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February 22, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Jersey Shore’ entertaining, but stereotypical

I never quite understood the appeal of the MTV and VH1 reality show empires like ‘Rock of Love,’ ‘A Shot at Love,’ ‘The Hills’ and their subsequent spin-offs. They seem to be utterly trashy and poorly acted (‘reality’ being a loose term). That is, until MTV’s new reality show ‘Jersey Shore’ showed me the light.

On this show, MTV takes eight 20-somethings who identify themselves as ‘guidos’ or ‘guidettes’ and places them in a beach house in Seaside Heights, N.J., providing a boardwalk filled with bars and a hot tub for endless late-night hookups (sounds like another MTV reality staple).

For those unfamiliar, the term guido refers to men, often Italian-American and residing in the New Jersey area, known for wearing muscle shirts, gelled hair, fake tans and Axe body spray, pumping their fists in the air. Guidettes are their female counterparts. There’s so much Ed Hardy apparel featured, you’d think Jon Gosselin was going to show up at any moment to complain about the paparazzi ruining his life. Clubbing and hot tubbing are essential to the lifestyle, and you can’t start your day without a healthy dose of powdered protein supplements.

The guido and guidette labels are often considered stereotypical against Italian-Americans (understandably so, as the show does not present guidos in the most positive light), so it’s important to note these housemates are self-identified as such, and that this is a small group of people who act and dress like this.

Normally I’d expect an MTV reality show to be ridiculously staged, featuring actors who are told to exaggerate and fill certain roles in the house (the promiscuous one, the anger management dropout, etc.), and that’s what has kept me from enjoying them. What’s fascinating about ‘Jersey Shore’ is that the cast members’ actions and attitudes seem completely believable and not at all forced.

When Angelina says, ‘That’s how we know we’re classy girls. We’ve been living in the house with these guys for two days and we haven’t even done anything,’ you believe she feels that way, much like you believe her proclamation ‘I’m a bartender, I do great things.’ She’s proud of herself for not having sex with men she met just 48 hours ago.

Vinny comes down with a case of pinkeye after downing numerous J’auml;gerbombs and doing God-knows-what in the club. Sammi, a.k.a. ‘Sweetheart,’ becomes involved in a ‘love’ triangle with Ronnie and Mike (a.k.a. ‘the Situation,’ his pet name for his abs). Jennifer, a.k.a. JWoww, contemplates cheating on her boyfriend with Paulie. All this while personifying bad guido stereotypes.

For these people, this behavior is a way of life they embody. I certainly don’t understand the lifestyle and probably never will, but I will keep watching as it provides a tremendous amount of entertainment.

Angelina chides Nicole (a.ka. ‘Snooki’) for her choice of attire in the hot tub as any MTV personality would: ‘How do you go in a Jacuzzi with a thong and a bra? Wear a thong bikini, that’s a little bit classier, if you’re going to wear anything at all.’ Translation: If you’re going to be a slut, do it the proper way. It’s sound advice for America’s youth, isn’t it? Their words and actions may make you cringe, but it makes for awful, yet fantastic, television.

These people have a love-hate relationship with their own kind, and that sentiment is felt by the audience. Snooki says she enjoys being a guidette and hooking up with guidos, but feels sadness when her housemates criticize her for acting like a stereotypical guidette (pot, meet kettle).

Of course, not every Italian-American or Jersey resident acts like a guido or guidette (in fact, only two cast members are Jersey natives). But ‘Jersey Shore’ probably promotes such stereotypes, which is likely why Domino’s Pizza revoked their sponsorship and the Italian-American organization UNICO is calling for a boycott of the show.

Yet, I can’t feel guilty about watching it; not only is it a stomach-churning train wreck, it’s completely irresistible. If you ever find yourself snowed in one day during winter break, do yourself a favor – start pumping your fists in the air and watch this show.

You’ll probably hate yourself for watching, but the immense amusement ‘Jersey Shore’ brings is unlike any other reality show, because it shows a grim reality of people living this life. Just don’t judge every Italian-American or New Jersey resident based on this group of young peoples’ actions, because, to quote Angelina’s favorite phrase, they’re ‘classier than that.’

Respond to Marisha at [email protected]

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