Jersey Shore recap: When Meatballs Attack
Deena and Snooki celebrate their last Florentine Saturday by going on a bender, and everyone agrees to despise The Situation
It seems inconceivable that the Jersey Shore cast could possibly hate Florence so much. Sure, none of them really speak Italian. Sure, it’s impossible to get a decent tan. Sure, Snooki killed a cop. But we have to keep some perspective here, viewers. These people were flown out to one of the great old cities of the Western World, were given a lavish villa with a fizzy hot tub and a pigeon-friendly smoker’s porch, were expressly instructed by their MTV overseers to do nothing but have fun, fun, fun, fun. And yet, as we consider the penultimate episode of this season, we have to reach one simple, scientific conclusion: Fun is what they are not having.
After some early luck with the Low Self-Esteem Twins, the local population has proven immune to the cast’s smushworthy charms. The housemates have, slowly but surely, turned away from the outside world. Like an aging family of aristocrats fearful of the changing world outside, they’ve been forced to huddle together in semi-incestuous pansexuality. Deena and Snooki tried to strangle each other with their tongues. Pauly and Vinny have declared their eternal love-bond. J-Woww and Sammi have become friends, and Sammi and Ronnie have somehow maintained a healthy relationship for weeks now. When you consider the general animosity between those three people in season 3, the only possible conclusion is that they have decided to make peace before the world comes to an end.
This whole weird fourth season doesn’t seem to have been too fun for the viewers, either. Ratings have declined pretty steadily since the anti-climactic Sitch/Ronnie scuffle. MTV appears to be cutting their losses, ending the season with next week’s 12th episode. (Seasons 2 and 3 both had 13 episodes.) When the gang celebrated their last Sunday dinner on last night’s episode, Pauly D tried gamely to put a happy spin on their Florentine misadventure: “I had some of the best days of my life out here.” Absolutely no one agreed with those sentiments. Vinny summed up the general feeling: “I’m glad we’re leaving.”
There’s a real sense that the cast of Jersey Shore tried to defeat Florence. And they lost. Just look at how Deena and Snooki decided to spend their last Saturday morning in the city: Dancing on the top of an empty bar at 11 AM. Deena taught a local girl how to Jersey Turnpike. The local girl looked terrified. It was like watching the last survivor of a dying alien race try to teach a human captive how to speak the alien language, except that all of the alien language’s vowel sounds involved cuca flashing. “We’re not gonna half-ass this!” screamed the Meatballs. “We’re gonna drink all day, we’re gonna drink all night!”
That turned out to be a conservative estimate. Team Meatball was on a tear; when everyone else wanted to go home, they insisted on keeping the party going at Central. But the natives were restless. Some young Italian lads started dancing all up on Shnookums, which she didn’t appreciate. “Back up! Don’t touch me!” she screamed. The Meatballs fled to the bar seeking sanctuary. The bartender threw ice at them. “Oh, cause that was mature!” said Snooki, who proceeded to maturely push every bottle off the bar. She to be carried away by a man in a black T-shirt, her four orange limbs writhing in the air, like an orange overturned turtle.
NEXT: A family recipe for an old-fashioned Cuca BurnThe Meatballs got home and tried to explain their predicament to their housemates. “A schmartender threw ice boobs at us! BURP!” They decided that the time was right to hop into the jacuzzi. “I’m going in with clothes on, because I’m fat,” explained Snooki. “I have to pee,” agreed Deena. They both loudly complained about Cuca Burn, which would really be a great name for a terrible cocktail. (The ingredients for the Cuca Burn are as follows: a dram of bottom-shelf whiskey, a dash of Tabasco, an extra dash of Tabasco, some chloroform, more of that juicy Tabasco, and then you throw the whole thing into your worst enemy’s face. Cuca Burn!)
Ronnie deadpanned, “I feel like I’m in a Snoopy episode. All I hear is wah-wah-wahh-wah-wah-wah.” That’s a uniquely wry comparison for a shaven ape-man, although I think he mangled the Peanuts reference a little bit. Snooki and Deena are clearly Peppermint Patty and Marcie, what with all the unresolved romantic tension. (To complete the metaphor, I’d say Ronnie is Linus and Sammi is Sally; those two just can’t get along! Pauly is Snoopy, since Snoopy was also a slightly unhinged creature with only a passing interest in the human race. Vinny is Woodstock, because he’s useless. J-Woww is clearly Lucy — she might as well wear a sign around her neck that says “The Doctor is In.” And The Situation is Charlie Brown. Terrible thing, to go bald so young.)
The Meatballs realized that it was morning, since there was a big light in the sky. They put on some leopard-print clothes and went back out. “We’re living our fricking lives,” said Snooki. “We’re dying,” said Deena. “I’m drunk,” said Snooki. They passed out on the table, looking for all the world like a pair of cave-women who murdered a pack of leopards and then traveled through time to teach the children of America a valuable lesson about staying hydrated while on an old-fashioned bender.
Speaking of leopards, have you ever seen The Leopard? It’s a 1963 film by Luchino Visconti, one of the great Italian filmmakers, and it tracks the end of the old aristocratic class of Sicily in the late 19th century. (Roll with me on this for a second.) The main character of the film is Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, a man who can foresee how the revolutionary changes sweeping through his country will change everything. The Leopard is a really awesome decadent epic about the bloody evolution of civilization — and, to make it sound less like Vegetable Cinema, it also stars Claudia Cardinale, one of those great actresses who’s always in hot contention for the “Most Transcendently Beautiful Woman in Movie History” prize — but the film is also, at its core, a fascinating character study of a great man realizing that his time is coming to an end. In his appreciation of The Leopard, Roger Ebert notes how remarkably close the film brings the viewer to Don Fabrizio: “We have grown to know the Prince’s personality and his ideas, and now we enter, almost unaware, into his emotions.”
Fellow viewers, I submit to you that something similar is happening with this season of Jersey Shore. No matter how bored we’ve occasionally felt by this season — let the name “Jionni” be forever stricken from the record books — there has been something uncannily fascinating about watching The Situation’s slow, steady demise. On last night’s episode, he decided to pick a fight with some Italian kids in a bar. He only picked the fight because he knew his goon squad would protect him: The “Bravery” of the Untouchable Aristocrat. Then, he hijacked an otherwise pleasant Sunday dinner by insisting, apropos of nothing, that Deena should act more…well, domestic. “You never clean, you never cook. Do some dishes. BE A WOMAN!”
He barely dodged the spatula.
NEXT: Mike makes an empty threat, and the world calls his bluff.Mike threatened to get more personal. He was going to go there. But Deena surprised him with the old 8 Mile defense: She owned her faults, and threw Mike’s in his face. “You wanna call me fat, Mike? I can lose weight for free. You need about ten grand to fix your f—ing face!” Mike staged a retreat, laughing. Vinny offered us a quick recap of Mike’s busy season: “Punched in the face, run into the wall, champagne bottles thrown at your head, and then spatulas.” Don’t forget “chased away his last friend in the house by skeeving on her like a drunk uncle.”
Even when The Situation isn’t involved in any actionable douchebaggery, the mere specter of his presence is enough to cause the house to descend into chaos. Look at how quickly Vinny went from toasting Sammi to getting into a loud argument with her over the room set-up back at the Seaside Heights house. The mere thought of living with Mike was enough to send Sammi into an old-school rage. But Vinny stood firm: “Mike brings drama into different situations. We’re not like that. We’re drama-free.” The Situation dismissed Vin-Vin’s cries: “Vinny’s just a young kid. When drama gets to Little Vinny, he shuts down.” (I maintain that The Situation is actually just a much older version of Vinny, who traveled back in time from the mid-21st century. Basically, Vin-Vin is to Sitch as Kang the Conqueror is to Immortus, and if you understood that reference without clicking on the hyperlinks, then you’re a total nerdface and I love you.)
The rest of the episode just followed Mike on a sad spiral towards loneliness. He told Snooki, “I probably am not going to Jersey.” She said, “You want to leave? Bye.” He tried to reach out to his old friend Pauly, telling him, “I don’t know how to take the high road. You always take the express lane.” Pauly apologetically mumbled, “I’m not perfect,” and then left the room, irrefutably perfect. Pauly doesn’t usually take sides in the house scuffles, but he admitted that the old Team MVP gang is now just Team VP, which makes Vinny and Pauly sound like associate party planners at the Joe Biden School for Scoundrels.
“They like to gang up on me because I’m strong,” explained Sitch, who then suffered the greatest indignity of all: Being locked inside of the girls’ bathroom. He begged for help, but no one came. He threatened to knock the door down, didn’t. I imagine that, while he was trapped in the bathroom, he took a long look at his face, at his skin that used to be so beautiful and moisturized but now resembled sunbaked leather stirrups.
I imagine that, for a brief physical moment, The Situation lay witness to the entropy that must engulf all men, and saw the end of his own era, and realized that someday — perhaps very soon — no one will remember when “Situation” was a proper noun. In the bitter, brutal future that awaits our dying race, our caveman descendants will find unpurchased Jersey Shore boxed sets in the ruins of Barnes & Noble, and will sharpen the DVDs to use as weapons against the post-apocalyptic cockroach-people, and those bloodsoaked discs will be all that remains of The Situation, a horde of tiny monuments soaked in green-blue mutant blood. Like Dave Sim’s Cerebus the Aardvark, Sitch received a vision of his own natural end: Alone, unmourned, and unloved. What an awesome, awful sight! By the time Ronnie opened the door — Ron-Ron, Sitch’s oldest nemesis, how revolting! — Sitch was lying aground in the fetal position, attempting in vain to asexually reproduce his own younger self, to start all over, to live life as a good man and not as Colonel Turd of Douche Patrol.
That night, at the club, The Situation picked a fight with some locals again. He only did this because he knew his friends had his back. But when he turned around, everyone he ever knew had deserted him. They had retreated to their own distant corner of the night, talking, laughing, toasting their own eternal happiness, enjoying each other’s friendship as only old enemies can. “Cheers to a good night, bitches!”
And The Situation? We left him all alone in the much-despised Jersey Shore villa, sitting quietly in an oversized chair, like some old forgotten King left alone in an empty throne room. He mumbled to himself, “Who’s gonna be the bad guy? Situation? No problem. No problem. I’m the bad guy. Situation.” It was like a great chaos-reigns ending from an old issue of The Haunt of Fear, where we leave the story’s protagonist driven insane by ghosts and hallucinations.
I imagine that the gang arrived back at the villa later that night, laughing about how much they loved life, only to find The Situation lying half-dead on the floor, his fists bloody and bruised from having beaten himself into a pulp, “I’m the bad guy, eh eh eh, no problem, eh eh eh, I’ll fight the bad guy, eh eh eh, I’ll show that punk, eh eh eh.” And Ronnie’s mouth gaped wide open as he exclaimed: “Good Lord! (Choke!)”
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