Darren Franich
February 24, 2012 AT 05:30 AM EST

I recently watched a three-hour movie about three Russian dudes walking through a forest talking about the meaning of life, and fellow viewers, that movie was a freaking Bourne sequel compared to this season of Jersey Shore. I’m currently staring at my notes from last night’s episode — notes, I might add, which were marked down by EW.com’s happy gang of unpaid street-orphan interns — and I’m hard-pressed to figure out if anything actually happened in the episode, or if it was just a rerun of last week’s episode when nothing happened. Roger got into a fight at Karma, which didn’t matter. Everyone went fishing, but no one caught any fish. The Situation talked for the five hundredth time about telling Jionni all about his hook-up with Snooki. The truth about their adulterous smush session has now been the main plot of two straight seasons of television, kind of like how the murder of Rosie Larsen will consume two seasons of The Killing. Policemen briefly appeared, but they didn’t arrest anyone, even though Snooki and Deena were dry-humping in a closed beach while polluting the Atlantic with tequila vomit. Snooki’s three main topics of conversation were: 1) How much she wants to smush Jionni, 2) How annoying Jionni is, and 3) BURP!

It’s hard to know just how Shore went so wrong, but based on last night’s episode, here are my three main theories:

1. Jersey Shore is essentially a single-person sitcom that has reached a point where no one is really single. J-Woww and Snooki have been domesticated; last night, their planned S.O. smush sessions were delayed because J-Woww had to defecate and Jionni had to regurgitate. Meanwhile, Ron and Sam have either settled into pleasant domesticity or are heavily medicated on horse tranquilizers. Throw the fact that Vinny and Pauly are confirmed hetero-lifemates, and you’re left with a show that looks a lot like the closing seasons of Friends or Sex and the City. Some single-person sitcoms can transform into relationship sitcoms, but it’s tricky…and since the essential allure of Jersey Shore was always the curiously awkward melodrama of Seaside’s hook-up culture, it’s hard to imagine that the show will ever recover.

2. Jersey Shore is essentially a drama that has forgotten that the best drama comes from small moments. Recent episodes of Shore tend to feature quote-unquote “outrageous” moments, with the cast straining mightily to create good TV. Last night, they went fishing at the dock, and J-Woww tried to order a cappuccino at the dock, and Vinny threw a crab on Uncle Situation at the dock, and Snooki and Deena almost drowned in one foot of water at the dock, and there were so many shenanigans at the dock that you could almost ignore the fact that everything about the dock was incredibly boring. Later, Snooki put on a rabbit costume and pretended to be a stripper prostitute bunny named Lola. She Jersey Turnpiked Deena. In theory, this should have been awesome. In practice, though, it felt a bit like those awkward middle seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, when impossible crazy stuff started happening — The doctors cure a wounded deer! Meredith visits purgatory! Izzy has brain-tumor ghost sex! The problem is that, TV dramas run the risk of crazypants overload, sacrificing good character intrigue for shenanigans.

NEXT: Snooki + Vinny = Negative Fun!

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