It’s a Shore Thing: Jersey’s Going to the Motherland


Published: April 13, 2011

Despite its lack of plot or character development, “The Jersey Shore” is by far one of the most popular shows on cable television. When season one premiered in December 2009, it was an instant sensation, attracting both fans and detractors. And although no one wanted to admit it, the show was everyone’s guilty pleasure.

Yet nothing good lasts forever. Season three of “The Jersey Shore” made its audience feel like tools after we turned in week after week only to watch the same fight between Ronnie and Sam go down repeatedly. Pretty sure after the third “I love you/I hate you” session, we had gotten it. Other than Snooki’s arrest for public drunkenness and JWoww’s brutal break-up with her disturbing boyfriend, not much occurred. To fill up the rest of the time, MTV forced us to watch the rest of the suitemates sit around the apartment playing pranks on each other. It might have been amusing once or twice, but I didn’t need to see it each week.

Characters also became less likable this season. Ronnie proved he has a temper which could easily become violently dangerous, and Mike showed us how much of a creeper he really is. In season one, he got away with it, if only because despite his claim of being a ladies’ man, every woman he tried to get with rejected him. Yet fast forward to season three, and Mike “The Situation” had no trouble getting ladies, making him the most chauvinistic pig on the planet. He also likes to gossip more than women in a ladies’ room, and his constant attempts to create drama were more alienating than amusing.

With MTV’s latest announcement that season four is going to take place in Italy, it’s obvious that the network knows its show has begun losing its appeal. There’s not much else to see in Seaside other than Karma, Bamboo and the Shore Store. But is Italy really the way to go? When “The Jersey Shore” premiered in the United States, many viewers were taken aback by the cast’s regular use of the term “guido” and their representation of Italian-American culture (even though many in the cast aren’t 100 percent Italian or even Italian at all). Advertisers pulled their ads. More than a few Italian-Americans denounced the show. But if Italian-Americans were upset by “The Jersey Shore,” think of the reaction it will receive in Italy.

I don’t see the cast doing well in the land of Michelangelo and Rafael. First of all, how will Mike get any girls there? I have more faith in Italian women than the women Mike encounters at Seaside, and something tells me they won’t be easily impressed by his abs. Also, who speaks Italian on the show besides Vinnie? How many times will MTV make me watch as things get lost in translation between Snooki and a bartender or Pauly D. and the tanning bed operator?

If anything, the move to Italy will definitely win high ratings. After all, most of America is just waiting for these eight people to fall flat on their faces and make fools of themselves anyway. Yet I can’t imagine this change will benefit America’s relationship with Italians, who probably won’t like the idea that their country is portrayed on MTV as giving rise to a group of people whose only contribution to society has been the Grenade Free Foundation. We already have a bad reputation in Europe; must the partying and hooking-up crowd that is “The Jersey Shore” really be our ambassadors to Italy?

MTV surely doesn’t seem to mind the controversies. They’ve just recently announced that they will be paying the castmates $100,000 per episode next season, which is more than enough to cover the expenses of gym, tanning, and laundry. But at some point the cast is going to become tired of partying, and tired people don’t make for entertaining television stars.

When I first considered ways to revamp the show, I thought MTV might try following the cast more in their normal habitats, those outside of the literal Jersey Shore. Turns out MTV and I are right on target and they are already planning a spin-off for Snooki and JWoww, as well as one for Pauly D. I look forward to them both, but season four comes first, and it better not disappoint.

As to whether or not there will be a season five after Italy with this new spin-off plot twist, that remains to be seen. But I don’t think the show’s run has ended just yet; it’s simply losing steam. If “The Jersey Shore” wants to continue, it will have to rethink its strategy quick. Otherwise, it’ll soon end up like a grenade, annoyingly bugging us as we channel surf and refusing to believe we’ve long since rejected its pleas for attention.