After months of steadfast abstinence from watching MTV’s Jersey Shore, I finally caught my first episode of television’s newest phenomenon. When I first heard about this show, I made it a personal mission to never engage what I believed was a seemingly mindless and conventional reality program for the culturally illiterate. I assumed “Shore” promoted phoniness and ignorance, and I was partially right. However, by not climbing on board with “Snooki” and “The Situation,” I too was demonstrating both of these qualities.
Not watching Shore ultimately made me feel like a phony. I strive to stay aware of what’s going on in media, but I was missing out on arguably the year’s most relevant new show for my generation. I was the ignorant outsider, struggling to keep up with conversations laden with terms like “vibing,” “grenade,” and “The Robbery.”
***Jersey Shore- English translations
“vibing” (verb)- Showing interest in a member of the opposite sex.
“grenade” (noun)- The uglier female you force your wingman to hang with while you pursue her hot friend.
“The Robbery” (act of douchebaggery)- Stealing your friend’s girl while he’s away at the bathroom or bar. Frequently performed by Mike “The Situation.”
I was also ignorant for not giving Jersey Shore the credit it truly deserves. The “characters” are addictively (and often embarrassingly) entertaining, and the show’s creators have challenged the standard conventions of reality television while capturing the attention of a wide and loyal fanbase. What makes Shore different from other past “let’s observe a bunch of a random people in a house/on an island/on a race around the world/ etc.” series, is that its stars are not random or diverse. They are perfectly similar, which immediately helps establish a real sense of camaraderie between those we are watching on a weekly basis. It is for that reason that the show isn’t as artificial as predecessors like Big Brother and The Real World.
Sadly, I don’t think Mike, Pauly, Ronnie, Sammi, and the rest of the gang are acting at all. For them, Jersey Shore is simply a vehicle to be themselves in an environment that’s both comfortable and enjoyable. What the show’s creators have essentially done, is create a zoo for these fist-pumping, cutoff shirt-wearing, Jager Bomb-slurping fools. In doing so, the audience members simply become spectators peering into a cage at bizarre animals they can only hope to one day understand.