Pop Culture Confessional is a weekly column where our writers can divulge and indulge in their most deeply embarrassing cultural passion — and then tell you why it actually rocks. Everyone has a few dirty little secrets. Only the truth shall set us free.
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.
If I’m genuinely entertained by something, I shouldn’t be embarrassed about it. There are plenty of things to stress over in life, and entertainment shouldn’t be one of them. That’s why I feel no shame about any of my pop culture interests, even when they happen to include watching eight people drink too much, party every night and engage in child-like fights in the town where I spent my prom weekend. I love Jersey Shore – gym, tan, laundry and all.
When I tell people I’m down to kick back and watch a few mind-numbing episodes of MTV’s latest hit, people often look at me in disgust. Not only am I contributing to the ratings and supporting people getting paid way too much to drink and “smush” constantly on television, but I’m supporting those infamous "Joisey" stereotypes.
Don’t worry. I enjoy some Paul Simon, Jon Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg now and then. I’m not totally off-base in what I appreciate, New Jersey pop culture-wise. But loving the state I grew up in is not just about accepting its good qualities. It’s much more important to accept its flaws. While they might not be the norm for everybody in the Garden State, I do see my fair share of fist pumping, fake tanning and wild parties on the shore. To shun Jersey Shore would be to break up with a boyfriend because he has a few silly little quirks, even though he’s an otherwise great person.
Accepting and loving Jersey Shore is an important exercise in not taking life too seriously. New Jersey is often called the “armpit of America” and that doesn’t bother me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t fit any Jersey molds myself. I didn’t learn how to pump gas until just before my 19th birthday and I can’t pronounce the words “orange” and “drawer” correctly. Who am I to judge other people from my home state – or in many cases, people from surrounding states – who put some of their own stereotypical hang-ups on display?
Aside from my love of all things Jersey, I look forward to watching the show because it is mindless. My favorite shows are 30 Rock, Seinfeld, Mad Men, Freaks and Geeks, Dexter and Modern Family. But watching those shows requires effort on my part, like keeping up with Jack Donaghy’s reference-laden banter or processing Don Draper’s emotional struggles. Sometimes I just want to come home after class, sit down and laugh at something.
The best part is that Snooki, The Situation and the gang are in on the joke. Some scenes clearly show them plotting gags for the cameras. Gossip websites have shown that producers sometimes re-film fights. It’s kitschy TV – even by reality show standards – that turns into a great excuse for viewers to laugh alongside the cast and crew.
I know what to expect from the show. A fair amount of Ronnie and Sam drama, a fight over who is going to sleep with who in what room of the house, a lot of clubbing and some scenes of them at work thrown in. It’s not like other reality shows where producers claim to switch things up every season by bringing in a new cast and making new plot lines to follow. I know that although the group may be in a different country or working a different job, I’ll still get the same sets of shenanigans. It’s comforting, in a weird way.
If Jersey Shore is a show that I can sit and watch with my roommate and my brother, two people I love spending time with, then I’m all for that. Everything from the Seaside house’s duck phone to the Italy pizza-making mishaps makes me laugh.
I’m not the most pop-culturally literate person out there. If that were the case, I’d hate Jersey Shore and make fun of the fools who watch it. But that’s okay, because I have enough confidence to defend Snooki and still be proud of myself. I’m more than happy to burn time watching trashy, overrated programming instead of studying or sleeping.