In the first few minutes of last night’s premiere of the third season of Jersey Shore, one thing was immediately clear: everyone has really nice cars now! Snooki drives a black BMW with tinted windows. The Situation pulled up in a black Cadillac with tinted windows. Etc, etc. (All of the cars were black with tinted windows, no duh. It’s called having class. Look it up.) And within the first few minutes of last night’s premiere of the third season of Jersey Shore it was also immediately clear that this show definitely sucks now. Oh well. It didn’t used to! The first season of Jersey Shore, which, inexplicably, is also the least watched season of Jersey Shore, was fun and exciting. Human animals set loose in a clown zoo! Each episode generated an entire IMDB’s worth of Memorable Quotes. These walking ids were unashamed to live their completely retarded lives in full view of the television cameras–as if they were machines built for it–and amidst the fists and the smooshes there was even some actual pathos there. The world was mad for guidos and poofs and gyms and tans and laundry. A cultural phenomenon was born.
And there, perhaps, a cultural phenomenon should have died. Because now it is hard to even know what the hell we are looking at.
There is a very clear reason why reality shows change (entirely) their casts from one season to the next. Besides the low production costs of reality TV and the inherent gloss of schadenfreude and/or sexual tourism that coats it, the ever-rotating cast of stupid characters is one of the main reasons behind the genre’s success. If every human being has a story to tell, and there are 7 billion human beings, then a bunch of those stories are going to be RIDICULOUS. Moreover, every time the cast changes you’ve got a whole new crop of wide-eyed, poorly-prepared, television neophytes who will inadvertently flub and slap and cry in simultaneously predictable and unpredictable ways. As we all know by now, reality TV is thoroughly edited and manipulated and planned and produced, but there is still at its core a randomized human element, and that is where the charm and entertainment comes from. No one actually cares who sells the most lemonade at Donald Trump’s lemonade stand, but they definitely care which self-destructive human being with an over-inflated ego slaps the functionally-illiterate human being in too much makeup at Donald Trump’s lemonade stand.
The cast of Jersey Shore hasn’t changed for three seasons now (Deena doesn’t count). In that time they have become actual celebrities somehow. At least a few if not all of them are millionaires. The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES referenced them in a speech. And yet, they continue to live together in a house on a reality show. So what does that make them, exactly? For one thing, it makes them all caricatures of themselves, which is really intense, because reality shows already turn their casts into caricatures, so to then become a caricature of a caricature is like one of those novelty portraits you get done at Six Flags drawn by MC Escher.
But there’s no pleasure in watching self-aware caricatures fighting with each other about the same shit they were fighting with each other about a year ago. I’m not sure there is a word in the English language for how boring Sammi and Ronnie are. I bet the Germans have one. Sammifrumdungronniegevunkstremitre. So boring. And yet, for a season and a half (end of season 1, all of season 2) and now going into a third season that is the central dramapiece of this show. Why? Well, probably because it is successful. I am not in any way suggesting that just because this show super sucks now that it won’t be incredibly popular and successful. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. But some of us, a very small number perhaps, do not find anything remotely compelling or entertaining in lukewarm fights hashed out over and over again between half-wit date rapists and their abuse victims like some kind of Nightmare Groundhog Day. Click. Next.
To have the same cast return to the same HOUSE presents its own problems. If you watched the first season then you will remember that one of the primary conceits was that their landlord owned a t-shirt store on the boardwalk where everyone had to work. Where’s that dude? Even if they make them work in the t-shirt store again, I’m pretty sure there will be no talk of “landlords” unless their landlord is a sponsorship from Belvedere vodka or whatever. Monster Energy Drink. At one point, during the ughteenth boring fight, Ronnie comes downstairs to yell at Deena and refers to the house as “my house.” Oh good grief. Ronnie, you barely even have jurisdiction over the tank tops you wear. Give it a rest. And yet, it is Ronnie’s house. It’s also Vinny’s house and Pauly D’s house. It’s all of their house in a way that it wasn’t before. We are no longer watching a bunch of precious (and poorly educated) snowflakes shaken up in a tiny, grease-scented sandglobe. The inmates have taken over the asylum, for lack of a less overused expression.
This is unsustainable. Even the Truman Show ended when Truman figured it out. EVEN THE TRUMAN SHOW. If I wanted to watch a bunch of millionaires yelling at each other about the same things over and over again on TV, I’d watch C-Span (DING DONG!). Even the charmingly stupid things these goons say have lost their lustre. It’s like a comedian laughing at his own jokes. It’s like the time I went to see DJ Shadow spin in Detroit and he just scratched over his own record. Huh? Dull. Pointless. Annoying. Enough.
In closing, Jersey Shore sucks.