This much is absolute: Mankind will be driving rainwater-powered cars, eating zero-calorie Big Macs and doing the electric slide on Mars before we EVER discover our infatuation with the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore. The tans, the nicknames, the muscles, the accents, oh and that gut-wrenching vocabulary. It's more than enough to make The Hills, MTV's just-completed series about self-indulgent airheads in SoCal, seem like Shakespeare in the park. ("Alas poor Spencer, I knew him well.") And yet, America watches. And complains. And obsesses. And jokes. And Jersey Shore goes on. Season 2, this time based in Miami's South Beach, begins Thursday at 10 p.m. To help you decide whether to set your TiVo to record this epic trash, here are five possible reasons we can't quit Jersey Shore.
1. THE NICKNAMES: Americans love great nicknames. The Red Headed Stranger. The Chairman of the Board. Mr. October. It's in our blood. Jersey Shore would stand no chance if it actually tried to sell Middle America on the appeal of a hobbit-like Nicole Polizzi. But as Snooki? Pure gold … or at least pure cheese. Only time will tell if she and the Situation, JWoww and DJ Pauly D will be inducted into the nickname hall of fame.
2. THE STEREOTYPES: Much has been made and written about the self-proclaimed "guidos" and "guidettes" of Jersey Shore. UNICO National, the nation's largest Italian-American service organization, even asked MTV to cancel the show early in its first season. But those offended aren't in on today's vocabulary, insists the cast. "The Italian, whatever, national, whatever their organization is, they don't understand that 'guidos' and 'guidettes' are good-looking people that, you know, like to make a scene and be center of attention and just take care of themselves," Snooki told one TV interviewer last season. "They are old-fashioned. They don't know that; they think it's offensive, because maybe in their time it was offensive, but now it's kind of a compliment." For what it's worth, JWoww and Snooki aren't even Italian. (JWoww is part Spanish and part Irish; Snooki is of Chilean descent, according to reports.)
3. THE FIGHTS: Jersey Shore offers the same appeal as the Jerry Springer Show; just count the seconds until someone is dropping F-bombs and throwing chairs. The only difference is these combatants have better tans. And not even MTV could have foreseen the free media exposure the show got when Snooki was sucker-punched on camera by a man at a local bar during Season 1. Brad Ferro, the Queens, N.Y., gym teacher who hit Snooki, was arrested on the spot and was eventually found guilty of simple assault, but the real verdict was MTV had the viral video sensation of the year. Later, realizing the poor taste of the entire situation, MTV pulled the footage from the show. "What happened to Snooki was a crime and obviously extremely disturbing," MTV said in a written statement. It was also a ratings bonanza.
4. THE SEX: See if you can follow. JWoww cheated on her boyfriend with Pauly D. Ronnie hooked up with Sammi. The Situation openly proclaimed his intent to sleep with anyone who'll have him. And Snooki … ugh, we've already lost track. Suffice to say that 90 percent of the shenanigans take place in the cast's infamous hot tub. By the way, did you know that overexposure to the water temperature in a hot tub can decrease male fertility? Oh, let's hope so.
5. THE MEDIA: Yes, yes. Blame it on the media. By all means. Blame it on me, if you want. We keep writing stories about the show, you keep reading them, the cast members make a fortune in personal appearances across the country and viewership for Jersey Shore just keeps climbing. Don't worry. I plan to give them the Jon & Kate Plus 8 silent treatment … just as soon as we find out who slept with whom in Miami.
Sources: thehollywoodgossip.com, Us magazine, E! Online