For a slight MTV Reality show that's simply a reduction of The Real World, Jersey Shore made a hell of a lot of debut noise. People were enraged, Italians affronted, right-minded snobs deeply offended, but the adventurous ... the adventurous were entertained. Now that Season One of Jersey Shore has arrived "uncensored" on DVD, anyone with a couple of bucks in their pocket and the brains enough to realize that sometimes stupid TV is the best, can safely watch how muscle-bound Guidos and attitude-laden Guidettes party like animals on MTV's dime. Plus, you won't get sucker-punched in the side of the face if you decide to mouth off at the screen.
Taking the basic premise of The Real World, Big Brother, and any other true geek-show reality program, Jersey Shore simply crams eight egotistical hot-heads (no offense, guys, I love you) together in a house, gives them all the booze they can handle, and lets them go wild. Do producers egg them on from the sidelines? Probably. Does the fact that some of these kids were about five-years-old when Kurt Cobain pulled the trigger mean that they're basically impetuous, inexperienced and stupid about life? Yes. And does that make for totally awesome TV? Triple yes! So for about a month, the GTL guys (Gym, Tanning, Laundry) and BWI girls (Bitchy, Whiny, Irritable) are let loose on the shore. They stay up partying until 5AM, they drink constantly, and they needle each other to the point of distraction, fight on a daily basis, make up, and ultimately seem to form bonds of true friendship.
Minus those bonds, the show would be truly shameful - though there's no way you can call it anything other than a guilty pleasure. But really, Jersey Shore was more of an event than a series. Nine forty-minute episodes isn't a whole bunch of weight. The thing is, this is the first reality show where ethnicity is an up front proposition, and where (ostensibly) knocking a certain class or subset of people is the driving factor. Ask anyone from the show if they feel taken advantage of or belittled, and it seems they don't. They're all proud of their heritage and lifestyles. If these stereotypes are being set up, we viewers are the ones knocking them down, because ultimately these are just kids (OK, young adults) not unlike a vast number of others here in America. Yes, they're from Jersey. Yes, they're single-handedly destroying the ozone layer with the amount of hairspray, cologne, and deodorant they use. And yes, the guys are pumped, while the girls flaunt those lovely lady humps. But I'll tell you, I wasn't any smarter at that age - I just showed it in a different way.
If any offense need be taken, you'll find lots of ammo in the way the media pumped this event, not only did people protest stereotypes, they just wanted to know who the hell are these kids who now think they're stars? Who would dare call himself The Situation? Who would have the hair of Pauly D? Who would create as much drama as Snooki? And what kind of nickname is J-Woww? Yeah? Why don't you get your own reality show, kid. Fact is this crew (and MTV's crack team of editors) makes for stunningly addictive TV, and underneath all the bluster they reveal themselves as real people. OK, maybe not The Situation, but I'd still buy him a beer if given the chance.
So I guess part of the challenge, and fun, is getting to know people outside of the realm of Hollywood-Middle-America. I spent a little time in Jersey City once, and I stood in the doorway of knock-about bar with a little Italian man in a cheap suit, if you know what I'm saying, so I know this shit is real. But in the Jersey Shore house you get the youngsters; nice kid Vinny, ultra-bitch Angelina, diminutive drama-queen and all around sweetie Snooki, hot-tempered bruiser with a heart-of-gold Ronnie, sweet but sensitive Sammi, rough-and-tumble boob-model J-Woww, manipulative but caring Situation, and my pick for the dude I'd actually like to hang out with, bemused pro-DJ Pauly D.
This 'uncensored' three-disc set brings it all, though nudity is blurred, obscene gestures are blurred, subtitles censor the dirty words and sometimes even crass utterances get bleeped. See them bring home skanks. See them hook up with dismissive losers, See them punch anyone who disrespects their roll. See them creep the boardwalk, and see more punching, freaking, and all-around shameless fun than you've probably had in decades. But mostly, see them as people, even on the Jersey Shore, they're still just people.
Closed Captioning is available, and there are Commentary Tracks featuring Snooki, Pauly D and The Situation, for five of nine episodes. As commentaries go, these are just OK: Firstly, commentary audio is mixed at about the same level as audio from the episodes themselves, which is kind-of OK because the trio stays fairly quiet most of the time anyway. However, it also makes it hard sometimes to really tell which is commentary and which is original audio. This is a problem further exacerbated by the fact that much of what the three say, simply commenting on the action and offering opinions, isn't much different from voiceovers and interview segments from the show itself - sort of like a doubled audio track. However when fights are highlighted, everyone perks up quite a bit.