From Big Brother to Britain’s Got Talent, for the last ten years our television screens have been bombarded with reality programmes that range from the bizarre (remember Rebecca Loos masturbating a pig live on The Farm?’) to the banal (Extreme Couponing: yes, it is a show about people with coupons. Enough said). Basically any aspect of life that you can think of will have been documented through the wonders of reality television. And if it hasn’t, then there’s probably a show in the pipeline for it. Brace yourselves for Extreme Sloth Riding.
However, one show of recent times stands out from the crowd. Not because of its controversy; although promotional material for the first series did showcase a main cast member being punched in the face and the use of a previously derogative term for working-class Italian-Americans. Nor does it particularly stand out in terms of innovative, ground-breaking ideas; the show follows the lives of eight flatmates in an area of America. From what I can gather, this was previously done by The Hills, but the female voices that I heard excitedly talking about it were at a pitch only dogs could hear.
Why this show stands out is the sheer pointlessness of it. Even Extreme Couponing could be construed as showing people how they can save money in hard times, but this programme seems to have no point, no payoff, no purpose whatsoever.
I am, of course, talking about Jersey Shore.
For those who have not watched Jersey Shore, all you need to be a member of the cast is a skin complexion reminiscent of a traffic cone, a bike chain around your neck (dyed silver, of course), and five gallons of hair gel to turn your hair into a pillar of shiny stone. Each day.
What we get from Jersey Shore is a look into the lifestyle of ‘guidos’ and ‘guidettes’, terms which were, as aforementioned, offensive terms for Italian-Americans. Their lifestyle, as they put it, is ‘young adults, pretty much going out, partying for the summer’.
That’s brilliant. I’m very happy for them. Thing is, I can do what they are doing myself. I don’t want a group of mutated tangerines to show me how to party. They have clearly never been to Southampton’s infamous Jester’s on a Monday night.
Now about to enter its fourth season after first airing in 2009, you may be wondering why we haven’t seen an English version hit TV screens yet. Prepare yourself for Geordie Shore then. The only reason I can think producers have decided to stage this show in Newcastle is that ‘Geordie’ is the closest thing to ‘Jersey’ they could find in Britain. Let’s be honest, Scouser Shore or Croydon Shore don’t quite have the same feel do they? Judging by the opening credits, which includes a bloke called Gary, who ‘should have a degree in pulling women’ (soon to be hitting university prospectuses around the country) and the lovely Holly, who is ‘big, flirty, and has double Fs’, this show promises to contain the same amount of intellectual content as an evening with a comatose squirrel. Unlike its American counterpart, who fares slightly better, the squirrel being replaced with a bag of Quavers.
Yet despite the apparent worthlessness Jersey Shore, it has gained a huge following around the world. And unsurprisingly, for a programme that contains people who probably learnt their alphabet at twenty-five, the show has developed a near enough language of its own. My favourite has to be ‘smushing’; a term that is used in place of ‘sex’. To me, ‘smushing’ sounds like when you get two squishy objects and press them together, which either a) results in a fairly messy, moist situation, or b) fall apart from each other immediately after they have come together.
Come to think of it, ‘smushing’ makes more sense now. Maybe there’s something in this show after all.