As is usually the case with television shows I love, the gospel of Floribama Shore was preached to me long before I ever considered actually watching it. For nearly a year, friends like Jezebel’s Clover Hope and Megan Reynolds tried to convince me that MTV’s reality series about early twenty-something Southerners who spend their summers binge-drinking dollar beers in Panama City Beach, Florida, was worth my time.
But I resisted their attempts to make me a fan. It could never match the alchemy of its hard partying predecessor Jersey Shore, I thought upon starting the pilot. And after finishing the first season in three days and watching the second’s premiere, I realized it never will. But that’s OK! Floribama Shore is its own special kind of mess, and I can’t turn it off.
The show uses what has become a tried and true formula for reality television: you put a group of people who A) crave loyalty, B) love the concept of family, and C) enjoy drinking alcohol into a poorly decorated house filled with cameras and squeaky twin beds and provide them with enough alcohol to simultaneously endear them to one another with friendly toasts and force them to constantly call each other’s loyalty into question. With the exception of Aimee, the show’s good-natured and universally beloved queen, the cast is a twist on reality TV archetypes in that the roommates aren’t beholden to labels like “the villain,” “the sexy one,” “the problematic one,” and “the nice one.” Everyone is far too drunk to be that reliable. Also, the men are all trash.
Because the show is about as plot-driven as an episode of Teletubbies, here’s a little rundown of the characters that may ignite a spark in you that leads to a Floribama binge session.
Jeremiah is the home-schooled meathead who wrongly considers himself to be the moral center of the house. He is annoying, condescending, frequently an asshole, and oozes a vibe that suggests he would label a woman a slut for having sex with two different guys in one week while proudly calling himself a virgin after having anal sex with 75-150 different women throughout college. I do not like him.
Then there’s Codi Butts, pronounced “co-die” not “co-dee,” who loves dollar beer night more than I love The Golden Girls. He is the level of repulsive that drinks to the point of vomiting, and then makes out with a women immediately after—without brushing, and with a little vomit dribble on his shirt.
Next up is Kirk, who is the closest we get to “the nice one” simply because he does almost nothing. Apart from an atypically tense episode this season where he gets arrested for assaulting a man at a bar—an incident that sets off a series of events culminating in a lengthy discussion about race, the police, and white ignorance—he has yet to really make a mark on the show. Maybe he just isn’t enjoying it! Hard to tell, but it’s not like I’m stanning.
And who could forget Gus, the romance cover model and gym rat who seems like a misunderstood sweetie until he says something deeply misogynistic followed by a vague reference to, like, [the Christian] God. I do not like him.
Aimee, the aforementioned queen of the house pictured at the top of this page, is as kind as they come (when she’s sober). Having grown up without a lot of money or things to call her own, she is aggressively respectful of everyone’s time, space, and things. Her most recent relationship ended with her ex cheating with a cousin, and left her vulnerable and wary of men, so she’s just here to have a good time and dole out a little southern wisdom. “I’m not mad at neither one of y’all,” she barked when confronted with drama in the most recent episode. “I don’t care!”
Nilsa, who also began the show after a nasty breakup (and even more sad personal drama) may have considered herself the queen bee of the house at the start of Season 1 but has since toned down her ego and become significantly more chill. She enjoys bikini contests and urinating in the center console of a taxi cab.
Candice, like Aimee, has a heart of gold... when sober... and is prone to starting fights with her roommates after returning home from a night of bar-hopping. She was deeply shy in Season 1, but has grown into the show in the second season, and found ways to insert herself into everyone’s business. This is a good thing! This is what you want from a reality star. Most recently, she scolded the entire cast for not wanting to call her terrible boyfriend by his full name: Gator-J-281-Southside-Gawd.
To quote Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail, Kortni “makes coffee nervous.” She is a tornado on Adderall, a rabid kitten with brass knuckles on every paw, a glitchy Kate Berlant character on fast-forward, a Red Bull can with legs and a bad temper who treats the world as her toilet. In the show’s first episode, she disrobes after a long day of drinking and urinates on Candice’s bed by accident. By Season 2, she’s graduated to adult diapers, her boyfriend has been lying to her all season, and things are about to end in disaster.
Have those bleak descriptions convinced you? If not, your loss. Yes, it is a show about partying, and yes, it glorifies binge drinking, and yes, it provides a space where the worst parts of a person are not just allowed to come out, but urged to by producers, but it’s also some of the most satisfying madhouse reality since Jersey Shore. And if that cast is any indication, these kids will grow out of this and turn into giant bores just like the rest of us. Watching this show is like watching the first act of something much bigger—something like a full, long life. How ridiculous it is to be that young.