My obsession with Jersey Shore is unfortunately well-documented, so you can imagine the explosive mix of emotions I felt earlier today, when rumors started circulating that MTV was planning to replace the original Shore cast — whose paychecks are swelling at roughly the same rate as their pectorals — with a new crew of tandroid gym-freaks with colorful nicknames and self-esteem issues. MTV has since denied the recasting; the network told EW, “We love the present cast, and their summer adventures have just begun.” The original cast has already filmed the upcoming fourth season in Italy, and is currently filming a fifth season back in Jersey.
Assuming they can reach a financial agreement with MTV, they might soon be locked in for another two-season cycle. But I know for a fact that most viewers felt that the third season — after a run of episodes so terrifically addictive that they could even be described as “brilliant” if we lived in a world where words no longer had any meaning — took a nasty turn, becoming repetitive, boring, and just plain sad, kind of like going to a frat party after you’ve already graduated from college. So how much longer would you want to see Sitch, Shnookums, Ron-Ron the Ape-Man, and the rest of the gang do their thing? And would you watch a Jersey Shore with a new cast?
I can understand why some people are getting tired of the original cast, after the third season devolved into a downward spiral of Sam-Ron misery. But I think MTV really hit the jackpot with the Shore cast. Creating great reality TV is an exercise in social engineering, and it’s hard to think of any reality TV cast that meshes so uniquely perfectly as the Shore crew. There are genuine friendships on the show — J-Woww and Snooki, Vinny and Pauly, The Situation and himself. Ronnie and Sam genuinely seem to have fallen in love with each other — or, perhaps more intriguingly, Ronnie didn’t get the memo about their fake romance. The Situation is an incredible villain, but by virtue of being roughly 30 years older than his roommates, he’s also the family patriarch.
Could MTV capture lightning in a bottle again, with a new cast? Doubtful. At best, they’d create a new version of The Real World, a franchise that gets essentially the same people back each year to lesser effect. At best, they’d create the reality show version of Saved By the Bell: The New Class. I don’t know how much longer the original Shore cast can stay interesting, but I know for a fact that once they’re gone, I’m gone. (And MTV knows it, too; why else do you think they pay these people such big money to get drunk and cry on camera?)
What do you think, Shore fans? Would you watch a new cast of vaguely Italian-ish ex-strippers turn themselves into fame casualties? Have you already lost interest in Sitch and Co.?
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