I sneak episodes of Jersey Shore like my father used to sneak drinks on the back porch in between my bedtime and his. Bits of shame ingested in quick intervals set by commercials or the sharp clink-clink-clinking of ice against a glass.
What was initially an abhorrence turned into a a curiosity and finally settled into a guilty pleasure. I now have opinions on Ron (“Rahhhhn”) and Sam’s relationship. I psychoanalyze The Situation’s false attempts at kindness. Pauly D, in my mind, hates his current life but loves the money. The personality Deena project is enough to make me vomit. I want to see Snooki grow up to be an actual, real life adult. JWoww is a breath of fresh air and I can’t pinpoint why. Vinny is inconsequential to anything and everything.
Pauly D has the most sads per square inch of blow out in the world.
Perhaps what disgusts me most about Jersey Shore are not the characters, but my reflection I find within the simple action of watching the mess unfold on screen. Sam and Ronnie are back together again and it is sick, but if I’m the one who has an opinion on their unhealthy relationship, does that not make me worse than them? Am I the bigger person if I shake my head, disgusted at Mike’s attempts for sympathy as he wears a brace around his neck after a self induced injury? Am I really better than Deena if I sneer at her irresponsible drinking habits and the mouth that accompanies a few vodka cocktails? Well, the answer to that is “Yes, you will always be better than Deena, Caragh,” but just barely. Just barely.
A common conversational piece about socially destructive reality television seems to be centered around how many people “ironically” watch the program in question. The need to express just how ironically one is watching a particular show seems to suggest that we use the entertainment we ingest as a qualifier for our personality.
After all, people who watch Jersey Shore earnestly must be worse than the people who watch it ironically, right? Wrong. We’re all in this together. That is my generation on the television screen. That is my generation drinking excessively, getting arrested, smashing their heads into cement walls, making degrading comments about another person’s sexuality, putting implants where they aren’t necessary, first pumping like idiots and kicking women out of bed after their done having their way with them.
It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. It’s depressing that my 8-year-old brother catches glimpses of the show and assumes that is what people my age are doing with their lives. It’s embarrassing that my elders, while channel surfing, momentarily pause on the strobe-lit, sweaty, spray-tanned faces we all know so well and assume that is what my peers idolize.
But anyway, can anyone tell me when the next episode airs? It’s a shame that it exists, but I really don’t want to miss it while it’s airing.