When MTV first came out with their reality show "Jersey Shore," it didn't take long for the criticisms and controversy to rain down. Italian American groups protested what they saw as a negative portrayal of Italians with the show focusing on a group of boozing, sexified, self-described "guidos" and "guidettes" sharing a house in Seaside Heights and carousing its streets, boardwalk, and clubs. Jersey shore natives also voiced an objection that MTV cast a show so named with a bunch of New Yorkers. The bigger complaint that I continue to hear from J.S. natives (and the most talked about from my perspective) is that the cast members are nothing like real Jerseyans.
Even the governors of New Jersey and New York took part in a little Jersey Shore sparring last year. New Jersey's Governor insinuated that the cast members were hard partiers because they were from New York; and former New York Governor David Patterson apparently suggested that the Jersey Shore's less-than-desirable environment was to blame for the impressionable youngster's partying ways. (The latter is so laughable I cannot even gather myself to respond.)
But despite a wealth of negative responses to the show, "Jersey Shore" seems more popular than ever. Leading up to its 3rd season premiere last week, I heard many comments from fans who were excited, if not giddy, about the show's return. Radio D.J.s commented on their anticipation of the premiere of a show they described as a guilty pleasure; and Facebook friends-galore posted status comments broadcasting their T.V. plans for the night.
Until now, I have led sort of silent protest and have refused to watch the show. With other reality shows such as "Wife Swap" and "Real Housewives" depicting New Jersey women as classless, obnoxious and big-haired, I thought if I watched the show I would just get further annoyed at the impression the rest of the nation must be getting of the women of the Garden State.
Well, I ended my silent protest last week by watching the season premiere and part of the rerun of the previous season's finale. I also watched an episode online from last season. My decision to end my protest came after seeing Facebook posts by a few teen fans; I had to see for myself what these teens were watching. Given the publicity "Jersey Shore" has seen since it premiered (including grown women assaulting each other and one star getting arrested on a New Jersey beach for drunken, disorderly conduct), I thought I knew what to expect when I tuned in. It was worse than I thought.
Last season ended with female cast members not speaking because of some grade-school drama over an anonymous note. The new season premiered with the same drama, including whining over bedroom selections. As to the lingering cat fight, there was obviously no kissing and making up in the off-season and it made for some intense drama-filled interactions between the cast mates who obviously had no intention to play nice.
If you are a fan of the show, you are probably aware that the acronym GTL has become synonymous with the show. Apparently, the acronym stands for gym, tan, laundry - the only activities beyond drinking and sex that appear paramount to this cast's existence. I suggest a more apropos meaning for GTL: Gluttony, train wreck, lust.
Essentially, the show is about a bunch of barely-dressed, drunken sex-crazed 20-somethings who spend their time buffing their bodies, flaunting their fake boobies, hooking up in clubs, and cursing their heads off. The guys demean and objectify the women when they are not sleeping with them. The girls act like a bunch of floozies (as my late Italian grandfather would have said) who seem to be trading their dignity for fame and money.
Bottom line: This is pretty trashy T.V. I can see why people would watch it, though, due to the train-wreck factor. But, if you care about what your teen daughter watches on television, don't let her watch this. And if you let your teenage son watch it, please, oh please, use it to teach him how not to treat a girl.