arrested and going to the hospital for alcohol poisoning doesn’t help matters.  Watching Vinny act like an imbecile also doesn't help.  Nor does watching J-Wow constantly pick fights and act like a tough girl.  The Situation still can throw out a line or two here and there, but his actions on last night's show were abhorrent.   Ronnie and Sammi are possibly the most dysfunctional couple I've seen on television, and are uncomfortable to watch.  Maybe this show should have gotten a new cast for season 2, because the more I get to know these people, the less I like them, and the less funny their behavior seems. It's all just so…dare I say…pathetic and forced. It will be interesting to see how season 3 fares in the ratings, which I understand just finished shooting back in the Jersey Shore.

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