Screenshot: MTV

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. I skipped last week’s episode because I forgot about it. What’s it to you, anyway?

Season 1, Episode 14

The housemates sit for a final meal together, but their fond reminisces quickly descend into the cruel relitigation of petty grievances and deep resentments. “I’m blessed that Sam didn’t come, because now you guys got to see who I really am,” Ron tells the group, appearing to believe the words he is saying. “You got to see how fun I am, and happy, and like, what I really am. Not a person that’s always angry and fighting and screaming and trying to cause chaos and drama.” Moments later, he is angry and fighting and screaming. The Situation tries to tell Ron that he needs help with his drinking, a premise Ron rejects, blinded as he is by fear and denial. “I didn’t make it my life,” he spits back, trying to put space between his problem drinking and Mike’s former problem drinking.

The fight escalates quickly, but a temporary truce is called just in time for the group to board a party bus for a final night out. Once at the club, Pauly D’s “stalker” shows up—a throwback to previous seasons at the Jersey Shore—which I believe was a set up by the producers.

The episode, and the season, strikes an ambivalent note throughout, despite the soaring and optimistic music that plays over the end credits. After this interlude into regressive debauchery, most of the housemates are returning to a life they have come to love: JWoww, Snooki, and Deena will go home to their families; Pauly D will go back to DJing wherever it is he does that; Vinny returns to being a keto Jack LaLanne on Instagram. Ron, however, is returning to the darkness that awaits him at home, which he tried very hard to ignore during the reunion season. When he leaves, he will be met by a relationship that may not succeed and expectations of fatherhood that he may not rise to meet.

Watching this repetitive cycle of argument, insult, and justification, in this reunion season and the full run of the original series, I wonder if people are capable of change. The answer, I believe, is that we are, but Ron is not.

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“Before I have to meet my responsibilities back home, I’m going to be like, ‘I wish I was back in Miami with these six crazy bastards,’” he tells the camera in one of his last interviews. “We’ll be good, I know we will,” he later concludes. This is wishful thinking and escapism that will take him further from any hope of repairing his relationships and his own behavior.

Still, MTV has granted his wish. See you next season, I guess.

Comprehension questions: Think back to the most recent destructive choice you made. What part of yourself drove you to make it?