Jersey Shore recap: Jionni vs. Everybody
John Updike once wrote, “Inhabiting a male body is like having a bank account; as long as it’s healthy, you don’t think much about it.” Clearly, when he wrote those words in 1993, Updike was using his Great-American-Novelist powers of precognition to pre-recap (precap?) last night’s episode of Jersey Shore. This is, coincidentally, why Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises doubles as a precap of Jersey Shore season 2, and why William Faulkner’s novella The Bear — the story of a haunted, monstrous, viciously aggressive bear who seems almost human sometimes — is basically the essential unauthorized biography of Ronnie.
The episode began on an unusually somber note. Poor old Sitch was suddenly facing his own mortality. His neck, which was once so beautiful and so young, was shrouded behind the scientific misery of an Italian medical cast. “I got a neckbrace on for ten days,” moaned Mike. He looked to his housemates for sympathy. But they were all so much younger than him — remember, The Situation is almost old enough to be their handsy Uncle. “Who cares about you, old man!” they screamed. When Sitch wasn’t looking, Pauly D and Vin-Vin snuck into his room and played with his neckbrace. “Looka me,” they giggled, “I’m The Situation! I’m-a gonna die soon!” Then they high-fived and backslapped and drank and whored and watched the sun rise and knew they would be young forever.
Poor Mr. Sitch. He was falling asleep sitting up, because it hurt too much to lie down. Just like the Elephant Man, except you didn’t have to feel bad about laughing. “I can’t do anything without, like, being helped,” Sitch cried. To cheer himself up, he decided to wear green sex-pants. But there were no ladies around for to have sex with thereupon. “Whither the twins of yesteryear?” he shrieked. “Whither the grenades of yore? BURP.”
It was left to Ronnie — perhaps Sitch’s greatest enemy in the house, not counting everyone else — to cheer him up. Our Ronnie has anointed himself the crisis counselor of this Italian season. Maybe because he has so much experience with crises. Maybe because J-Woww is proving a good influence on him, kind of like how Wonder Woman taught Aquaman to not be such a toolbox all the time. Maybe because he’s discovered religion, and it burns! For whatever reason, Ronnie told Sitch: “I’m here for you.”
A friend! Imagine, discovering your first true friend, so late in your life! Uncle Sitch thanked Ronnie profusely. He was out of his funk. He removed the neck-brace. The Situation would rise again. “From now on,” Sitch said proudly, “I know not to bang my head into a wall anymore.” And to think, we were so worried this show wasn’t teaching our kids any helpful life lessons!
You might have thought that, after his brush with mortality, we would have met a kinder Situation. A gentler Situation. A Situation looking to mend fences, build bridges, institute new policies to fix the country’s crumbling infrastructure, just generally act like less of a douche rocket. That must have been what Snooki was thinking, at least, when she strolled into the Pigeon Room and asked for an apology.
NEXT: Question: Oh, Magic 8-Ball, Will The Situation apologize? Answer: Reply hazy, and also, I’m a f—ing 8-Ball.I have plenty of friends who enjoy watching reality shows specifically to figure out which parts are fake. What storylines were invented by the producers? Which of the housemates are just actors? (It’s almost a parlor game, the sort of thing that the bright young cosmopolitan people in the 1920s would have done if only they had been lucky enough to live in the Golden Age of Reality TV, instead of merely living in a Golden Age of literature, music, film, fashion, parties, art, opium, and Coolidge. By the way, Opium and Coolidge is the name of my upcoming percussion-and-spoken-word concept album. It’s terrible!)
Generally speaking, I don’t play that game, partially because we’ll never really know which parts of a reality show are fake, but mostly because I believe that nothing is more fake than real life. Everything is a lie. At least some reality shows are entertaining lies. And in the end, isn’t that the real truth? (The answer is no.) But more importantly, I think the whole “Is it real/fake” question is the least interesting question to ask about reality shows. Far more important to ask “Is it entertaining?” And if so, why?
But I’m going to break that rule for a second and share one possible theory about the “truth” of the whole Sitch/Snooki plotline. I have to stress that this is just one of my three theories. (The other two: Snooki has an identical twin sister that we don’t know about, and Pauly D used his powers of Inception to Inceptionize into Sitch’s brain the notion that Sitch had smushed Shnookums. Try saying “Sitch Smush Shnookums” five times really fast. People will think you’re from Finland, and you’ll be so popular!) But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that they actually did hook up. Let’s not forget: Snooki is a young liberated woman, and under a certain light Dr. Situation certainly appears to be a human male with all of his limbs. Fame is a great aphrodisiac, so it’s certainly not unthinkable that two famous people would hook up with each other.
The problem is, Snooki figured Sitch wouldn’t say anything. But The Situation knows that secrets are like Molotov Cocktails: They might explode in your face if you’re nearby, but if you see them on TV, they look awesome. And now Snooki knows the secret is out. So she needs, more than anything, for The Situation to apologize on the record. That’s why she keeps on talking to him, even though she positively squirms during every interaction. She has to get him to recant on camera. She’s like a good defense lawyer, attacking a key witness, trying to get anything out of him that sounds like admission of doubt. It doesn’t matter what actually happened; it only matters what it says in the record books.
But in this metaphor, Sitch is that horrible key witness who refuses to break. He vaguely apologized for saying anything, but didn’t admit that he was wrong. “Maybe I shoulda said something to Pauly,” he dithered, “I needed some advice!” Snooki stepped away, defeated again. Whatever the truth of their assignation, you have to figure that Dr. Situation is currently preparing all manner of pass-aggro douchebaggery in preparation for Jionni’s impending visit. (Mind you, this entire theory appears to have been proven wrong by Sitch’s closing line: “We were hooking up! Well, not a couple months ago.” So, once again, the answer is: “Sitch is the most evil man alive.”)
NEXT: You wouldn’t like Jionni when he’s angry. Or even when he’s not angry. What I’m saying is he’s unlikable.Before we all begin discussing where Jionni fits into the Hall of Fame for Horrible Jersey Shore Significant Others, let’s admit something: It’s gotta be hard dating these people. Imagine you meet a swell lady in a swell nightclub in a swell, relatively undisgusting corner of Seaside Heights. She’s a fun time. She’s passionate. She’s exciting. And hey, maybe you’ve kind of got an Oompa-Loompa fetish. Who cares? It’s the 23rd century, or whatever. The point is: Jagar bombs!
But then you hear the kicker. Her job forces her to utterly abandon her dignity. She is surrounded by people who are constantly prodding her to become her worst self. For a few months out of the year, you will appear on one of the most popular TV series in the world as a voice on the Duck Phone. Quack quack quack! Basically, your new girlfriend lives in a bubble doubly defined by the Heisenberg Principle and Murphy’s Law. Who, in that situation, wouldn’t wind up coming off as kind of a selfish, thoughtless, possessive lamezoid?
But make no mistake: That’s exactly how Jionni is coming off, at least to the Shore housemates. Ronnie overheard Snooki on the phone to her boy. She was being flirty. Jionni: “You’re so stupid!” Snooki: “I’m trying to change!” This struck Ron-Ron as bad-bad. So Ronnie found a nearby phone booth and transformed into Captain Life Coach. “Don’t change yourself for someone,” he told Li’l Shnookums. “Take it from me.”
When Snooki called Jionni again, her boy-toy was even more uptight. “You’re bombed right now!” he said, sounding surprised, proving that Snooki has somehow discovered the one man left in America who has never heard of Snooki. Ronnie tried to swoop in and save the day. He picked up the phone. “Hello, citizen!” he said. “I’m Captain Life Coach. Sounds like your masculinity is feeling a bit threatened by the fact that your lady love is so far away. Well, worry not, citizen! Your girlfriend is madly in love with you. And I’m keeping a good eye on her.”
Jionni responded: “F— you, you f—ing f—. Put Nicole back on the phone.”
“Argh,” said Captain Life Coach, “How did you know? My only weakness: being challenged!”
Anyhow, everyone was bored of talking about Ronnie and Sam, so everyone agreed to make this a big issue and have an entire lunch where they just talked about Jionni. Now, I can admire Nicole’s housemates for their honorable intentions. They want Nicole to be happy. They don’t want her to feel like she has to change. But surely they could have come up with a subtle maneuver? Like, start laying some hints? Instead, J-Woww basically just walked into Snooki’s room and said: “Everyone hates Jionni. You should leave him.” Hey, at least she didn’t write a note, right?
NEXT: Merrie Melodies–Snooki was told by a Catholic priest: “Can you cover your body, please, when you come to church?” Snooki formulated a spiritualist-hedonist response: “God likes my t—s. God made my t–s.” It’s true! I mean, remember in the Book of Genesis, when he got so upset when Adam and Eve started wearing clothes? Actually, if you think about it, God is kind of a hippie, maaaaaaan.
–J-Woww, in response to Snooki’s “God made my t–s” line, said “God didn’t make mine.” Yeesh, Jenni, quit shoving your secular humanism down our throats. Seriously, if I wanted a philosophical treatise on the search for human fulfillment in a godless world, I’d go watch Breaking Bad or Big Brother.
–Have we ever seen Pauly D’s hair without gel? We did last night. I don’t even know how to begin describing it, but here are the first ten things I scrawled in my notes: a lion mane, a coyote pelt, an accumulation of flayed Tribbles, a plush rug, Wolverine’s haircut except turned sideways, an ’80s hair-metal wig, what the world will look like after the apocalypse when nothing grows except for dark swampweed, a dead squirrel, a living squirrel, and the precise material my roommate and I have been looking for to stop the flooding in our basement.
–Watching Pauly D and Vinny pretend to be guidos was kind of like the moment in the Curb Your Enthusiasm season-7 finale when Larry David tried to play George Costanza. Both moments were knowingly deconstructive meta-self-parodies that seemed to suggest multiple levels of reality co-existing at once. Amelie Gillette of the AV Club described the Curb scene as “Larry David playing ‘Larry David’ playing George Costanza, a.k.a. a fictional Larry David,” to which we can now add this gem: Pauly D playing ‘Pauly D’ playing Joey D, a.k.a. a fictional Pauly D. It literally felt as if we were looking into an alternate world where absolutely nothing was different except that, instead of “GTL,” the main Jersey Shore catchphrase was “FPC: Fist-pump, Push-up, Chapstick.”
–Here is Sammi talking to Ron at the start of the episode: “You did me f—ing dirty. You’re a pig.” Here is Sammi at episode’s end: “I’m gonna do this for the last and final time. And that’s it!” In other news, I will no longer be recapping Sammi and Ronnie’s relationship, unless they really raise their game, Michael Bay-style. (Note: In this as in all things, “Michael Bay-style” basically means “Just when you things couldn’t get any stupider, things get so much stupider.” God, I hate Transformers.)
–Snooki and Deena got in a fight with some Italian girls, but it turned out they were just fighting themselves. It was just like the moment in Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea when the protagonist realizes that he has been fighting himself all along, except there were no dragons, unless you consider Pauly D a dragon, which I do.
–Vinny, with the line of the night: “If you guys do begin fighting, please, try to keep it away from me.”
Viewers, do you think The Situation will ever learn to stop hitting his head against walls? In the end, aren’t we all just hitting our heads against walls? Is Jionni a bad person? Is “Jionni” a real name? And tell me this isn’t the best description for Ronnie that anyone has ever written:
“Shaggy, huge, red-eyed, not malevolent but just big—too big for the dogs which tried to bay it, for the horses which tried to ride it down, for the men and the bullets they fired into it, too big for the very country which was its constricting scope.”
–From The Bear, by William Motherf—ing Faulkner
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