In Jersey Shore, Abridged, Jezebel planned to recap the first season, and maybe the entire series, of Jersey Shore in 3 to 5 sentences followed by viewing comprehension questions and therapeutic prompts. An editorial decision was made to jump ahead to the latest season because rewatching the entire series was bad for my brain and heart. This series is in honor of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation and me, for my decision to watch and appreciate Jersey Shore for the first time. Please enjoy recaps of episodes 4 through 9 because I forgot to do this for a few weeks.
Season 1, Episode 4
In a cab on the way to the club, Deena and Ron get into an argument over Sammi. Would Deena defend him if Sammi disparaged him, Ron demands to know, using the pretense of the fight as a means to once again discuss Sam. She doesn’t talk about him that way, Deena insists. “Her life revolved around me—what are you talking about,” Ron spits back, incredulousness hiding his fear that Sam may have moved on in a way that he has not. “But it doesn’t anymore,” Deena screams back. True or not, it is the most wounding thing she could have said in that moment. It’s a painful asymmetry, to be forgotten by the person you believe owes you their love. Later, Ron cheats on his partner, who is seven months pregnant with their child.
Comprehension questions: Do you recognize that feeling of asymmetry? What made you hold onto that person for so long? Was it control, dependency, or both?
Season 1, Episode 5
It is boat day, Pauly announces to the roommates. While the others are waking up to this news, Ron and Nicole are out on a bender from the night before. He continues to lie about his infidelity, the words either a hollow incantation of protection or attempt at self-soothing. “Possibly, I disrespected Jen,” he tells the camera, a stand in for the viewer’s gaze, which understands there is only one possibility here. Later, in a tender moment on the yacht, the Situation tells the roommates he intends to propose to his girlfriend.
Comprehension questions: Are Ron’s denials born of sincere moral ambiguity or an urge to disown his actions? Which is worse? Think of a time in your life in which you have tried very hard to run away from yourself. Where were you running to?
Season 1, Episode 6
“Meatballs fall, that’s what they do,” Pauly tells Deena, sweetly, on the cab ride home from the club where she had, indeed, fallen. After, she wept for fear of embarrassing her husband. This seemingly outsized reaction echoes Snooki’s earlier anxiety about her own husband and his perceptions about her behavior. Their judgement looms large. Who are these men?
The women of Jersey Shore each met their husbands while filming the show, which I didn’t know until recently.
The kiss, for that matter, had been exactly right—a perfectly fair, friendly kiss, a kiss for a boy you’d just met at a party, a boy who’d danced with you and made you laugh and walked you home afterwards, talking about himself all the way. The only real mistake, the only wrong and dishonest thing, was ever to have seen him as anything more than that. Oh, for a month or two, just for fun, it might be all right to play a game like that with a boy; but all these years!
And all because, in a sentimentally lonely time long ago, she had found it easy and agreeable to believe whatever this one particular boy felt like saying, and to repay him for that pleasure by telling easy, agreeable lies of her own, until each was saying what the other most wanted to hear—until he was saying ‘I love you’ and she was saying ‘Really, I mean it; you’re the most interesting person I’ve ever met.’ What a subtle, treacherous thing it was to let yourself go that way!
— Revolutionary Road
Comprehension questions: What makes for a healthy marriage? If you envision yourself married, what do you need to make that partnership one of emotional expansion rather than constriction?
Season 1, Episode 7
Jen, Ron’s partner, arrives at the house. “Can you guys picture him being a dad?” she asks. “He’s going to be a great dad,” the women of the house say, faces tight with elective surgeries and all the things they will not say. Later, Vinny expresses frustration about his horniness. Because he is in a relationship with a partner who remains in New York, it is a horniness with no outlet, he says.
Comprehension questions: Think back to the first time you can remember your father, or father figure, disappointing you. Can you forgive it?
Season 1, Episode 8
Jenni helps the Situation pick out an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Lauren. The rings on display all cost around $45,000. That is too much money, for anything, really, but the act of looking, as an exercise, is a loving one. The financial excesses of some engagements may be outside his reach, but he is buoyed by the future he is building with the woman he loves. Vinny finds an outlet for his horniness in his dogged pursuit of two women working at the club, though it has likely destroyed his relationship.
Comprehension questions: How does capitalism distort our most intimate and meaningful relationships? Can you picture a world beyond this?
Season 1, Episode 9
Snooki and Jenni head home to visit their children, and the boys concoct a plan to send Deena home to visit her husband. It is kind, but self-serving gesture: Their desire for homosocial bonding requires that Deena leave. “Win, win,” Pauly says. The boys write a version of “the note,” a call back to Season 2 and Ron’s cyclical infidelity, to give Deena the news of her pending reunion. Later at the club, the men of the house identify a “junior mini Sammi Sweetheart,” and she goes home with Pauly D. Vinny watches Pauly and this woman have sex while eating a hamburger with no bun. He can’t maintain fidelity to his partner, but he is loyal to his keto diet. Our most mundane priorities tend to be clues on a journey to greater self-understanding, but we often miss them. Angelina returns.
Comprehension questions: The men of Jersey Shore have spent many hours over the last eight years watching one another have sex. How many hours, in total, do you think they have spent watching one another have sex? What do you think motivates this voyeurism?