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As fifth season begins, five reasons why fans still watch Jersey Shore



jerseyshore-cast.jpgHas it really been five seasons since we first saw Snooki fall on her tuchas?

Difficult as it is for some critics – okay, me – to believe, MTV’s tribute to tanning, public drunkenness and inappropriate Italian stereotypes celebrates the start of its fifth season on Thursday, as The Situation, Snooki, Deena and the rest of the Jersey Shore crew return to the states after a disastrous fourth season spent in Italy.

Give them credit: This dimwitted crew has turned the kind of hard drinking and indiscriminate sex too many twentysomethings indulge into a moneymaking cultural phenomenon -- with a little help from a cable channel that used to play music videos.

Now community college dropout Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is earning $32,000 a speech and “Pauly D” DelVecchio is signed to 50 Cent’s G Note Records, opening for Britney Spears on tour. There is, apparently, no limit to the rewards if you are willing to act like a total jackwagon in front of a camera held by MTV.

jerseyshore-snooki.jpgThere are signs, however, that the pop culture gods may be turning away from the faux-“guido” lifestyle MTV’s producers have created. As the Daily Beast noted in a recent story, ratings dipped by millions during the Italy season and the drunken fighting which seemed cute three years ago wears a lot worse on millionaire reality TV stars edging into their 30s.

Still, to whet your appetite for one more go ‘round, let’s start their fifth season with Five Reasons Why We’re Not Done with Jersey Shore:

1)They’re back on the Shore. The new season opens with our self-described “meatballs” returning to the Seaside Heights house where fans first fell in love with them. No more fake confrontations with Italian pizzeria owners who pretend to give them menial jobs in exchange for camera time. Now we can watch as Vinny, Pauly D, Ronnie and The Situation trade their awful, ratty Italian haircuts for bizarre, tricked-out white guy b-boy fades and designs. And who doesn’t want to see that?

2)They still make us feel smart. No matter how many classes you flunked in college or how many nametags you wear at work, you can’t help feeling superior to a woman who misses pickles so much, she drinks the juice out of a jar when she gets back to the U.S. (yup, it’s Snooki)  Later, as you watch one of the guys bathe his newly barbered coiff in waves of hairspray, you will think: I don’t care how they earn, I am so much smarter. And, somewhere, an MTV producer will smile.

jerseyshore-dudes.jpg3)They still let you laugh at debauched ethnic people without feeling racist. Jersey Shore’s cast has all the trappings of the classic exotic minority group: they have colorful slang, they’re sexy and hypersexual, they have a cartoonish fashion sense and they’re dumb as a box of hair. MTV’s mostly-white viewers might feel guilty laughing at an African American or Hispanic group which lived down to such basic ethnic stereotypes. But since Italians are considered honorary white people, there’s no such stigma here. 

4)They still do what producers tell them. As the Daily Beast noted, comic Sean Klitzner documented how the infamous ice-throwing incident in Italy was staged like a WWE match. Watch how a welcome home party degenerates into and anger-filled fight in the new season and feel the heavy hand of unseen producers at work.

5)They are the last refuge in a complex world. With Washington D.C. paralyzed by partisanship, a still-slumping economy grinding the average guy into the dirt and a presidential election filled with absurdities, sometimes it helps to sit down with a show that offers less intellectual challenged than your average SpongeBob episode.     

[Last modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 7:02am]


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