By AARON BETANCOURT
Jersey Shore came back to MTV on Thursday, April 5 with Family Vacation, the series’ first new episode in six years. The original series began in 2009 and ended in 2012 with a total of six seasons. The two-hour season premiere drew approximately 2.5 million viewers, a dip from its peak popularity of 10 million viewers in summer 2011. The series aired all throughout my high school years and was always one of the hottest topics of conversation. It seemed as if everyone I knew watched it. Some may not understand why so many people were interested in watching a group of twenty-something year-olds party or perform their famous gym, tan and laundry (GTL) tasks, but the show was one of the most talked-about reality shows in history.
The original show starred a group of young adults who lived free lives. None of them were married or had kids. Other than their previous day jobs and the required show jobs, they had no real responsibilities. They were able to come and go as they pleased: partying and drinking every weekend and sleeping in on days off. They were in their prime years. They were young, vibrant and free. For young adults who were also in their early-mid twenties at the duration of the series, the show could have been a depiction of their own lives.
For others who were young teenagers in high school like myself, we could have aspired to enjoy our lives as much as the cast did. Couples could have related to some of the relationship drama that happened on the show with certain cast members and their lovers. Others may have watched the show for pure entertainment. But because the series was based around a group of young adults enjoying their lives and constantly partying, the series may have returned with a new, deeper angle. This time around, the producers may be aiming to show how the cast has evolved over the last decade, particularly its its five-year break.
JWoww and Snooki are both married and both have two children. Ronnie is now a father and Deena is a newlywed. Some of the cast members such as Ronnie and Mike have been on other reality shows. Jwoww, Snooki, Pauly D and Vinny have had their own spin-offs, such as Snooki and Jwoww, The Pauly D Project, The Show with Vinny and Vinny & Ma Eat America. Their lives have drastically changed since 2012. The cast starring in the Family Vacation premier are not the same people who walked into the shore house in 2009. This reboot has the potential to show viewers how people – even those with the biggest personalities – can change. No one stays in the same phase forever. Now, these characters can portray a more mature example for their audience. Though we may see from the trailers that the cast does still party, maybe now they party in a more settling way. They may not drink as much. The married women on the show may share their thoughts and experiences on marriage and motherhood from Snooki to Jwoww. Evidently, it is possible for Ronnie to have a less-drama filled relationship with his girlfriend.
The Jersey Shore reboot can also be a scapegoat for people to turn their attention to something entertaining and positive and away from all the negativity happening around the world. The original series was so popular that its loyal fans could not miss the reunion. The producers did the right thing in taking a five-year break. It gave its audience a chance to develop nostalgia for the show. If the reboot would have happened right after the series finale, people may have not been interested because it would have been too soon. A new setting may also make the show interesting since it’s not in the original shore house. Though they did spend a season in Miami and another in Italy, the associated setting was the beach house on the shore. Now they’re in a new house and have to make it feel like home as they did in 2009.
The cast returned to Miami to a luxurious, on-the-water mansion. Unfortunately Sammi Sweetheart will no longer be part of the cast for personal reasons. The reunion was natural. It was like they’ve been filming for the past five years. Hearing the cast reminisce about their seaside days took the viewers on a trip down memory lane. JWoww has definitely retired from the tough girl image. Her sisterhood bond with Snooki and Deena is still strong. It seems like Vinny has matured a lot, claiming to have moved out of his mother’s house and is in a relationship. He too has retired from his old innocent-boy image. The gang re-lived their old partying traditions by going out the first night and Pauly D screaming his famous “cabs are here”. It’s interesting to see them going somewhere else than their common spot Karma. The same cast and different setting brings familiarity with a twist.
They might have been separated for five years, but this group is as dysfunctional as it gets. Because Sammi decided not to return to the cast, Pauly D had a surprise for the entire house. As you see him bring a large black duffel bag into the house, the roommates all become very curious as to what he could have brought. He reveals this human sized doll that looks exactly like Sammi, and the doll even speaks like her whenever you touch it. Classic Pauly D never fails. The roommates take on the Miami club scene and they act like they haven’t lost a beat on partying. Snooki gets belligerently drunk, Ronnie gets extremely emotional as always and Vinny acts as the perfect wingman for Pauly. As the rest of the season is set to air, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of shenanigans this bunch will get into.
Aaron Betancourt can be reached at email@example.com