“Jersey Shore”: The Bizarro O.C.

JERSEY SHORE | Courtesy of MTV

JERSEY SHORE | Courtesy of MTV

By now we’ve all seen the video clip: a seemingly harmless, albeit annoying young woman in an Ed Hardy hat and too much tanning lotion begins to verbally harass a gentleman at a bar. This gentleman, who wishes only to enjoy himself and his tequila shots in peace, proceeds to handle the situation by violently punching said woman in the face.

Chaos and hilarity ensue.

This two-minute clip is just a taste of the new MTV reality phenomenon known as “Jersey Shore,” which puts eight Italian American kids in a gaudily decorated Jersey Shore beach house. There, they spend their time tanning, doing their hair, going to the gym, drinking, clubbing, cheating on their boyfriends, and “looking for hot broads.”

What started out as another “Real World”-esque set-up for a reality series has turned into a fascinating anthropological study of the breed of New Jersey Italian Americans known as “Guidos.”

A Guido, as defined by UrbanDictionary.Com, is “an Italian American man usually residing in New York or New Jersey. He wears shirts that are too tight and unbuttoned five buttons too low to show off the chest that he spent hours and hours at the gym obtaining. He spends more time on his hair than on his girlfriend, and continues to ’hit the clubs’ long into his mid to late 30s. Often attracted to the female version of himself, the ’Guidette.’”

This painfully accurate description sums up the four males on the Jersey Shore cast. Let me introduce to you the Guidos of “Jersey Shore:”

Mike, a.k.a “The Situation”: Mike, or as he likes the ladies to call him, “The Situation,” is the cockiest of the bunch. He frequently lifts his shirt at random times, or when a hot broad is nearby, to display the results of his workout regimens, tanning sessions and protein drinks. The Situation has the body of a 25-year-old man, the attitude of a teenager, and the face of a 40 year old. He is, to quote himself, “indescribable.”

Ronnie: Ronnie is the beefiest, and probably the dumbest, dude in the house. While he has the bulging biceps and frosted tips that would make any Guidette swoon, he’s about as smart as a box of hammers. He is the master of the Guido fist-bump, the deadliest tool in a Guido’s arsenal of dance movies.

Pauly D: DJ Pauly D is “The hottest DJ in Rhode Island,” which doesn’t seem like too difficult of a feat to accomplish. He is also the most vain, self-absorbed Guido you’ll ever see. He spends half an hour perfecting his “blow-out” flat-top hairstyle, with enough gel and hairspray to put another hole in the ozone layer. He literally owns his own tanning bed. ‘Nuff said.

Vinnie: Vinnie is an atypical Guido. While he does fit the stereotype of the Italian “Mama’s Boy,” he lacks the vanity, the spray-tanned abs or the gratuitous Ed Hardy apparel and jewelry to make himself a true Guido like his fellow cast members. He even has a college degree. Vinnie’s actually kind of a sweetheart (or at least he is when compared to “The Situation”).

Let’s not forget the oh-so classy ladies of “Jersey Shore,” the Guidettes. Guidettes by definition are “the female counterpart to the Guido, meaning vapid, vain and shortsighted. Can be spotted generally according to lack of clothing, and lack of breathability in said clothing. Often speaks in a high, shrill voice – almost like a mating call to attract Guidos. Daily life consists of clubbing, tanning, shopping, perhaps exercise or work, and not a whole lot else.”

Nicole, a.k.a “Snooki”: This pint-sized Guidette’s claim to fame is the now infamous punch to the face that she got from a complete stranger at a bar – the clip that has garnered the most controversy surrounding the show. But Snooki’s little size is rivaled by her big personality. Constantly disappointed by men, she cruises the Jersey seaside in the hopes of finding her ideal mate (a Guido with muscles and a tan, of course).

Her trademark “poof,” which she says takes about three hours to do every day, looks like it’s hiding about seven “Bump-its” and glued in place by at least half a bottle of hairspray. She’s just as orange and tanned as the boys in the house, if not even more. She wears hats that say “Porn Star in Training” and she loves pickles. What’s not to love about Snooki?

Jenni, a.k.a “J-Woww”: J-Woww is a self proclaimed “praying mantis” when it comes to men, in that she’ll rips their heads off when she’s done having sex with them. This gravelly-voiced Guidette has an affinity for skimpy tops, shredded jeans, and cheating on her boyfriend with Pauly. She’s a crazy and spontaneous party girl. Things start to get heated one night at the popular seaside hotspot “Karma,” so she leaves the club, because she “didn’t wanna cheat on [her] boyfriend.” She chooses to expend her energy on devouring ham and water instead of sucking face with anonymous Guidos. That’s what I call admirable self-control.

Sammi “Sweetheart”: Sammi is “the sweetest bitch you’ll ever meet.” She’s in the shore for the summer to screw around and have a good time. But alas, even independent Guidettes are not immune to the mating calls of the Guido. She gets caught up in a tanned love triangle with Ronnie, the budding bodybuilder, and Mike, “The Situation.” Decisions, decisions…

Angelina: This lazy lady gets kicked off in the third episode after she calls into work hungover. One of the only rules of “Jersey Shore” is that the inhabitants of the beach house have to earn their keep by working at a beachside tourist shop a few hours a week. This small breech of contract leaves Angelina out in the cold, a move that her housemates have no doubt she’ll regret. “It’s like leaving The Beatles,” said The Situation. Now that the cast members are being paid thousands of dollars for club appearances, the hyperbole doesn’t seem quite so huge.

So what’s the appeal of “Jersey Shore?” Is it the atrocious hairstyles and makeup? Is it the debauchery, drinking, jacuzzis and sex? Perhaps at its core, this show is so fascinating because it’s like reading “National Geographic” or watching the Discovery Channel. You get to observe from afar the behaviors of an unfamiliar and strange breed of people as they mate, hunt, dance, drink and generally make asses of themselves. So if you ever need to justify your Jersey Shore obsession, just explain that it’s a cultural investigation of the “Guido” tribe.