After several glorious seasons, MTV's hit reality series Jersey Shore is heading to the big tanning parlor in the sky. The hard-partying show's sixth season, which airs this fall, will be its last. Though Jersey Shore was once an incredibly buzzy and popular hit for MTV, its ratings have dwindled, its once-unknown cast members have demanded higher salaries, and its irrepressible star, Snooki, has embarked on a new adult-ish life, giving birth to a son this week. But never fear, Shore fans: There's still an entire season left to hate-watch, not to mention two spin-offs and an upcoming one-hour tribute special called "Gym, Tan, Look Back," which will air on MTV on Sept. 6. As the cable network prepares to close the door on its top-rated series ever, critics have already begun to eulogize the polarizing reality show. Here, four takes on the end of Jersey Shore:
1. The guidos and guidettes are leaving the right way
Jersey Shore died "exactly how it didn't live," says Jen Chaney at The Washington Post: "Quietly, soberly, without leaving behind any human fluids or spray tan." Though the series was still "relatively young" at six seasons, at least it expired while it was still "surrounded by loved ones, Twitter followers, wealthy MTV executives, and all the people who were misguided enough to buy The Situation's workout DVDs."
2. Because really, the show was past its prime
"It was time," says Julieanne Smolinski at Vulture. Though the series was once entertaining, as it dragged on, "it stopped being outrageous enough to care about." Jersey Shore stopped working once its cast members were in on the joke. They started pandering to the audience with their "signature foibles" — erasing the "blissful lack of self-awareness" that made the series a hit in the first place.
3. But Jersey Shore was full of useful lessons
Jersey Shore may have been the ultimate guilty pleasure, says Mark Di Ionno at the New Jersey Star-Ledger, but it was also an "educational tool" and a "cautionary tale" that I used to instruct my own children. There were many lessons — from alcohol's ability to "make stupid people even stupider," to how people who decided to "compromise dignity and self-respect for fame" can easily become the butt of a national joke.
4. And its legacy will live on
Jersey Shore may have been "one of the most polarizing shows in TV history," says James Hibberd at Entertainment Weekly, "but no one can deny its enormous success and pop culture influence." In the end, the series' most enduring legacy may be the "lexicon of Shore slang," which introduced terms like "fist-pumping," "gym-tan-laundry," and "smush room" to the masses.