Opinion Brief

Why Americans adore 'Jersey Shore'

Millions have fallen under the spell the unabashedly superficial cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore." What's the appeal?

In a matter of weeks, MTV's unlikely hit series "Jersey Shore" — documenting the doings of ten self-described "guidos" and "guidettes" during a month living together in Seaside, NJ — became a cultural phenomenon. The show's participants, with self-styled handles like "Snooki" and "The Situation," have become household names, fascinating their audience by proudly embodying the superficial values of a local subculture obsessed with fake tans, buff physiques and spikey hair. What is it about "Jersey Shore" that millions of fans find so compelling? (Watch a spoof of "Jersey Shore" featuring little children)

We secretly admire the cast: Audiences appreciate "Jersey Shore"'s unashamed embrace of trashiness, says Brian Moylan at Gawker. We've all acted like the cast "at one point in our lives" – drunkenly engaging in questionable exploits while on vacation – but most of us have the sense to be ashamed by our behavior. The cast's guileless embrace of trash turned them into "media avatars, acting in irresponsible ways we could only dream about." "In defense of 'Jersey Shore': Trashy for trashy's sake"

The cast is unlike anything we've ever seen: Watching "Jersey Shore" makes us feel like we're "anthropologists secretly observing a new tribe through a break in the trees," says Nancy Franklin at The New Yorker. Blend the cast's outlandish behavior with a "particularly heavy load" of "Guido" stereotypes – "attitudes, looks, poses, burdens, and aromas of Italian American culture" – and you have a perfect recipe for reality-TV mockery. "MTV's 'Jersey Shore' review"

The cast makes us feel better about ourselves: The "train wreck" characters of "Jersey Shore" provide a healthy dose of schadenfreude for the overburdened, unemployed masses, says Lakeia Brown at The Root. When we think things couldn't get worse, we only have to "flip on the TV and "meet 'The Situation'... and realize it could be worse – a lot worse." We mock them to forget our own sad lives."Why MTV's finale of 'Jersey Shore' is must-watch TV"

Fun is fun: "There's something condescending about singling out the cast of 'Jersey Shore' for special scorn," says Joanna Weiss at The Boston Globe. Their behavior isn't more reprehensible than the "rich kids" and "skeletal" wives of Orange County — but they're more fun to watch. "Bacchanalia as identity politics" just makes for utterly fascinating TV. "They're fools, but they're our fools: Born in the USA.""The sights and sounds of 'Jersey Shore'"

Recommended

The daily gossip: December 7, 2021
Jonah Hill.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: December 7, 2021

India's proud tradition of celebrating multiculturalism is facing a crisis
The Indian flag.
Arun A.K.

India's proud tradition of celebrating multiculturalism is facing a crisis

Jimmy Fallon debuts Christmas song with Ariana Grande, Megan Thee Stallion
Jimmy Fallon, Megan Thee Stallion, Ariana Grande
'I almost feel like I'm Beyoncé or Drake'

Jimmy Fallon debuts Christmas song with Ariana Grande, Megan Thee Stallion

The daily gossip: December 6, 2021
Jennifer Lawrence
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: December 6, 2021

Most Popular

Kathy Griffin slams CNN for firing her but not Jeffrey Toobin
Kathy Griffin
'I loved that gig'

Kathy Griffin slams CNN for firing her but not Jeffrey Toobin

Mace vs. Greene is the fight for the future of the GOP
Mace and Greene.
Picture of W. James Antle IIIW. James Antle III

Mace vs. Greene is the fight for the future of the GOP

What a Roe reversal would mean for Trump
The Supreme Court.
Picture of W. James Antle IIIW. James Antle III

What a Roe reversal would mean for Trump