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‘Jersey Shore’ Makes No Sense But I Love It Anyway

My parents ask the best questions when I am watching reality TV. They see me watching in the kitchen, because this is the only TV in the house. And because I am young and hip, they want to know what’s going on. 

Survivor is easy to understand. That show has been on TV since I was in high school. Survivor is about people trying to competitively outlast each other in deserted island conditions to win money. My parents scan the TV looking for who they think will be the next Rudy. He won, right? American Idol is another easy one. They’re trying to be singers.

The Bachelorette was a harder one for my parents to understand this past season. They couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that there were two women and 32 men. They kept asking if the women were competing. I kept telling them that they were working together. I don’t know, how would you explain it?

It’s even harder to explain Jersey Shore to my parents. This is also probably my favorite show. The show started in 2009 and airs on MTV on Thursday nights from 8-9 p.m. Beyond that, nobody really knows.

Some Thursdays, I start at the beginning. I tell them that it started with four guys and four girls who are Italian and millennials. Okay, but not everybody’s Italian. Then people started regularly leaving and coming back to the show. At this point, I’m already confusing myself.

I usually keep going. I explain that they were hired by this guy, Danny, who owns a shore store in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The store sells T-shirts. Then, the eight rowdy young people live in a house for free that’s owned by Danny. But it’s all filmed for a reality show. And not everybody who works at the store lives at the house.

My parents don’t follow this, but they still want to know why they’re all in San Diego now on a pedal pub tour. Danny owns property all over the country, I explain to them. Just kidding. Now they’re all famous and have money to travel and their families come with them as well. This season, DJ Pauly D has gigs all over the country and the former shore store coworkers are supporting him.

Probably most people who weren’t in an Ivy League school in 2009 would say that the Jersey Shore series and its spinoffs are about people who like to party. The group has been “incestuous” at times, like most groups of millennial friends who have all hooked up with each other at some point. They drink a ton. They go to clubs and dance the night away.

The castmates like sitting down for Sunday dinners together, where they give heartfelt speeches and call themselves “a family.” They also call each other family every time one of them is going through an issue. Working at a shore store can really bond people together.

Jersey Shore cast members can be followed on Instagram, Twitter, and more. On YouTube, there’s everything from show clips, to original material, to makeup tutorials, to casting tapes. The castmates have product lines including skincare, makeup, and perhaps interestingly, T-shirts. Did I mention books? A cookbook, even.

I personally call Jersey Shore the show with the most consistently high quality entertainment. Actually, I only have one gripe with Jersey Shore after about 13 years. I was working as a gardener on an estate in 2011 and probably due to that show, my millennial coworkers and I were not allowed to live on site. Somebody Danny-aged had done that right before we had gotten there.

So when Angelina this past season had a meltdown and said she wanted to go home, did that mean that she was going to leave her former coworkers’ family vacation, or did it mean she was going to leave the MTV filming? It’s not like they’re being secretly filmed. Jersey Shore has a classic interview style seen in so much of reality TV.

I’ve really tried my best to explain Jersey Shore. Maybe you can do it better. But whether it makes sense or not, “I don’t care / I love it.” That was the theme song to just one of the Jersey Shore spinoff shows. Did I mention that they also have Bachelor-style dating competitions? I guess they are famous from their shore store work. And rich from what exactly?