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.
Season 1, Episode 1:
The words “we are back” are repeated multiple times by different roommates throughout the episode. Our cast is indeed back, minus Sammy, who has wisely declined to participate. It is a healthy decision, to put distance between yourself and an ex-partner with whom you spent eight years cycling in and out of dysfunction and violence, but it is treated among the housemates as a mistake to be corrected. Family, after all, never says no to a reunion. In the years since the last season, the women of the series have settled into domesticity: Snooki and JWoww are married with children, Deena is recently married. Their obligations to others set them apart from the men, who appear largely untouched by time in this regard. The exception here is the Situation, whose legal troubles and newfound sobriety have helped him gain perspective. In this new role, one of amends-making and accountability-seeking, he replaces Snooki as the emotional heart of the series.
Comprehension questions: Is it possible to change? What changes do you wish to see in yourself?
Season 1, Episode 2:
“I can’t believe we’re doing this again,” the Situation tells Deena. Music thumps around them. It is daytime, and he is surrounded by a familiar scene of wild intoxication. “What did I get myself into out here?” he asks Vinny. This is perhaps the great sadness of the franchise, articulated here by a man navigating sobriety for the first time: It is a lucrative means to fuck up your own life. (See also: Sam and Ronnie.) At dinner, everyone works to reconcile with Mike, telling him that while they “fell off” at various points, the relationship had now been repaired. What the viewer sees during this episode, as producers cut back to scenes of old fights, is the chaos that swirled and continues to swirl in the house from all directions. The Situation’s sobriety is a gift to himself, of course, but it is also a gift to the housemates looking for absolution. It was never their drinking—it was his. Never their choices. Only his. This is self-soothing, and it is a lie. Ron clogs multiple toilets in the house.
Comprehension questions: In what ways does capitalism constrain your mental and physical health?
Season 1, Episode 3:
The housemates continue to contend with the foreclosures of adulthood. Ron grapples, uncomfortably, with impending fatherhood. Pauly D observes a phone call between Ron and his pregnant partner, and leaves shocked at the degree of estrangement he senses. Snooki and Vinny, bound by the rules of their new lives, but with a well of feelings stored up over a decade, fight in order to deny a deeper discomfort: they have made choices. Choices that bind them to their current circumstances and, it seems, away from one another. Ron clogs the toilet again. A heavy-handed read on this pattern might be that Ron can’t help but leave traces of what is fundamentally rotten inside of him.
Comprehension questions: Where are you in your life, and is it where you expected to be at this age? Whatever the answer, now try to trace the choices that led you here. Did you realize those were choices at all?