When it comes to pop culture, there are very few things Catharine ‘Goose’ Cody and I agree on. She likes Lady Gaga and Eminem. I chill to Ziggy Marley and Miles Davis. Catharine’s taste in movies skews towards ‘The Other Guys,’ ‘The Mummy’ and ‘Toy Story 3.’ Me? I think ‘Fargo’ and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ are two of the best movies of the past 15 years. And when it comes to television, there’s always been a huge divide. The Goose goes for ‘Gilmore Girls’ and ‘True Blood’ while I gravitate towards ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Mad Men.’
But, there’s one thing we do agree on: We both adore the over-the-top antics of MTV’s Jersey Shore.
Now, I know Italian-American groups as well as New Jersey tourism officials are less than thrilled with the content, but I’m amazed at how many people my age watch a show that one would think appeals solely to Goose types. I think it’s because Jersey Shore combines some powerful crossover ingredients, including:
– A cast that, in some ways, reminds me of a weird, dumbed-down brew of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges and Carrot Top all poured into one. The cast characters are amazingly funny (i.e. I loved The Situation’s observation about his car’s being stuck in the South Carolina mud and, after calling the AAA and seeing their truck get caught in the same quagmire, quipping, ‘You know, I always wondered who the AAA called when they got in trouble. Turns out, they call another AAA truck.’
– A new and totally bizarre vocabulary that includes such memorable words and phrases as: ‘Ima do me. You do you.’ That’s Jersey Shore slang for ‘you sleep with whomever you want, and vice versa, and we’ll still be friends in the morning.’ Then there’s ‘Did you smush with any girls last night?’ Smush = sleep with. And, then there are such true crossover expressions as: ‘grenade’ and ‘landmine’ that have already become mainstream expressions. The former is a descriptor for an unattractive, weight-challenged girl. The latter describes a leaner version of the same gender.
– All the drama and plot twists of the best daytime soap operas. The Ronnie and Sammie saga is not only scintillating, it’s punctuated by some of the worst, yet, most hysterical, dialogue one could conjure up. To wit:
Ronnie: ‘Sam, I’m, like, really trying here.’
Sammie; ‘I, like, know you are and that means a lot.’
Ronnie; ‘I, like, so love you.’
Sammie: ‘Like I know and I’ll always be there, even if we, like, hate each other.’
As is the case with any crossover hit, Jersey Shore has evolved over time. Unlike season one, there’s less attention being paid to the cast’s ethnicity (so, we don’t hear them calling themselves guidos and guidettes as in the past). There’s also a new venue, Miami, and a new workplace for the cast, a gelato shop in South Beach.
I’ll leave it to experts such as our resident pop culture guru, Sam Ford, to explain why Jersey Shore simultaneously appeals to my age group and my daughter’s. Perhaps, it’s because both generations see the show and the cast as absolute bus wrecks and, as is the case with rubber necking delays on the Garden State Parkway, we simply can’t help but slow down and look. And, once you look, you’re hooked.
So, here’s a shoutout to The Situation, Paulie D, Snooki and the other cast members. Keep it coming. Oh, and MIA, bitch. MIA.