Jersey Shore: A Reality TV Retrospective

This reality series was developed by MTV and debuted in late 2009. Focused on the lives of eight working-class Americans, it chronicles their summers together in a house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. These activities include tanning, fist pumping, doing laundry and of course partying. Incredibly, this show shattered television and MTV viewership records with its core group of characters that audiences loved to hate and hated to love. Join as we take a look back at the history of Jersey Shore.

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Jersey Shore: A Reality TV Retrospective

This show is simply over-the-top. Welcome to, and today we’ll be taking a look at the history of “Jersey Shore.”

This reality series was developed by MTV and debuted in late 2009. “Jersey Shore” focused on the lives of eight working-class Americans who were spending their summer together in a house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

Even in its first episodes, the show featured the trademarks of tanning, fist pumping, bedazzled clothes and – of course – partying. Viewers didn’t initially respond to the Guidos and Guidettes of “Jersey Shore” by actually watching the show: at first, the ratings sucked. But after a few key hookups and drunken fights in skeezy bars, viewership soared. A not-so-flattering parody on “Saturday Night Live” propelled the show to mainstream recognition, and following that “Jersey Shore” shattered television and MTV records.

What really made the show popular were its stars. Though cast members came and went through the seasons, “Jersey Shore” featured a core group of characters that audiences loved to hate and hated to love.

The male cast originally consisted of momma’s boy Vinny Guadagnino, Bronx, New York native Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, disc jockey Paul DelVecchio – better known as Pauly D – and fitness enthusiast Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino.

Meanwhile, the group of ladies included the self-proclaimed Kim Kardashian of Staten Island: Angelina Pivarnick, Jennifer Farley, a.k.a. J-WOWW, Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, and the show’s breakout star: the outrageous, four foot nine, pouffy haired, spray-tanned Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.

Aside from this cast of characters, “Jersey Shore” came with its own language and lifestyle. To keep themselves in tip-top shape, it was all GTL, baby: Gym, tanning, laundry. The Guidos and Guidettes on the series lived their lives on the “Battlefield,” otherwise known as the dance floor. The dudes “went fishing” for eligible bachelorettes to “smush,” but sometimes wound up with “grenades” or “landmines.”

In other words, the show was all about primping, partying, punch-ups and promiscuity. The cast’s often shocking behavior was fueled by the fact that, during their time on the Shore, they didn’t have access to cell phones, radio or the Internet. This isolation caused the group to overindulge, rage at each other and partake in more than their fair share of mixed cocktails. But under the surface lay important core friendships that helped the group appeal to the average viewer.

This show came on the heels of other, more polished MTV docu-soap successes like “The Hills” and “Laguna Beach.” “Jersey Shore” took a more raw documentary approach: cameramen followed the cast around as they got drunk, got laid and got in trouble, while fixed cameras were posted around the house to catch any naughty behavior at home.

Season 2 moved the team to South Beach, Florida for more of their unique brand of antics. They returned to their original stomping grounds for Season 3, and even gained a new cast member. Snooki’s friend Deena Nicole Cortese was brought on to replace Angelina, and she became another core member of the series.

Season 4 of the show brought many members of the show’s cast in touch with their Italian roots by filming in Italy, and it turned out that their crazy exploits translated overseas. They returned to the Jersey Shore in their fifth season for even more fist pumping, hair gel and tight bods.

In a show full of outrageous events, it took some truly crazy experiences to stand out. Memorable moments included cast arrests, Snooki getting punched in the face, multiple cat fights, detoxifying the community “smush” room and more than one steamy session in the hot tub.

Since its debut, “Jersey Shore” became a cultural phenomenon and a source of mindless entertainment for millions. While it did garner record numbers of fans, the show also had its share of detractors for its questionable portrayal of youth culture, Italians and Italian-Americans especially.

But despite the show’s many critics, the series permeated all aspects of American media, and gave its stars celebrity status, spin-offs and careers outside the show. And it did this by giving fans exactly what they wanted.

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