Today's Evil Beet Gossip

A Recap of This Week’s ‘Jersey Shore’: Mike Takes Off the Neck Brace, Deena and Snooki Fight, and Jionni’s a Jerk

A photo of the cast of Jersey Shore, sans Deena

I didn’t cover Jersey Shore last week—at all! Not once, I don’t think!—and it made me so sad. Didn’t you miss the little scamps?

When I last recapped, Mike had apparently flatlined.

Then, a week ago, we discovered that Ronnie didn’t murder Mike after all. Instead, Mike gave himself a concussion, ha, ha, when he rammed his own head into a stone wall. For the rest of last week’s episode, Mike moped around in sunglasses and a neck brace, milking his minor injuries for more than they were worth. Snooki—who is still furious with Mike, incidentally—was, alas, the only sucker who bought into Mike’s one-man pity party. The entire episode, in a hilarious nutshell:

OK, you’re all caught up.

In this week’s episode: Seems like Ronnie genuinely terrified-slash-embarrassed himself with his own out-of-control temper, and now he’s trying really hard to be sensitive and wise. Last week I was unconvinced by this new leaf, but this week, I felt like he was maybe sincere. He keeps trying, especially, to make amends with Mike; after a therapeutic talk, Mike agrees to, uh, take off the neck brace. (Finally!)

In the meantime, Vinny and Pauly D have come into their comedic own. I’m not kidding. They have a natural, witty rapport that—listen, I’m really not kidding.

Vinny and Pauly D have never been the Cast Idiots, no, but they’ve finally achieved some meta self-awareness, and now they’re acting like the chorus in a Greek tragedy. Y’know: mocking their fellow castmembers; staging parodies of events that have just transpired; serving as the audience’s lens, basically. It makes a certain sense—Pauly is the eldest of the cast, while Vinny is probably the brainiest.

For instance, their play-within-a-play:

Early in this week’s episode, Ronnie and his on-again-off-again sweetheart, Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, have embroiled themselves in yet another fight, duh, and Vinny finally confronts them. He says something like, “I think I speak for everyone. Your fights aren’t fun.” Um, exactly. Thank you, Vinny, for finally telling your housemates what every audience member wishes she could tell them. Alone with the camera, Sammi admits that it was “cool” of Vinny to confront her so maturely. Really, you guys! I barely recognize you!

Also, Snooki gets told off by a priest.

This episode is a real gem, so it’s hard to single out a best bit. Still, the Best Bit is this bit: Several embittered bar patrons are trying to pick a fight with the Jersey cast, and one girl pours her drink on Snooki. Snooki and Deena both rush into the crowded fray, and—blind with rage—attack each other. AMAZING.

But this episode isn’t all fun and games. It’s increasingly evident that Snook’s boyfriend Jionni is emotionally abusive, picking a fight at any opportunity. (Snooki excitedly tells him, sober, that she wants to “suck” his “butt”; Jionni becomes irate.) OK: would I date Snooki? No. No, no. But this guy actually belittles her every chance he can get. Snooki, meanwhile, promises to change, curls up into a ball, and sobs. Oh, Snooki.

But when the housemates stage an intervention, encouraging Snooki to ditch the dead weight, our munchkin becomes defensive, pledging to stand by her man. She loves him! He’s a good guy! He’s the best boyfriend ever! Stop judging her! Stay out of her affairs! Thus, this week’s episode of Jersey Shore—unique insofar as little-to-none of the pathos was manufactured—ends on a decidedly sour note.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Pauly is definitely my favorite of all of them. And when he and Vinny start feelin’ froggy…oh, man, good times…

  • On one hand, I can’t understand why anyone would watch JS.

    On the other hand, I can understand the Jerry Springer factor. I mean, after seeing these idiot’s idiots, I get it.

    In fact, I just used JS to make a point in an argument about how earnings are unpinned to talent, looks, or much of anything besides blind chance. (I understand that those things are avenues, but also, in modern times, blind random chance exceeds cost-vs-reward.)

    It is a sad world we live in.

    • It isn’t a Springer factor, though! I get, from the outside, how the fixation would look like that. Only other Jersey Shore fans understand me! *sob*

      But harkening to what you just said about fame and earnings: there’s this fluffy piece about the Jersey Shore cast being “the most articulate on TV.” The article holds that these kids know they don’t deserve the fame, the money, the notoriety, and because of that realization, the show has transformed. The show is now just as much about “what would ordinary doofuses do with sudden fame and fortune”—and it’s self-aware about it!—as it is about “Sunday dinner” and “GTL.”

      Of course, in Season One, I was hooked for a different, more obvious reason. These kids were living according to a strict code of ethics and morality that I do not understand, and the aspect of “tourism” appealed to me, because this utterly foreign culture and its customs were so fascinating. (I can see how that can be minimized as “Springerism”, though—what is an episode of Springer but an opportunity for the audience to “slum it”? You can absolutely argue that its audience members are hobbyist ethnographers/anthropologists.)

      No doubt, Jersey Shore is low, but it isn’t lowest-common-denominator low. It isn’t Bad Girls Club low. The kerfuffles, the sniping, the fights, it really isn’t the behavior you see on reality TV. It’s a caricature of real life. The show also doesn’t seem scripted (although, to be fair, any editor is going to impose an episodic narrative on raw footage, because the editor has to.)

      During Season One, I marveled at the breakout stars, Snooki and the Situation. Obviously, a producer said, “Do you, but do it even bigger, and maybe there’s an MTV spin-off in the cards.” And I told people back then, “This is some of the best acting I’ve seen on TV! These two have nailed it! They’re playing themselves, big.” They are even BIGGER than their authentic selves. It’s a feat of caricature and self-characterization and posturing.

      In talking to others (fans, I’ve realized, compare copious mental notes), we are surprised by are own affection for, say, J-Woww (“She’s so badass! I’d want to be her friend!” says one of my friends, who is a Rhodes Scholar and waitress). Or Snooki, the lovable mess. Or Vinny, the law-school-bound, traditional mama’s boy who derailed his life plans for this thing. (No one likes Ron and Sammi, the two nonentities. They are ho-hum staples of reality TV: 13-year olds, bickering constantly, scripting their own little batshit dramas. Angelina was even worse, trying too hard with manufactured Real World altercations. This isn’t a game show, hon.)

      OK, this train ran off the tracks awhile ago! I think I stopped responding to you and started talking to myself. I’m having trouble articulating what makes the show unique and oddly powerful, though. I think what people who don’t watch don’t realize is, fans watch because we do like the cast. And we’re surprised by our own compassion. So this cast is always surprising us, and in turn, we keep surprising ourselves.

      • Wow. You wrote a book to my itty-bitty blurb. It’d be disrespectful not to answer such a well-thought out response.

        I dispute that they know they don’t deserve it because they shilled this last time for MORE money. I mean, I certainly don’t fault them for that, but they did. And they tend to act like self-important morons.

        I feel they’re about as self-aware as sea cucumbers. However, I could be wrong.

        As for the show’s season one, and a code of ethics and morality, I admit I haven’t seen enough of the show to see any pattern of anything much; other than self-indulgent wastes of humanity. My exposure is limited. (And I thank sweet baby Jesus for that!)

        I don’t think they have as complex and varied expression of thought and deed as you do. I see them as tiny children in young adult bodies. I’ve seen their kind all over the world and they are far too common.

        I agree, though, that there is some fascination in the grotesque. I believe that people watched Springer (and I, sadly, did so as well; usually while drunk or high, which did improve the experience) to see the slow-motion self-inflicted train-wreck (wow. Three hyphens in a row. Forgive me.). I don’t believe the public are anthropologists. (Or ethnologists or know what those are, or be able to conceive of a system even if articulated.) They might pick up some mapping on different ethnicities, however. I wouldn’t dispute that. But how accurate would it really be as these (talk-show/reality tv) people are selected for their turgidness and bald-face shamelessness.

        Springerites’ actions (and indeed JS ‘people’ as well) tend to revolve around the basal instincts: lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, wrath, envy, pride, you name it, they do it. Not only do they manage that, but they do so without a shred of class or decorum.

        That being said, you might just watch for the reasons you aforementioned. Exposure to other cultures (in reality what an ethnos is (res cogitans)) can expand one’s thoughts. I understand your mind to be above the average slob and applaud your ability to see the complex and beautiful in a pile of manure. That says more about you than it does them, though.

        As to how low JS is, I’ve never seen Bad Girls Club. I can’t imagine much beneath JS, but I suppose it could be. There is, after all, Professional Wrestling.

        As to being scripted; eh, JS didn’t look it, and of course an editor has to edit. I can only imagine how dull it would be otherwise. Also, JS doesn’t *seem* to set these people up to punch each other. (Although I admit punching each other bloody would at least get me to watch the You Tube excerpts.)

        As for the sissh and pickle princess acting, do you think the producers didn’t just puff them up with the old “You guys are awesome and so cool! Everyone loves you guys!”? I mean, they seem to make such obvious bad choices it COULD be brilliance, but I can’t see it. A grown man making an unmitigated fool of himself even from his name? *shakes head* Nope, can’t see it.

        I can understand fandom though. That, I get. Where the weirdness arrives for me is when people begin to compare themselves (ostensibly real) to fictional entities (ostensibly them). I mean, thinking of a ‘J-Woww’ (that hurt to type by the way) as real is just like thinking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as real. Both are caricatures of reality in some sense. These people are aping for the camera in a semi-fictional setting. In some sense it is an isolated drama.

        It is only natural that some of these ‘personalities’ are a bit dimmer than others. That is only natural. They were selected because of their outrageous personas because they’re entertaining.

        All that being said, I *can* understand your point now that I’ve seen it. I believe you see, also, a chance to escape, live vicariously inside the persona of these people, and experience their obvious joie de vivre?

        I am older, and perhaps I’ve felt like you do before and am jaded in not excepting what JS fans see now. That invalidates your experience. I’ve got no right to do that.

        Finally, I think you did a smashing job of articulating how you felt. I understood.