29 January 2010

The Conclusion

For the past three months I've been pushing hard for everyone I know to watch Jersey Shore. Number of converts? Three, maybe two. My friends don't listen to me, what else is new? So this is my attempt to use a public forum to tell people why they need to watch it. I mean, since it's already over and only in reruns, or in this soon to be released DVD set (which I'll obviously be getting), it's the perfect time to get everyone on board. And more importantly, the title of the DVD, "Jersey Shore: Season 1," alludes to a season two. Fantastic.

As with many great things, I initially got sucked into Jersey Shore because of a Bill Simmons' podcast. This episode is a must listen and a wonderful jumping off point for the show. In it, he and the Czar of Reality Television, Dave Jacoby, break down the cast and review the first episode. Their analysis will make your enjoyment of the show quadruple. I guarantee it. [Update: Their Jersey Shore wrap up podcast just released!]

When the promos and first two episodes aired, the hate for Jersey Shore was fantastic. All the Italian stereotyping stuff, the sponsors dropping like flies, the douchebaggery of all involved, the Snookerpunch, all of those things made it possible only to love Jersey Shore quietly, or perhaps ironically. But after those first few episodes, Jersey Shore suddenly overcame all its troubles and people started to just outright love it. Openly and with no reservations. There's a simple reason for that: the show is great.

This is the zeitgeist, and I only use that word because it's fancy and fun to say and I'm probably using it wrong. But truly, Jersey Shore is the best thing MTV has come up with since the Real World Challenges and I dare say it's even better. For one, the Challenges are getting a tad formulaic. The Jersey Shore was a breath of fresh air. The Situation himself has so many catchphrases, so many quirks, insecurities, and moments of love/hate, that he is immensely compelling as a lead character. It helps that I have a friend who is very similar to the Situation, but I think everyone can probably equate someone in their lives to Mike. I want my friend to watch this show and then turn to him and say, "This is you man. See, see?"

The thing that makes this season of Jersey Shore incredible to watch is that these people would probably be doing the exact same thing without the cameras around. There's no artifice because they pretty much already lived like they were on a reality tv show. Now that they're famous and getting five figures for appearances, that'll probably all change, but Season 1, much like the first Real World, was when it was all still real. You know?

I love how the show initially made me think I liked Sammi Sweatheart and then by the end I thought she was the most emotionally manipulative girlfriend ever and needed to be dumped, even if she was the so called pretty one. I like how I totally respected Pauly D and Ronnie the Rampaging Rhino, who are like good peoples. And Vinny, he's not just the slightly goofy, no GTL (Gym Tan Laundry) doing, slightly dorky outcast, he's completely endearing for his momma's boy values and his undercover girl game.

And J-Woww, who could have easily just been the implanted bimbo, turned out to be my favorite character with her raspy voice, Amazonian fighting spirit, and a true understanding of what it means to be a good friend. She's the "sweetest bitch you'll ever meet," not Sammi. I don't even mind that she co-opted my self appointed nickname, "Jon Wow," since she's clearly made it twenty times better and wholly unusable, which is probably a great thing. I never connected with Snooki much, even as I recognize that she was the spiritual lynchpin of the house. Of course, when she and Mike made out during that last episode, I pretty much puked. It was wrong for every reason.

And Jersey Shore has spawned so many fun things in its short life span. An entire amusement industry has sprung up around them, with sound boards, nickname generators, and Jersey Shore avatars. Plus plenty of t-shirts, towels, and paraphernalia for sale. It's also hard to not fist pump at least once when you're out a club now. Just to see who else might start doing it, or recognize the gesture. (For the record, Ronnie is the worst dancer in the house, not the best. His dancing "style" is hilarious.)

The cast has been spoof'd, de-bronzed, dressed up/down in conservative outfits, game showed to show their intelligence (or lack thereof), and made over Michael Cera. They will likely ride their fifteen minutes of fame for three and a half years, and then slip into the pit of despair, but I hope not, because I want the best for all of them. I want The Situation to change his legal name to Situation, much like the Ultimate Warrior changed his to "Warrior," in order to protect his legal rights to it. And I want him to go on motivational speech tours.

I want Jersey Shore to come back soon, because even if they are now too famous for their own good, I miss them already. And I want you all to join me in appreciating this cultural treasure because even if we have nothing else in common as friends, at least we'll have this. Thank you for your consideration.

Oh, my one enduring question -- aside from if Ronnie and Sammi are still together, and if their breakup was staged -- is wondering exactly how tall these guys are. Here's a photo of them with Rob Dyrdek, who's apparently around five seven. I met someone who went downtown to catch a Situation appearance at a club, but he was on an elevated platform and away from the masses, so the guy couldn't tell. I don't know why their height matters to me. I guess it's because in my mind these people are so much bigger than life, so Bunyan-esque in my imagination, that I need to know how I measure up.