Archive for the ‘Jersey Shore’ Category

Jersey Shore 1.5.

Posted: November 9, 2010 in Boats, Jersey Shore, TV

A girl I know insisted that I get back to my Jersey Shore column.  I had some notes lying around for the fifth episode, so here’s what came out of it

Guess this means I have to go back and watch more episodes now.  I look forward to the day where I don’t have to do that, or more accurately, to a day when I don’t feel obliged to concede to pop-culture trends for web traffic/ take requests from cute girls just so we can “smoosh”.  (God damn it that I know that phrase…)

Oh, and as far as I can tell, the above magazine cover is real.  That existed on a newsstand somewhere.  If print is dead, that’s maybe the reason.

So it’s been a while since I updated my Jersey Shore project.  After covering the first four episodes,I took notes on the fifth one, but then I got distracted by just about everything else that I deemed more important.  I do enjoy writing this column, since it’s one of the few socially-acceptable places for me to unleash my most sarcastic instincts, but I also don’t love bagging on the same people over and over, even if they’re literally asking for it.  But I am interested in why this show still captivates so many millions, and I’m definitely an obsessive-compulsive completist, so I do plan to finish at least the first season.
Since I last posted on Jersey Shore, a lot has happened:
The entire second season has aired.
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that the cast are all household names by now.
The Situation was cast on one of TV’s most popular shows, Dancing With The Stars.  Though he was dropped from that competition early on, he can console himself with the impending release of his book next month (and the frustrated tears of thousands of unpublished authors who actually have talent.)
Meanwhile, Snooki was arrested for drunk-and-disorderly conduct, and was told by a judge: “Rude, profane, obnoxious & self-indulgent is not the way you want to go through life.”  Dean Wormer is alive and well and working a bench in New Jersey.  (If Jersey Shore were Animal House – which it isn’t, because it isn’t awesome – Snooki would clearly be Flounder.)
As for J-Woww, she has reportedly turned down an offer to appear in Playboy magazine.  I’m hoping that this is show-business doubletalk for “Hugh Hefner heard about it and shut it down,” but who really knows or cares.  As Jersey Shore fans already know, J-Woww being paid to be naked is the definition of redundant.
And those are the memorable characters.   The only sadder distinction than being a standout Jersey Shore character is probably to be one of the lesser-known characters on Jersey Shore.
So there’s plenty to be proud of.
I know that most of you are way ahead of me on this show, and if I start this up again where I left off, I’m going to be talking about stuff that you watched months ago, but I’m going to keep this column going anyway.  Either you’ll enjoy my take on things, or you’ll disregard it entirely and I’ll have achieved an act of stupidity on par with Pauly D’s haircut.  So Episode Five.  Let’s go…
This episode picks up where the last one left off, with Snooki balled up on the floor of some shit bar, wailing . I said what I said about the Snooki-punch incident, and I stand by it, but my sympathies have shifted to include the poor cops and medical personnel who no doubt are routinely called out on this kind of unnecessary scene.  It didn’t have to happen in the first place.  “Jersey Shore, bitch!”  “Wooo!”  That’s great.  Some people actually sign up to be EMTs to help people.  Sad that this goes with their territory.
The controversy built into the incident is that it turns out that beforehand, Situation was buying shots for the group of guys that included the one who hit Snooki.  Not only that, but in the middle of the aftermath, as the cops take names and J-Woww tends to Snooki, Situation tries to pick up on some girl.  Ronnie notices and is bothered by Situation’s callous single-mindedness – rightfully so.  When your behavior is so sociopathic that a guy like Ronnie is your voice of reason, you might be too far gone for salvation to reach you.
The incident is then dropped abruptly, and the episode cuts to the next day, as if it hadn’t happened.  It’s kind of like an episode of The Simpsons, where the opening scene is a non-sequitur set-up leading into the main story.  And the skin tones are similarly nuclear.
So in the morning, Ronnie’s whole family shows up.  He’s eager to introduce them to Sammi – again, these two can’t have known each other for more than a week, but okay, suspension of disbelief and all that.  Sammi takes forever to get ready, which prompts Ronnie’s mom to loudly bellow her potential disapproval.  When Sammi gets downstairs, everyone acts nice and perfectly fake and they head to the boardwalk.
Meanwhile, so do Snooki and J-Woww, who bond by drinking heavily.  Snooki gets notification that the guy who punched her is already out on bail.  Before Snooki can express her dismay, J-Woww asks, “Do you want to go tanning later?”  Snooki takes her up on the offer.  Cancerlicious!
The punching incident has brought the house together, in a way.  There’s slightly less acrimony, slightly more positive development.  Pauly D has a brief scene where he books a DJing performance, meaning he’s one of the cast members who demonstrably works.  (It’s an important distinction, since already we’ve seen most of them blow off their jobs at the T-shirt stand.)
That night, Situation cooks for the house.  Lobster.  The lobster is super-red – it could pass for one of the cast members.  Snooki is freaked; she claims to have worked previously as “a vet tech” so it distresses her to see crustaceans in jeopardy.  When they all sit down to eat, everybody laughs at Snooki’s difficulty eating – “because she’s disabled.”  What was that I implied earlier about signs of sensitivity?
After dinner, there’s conflict over the clean-up – inevitable, maybe.  Situation insists that because he’s the one who cooked, he shouldn’t have to clean.  Sammi disagrees.  This is the real inevitability:  After Angelina, Sammi is the show’s most undeservedly privileged character.  Ronnie’s right – she’s a total catch.  Who wouldn’t get serious about her?  The argument fizzles, but afterwards Ronnie and J-Woww discuss their shared dislike for Situation.  (Sometimes Jersey Shore reminds me of HBO’s prison drama Oz, the way allegiances are both moment-to-moment and life-or-death.)
The next big Jersey Shore setpiece is a group day on a boat, one of those completely debauched Spring Break kind of scenes where a bunch of stupid drunk kids drive a bunch of boats up against each other and proceed to act out their least creative natural instincts.  I have to tell you, I’m ruined for scenes like this, ever since Piranha 3D.  Nothing like that happens here, obviously, but hell, [read this in Matthew McConaughey voice] it would’ve been a whole lot cooler if it had.
Here’s what does happen:  The gang dances on the boat, except for Ronnie and Sammi.  Ronnie wants to go over and ‘beat on the beat’, but Sammi won’t let him.  Typical high school girlfriend.  Ronnie eventually breaks free, and promptly tosses Snooki into the lake.  Also, I get an answer to a question I’ve been wondering about, when it’s proven conclusively that Pauly D’s Troll-doll hair is waterproof.
Later, Pauly, Vinnie, and Mike invite a trio of girls over.  They like these ones, because “they aren’t whores.”  Why judge, fellas?  Mary Magdalene and all that?
Meanwhile, in another corner of the same club, some girl who didn’t sign a release form calls Snooki fat, so J-Woww throws her drink and then many punches.  (J-Woww’s fighting style resembles her dance moves, almost precisely.  Jersey Shore offers many examples of both, so I feel like I’m calling this one right.)
A few more things happen before the episode staggers to an end.  Pauly and Mike learn that they’re making a name for themselves in the area, which predictably thrills them.  Still, that doesn’t prevent Situation from getting stood up that same night.  In other news, Ronnie laughs at J-Woww’s boyfriend Tommy because the guy tries too hard (Ronnie must have left his sense of irony in his other pants), Snooki eats a sausage (literally, not colloquially), and in the episode’s cliffhanger, Vinny accidentally hooks up with a cougar who turns out to be Danny’s girlfriend.  Danny is their boss at the T-shirt stand.
Aw, shit…
That I am probably the only person on the planet who has ever compared Jersey Shore to both Oz and The Simpsons.
Other than that, nothing as usual.
Although I will say this – the more evidence I see of the Jersey Shore cast dancing, the more it’s becoming obvious that these people dance really, really funny.  I mean, if Urkel or Carlton or Elaine Benes had pulled this shit, it would have been considered over the top.  I had no idea that you could dance like this in public and still be considered a viable sexual partner.  (Of course, on Jersey Shore the only criteria for that particular reward seems to be whether or not the parts line up.)  Can somebody tell me if that’s how it went when Situation was on Dancing With The Stars?  Because if people were running around ‘beating on the beat’ on Dancing With The Stars, I might actually watch Dancing With The Stars.
Find me on Twitter!: @jonnyabomb

Jersey Shore 1.4.

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Jersey Shore, TV



So I’m doing my usual rap about how mind-numbing this show is, and venting sarcastic absurdities left and right, when all of a sudden the Snooki-punch happens and my morality streak kicks into overdrive…


I’ve been away from this column for a while.  Yes OF COURSE I’ve considered abandoning it entirely.  But I hate leaving a job unfinished, and who knows?  Maybe some people are enjoying this.  I aim to please, and besides, I’m nothing if not a masochist.  So let’s hop back on the torture rack.
The last episode ended on a cliffhanger.  Ronnie had left the club early, and J-Woww was going after him to make sure he was okay, but meanwhile Sammi was chasing them both, expecting to interrupt an affair and hoping to throw some elbows. 
This episode picks up immediately where we left off.  Sammi drops one of the great malapropisms of the entire series so far when she threatens, “Yo – I’m gonna fucking knock a bitch up.”  Amazing. 
Anyway, obviously nothing happens between Ronnie and J-Woww.  It’s like the old Incredible Hulk comics – the Hulk only ever was looking for Betty Ross, even though that She-Hulk chick was walking around with her big-ass green titties hanging out all over the place.  (Go ahead, call me a nerd for having read some Marvel Comics in my day – at least I read.  How many Jersey Shore viewers can say that?) 
Sammi shows up, angry, but the anger quickly fades and the cartoon hearts return to her eyes, and she and Ronnie share a cry.  That’s right, I said “Sammi and Ronnie share a cry.”  At this point, they’ve maybe known each other for three days but still he apparently feels comfortable enough crying around her.  Ronnie is the resident tough guy, remember?   Or so we’ve been led to believe.   I guess Mr. Lebowski did once say that strong men also cry, but he didn’t mention if that applies to guys with nipple rings.   And if that weren’t pathetic enough, a little later in the episode, Ronnie drops the following rookie line to Sammi: 
“Are you mad at me?”
Not that I haven’t said that very same line to a girl way too early in the game, but let’s face it, my man has gotten himself bitched-out, with a quickness.  This relationship is ridiculously accelerated at best.   Alcohol is a hell of a drug.   Regardless, whatever Ronnie is doing is working, and astoundingly, the producers literally cut to a scene of fireworks when Ronnie and Sammi fuck for the first time.   Ronnie later admits, “We smooshed.”   Ever the poet, that dude.   Somehow the term “smooshing” sets a new precedent for both the least romance and the least maturity of any euphemism for fucking that I’ve ever heard.
At one point in this episode, Sammi admits: “I’m not really good with relationships.”  I don’t want to criticize the first faint signal of self-awareness that any character (besides maybe Vinny) has exhibited so far, but this is both a colossal understatement, and a certain foreshadowing of what is to come during the rest of the season.
 Meanwhile, the other characters are having their own relationship ordeals. 
J-Woww makes another run at calling her boyfriend, Tommy.  At the end of the call, they leave things… ambiguous.  It might be fair to suggest that J-Woww and Tommy may not have the star-crossed soulmate connection of a Sammi-and-Ronnie.
Pauly D and The Situation, however, manage to bring a couple rough-looking blondes home with them from the club.  They start hooking up with the girls in the hot tub, around which time Situation issues the following confusingly-phrased report: “I’m hooking up with my girl, Pauly’s hooking up with his girl, we’re gonna have sex.”  I’m going to give Situation the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s not saying that he and Pauly are going to have sex with each other, but then again, you know what happens when you assume.  These guys go to tanning salons together, that’s all I’m saying.
All we know for sure is that the boys don’t get to have sex with those blondes.  Pauly’s girl, “the grenade,” has her period and freaks out, taking Situation’s girl with her.  Snooki’s not having any better luck.  She was left behind at the club by everybody else, so naturally some predatory giant swoops in and snatches up the small stumpy-legged gazelle that strayed from the pack.  Which is a convoluted way of saying that some very large dude takes Snooki to the beach and they hook up, in yet another not-as-romantic-as-it-sounds interlude.
The next day, the boys hit the tanning salon (obviously) and then talk shit to each other at the barbershop.  This small detail connects to some overarching cultural commentary I’m working over in my mind, but let’s put a pin in it for now and ideally come back to it in future installments.  Because here’s a significant development – Snooki’s mom comes to visit!
It’s true, these people actually do have parents; they’re not belligerent CGI creations that James Cameron brainstormed after watching the first season of The Sopranos.  We got a brief glimpse of Vinnie’s folks in the premiere episode, but as far as I can remember, this is our first extended look at one of the main characters’ parents.  Snooki’s mom seems like a nice enough lady, but to be fair, she doesn’t get a goddamn word in.  Snooki says that “that girl is my best friend” and that they talk all the time, but there’s not much evidence of that.  The woman looks traumatized, frankly – she hardly says a word, just rides along as Snooki yammers away.  Still, I have to admit that it humanizes Snooki a little to see her around her moms.  When she gets sad over her mom leaving, it’s a relatable moment to any of us who were once thirteen and had to say goodbye to our folks at the end of Visiting Day at summer camp.  But Snooki is in her twenties, you say?  “Whatever,” as Snooki would say.
Snooki remains the focus of the rest of the episode.  The crew goes out that night, and they’re having an unusually united kind of great time.  None of our conflict-prone main characters are having a single issue with each other.  They’re laughing and smiling, united in love for the vine.  
Clearly, something must go wrong. 
A small group of date-rapey types are clustered at the end of the bar, sipping on drinks that were meant for our team.  After a couple of reasonable entreaties by both Situation and J-Woww, the party-foulers continue to bogart the shots.  Snooki gets up in their faces, clarifying the rudeness.  Out of nowhere, one of the creeps decks Snooki in the face.  As the episode ends, Snooki is rolling on the ground, bawling, and her assailant is being handcuffed by the cops, as Ronnie and the other guys are lunging for a piece of him.
A man does not hit a woman.  Ever.
I don’t care what you think of her, Snooki is still a woman – frankly, as I’ve noted before, she’s more like a little girl in a lot of key ways.  I know that when this episode originally aired, there were a lot of guys who delighted in the incident, and challenged MTV’s decision to avoid airing the scene.  Those guys are useless assholes.  I might challenge MTV’s decision to air Jersey Shore in the first place, but if it has to air, then that small (and belated) gesture of restraint was the appropriate response.  A person who celebrates the image of a woman getting hit is almost as bad as the bastard who did the crime.  Let’s be clear.
The moral conundrum, of course, is that Jersey Shore is a show which leads any rational person to ridicule, judge, dismiss, and despise most of its main characters.  If this show were scripted and staged, first of all, it would be a comedy, and if it were a comedy, this would have been a moment where the audience could be fairly expected to have a little fun in seeing a generally annoying character being humiliated.  It’s the moment at the end of Animal House where Kevin Bacon gets trampled by a crowd.  But the fact that Jersey Shore is real (relatively speaking) – certainly no one asked anyone to hit anyone – and the fact that Snooki is a woman getting hit by a man, definitely throws a monkey-wrench into the mechanics of the enjoyment of the show.  We’re confronting a real, despicable, and ugly issue in a show that is predicated on the entire absence of any reasonable thought whatsoever.  That’s kind of a shitty thing to thrust upon a presumably unsophisticated audience, but that’s the kind of show we’re dealing with.  I have a feeling that I’m more unsettled by the sight of Snooki on the ground crying than the people who direct and air the show, but hopefully I’m wrong.  Even if Snooki is complicit in her own humiliation, she doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment.  No one does.  (Except obviously the piece of shit asshole who hit her, and every other cowardly turd like him.)
So that said, again, I can’t hate the cast of Jersey Shore, the way that many viewers enjoy doing.  Ronnie and Pauly and all the others went right after that piece of shit when he hit their friend, and that was an entirely justifiable impulse on their part.   They were right there, as they should be.   I’d have done the same damn thing.

Jersey Shore 1.3.

Posted: August 13, 2010 in Jersey Shore, TV

I’m in hell.

Can somebody confirm a suspicion of mine? Every time the racing techno of the opening credits and closing credits of Jersey Shore play, it’s sounded weirdly familiar to me. Then it hit me: Bruno. Right?!? Either this is exactly the interstitial music from Bruno, or it’s a copyright-infringing approximation.
If that’s intentional, it suggests some degree of intelligent satire on the part of this show’s producers.
I doubt it’s intentional.
Mostly fallout from the drama of the previous episode. 
JWoww is pretending that she didn’t remember she hooked up with Pauly, but of course she knows exactly what she did.   This chick is as camera-conscious as Paris Hilton’s publicist. JWoww’s boyfriend Tom shows up with a gigantic bouquet of roses. She decides not to tell him about her cheating episode. She says she didn’t realize that she didn’t care about him that much until she saw him again, but haven’t they only been apart for a couple days at this point? Time is a strange concept on this show. It’s like Inception, only not at all.
Meanwhile, Situation is bitter over Sammi choosing Ronnie over him, but when they go to work at the T-shirt shop he ends up complimenting her beauty (low standards). Then Ronnie shows up and a more subdued recreation of the previous episode’s love triangle occurs. Again, all of Ronnie and Sammi’s conversations about how into each other they are seem to involve loud and obvious references to Situation. This relationship is founded on hatred and acrimony, which means it just might last.
Side note: Ronnie’s laugh is an awful, awful sound. Like a jackass farting out shit.
Back at the house, Snooki publicly and suggestively indulges her love of pickles. That has nothing to do with anything, but I guess they have to pad this shit so that it lasts an hour (minus commercials).
Later, Angelina introduces her two friends, Alana and Elena. (You’ve got to be kidding me.) Anyway the gang goes out to a place called Headliner’s. Angelina’s boyfriend shows up and dumps her impressively promptly. The boyfriend turns out to be a married guy going through a divorce. More karma points for Angelina’s afterlife! Situation calls her a drama queen and the guy has a point. 
The next day, Vinny is paired with Angelina for the day job, which is too bad for Vinny because Angelina decides not to go. She fakes a cough, for fronting’s sake. When she finally makes her way over to the T-shirt shop, Samson, the store manager, brings up the point that she could have at least asked someone to cover her shift. Angelina defiantly acts as if Samson is asking her something truly absurd, such as to climb a ladder to the moon, or to read a book. 
Then Danny the landlord & boss shows up to confront Angelina about her general shittiness, but she goes into the bathroom and ignores him until he goes away. Through the door, Danny tells Angelina to get out, so after he leaves the house, she packs up. Angelina says her goodbyes, and as a charming parting shot, tells Situation he has a gray hair.
Once Angelina is gone, the remaining seven toast to a drama-free summer. We’ll see. Thankfully rewarding my skepticism from the previous sentence, JWoww chooses that moment to call her boyfriend and ‘fess up. He hangs up on her. After no deliberation at all, she decides she’s single.
Ronnie and Sammi make a plan to go out to play mini-golf.  Situation and Sammi talk it out in a confusing and strange way. Later on, the house has to deal with those two shacking up. Situation consoles himself in the hot tub, where Snooki and Snooki’s friend Ryder start hooking up, because as Snooki points out, “all the guys like that.” (I don’t want to deliberate on that quote because it makes me sad.) Then Snooki and Situation start hooking up. The weird DVD censorship issues pop up again, because it seems like Snooki demands “fuck my fucking asshole” but that gets bleeped out – even though up until now the F-bomb has been shellacking this episode.
The next day, Situation tries to cook up dinner for the house but the grill catches on fire. He and Pauly put out the fire, and this is treated as high drama. Just having typed that, I can’t believe that this is the most popular show on television.
That night at the club, a comedy of errors erupts. Ronnie breaks out his ridiculous dance moves. Sammi runs into a cop friend and talks to him for a little while. JWoww goes over to Ronnie and tells him, which causes him to leave the club in a fury, ripping his shirt off in anger. (The various ways in which shirts are removed in this show are revealing indications of character.) JWoww leaves the club to check on Ronnie, which leads Sammi to suspect whatever she suspects. On the promise of further incomprehensible conflict, the episode ends.
Not a damn thing, as usual.
But the episode’s title is “Good Riddance,” which leads one to hope that Angelina will not return. However, there’s just something about this show which makes me suspect that, like the killer in a horror movie who everyone is sure is finally dead, Angelina will return as quickly as she left.   I can hardly believe that the show’s most obnoxious character can be disposed of this easily. I should hope so, but I just can’t. The world of Jersey Shore is a world bereft of hope. It’s like The Road, but for people who hate books.

Jersey Shore 1.2.

Posted: August 13, 2010 in Jersey Shore, TV

This show is my hairshirt.

Welcome back to the Jersey Shore project.  If you missed what has been posted up until now, please check out the introduction and the epic write-up of the premiere episode.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around this show and its tremendous popularity, and I’m still trying to figure out how to write about it, so until I do, I’m gonna stick with the two-part structure:  What Happened, and What We’ve Learned.
A whole lot.  You could say that, beginning with this episode, the shit hits the tan.  (You like that?  Yeah, you can have it.)  Here’s all of it:
Snooki tells her mom that she’s planning to leave the house.  Snooki claims that she is “The Princess Of Poughkeepsie.”  If that’s the case, the princess she most reminds me of is this Princess.
The Situation cooks a personal eggs breakfast for Sammi.  The Situation is that this dude has no moves.  Or if he does, his moves are strictly high school.
Angelina’s shitty work ethic reveals itself on her first day.  Key quote: “I feel like this job is beneath me.  I’m a bartender. I do…like… great things.”
Angelina’s occasional nickname, “Jolie”, is introduced.  That’s not a flattering comparison.  Comparing Angelina Jolie to this Angelina is like comparing Clint Eastwood to Clint Howard.
Sammi convinces Snooki to stay.  They don’t call her Sammi Sweetheart for nothing.  (Her words, not mine.)  (I suspect the producers had something to do with it.)  (I’m cynical.)
The guys work out together.  No comment.
The Ronnie/Sammi/Situation love triangle rears its feathered head.
Pauly D suggests the frightening possibility of Snooki/Pauly offspring.
Situation says a lot of shit that actually makes zero sense.  He says the word “Situation” more times in any given Jersey Shore episode than the FAO Schwarz song plays on a daily basis.
JWoww gives the following threat: “Tits are coming out tonight.”  Somewhere, Roger Corman and/or Lloyd Kaufman are preparing a horror movie around this idea.
Angelina disapproves of Snooki’s poofy hairdo.
Vinny shows up at the T-shirt store (he wears his sunglasses at night!) to let Situation and Sammi know that the rest of them are going out for the evening while the other two work.
Vinny dances with a boulder-shaped old lady.
Snooki wants to “bring home guys hard.”  That’s not so easy, turns out.  She meets a really sketchy-looking dork named Robby and takes him home  (Situation: “You guys look cute together.”  Robby: “Your boy Mike’s on the right page.”), but Robby pukes and passes out.  Poor Snooki; kid just can’t get it done.
Angelina and JWoww both cheat on their boyfriends in this episode, after swearing up and down that they wouldn’t.
Pauly and JWoww start making out sloppily on the dance floor.  This is like a nature documentary.  When Idiots Mate.
Sammi asks Situation, “Any guys like me in the house?”  (I think she means “Do any guys like me?” and not that she might be a guy.)   Situation tries to throw Ronnie under the bus, but it seems to draw out Sammi’s interest.
Pauly D and JWoww get home and start hooking up.  JWoww opens Pauly’s pants and finds out that he’s pierced down there.  In a subsequent scene, we notice for the first time that Ronnie’s nipples are pierced.  A trend is forming.
The next morning, Angelina is remorseful that she cheated on her boyfriend, although she won’t admit it to herself or anyone else.  She calls him and he says he can’t talk at work, so she proceeds to call him seven hundred times.
In what is sure to be only the first of the contagious conditions that we are likely to see this season,Vinny comes down with a case of pink-eye.  The house has a meeting because Vinny can’t work his shift on account of the pink-eye, and none of the girls are willing to give up their going-out prep time to help a brother out.  (JWoww’s huge cartoon boobs have the habit of adding comedy to the surrounding conversations and conflicts.)  No worries, though, the doctor says that Vinny is okay to go out.  Apparently, he can’t work, but he can party.  Jersey Shore logic.
Ronnie announces his intentions towards Sammi, right in front of her, to Situation. 
At the club, Situation makes his move on Sammi.  They start making out on the dance floor.
Pauly and JWoww start hooking up again.  They start making out on the dance floor.  In one of my favorite show moments to date, JWoww pulls off Pauly’s tank top and abruptly walks out of the club with it and goes home.  Her reason?  She wanted to eat some ham.
Meanwhile, Sammi goes over to Ronnie and they promptly start hooking up.  You can literally see the herpes being transmitted.
Situation and Pauly see the hook-up happen.  Situation is astounded.  He points out to Sammi the slutty nature of her behavior, and he’s not wrong.  Sammi for some reason becomes infuriated with Situation, and goes back to hooking up with Ronnie.
Situation gets sloppy-drunk, and provokes a fight with a rival gang of lame-asses.  Some guy pushes Vinny in the commotion, and then Pauly runs in and sucker-punches one of the guys.  “Don’t let this spike-hair fool you, I’m not a bitch,” he asserts, only he kind of is, because the guy he punched was being held back by his friends, which makes it a sucker-punch.  Everyone is thrown out of the club.
Back at home, the ugliness between Situation and Sammi escalates.  Middle fingers are extended.
The other guys have located some girls and invited them home, but Angelina goes upstairs and happily ruins it.  Her justification: “If a girl’s a slut, she should be abused.”  I don’t wish this fate on anyone, but somehow the idea haunts that Angelina may have predicted the course of her own life with this kind of statement.
Situation calls out Angelina on her lame, unprovoked C-block, to which she responds: “Yo – I will cut your hair while you’re sleeping.”  Delilah!  This sounds like way too specific a threat to have not been something she has done before.
Sammi and Ronnie proceed to hook up sloppily in front of Situation.  The both of them seem to be keeping this up more to upset Situation than out of any genuine human connection.  It’s a fuck-you kind of love.  Isn’t that how Romeo and Juliet did it?
The episode ends with a musical interlude, where Situation faces the rising sun with memories of his boardwalk hand-hold with his beloved Sammi.
Angelina is a bad person, and not in an interesting way either.  She sucks worse than all of the rest of them, and that’s some kind of achievement.  The same is probably true of Sammi and Ronnie.  These three are so repellent that I somehow find myself siding with a man who calls himself a Situation.
Ronnie has piercings on his nipples and Pauly has one on his dick.  I’m not judging, but then again someone has to point out that this isn’t the kind of thing that straight guys do.  I will say this though; he may be a stupid-hairstyle-wearing clown who sucker-punches other clowns, but at least Pauly sticks up for his friends (or thinks he does).  Ronnie seems to be revealing himself to be as stupidly mean-spirited as Sammi and Angelina are.
My dream scenario for this show would be that as it progresses, factions emerge, as happened in the later seasons of Lost, and the Jersey Shore kids will war against each other, with multiple casualties on either side.  Situation versus Ronnie, Snooki and JWoww versus Sammi and Angelina, all to the death.  (Vinny can go off and live happily in pink-eye with that old chubby broad.)  But we all know that there’s already a new season airing already, with almost all of the same characters in it, so my dream will have to wait.

Anyway, I don’t know.  I still can’t make much sense of this shit, but a promise is a promise, so let’s meet back here again for the next episode, shall we not?

Jersey Shore 1.1.

Posted: August 6, 2010 in Jersey Shore, TV

It took me a week longer than I expected, but here it is, my Jersey Shore column.  The results are predictably sarcastic, hopefully funny, and even a little surprising.  Please enjoy!

I waffled. I can’t lie. A week ago, I promised you a Jersey Shore Season One viewing column, and then I hesitated. It took me a couple days to get further than the first three minutes, and then once I got through the episode I guess I needed to figure out how to arrange my thoughts. Simplicity is generally the best side to err upon, so this is going to break down into two sections: What Happened? and What Have We Learned?

And with that, let’s get right to it.



All of the show’s principal cast were introduced. They moved into their shore house in Seaside Heights for a month, chose up rooms, and had their first major controversies. 

Here are the cast members:

DJ Pauly D is the smiley guy with the hair that reaches for the heavens like an overdramatic preacher. Pauly D is from Rhode Island, where apparently it’s cool to resemble a Russ troll. Pauly D moonlights as a club DJ, under the name “DJ Pauly D”, which has to be one of the most uncreative DJ names ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. He calls himself “your girl’s favorite DJ,” and claims that he wants girls to “[BLEEP] in their pants”. I don’t think he means “poop.”

Nicole “Snooki” is from Poughkeepsie. She is small, very small – at a reported 4’9”, Snooki is technically a little person. She is also orange, and round, like a Cheeto. Like everyone else in the cast, Snooki is very enthusiastic about going to the Jersey Shore. Her battle cry is “I love Guidos, let’s go!” and also “Let’s go to the Jersey Fucking Shore!” Which means that the “Uncensored” Jersey Shore DVD allows certain four-letter words but not other ones. Snooki can say “Fuck” but Pauly D can’t say “Come” – what does this mean for censorship on this show in the future, I wonder?

Mike “The Situation” is one of the few cast members who is actually from Jersey. People who judge people from New Jersey based on this show, and those who worry that people will judge people from New Jersey based on this show, should try to remember that. Besides, this guy isn’t exactly representative either. Mike works out five times a week and calls his favorite feature — his abdominal muscles — and by extension himself, “The Situation.” That’d be like me referring to myself as “The Fire Hose,” it’s strange and kind of desperate, but it seems to make him happy, so live and let live.  Mike’s lead-off quote is: “What can you possibly say to someone who looks like Rambo with his shirt off?” Well, you can concede that he has well-defined abs but you could also point out that he has a seriously dopey, droopy face. He’s the male equivalent of what us guys refer to as a “butterface.” The Situation looks like one of those wooden tourist displays where goofy people stand behind a drawing of a muscleman. Also, one might point out that anyone who has that much time to devote to the gym probably doesn’t have much else going on. But other than that, you know, you can’t say much to a guy who looks like Rambo with his shirt off.

Sammi “Sweetheart” is also from New Jersey. She proclaims, “If you’re not a Guido then you can get the fuck out of my face!” Not that I want to get in Sammi’s face, but it’s sad that she has such rigid parameters for people she prefers to interact with. It’s the whole FUBU concept. If we keep looking for ways to separate and differentiate, we’ll never unite as a species, and we’ll never reach the stars. It’s sad that Sammi doesn’t want to reach the stars, but what can you do? There’s been a lot of controversy around these kids and their proud use of the word “Guido.” Yeah, it’s a stupid, uncreative, annoying word that originally began as a slur, but that’s how these kids define themselves.  There isn’t much else they can come up with. How much effort do you want to spend trying to explain to people like Sammi why words like “Guido” are troublesome?  You’ll never enlighten someone like Sammi. You can only provide them with the easiest-to-understand birth control practices available, and pray that they don’t procreate too much.

Vinny is from Staten Island. While everyone else in the cast was clearly chosen for their more exaggerated personalities and appearances, Vinny seems relatively normal. He seems to have at least a fraction of self-awareness, which is a vast reservoir compared to his castmates – although he doesn’t seem to notice the sweatstains on his armpits during his talking-head segments. Vinny is the Marilyn Munster of the cast so far – as soon as he gets an eyeful of his incoming housemates, he smartly goes for the one single room in the house. Good move. I hope Vinny survives the season.

Jenni “JWoww” is from Long Island and has huge cartoon boobs. JWoww has an even more abominable nickname than DJ Pauly D, but this is the world we live in. She also has a boyfriend at the beginning of the show, but she doesn’t seem particularly committed. She states, “If you don’t know me, then you hate me, and you wish you were me.” This is a flawed tautology, because if you take me as an example, I don’t know JWoww, but I don’t hate her, and I definitely don’t want to be her. I mean, I’d look pretty silly with huge cartoon boobs, don’t you think? Interestingly, the segment introducing JWoww gives us one of our first glimpses of any of these people without makeup on, and it’s very, very telling.

Ronnie is from the Bronx, which has me rooting for him at least. (Yankee fan.) Ronnie is a giant ogre of a human being who believes the following: “Take your shirt off and they come to you, like flies come to shit.” So as you can see, Ronnie has a way with a simile. Jersey Shore is starting to remind me of the old comic books, where every superhero team had to have a giant strong guy. I expect we’ll come to find out that Ronnie has some kind of superhero weakness, like he’s afraid of mice or something. One troubling thing about Ronnie is that he uses lip gloss. According to Vinny, this is actually some kind of a cliché in this world, but I’ve never heard of such a thing before. It’s kind of funny that these hyper-macho guys don’t account for the fact that they wear makeup.

Angelina is also from the Bronx. In fact, she calls her self “the Kim Kardashian of the Bronx.” Unlike Ronnie, Angelina doesn’t have a facility with simile or metaphor. I’m not the world’s biggest Kim Kardashian fan, since she’s dumber than dirt and probably wouldn’t give me a second look, but even her harshest critics would have to admit that she does have a phenomenal body and a pretty face.  Angelina doesn’t have the latter qualities, although if she meant the dumb-as-dirt thing, then maybe she’s got a point. I just don’t think, if I had to guess, that Kim Kardashian travels using Hefty garbage bags as luggage.

So anyway all of these characters move into the shore house, which has an Italian flag painted on the garage door, which indicates that the producers have coached them all to behave as much like caricatures as possible. Happily for them, the kids perform impeccably. 

Before I watched Jersey Shore, I assumed that the show was based around a group of people who already know each other, but that’s not the case – it’s more like a Real World scenario, where they presumably haven’t met until they first show up at the house.  Immediately, DJ Pauly D and The Situation form a partnership. Immediately, Snooki gets into the booze and begins behaving like a trainwreck. Immediately, Vinny ponders that he expected Sammi to be hotter. (So did I.)

The gang briefly meets Danny, their landlord, who is also their boss at a boardwalk T-shirt store. We can assume that this is going to be a problem area on both fronts, and we can hope that Danny was well-compensated for his troubles. After this brief introduction, the partying begins in earnest.

The Situation cooks dinner for the group, at which the housemates insist on saying Grace, which is both touching and sacrilegious at the same time.  Snooki continues to get more drunk throughout the evening. By the time they all get into the hot tub, Snooki has stripped down to her underwear and begun to make sloppy passes at the male housemates. Vinny and Ronnie both begin referring to her as “Snickers” throughout the episode. Not getting the attention she’d prefer, Snooki gets messy, cranky, falls down the stairs, and passes out. 

It’s at that point that the rest of the group goes a’wandering. The Situation is interested in Sammi right off the bat. In a real summer-camp move, they start holding hands the first night they’ve met. Any adult male I’ve ever met would tell The Situation that this can only end in complications and strife, but unfortunately The Situation does not benefit from the same company I do. Sure enough, this becomes a problem as quickly as it began, as the guys invite some girls back to the house to party in the hot tub. Meanwhile, Snooki has woken up, and she isn’t happy. She calls her dad on the house duck-phone (they have a phone shaped like a mallard, WTF) and lets him know that she’s considering coming home already.

At the same time, the guys are hooking up with those girls in the hot tub, as Sammi and Angelina sit on beach chairs nearby and watch, with running commentary. Situation keeps looking over at Sammi, without much discretion. For a guy who looks like Rambo with his shirt off, Mike sure does indulge in plenty of rookie moves. I just give him credit for being able to tell Sammi and Angelina apart, because at this point I really can’t. They’re like the same character.

Again, the “Uncensored” DVD proves to be surprisingly prudish, as the thongs on display are blurred out. These girls are wearing more clothes than you see on an average issue of Vanity Fair, but still the blurs persist. No comment on the strange contrary mindset of a network that places kids in corrupting scenarios and encourages their worst behaviors, yet still is as timid as a Murder She Wrote fan when it comes to the human body. Except shirtless male torsos, which is MTV’s bread and butter, of course. Great.

Anyway Sammi or Angelina eventually flip out on the girls in the hot tub, chasing them out of the house and calling them “whores.” The first house meeting is convened, where the episode’s central drama, The Jacuzzi Incident, is discussed and debated. Angelina and JWoww call out Situation for being involved in the hot tub scene, when he was clearly interested in Sammi. Sammi, meanwhile, sits on the side and giggles, clearly not as distraught over this incident as the other girls claim to be. Ronnie takes over for the male point of view, loudly pronouncing that this is why he didn’t want to bring those girls into the house. Then he dresses down Situation for being disingenuous with Sammi (although he doesn’t use the word “disingenuous,” because I don’t think he knows it.) Meanwhile, Snooki is sulking in her room. Eventually, the other girls remember her, and try to convince her to stay.

End Episode One.


As a human being with a heart and a soul (I hope), I have two major concerns for these people. The first is skin cancer. Tanning is the one behavior (besides drinking and talking loudly) that all of these folks have in common. I don’t know what kind of tanning program they’re all on, but it can’t be entirely healthy to so obsessively irradiate oneself. JWoww in particular has a tremendous amount of freckles on her frequently-exposed skin, and they don’t look like natural redhead freckles like a Conan O’Brien or a Lindsay Lohan. They look like too-much-tanning freckles. If I could get any message to the producers of Jersey Shore, it would be to urge them to employ a staff dermatologist for regular check-ups.  The other concern, obviously, is venereal disease. That hot tub water looked ominously murky; that’s all I’m saying. (Then again, it could be due to all the hair product being employed. This was a definite issue with the pool at my high school.)

The most surprising thing that I personally learned from watching my first episode of Jersey Shore is that I don’t despise these people the way I was led to believe I would by the controversial cultural response to the show. I’ve had some fun at these kids’ expense during the course of this article, but I didn’t hate any of them at all, and I even found a couple of them goofily charming. Obviously, these are not smart people, and they say and do many ill-conceived things. But The Situation, for example and for all of his boasts to the contrary, is obviously kind of a sad sack. He wants to express himself to the world but all he really knows is how to do is sit-ups. He wants friends, and he wants love, but he isn’t sure how to achieve either of those things on the force of genuine personality alone. He’s lame, sure, but also more than a little tragic. 

Snooki, meanwhile, really comes off more like a child than a privileged, vapid Paris Hilton kind of asshole. She’s still in her very early twenties, after all. Obviously she shouldn’t act as babyish as she does, but who among us was our best self at 22? I’m not projecting that Snooki will grow into a legitimate glamour queen or a class act, but I’m willing to cut her a little more slack than the rest of our judgment-happy society seems to be. On the flip side, most of her castmates come off as significantly older, such as Pauly D, who is already in his thirties, and JWoww, who resembles a particularly spry 55-year-old, and so there’s an air of melancholy to the rest of them too.

The only cast members who come off poorly in a mean way, rather than a harmless clumsy way, are Sammi and particularly, Angelina. Of course we can never trust reality-show editing and it’s possible that they’re really sweet in real life, but the cattiness that these two display in this first episode is pretty unpleasant. I’m sure that some of the other characters will have plenty of time over the upcoming episodes to lose my sympathies – Ronnie is closer to the borderline than the rest – but otherwise, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. None of these types are entirely unfamiliar to me. I’ve known people like this in my life, and I’ve known enough of them to know that almost everyone has feelings, almost everyone has something worthwhile to say, almost everyone has at least some kind of virtue. I’ll be interested to see if the rest of Jersey Shore disabuses me of that notion.

But so far, the Biblical apocalypse seems a little further away than I thought it might.


Jersey Shore 1.0.

Posted: July 29, 2010 in Jersey Shore, TV

So there’s this show on MTV called Jersey Shore. It’s apparently very popular. The first season of the show aired in 2009 and immediately became a pop-culture phenomenon, making celebrities out of its cast and offending its fair share of serious-minded people.
Personally, I never paid much attention to it. That’s not even a knock: I follow a ton of popular culture, but my priority is always movies. Outside of Rescue Me and Louie, there isn’t another television show that I make time to watch regularly (often to my regret). But it’s been impossible to not indirectly absorb the currently overwhelming cultural influence of Jersey Shore
Thanks to comedians and fellow entertainment writers (most of whom love lampooning this show) and also to Twitter and Facebook and magazine covers and all of the other Jersey Shore saturated areas of American life in 2010, I know who these characters are, even without seeing a minute of the show.  I could pick “Snooki” and “The Situation” out of a lineup (if tackiness were a prosecutable crime). I know that the Season Two premiere is tonight. I know a lot of things, without any direct experience. Jersey Shore to me is like a kid crying on an airplane – I’m well aware that it’s there, but I politely tune it out.
But what if I didn’t?
Why should I separate myself from the major conversation pieces of the day? I never talk politics or religion, and I don’t have enough time to commit to following sports, so my frame of reference when communicating with most people these days is maybe narrower than it ought to be. I mean, I’m fully aware that I have the taste of a seventy-year-old man. I listen to Johnny Cash and Curtis Mayfield and Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. I love King Kong and Clint Eastwood movies and I’m currently on yet another film noir kick. I read. Daily.  I’m like a young old man.  Or an old young man.  Either way.
I’m exaggerating here (a little), but the point is that I’m into what I’m into and the conception of what’s popular doesn’t much interest me. I’ve never been interested in sticking with the crowd.
So as a thought experiment, I’d like to do it differently with this one. Maybe I’ll learn something. Maybe we all will. Maybe I’ll enjoy myself. Hell, maybe this could be my favorite show ever! (But I fucking doubt it.) 
Still, I’ll never know if I don’t try. It’s ignorant to dismiss something without giving it a fair chance, and one thing I’ve never been accused of is ignorance. Accused of other things, yeah. Many, many other things. But not that.
What this ten-part series here is going to be, then, is me watching each episode of Season One of Jersey Shore and providing you with my honest reaction to each episode. If you enjoy my take on the world, I have to imagine you’re going to love this column. And if you usually don’t agree with me, then hey – hate mail is sometimes more fun than love letters. So here we go, Jersey Shore.
God help me, I’m doing this.
Actually, invoking God might not be the appropriate sentiment.  It’s possible that, as some have argued, the existence of something like Jersey Shore directly disputes the concept of God. But that’s what we’re going to find out with this column. Keep reading…