MTV’s hit reality series Jersey Shore is well into its second season, which began airing on July 29, 2010. I was ecstatic when my television officially reunited me with Snooki’s larger-than-life poof (it defies gravity) and The Situation’s awe-inspiring abs. I was hooked on this show from the moment it aired. I giggled at Pauly D’s hair routine, wanted to help Snooki find the house that she was staying at, and related to the cast’s anticipation of staying down the shore and having fun. My 51-year-old mother was even addicted to Jersey Shore!
Yes, folks, you read that correctly. I am an Italian-American from New Jersey, and I LOVE JERSEY SHORE!
Now, if you have read my article entitled “Jersey Girls: We’re Not All the Same!”, you probably think I’m the biggest hypocrite in the world. But hear me out. The cast of Jersey Shore does not deserve all the terrible criticism it receives.
After watching the first episode of the first season, I remember thinking that MTV did a great job with casting. (Remember: MTV’s prime objective is to entertain its viewers.) I was honestly surprised at how much flack Jersey Shore began to receive from Italian-American organizations such as UNICO. Many Italian-Americans were offended by the show, saying that it portrayed them in a negative light. People argued that had the show been about African Americans or another minority group, it would have been pulled after the first episode. Even non-Italian-American New Jersey residents hated the show, questioning the show’s authenticity and pointing out that some of the cast members weren’t even from New Jersey. The hate that the show received did not cause MTV to cancel the show; instead, Jersey Shore became one of MTV’s highest rated shows and caused even more people to tune in to see just what a Snooki is.
To be quite honest, I’m not sure why Italian-Americans are offended by this show. While the cast members define themselves as “guidos” and “guidettes”, they do not in any way claim to represent or speak for any nationality. In fact, JWOWW is Irish, and a few of the other cast members are not 100% Italian. Sure, the Italian cast members are proud of their heritage, but the bottom line is that these people are just young adults doing what young adults do: go out, have fun, make friends, and build relationships. Most Italian-Americans can relate to having huge dinners and being close to their family. If anything, I believe that the cast members showed a great deal of respect towards their own and each other’s families. Although the cast members fought with each other constantly, at the end of the day they considered each other “family.”
Throughout the show, you see the cast get into confrontations with second and third parties. Most of these confrontations were started by the second and third parties as desperate attempts to score some camera time. During each of these confrontations, the cast members all had each other’s backs. When Snooki infamously got punched, the girls took care of her while the guys ran after the moron who had punched her. The love and support that they showed her during that time was, in my opinion, truly great. They were the quintessential group of good friends; this, I believe, was lost in the midst of the shock factor over the punch.
If someone wants to judge the rest of the Jersey Shore (the place, not the show) simply by what he sees on television, then that person has obviously not educated himself enough to know that many of the beach towns in New Jersey are absolutely gorgeous. Seaside Heights, the town where the first and third seasons are filmed, is definitely a party town, but there are cute, family-oriented towns five minutes north of Seaside with eclectic restaurants and unique shops. Anyone who takes MTV’s portrayal of a certain nationality or place as gospel is an idiot.
I am probably one of the most politically incorrect people on the planet. Stereotypes don’t easily offend me (read: call me a guinea and I won’t care). I don’t mind if you poke fun at my nationality (again, see my tongue-in-cheek article on Jersey girls), but you’d better believe that I am going to make fun of yours! Chinese, Irish, Indian, African-American…I don’t discriminate. We all need to learn to laugh at ourselves, and Jersey Shore has definitely given me something to laugh at!