My Blog__ SHORE, SERIOUSLY: SEASON 4, EPISODE 8

September 26, 2011 | By

Welcome to another installation of Shore, Seriously–the back & forth recap of Jersey Shore by myself and Jess Bloom.

And as quickly as he came to Italy, the love of Snooki's life was gone.

After nearly six weeks of waiting, 20 costume changes, countless hours of make-up preparation and one spray tan, Snooki greeted her beloved boyfriend, Jionni, in Italy and headed to the smoosh room. Only a mere five hours later, she was stumbling drunk in the streets, crying because Jionni had angrily left her when she exposed her underwear on the dance floor.

Last week, Jess explored the value of seeing women go wild on reality television. "[T] here’s something comforting about seeing a trainwreck on TV because it’s an alternative to the way women are supposed to be. With so much emphasis on being perfect, thin, talented, beautiful, well-mannered, it’s refreshing to see women in media who are completely off the rails in an honest way." And while I agree with the comfort I find in relating to the imperfections of these trainwreck women, I wonder if most just find voyeuristic pleasure in the spectacle that is Snooki.

Lately, I have been tuning into The Jersey Shore After Show. Months after taping, the cast members sit around in what looks like a therapist's office and discuss the events of each episode. Having had time to reflect on their behavior (and change hair styles), they (try to) intelligently deconstruct what went on and make fun of themselves when the host brings up embarrassing moments. This right here is the reason I would never, ever be on a reality show. The idea of having such detrimental events - like breaking up with one's boyfriend while black out wasted - caught on camera forever is terrifying. Hell, I can't even re-read diary entries from grade school that I find mortifying let alone re-live those moments with millions of viewers watching. It takes a special person to be able to handle that. And, in this case, I'm not sure if "special" means "dumb" or "incredible".

As Laurie Ouellette once noted, while reality shows like What Not To Wear teach us how to make improvements to our appearance, Judge Judy constructs templates for citizenship and questions the discourse of choice, Bachelor Pad and Big Brother use games and challenges to not only play with relationships and community but also competition and self-enterprising, I think The Jersey Shore provides us with a live soap opera. An endless drama that is thick with intertwining plot lines, changes of pace, little resolution and, best of all, no end in sight. Relationships between the cast members, whether sexual or platonic, continue and only draw us in closer as we watch the cast develop with and against one another, sometimes both. There are no challenges. No prize money. No winners or losers (kind of). It's just life. Who ever thought a show about a bunch of Seaside-dwelling guidos abusing alcohol could go on for four, insanely successful seasons? SallyAnn Salsano, that's who.

Also, like a soap opera, The Jersey Shore is the perfect combination of fantasy and reality that we can all relate to. When Snooki was drunk, crying in the streets of Italy because her boyfriend had dramatically ditched her, I suffered serious second-hand shame. Snooki's relationship crisis is permanent. She is always looking for real love. Whether it was her boyfriend from the earlier season, her crazy single-days, the proposition of her own spin-off series, "Snookin' For Love" or her pseudo-relationships with both Vinny and Mike, nothing ever works for Snooki. Sure, sometimes she is on top of the world but we know that that is temporary, things will crumble and new problems will follow. They have to. Even though this is reality, these are "real people", the genius plot is due to the puppet master producers careful manipulation. Snooki's romantic survival is as real as it can be within this frame work. She wants the happily-ever-after relationship but never gets it.

Who knows the exact reasons why we can't look away from the Jersey Shore. Maybe one day Jess and I will write a book about it, but until then, I'll just be waiting anxiously for next week's episode.

Read last week's recap here.

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