This week, MTV’s “Jersey Shore – Family Reunion” came to a close, and I am going to miss it. The funny thing is that, when this season – essentially the seventh season of “Jersey Shore” (albeit with a 6-year gap between Seasons 6 and 7) – began, I did not think I would get into it. By the time Season 6 had finished 6 years ago, I was fairly certain that the show had run its course. Therefore, I figured that I would watch the first episode of “Family Vacation” for nostalgic purposes, and then I would stop. This would not be the case.
Let us now flash back to the very beginning of the show, “Jersey Shore”. Before its premiere in December of 2009, I had heard rumblings that this show was in the works, but I had not given it a moment of thought. Then, a few episodes into Season 1, my then-girlfriend and her friend were watching these eight Italians (most of whom were not actually from New Jersey) on TV. These alleged “New Jerseyans” were put in a house on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, and I did not know what to expect. The first glimpse of the show that I saw was Vinny and Pauly D on a club floor, “fighting the beat”.
I made fun of this line, but it did not keep me from watching. I proceeded to watch the remainder of that episode and all other episodes that season. I thought that Pauly D and Vinny were intentionally hilarious, while The Situation was unintentionally hilarious. The Sammi/Ronnie drama was captivating, and Snooki was always good for laughs when she would drunkenly fall down. These people were all twentysomethings, and I was 28 years old. There had honestly never been a time when I truly enjoyed clubs; if you know me, you can imagine that clubs are not exactly my scene. That said, it was fun to live vicariously through these guys and their tales of “grenades” (2010 was a big year for these; because, not only did “Jersey Shore” finish its first season, but Bruno Mars also released his great song, “Grenade”.) and “t-shirt time”. Never being one to “pick girls up” at clubs, I was fascinated by this guido world.
As the show progressed through six seasons, two major things changed. The first involves the guy who owned the t-shirt store, the place of employment for the “Jersey Shore” cast. For any young readers, you might find it silly that these eight people who were cast on what Bill Simmons once called “Guido Real World” also had to work at a t-shirt store while on the show. What you must understand though is that, yes, it was actually incredibly silly. The cast members would show up drunk to work, and the store owner would seem mad at them. Of course, his store was receiving free publicity, so he could not really be THAT mad. However, as the show progressed, it seemed liked this guy stopped trying to act mad. Instead, he would always have a “sh!t-eating grin” as he tried to reprimand the workers. By Seasons 3, 5, and 6 (the remaining seasons that actually took place at the Jersey Shore), this gentleman knew that he was making a ridiculous amount of money off these talentless individuals. How could he be mad at the eight people responsible for his presumable mansion, Ferrari, and yacht?
Anyway, the second change that happened to the show was much more vital to the premise of the show. The cast morphed from being nobodies in Season 1 to being megastars by Season 5. In Season 1, the show achieved its premise of letting us watch these random people try to get strangers to “come back to the hot tub”. These eight random people were no more recognizable to the other clubgoers than anyone else was. However, by Season 5, nobody was allowed anywhere near the cast. There were countless camera shots of the cast on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, as TV viewers could see spectators roped off far in the distance. Nobody was allowed near these stars anymore. This is why I started to lose interest in the show. As with most reality shows, the show’s premise worked well when nobody knew the stars but fell apart once the stars had become too famous.
That is why the show’s 6-year hiatus did the viewers good. We did not really need another season of trying to force the square peg of these massive celebrities into the round hole of having them try to hook up anonymously with strangers like in Season 1. Therefore, with the 5-year gap, the cast was able to age 20 years (it seems). Snooki and J-Woww had kids; Angelina and J-Woww had plastic surgery done on everything; Vinny stopped eating carbs; Ronnie has a kid on the way; and The Situation no longer drinks but might be heading to jail. A lot of “life” happened for these people over the five years, and that made for a very entertaining season this go-round with “Family Vacation” (cast in a Miami house).
During this season, the cast admitted to having grown up. The house members poked fun at each other on a regular basis, especially making fun of The Situation for his tax evasion. Yes, these individuals went to clubs, but they were no longer trying to “pick up” people of the opposite sex. Well, they were not supposed to do so, but Ronnie did bring some girls back to the hot tub even though he was in a relationship. Tisk, tisk. At the same time, Pauly D remained the best part of the show. The guy is always happy; it is like he is perpetually covered in the “good slime” from Ghostbusters II. He is even able to feign surprise when he is hired to DJ big-time gigs, even though he is probably the most famous DJ in the country.
Anyway, when the show reached its finale on Thursday night, JWoww led a discussion about how the cast should meet up again every few years. I am sure that was a not-too-subtle way of hinting that MTV should do “Jersey Shore” reunions every five years or so. If that is her plan, I am 100% on-board. I would gladly watch one season of “Jersey Shore” every five years. Let’s make it happen. I expect the next reunion in 2023.