“Get crazy! Get loud! Let’s party! Get loud! If you wanna have fun then do something crazy!” It’s the iconic opening credits of beloved MTV reality show “Jersey Shore.” If you are anything like me, you can recite along to every cast member’s one liner introduction from binge watching this show over and over.
Eight twenty-something Northeasterners were all put together in a shore house in Seaside Beach, New Jersey, where they were filmed all living together in the house, working in the same apparel shop in order to stay in the house, and partying at clubs every night from 2009-2012, with six seasons airing on MTV in the span of those three years.
The cast consists of Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jenni “J-Woww” Farley, Pauly Delvecchio (otherwise known as DJ Pauly D), Vinny Guadagnino, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Ronnie Magro-Ortiz, Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, Deena Cortese, who joined in season three, and Angelina Pivarnik for a small fraction of the first and second season.
This show that took America by storm at the end of the 2000s was revived in 2018 due to a large fan demand and is currently on its fifth season.
The revived version of this show finds the cast all in their thirties and forties now, with spouses and children, and all grown-up but still as hilarious as ever. The only cast member to not come back to the show is Giancola, but Pivarnik, who was hardly in the original run of the series, is not a prominent part of the show and drama that comes along with it.
The magic of this show, and why it has remained successful now in two different decades, is that the cast members have truly remained themselves. They do not shy away from the mistakes they made in the original run of the show, but rather own them and grow from them. The problems that the members have, have remained relatable.
Whereas those on “The Hills” revival or any of the women on the various “Real Housewives” franchises may have drama over dinner parties or if someone didn’t wear their clothing line, “Jersey Shore” has remained relatable to its audience.
Farley, Magro-Ortiz and Pivarnik have all shared the problems that they have had in their relationships, Polizzi and Cortese talk about the joy but also the stresses of being a parent. They have remained palatable and relatable to a wide audience while still being funny.
“Family Vacation” also is in tune with what their audience wants to see. People tune in for the drama but stay for the sweet and funny moments that this cast has been known for.
“Jersey Shore” has become known for their iconic one liners like “Gym Tan Laundry” or “T-Shirt Time”, and for the roast sessions that they regularly hold (think the whole “she’s too young for you bro!!” moment from season four).
They are constantly making callbacks to the original run of the show on “Family Vacation.” Sorrentino, from time to time brings up when he ran directly into a concrete wall while being in an altercation with Magro-Ortiz while in Italy, and reflects on how far he has come. Or Pivarnik brings up that she cannot believe she is so close with the people who once called her a “dirty little hamster”, and fought with her constantly, in the second season of the original show.
The production and cast knew how to make a show new and fresh without forgetting where it came from and what made it so loved in the first place.
It also seems that both runs of the show came at times when audiences needed a breath of fresh air and a change in what was on television. When “Jersey Shore” aired for the first time in 2009, there was an ongoing financial crisis and recession.
With so many people struggling financially, and with the repercussions of the market crash in the years following, people were not interested in seeing the ridiculous luxury that was often on display in reality shows from the 2000s, like Paris Hilton’s way of life in “The Simple Life” or the huge mansions on MTV’s “Cribs.”
It was refreshing to see normal people, like you and me, just having fun for a change, and to not have wealth shown off. “Family Vacation” started in the middle of a presidency that was a stressor for many Americans, so again, entertainment became an escape. Also, the pandemic hit two years into its run, so again, it became an escape for people.
Jersey Shore seems to be the gold standard for reality TV: it’s quotability, its relatability, and its iconic moments. As long as Guadagnino and Delvecchio are best friends, Polizzi and Cortese, who address themselves as the two “meatballs” because of their short stature, get into antics, and Sorrentino comes out with his motivational and funny one-liners, people will keep tuning in.