New Jersey’s unemployment rate is about to get a little higher.
MTV is pulling the plug on its modern classic reality series Jersey Shore.
The sixth and final edition of the show recently wrapped production and will debut Thursday, Oct. 4, with the crew back in Seaside Heights for one last party. The network is also airing a retrospective Jersey Shore special titled “Gym, Tan, Look Back” that will include a first look at the final season. The special will air before the Video Music Awards on Thursday, Sept. 6. The Shore cast will make a live appearance on the red carpet during the VMAs pre-show, as well.
Shore was one of the most polarizing shows in TV history, but no one can deny its enormous success and pop culture influence. The series debuted in 2009 amid controversy from Italian-American groups, which accused the show’s self-described “guido” cast as acting like ethnic stereotypes. But MTV viewers shrugged off the complaints and, after a somewhat average series premiere, Jersey Shore quickly took off in the ratings. The show launched a whole lexicon of Shore slang (fist pumping, gym-tan-laundry, smush room, getting-it-in…) and made stars of its nickname-stuffed cast, who lined up lucrative endorsement and appearance deals.
In early 2011, Shore hit nearly 9 million viewers and became the most popular program in MTV’s history. Moreover, the basic cable reality series routinely managed to trounce major broadcast network shows on Thursday nights in the key adults 18-49 demographic.
And then, an ambitious overseas expedition to Italy for the show’s fourth season marked the beginning of the end, with Shore’s numbers slipping notably for the first time. A return to Seaside in January saw ratings drop further, to 7.6 million for the fifth season premiere.
If those still seem like giant numbers for MTV, they are. The reason for Shore’s cancellation goes beyond the size of its audience. The cast has leveraged a series of raises over the years that has partly offset the show’s ratings success (their contracts expire at the end of the upcoming season). More crucially, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi – arguably the show’s most popular castmember along with Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino – just had her first child, putting the show’s hard-living beach party TV fantasy on a crash course with grown-up reality. At one point during the upcoming season, Snooki left the Shore house, having previously cited concerns about whether the set was the proper environment for a mother-to-be. The overall sense has been that, creatively, Jersey Shore has run its course.
The sixth season is not expected to actively portray that the series is coming to close. Before filming began, the cast was informed this might be the show’s final season, but they were not officially told the news until this morning. The show is survived by its two spin-offs, The Pauly D Project and Snooki & JWOWW. Though MTV has not yet announced a verdict on Pauly D Project, the Snooki series was picked up for a second season.
MTV reality executive Chris Linn, who previously told EW that this was “very possibly” the show’s final season, also recently expressed interest in airing a special covering Snooki’s wedding. “I would love to have a Snooki-Jionni wedding,” Linn said. “That could be amazing.”