Jersey Shore recap: Roger That, Tom!
With all due respect to Uncle Situation, Li’l Shnookums, and DJ Pauly The DJ, there is no question in my mind that the most complex person in the Jersey Shore universe is J-Woww. The woman is a paradox. On one hand, her chest looks like two renegade moons of Neptune and her name sounds like the sound you make when you see her chest. On the other hand, she’s the most logical voice in the house, she doesn’t hook-up in the Community Smush room, and she’s the one Shore lady who can call out the boys when they cross the line from “lovable cad” to “preening douche cadet.” But on still another hand, J-Woww is always the quickest to throw punches…and she’s the slowest to forgive.
Last night’s episode seemed like it was going to be about Snooki. We began in the aftermath of Snookfest ’11. Snooki had invaded the boardwalk, dodged work, drank an estimated 476 shots of various liquors, and crawled all around the beach like a fish that forgot to evolve. Naturally, the PD took her into custody. J-Woww alerted Papa Polizzi, who made some worried-sounding “Wah-Wah” sounds over the phone. Then J-Woww called her boyfriend, Tom. Tom was a bit upset that J-Woww hadn’t called the night before. “Tom, Snooki just got arrested for being a drunk nuisance,” J-Woww explained. Tom: “So she get arrested today? What the f— happened last night?”
Now, it would be wrong to make fun of Tom. Unlike the actual cast members of this show, he wasn’t paid inhuman sums of money to become an object of national ridicule. For all we know, he’s a crusading civil rights lawyer who spends his weekends singing in the local nondenominational church choir and volunteering with kids who can’t read good. But we can all agree that this was perhaps a poor moment to discuss general relationship issues. Like, Ground Control to Major Tom: Your lady’s best friend just got pinched by the fuzz! Don’t be pass-aggro! Bad! Tom seemed to sense his mistake, because he called J-Woww back. “Quack! Quack! Quack!” went the duck phone. “Hi! Hi! Hi!” said Tom. “F—! F—! F—!” said J-Woww. Children, good communication is the key to a healthy relationship.
The gang went to go collect Shnookums from jail. J-Woww had somehow already created a “Free Snooki” T-shirt, which was visible from space. Snooki didn’t seem too much worse for wear. “Going to jail is definitely embarrassing,” she admitted, which is actually exactly what Bernie Madoff said when his friends came and bailed him out of jail. La Snookerina didn’t seem to know what lesson to take from her ordeal. She told her dad, “It was like a f—ing phenomenon. Not a phenomenon, a train wreck.” Those words have nothing in common! Papa Polizzi wasn’t taking her guff. He unleashed some angry “Wah-Wah” sounds on her, which might have been more effective when Snooki was a young lady who wasn’t making money off of consistently being her worst self.
But Snooki was feeling reflective. Maybe it was the hangover. Maybe it was the fact that she still had sandy cleavage from her morning beach-crawl. Maybe Snooki is taking the first beautiful steps towards becoming a self-aware 12-year-old human being. For whatever reason, she noted that something had definitely changed in her. She blamed her ex, Emilio: “Before him, I was never an angry drunk. Well, I was, but I wasn’t that bad.” J-Woww told it to her straight: “I think you need to find love, and you’ll try to find it in anyone. You’ll make guys that aren’t good enough for you good enough for you. You set yourself up for disaster. It happens to all of us.” Could it be that J-Woww was actually talking to herself? Physician: Heal thyself.
NEXT: Bizarro-Ronnie invades the houseYou guys, oh my god, just when you thought the episode was going to be a tormented character study of J-Woww, everything completely took a left-turn into a literal Bizarro World. Snooki wanted a night at home, Jenni stuck with her out of girl-code solidarity, Sammi had a busy night of mirror-staring, and Ronnie is a brick with eyeballs. That meant Team MVP was on the prowl. Deena came along for the dudes’ night, and decided to dude it up a little bit herself. “Your boobs are phenomenal,” she exclaimed to one lady, before insisting that said lady take a body shot off her tummy. Then they made out, because youth! Vinny: “She’s welcome to hang with MVP. Now we’re MVPD.” (Doesn’t that sound like a college STD? “Hey girls, do you want to go to that Sigma Alpha Epsilon party tonight?” “Eww, no way, my friend went there last week and now she has MVPD!” That’s how women talk, right?)
But here’s where things got weird. Deena was dancing with a handsome juicehead who had a cubic head and Ferrigno-esque shoulders. He was Ronnie. I don’t mean, like, he was Ronnie’s long-lost twin brother, or that he was an astral projection of Ronnie’s subconsciousness. I don’t even mean to suggest that Ronnie has been slipping out to clubs, plucking his eyebrows so that no one recognizes him. I mean that Deena was literally dancing with Ronnie from a Bizarro-parallel universe. It was just like the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Star Trek, except totally stupid and less beardy.
MVP were fascinated. A genuine Bizarro-Ronnie, right here in Seaside! What are the chances? Since the evil duplicate was already planning to come home for a hot tub sesh with Deena, the boys concocted a villainous scheme. They would slip Bizarro-Ronnie into bed next to Sammi and see if she noticed the difference. Unfortunately, their scheming laughter woke up the sleeping Sam-Ron. But then, the best twist of all: It turned out that Ronnie actually knew Bizarro-Ronnie. And now, the kicker: “His girlfriend’s name is Sam, too.”
So Bizarro-Ronnie was cheating on Bizarro-Sammi…with Bizarro-Snooki. This is just like those terrible dreams where you relive a bad memory from your past, and everything is exactly the same, except everyone has plucked eyelashes. Bizarro-Ronnie got in the hot tub with Deena. She was all like, “You have girlfriend, yes/no?” He was all like, “Girlfriend, me, whaaaat?” And she was all like, “Okay then, let’s snuggle.” And he was all like, “Awwooooooga! I totally don’t have a girlfriend named Bizarro-Sammi who spends every night staring in the Bizarro-Mirror combing her Bizarro-Hair! Bizarro! Bizarro! I love you! Bizarro!“
NEXT: Pauly and Vinny make TV history (sort of) Downstairs, Vinny and Pauly D were having a truly hilarious conversation, which I will try to actually transcribe accurately:
Pauly: “He’ll be back with Sam tomorrow.”
Vinny: “How could he just do that to Sammi? Wait, I have an idea. Why don’t we write an anonymous note?”
Pauly: “We’ll write it politically correct, so bring a thesaurus. ‘In lieu of resulting in ending up in bed with you, for the most part, for the third party, you know what I mean.'”
Vinny: “Don’t tell her I wrote it.”
Pauly: “She needs to know. It’s girl code.”
Now, there are three things to note about this conversation. First, it was just funny watching the guys turn a little tee-hee sarcasm into a full-on pokerfaced riff session — it felt natural. Second, it was a hilariously commentary on last season’s central storyline, right down to the “Girl Code” line. It was satire, kind of. It was like watching two cavemen rub two sticks together, and the result was Gulliver’s Travels. (Someone pointed out in the comment boards a couple weeks ago that season 2 would have been airing when these episodes were being filmed. Were the housemates sneaking off to a bar to watch themselves on TV?)
Third, this conversation represents an interesting Shore trend this season. Viewers, I don’t want to get too heavy. This is a show about fabulously wealthy androids with orange skin. But is anyone noticing that season 3 of Shore has paid a surprising amount of attention to past seasons? Besides all the deep wounds left by the Miami trip, there are regular callbacks to season 1. Old friends, stalkers, and/or hook-ups keep reappearing. Everyone regularly talks about how good it feels to “Come home, one year later.” (Keep an eye out, Shore aficionados: Snooki’s friend Ryder will be arriving soon, fresh from an offscreen Vin-Vin smush sesh. Funnily enough, “Offscreen Vin-Vin Smush Sesh” is the name of my favorite cocktail. To make it, you mix together two teaspoons of sugar, a pint of whiskey, and some lime-flavored liqueur, and then you throw that all in the trash and punch yourself in the face.)
In a weird way, Jersey Shore might be breaking some interesting new ground for the reality genre. Other faux-documentary shows focus more on creating a consistent feeling, not a consistent storyline. The Hills conjured up a sparkly soap opera paradise, but no one ever really seemed to be talking to each other, and rivalries would spring up because of salary differences for no apparent reason. Family reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians are basically just The Cosby Show with terrible dialogue and terrible actors: Every episode presents a situation and solves it. Jersey Shore has a consistent tone — let’s call it “Drunken Hysterical Naked” — but it also has a narrative structure that builds, and the housemates seem to actually remember events that occurred in the past. This is the rare reality show, in short, that seems to have actual continuity. End of deep-though tangent.
NEXT: Sing Snooki a Song of the Emerald IsleWhen Deena awoke from her tryst with Bizarro-Ronnie, Sammi just so happened to be downstairs staring deeply into a mirror. When she realized that Deena spent the night with him, she laughed, not unkindly. She said, “That guy has a girlfriend! Men are pigs.” Hey, look everybody: Sammi is still trying to make friends! Could it be that the Cold War is finally over? (Spoiler Alert: The Cold War will never be over.)
J-Woww was hanging out with her ex Roger, who it turns out is not dating a girl named Heather. (J-Woww’s friend Lauren admitted that she might have been wrong, which proves that even the minor players in the Jersey Shore universe are completely incapable of basic human communication.) Roger was doing a full-court press of charm. “I grew up in New England,” he pointed out, “How bad could I be?” The answer, fortunately, is “No worse than Major Tom,” who quack-quack-quacked on the duck phone and charmingly muttered, “Is my girlfriend here? Or is it the bitch that came over her?”
This was a bad time for Major Tom to turn up the douche-o-meter, because Roger was playing Fairy Fricking Godfather to the Shore gang. He was like Santa Claus, delivering well-built juiceheads to all the good girls in Seaside. He brought an Alex to Deena, and he delivered a Nick to Snooki. Nick was unfortunately Irish, but Snooki could set aside her Italian preference for him. Maybe it was because both countries are historically Catholic, or because Nick was a construction worker with muscles the size of a boulder. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because this is America, and we’re all different from each other, and our differences are what make us all the same. Or, in Snooki’s own words, “I might have to double-panty it.” And now you know everything, viewers.
So Roger was Mr. Perfect. Cue an angry quack-quack-quack phone call from Major Tom, and cue a cathartic send-off from J-Woww: “I did nothing f—ing wrong up until the day I went to Jersey! And you still treated me like s—!” (She screamed this in full view of half her housemates. Pauly D: “Roger that!”) The end of the episode was strange — Tom apparently stole J-Woww’s bed and her favorite watch. He left her awful little puppies to die. (I’m kidding, they’re adorable. But seriously, they’re awful.) We caught a quick glimpse of PayPal open on J-Woww’s computer, which seems to indicate some sort of financial chicanery that I can’t believe would actually be explored on an MTV reality show. At one point, J-Woww was leafing through assorted file folders and screaming “It’s gone! It’s gone!” I sort of felt like I was watching a weird remake of Rubicon with more attractive actors, and also I was awake.
But one thing wasn’t confusing: This girl is sad. “I don’t deserve this,” she cried, “I didn’t do anything to him, he was doing it to me.” Worst of all was the closing line of the episode, which in context sounded like something out of a dark comedy about the death of the American dream: “This isn’t even my home. My home is f—ing Jersey, in my little bed.” Good god, people, Jersey Shore is her only home. What’s a worse fate than that?
NEXT: Sundry Sinful Seaside Situations— So last night, Deena hooked up with Dean, and Nicole hooked up with Nick. All we needed was one more for a same-name hook-up hat trick. Mike and Michelle. Pauly and Paulina. J-Woww and J-Wowwzer.
— Pauly was on fire with one-liners. To Snooki, after picking her up from jail: “I just hope prison time didn’t change you.” Then he imitated Snooki’s poof and J-Woww’s boobs: “I never really was small. I’m just huge, now!” All that, and the single worst That’s What She Said joke yet on record. (“It’s so cheesy!” WHAT?!?!?!) If the Shore gang were the Avengers, Pauly would clearly be Hawkeye — totally cool, quick-witted, attractive, but ultimately just a great supporting player. Which is why I’m sort of skeptical about Pauly’s spin-off series. Hawkeye is awesome, but his solo series only lasted for eight issues — with good reason. (If you’re interested in the complete analogy: J-Woww is Iron Man, The Situation is Captain America, Snooki is Thor, Sammi is the Wasp, Ronnie is Giant-Man, Deena is the Scarlet Witch, and Vinny can be, I dunno, Wonder Man. God, I hate Wonder Man.)
— Snooki: “These are the things I think I’m addicted to. Bronzer, boys, and alcohol.” I love how the first two things are sort of ha-ha addictions, and then the last thing is awful. It’s like that old Onion headline: “I’m Like A Chocoholic, But For Booze”
— During the “Getting Dressed” montage, I’m pretty sure we saw J-Woww polishing her chest. Is that a thing that girls do? I’m out of my element, people. The last time I polished my chest, it was never.
— Ronnie didn’t like how close J-Woww was getting to Roger. “Calling the kettle black, dog!” He cursed out poor Jenni repeatedly from there. Remember when they were besties? Stay tuned…
— Brief serious note: I found it surprisingly moving when Snooki tried to have a serious talk with J-Woww about alcohol. “I don’t want to drink anymore,” she said. But she’s worried: “If I were sober, I’d be bored.” Of course, the lifestyle that Snooki has chosen puts her around alcohol all the time, so by the end of the conversation, she was edging back from a complete ban on drinking: “I think Pinot’s okay. Pregnant people do it.” Listen, I have no clue if the show’s producers forced Snooki and J-Woww to sit down and have a serious conversation about alcohol. But if that scene was just a PSA, it was an effective PSA. Way more effective than that freakish cartoon they played in DARE where Bugs Bunny fought drug addiction.
— Snooki: “Every time I get really excited, like if I go to a club, I have to s— my pants. If we go to a party, I have to s— my pants. If I go on a date like this with a hot guy, I have to s— my pants.” And now you know everything, viewers.
People, are you happy to see J-Woww jettison Major Tom into outer space? If Bizarro-Ronnie and Real-Ronnie shook hands, would the space-time continuum collapse? J-Woww’s dogs: Awful or adorable? And lastly, why has no one smashed the duck phone yet? Quack quack quack!
Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich
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Follow Snooki, the Situation, Pauly, Ronnie, Sammi, Jwoww, Vinny, and Deena as they party, smush, and GTL