In case you missed it, our beloved corporate gods at MTV have blessed us with what may be the greatest pseudo-reality TV show of all time: "Jersey Shore". If you haven't seen it, you're missing one of the few moments in television history when cultural satire and self-aware artistry are brought together in a marriage that is worth all of the bad cable network original series in all the world.
What is "Jersey Shore," exactly? It is a show based around the lives of the super rich, over tanned, fit, hair gel-soaked Italian-American urban youth "guido" subculture. Yes, it's a show about "guidos" and "guidettes" who have turned themselves into caricatures of their culture, with skin so tan, chests so enhanced and attitudes so obnoxious that no single club could possibly contain them on any given night. Much like Dorian Gray, these people have chosen to turn their bodies into artistic statements about vulgarity and values. MTV has finally found a way to combine pop culture's tendency to covet superficiality and high art's eternal goal to pursue true beauty.
After watching the first two episodes, I've already gone tanning three times, bought tubs of the most expensive hair gel I could find and almost lifted weights.
This show has been taking heat from Italian-American critics who claim that the show's portrayal of the Italians on the show promotes stereotypes, associating Italian-American culture with highly sexual, highly violent, and not-so-intelligent youth.
In defense of the show, I don't think MTV has ever portrayed a youth culture as anything but violent, sexual and stupid ("The Hills" and "Real World" come to mind…). Either way, with charismatic cast members like Mike "The Situation" and "Snookie," already reminding the out of touch elder generation that the term "Guido" represents a lifestyle, not a racial slur. Each of these highly cultured cast members puts their own subtle twist on the oeuvre of the guido, and it's quite inevitable that the haters will turn into imitators.
MTV has found a hit in "Jersey Shore," and if you don't like it, I guess you should stop watching TV and read a book or something, because you are a boring person.