Not that long ago, MTV stated it was going to make a push into shows with a more positive social message. This resulted in "The Buried Life", a series that stands out as one of the best the channel has ever offered, with moments that were genuinely moving. While the teens in that show wanted to achieve their goals ("Tell a Joke on Late Night TV"), they also helped others make their dreams (reunite with a family member) come true, as well.
There's "The Buried Life", then there's "Jersey Shore", a series that makes "Paris Hilton's My New BFF" look like "Masterpiece Theater". That's not to say that there's no entertainment value in watching the folks of "Jersey Shore", who appear to have graduated from Derek Zoolander's Derek Zoolander Center For Children Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.
The only problem is that the entertainment value isn't slightly positive, and is often unintentional (in fact, the series offers some of the best unintentional laughs I've had in ages.) The folks of "Jersey Shore" include: Snooki, J-Wow, the Situation and a bunch of other people who apparently didn't realize that 15 minutes of fame takes coming up with a ridiculous name (although newer cast member Deena Cortese comes up with a memorable tag line in the opening credits: screaming "You like tha boobs?")
The cast was named as one of the "Top 10 Most Fascinating People" in the 2010 list from Barbara Walters. Apparently, the "People Trying to Solve Cancer" were not fascinating enough, or maybe they were bumped off the top 10 list by Justin Bieber. It's good to know the priorities of society are in order.
The series is a sloppy "Real World", showing a group of 20-somethings all coming together to live during the Summer in a house (love the wood paneling!) on the Jersey shore. The series follows the group as they drink, try to hook up with people, work out, drink, make sure that they are covered in two tons of spray tan, pick fights, talk about how they're like a family for two seconds before distrusting each other again (or get in a catfight), dance in Jersey clubs until the break of dawn. The series isn't great television (and I'd recommend not thinking too much about what the show says about the future of humanity), but what makes it priceless is the sheer inability for any of the participants to realize what they look like or how they act, as they remain delightfully self-absorbed and take being obnoxious to new and remarkable levels.
I've often commented on how cable has been surpassing network television, but it's becoming clear that the one aspect where that's starting to turn sour is reality TV. Cable reality television these days essentially means take an idea and push it too far. "Pawn Stars" is great, but do we really need "Cajun Pawn Stars"? "Storage Wars" results in "Storage Wars Texas", "Property Wars", "Baggage Battles" and things like "Picked Off". "Jersey Shore", despite having far more than the 15 minutes of fame one would have thought, continues onward, despite the fact that the show seems to get significantly less attention than it did.
The series had the perfect exit in season four - everyone headed to Italy and caused trouble in really, really beautiful scenery. It was largely a lot of the same in a new location, but it least there was some element of change. Given the special location, the series could have taken the chance to drop the booze-stained curtain on the series. No, instead we get a fifth season of the series that feels a bit like an afterthought and two spin-offs: "The Pauly D Project" and "Snooki and J-Wow" (as for the latter, if they are the modern day answer to "Laverne and Shirley", then heaven help us.)
The fifth season opens up with the group heading back to Jersey, seemingly overly thrilled to get back (um, were they took drunk to see their Italian surroundings in season 4?) and it's not long before the same drama starts up again. Situation's friend "The Unit" has knowledge about Snooki that could wreck her current relationship and the two quickly start squawking at each other. The first handful of episodes of the season see Vinny and The Situation leaving and returning, which doesn't really create much drama whatsoever, nor do the relationship issues, such as Snooki and her boyfriend's troubles.
The problem with the show's drama is that it's gone from enjoyably silly soap opera nonsense to taking itself too seriously, which drains some of what guilty pleasure entertainment value the show had. Beyond that, the various tantrums and trouble starts to run together after five seasons. Once again, the gang works at a shop along the shore, where scenes feel like the scenes at the shop from seasons 1, 2 and 3.
"Jersey Shore" (it's "the Hills" crossed with "Maury") feels like a better comedy sketch than "Saturday Night Live" has come up with in ages, but the issue would be that it's actually real - which has made it funnier. The series is more of a guilty pleasure than it has a right to be at its core, but after five seasons (and I can't imagine that anyone involved or otherwise could have imagined this series would have lasted five seasons, honestly), how about MTV moves on to another idea? (of course not: Season 6 is already filming, and the two spin-offs continue.)
52 5-01 05/Jan/12 Hurricane Situation
52 5-05 02/Feb/12 Nothing But Nice
53 5-02 12/Jan/12 One Man Down
53 5-06 09/Feb/12 The Follow Game
54 5-03 19/Jan/12 Dropping Like Flies
54 5-07 16/Feb/12 Love at the Jersey Shore
55 5-04 26/Jan/12 Free Vinny
55 5-08 23/Feb/12 Sharp Objects
56 5-09 01/Mar/12 The Truth Will Set You Free
57 5-10 08/Mar/12 One Meatball Stands Alone
58 5-11 15/Mar/12 We Are Family
59 5-12 22/Mar/12 Reunion
VIDEO: "Jersey Shore" is presented by Paramount in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is just fine, as while video quality varies due to various filming techniques and lighting, the picture generally looks at least crisp and clean.
SOUND:Clear stereo soundtrack.
EXTRAS: The usual: "After Hours" specials, confessionals, cast interviews, reunion special and deleted scenes.
Final Thoughts: For a while, "Jersey Shore" worked to some degree as a guilty pleasure, but after five seasons, the series is starting to feel noticeably tired - it should have come to a close after the Italian adventure of season 4. Those who are still fans will find a DVD that offers a few extras and fine audio/video quality, but otherwise, I'd say skip it.