The Avengers are uniting once again this month. No, not Captain America, Iron Man, and company. These superheroes possess much different powers, like drinking and partying, and they’re back to save reality TV.
More than five years after they said goodbye to Seaside, the Jersey Shore cast returns older, wiser, and tanner with Jersey Shore: Family Vacation. Minus Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, the rest of the dysfunctional family heads to Miami for a month of showing “how married people and parents have a good f—ing time!”
Ahead of Thursday’s premiere, EW chatted with Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Vinny Guadagnino, Deena Cortese, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino about why they never hesitated to do the new show, how they’ve matured since the original run ended, and where they want to go next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your first reaction when you got the call that you guys were coming back?
RONNIE ORTIZ-MAGRO: It was kind of surreal because it was like a year straight where we were all like, “Let’s come together.” Because we noticed that like I’ll post a photo with these crazy maniacs and it goes wild. So people still love us, they miss us, let’s see what happens. We started posting photos, next thing you know MTV caught wind, the producer called us and said, “Yeah, it’s happening.” Like, wait is this for real? And she’s like, “No, this is real.” I still didn’t believe it, but next thing you know MTV sends the contracts and I’m in a house with these maniacs for a month straight.
VINNY GUADAGNINO: My first reaction was kind of like disbelief. Because we were kind of shopping it around, like on a group chat asking the whole world, like who is going to bring us back? So when our producer called us and said it’s happening, we were like, “It’s not happening.” And then it happened. [Laughs]
DEENA CORTESE: So excited. We were pushing for it for so long, and the fact that it finally was happening, we were just so excited and thankful. We are so close now and we just wanted to be together and show the world like how we are a true family and where we are now.
MIKE “THE SITUATION” SORRENTINO: I was in a little disbelief. I hoped that it would come back one day because it’s a really fun show and I felt that TV needed it, but I didn’t know if it was going to come back for sure. But when they made the call, I was like, “Whoa, this is really happening.”
NICOLE “SNOOKI” POLIZZI: It was like, “Okay, we’re actually going to do this, let’s all get ready.” I prepped my liver for like a week, I detoxed. I think we all detoxed because we knew that we were going to party hard, which we did.
Was there ever any hesitation to get back into this or were you all in from the jump?
RONNIE: Oh, I’ve never been out. I’ve always been all-in.
MIKE: No, no, I just wanted to believe it. I just wanted to get the official call from the producers and the lawyers and everyone that it was really happening.
SNOOKI: There was never any hesitation because we all wanted to do it. But for me, personally, and I think Jenni also, how are we going to do this without seeing the kids? So the kids were a huge factor and the hardest part, but we did it.
VINNY: We took so much time off and we missed each other and we all had our own little projects on the side, but there’s nothing like getting this group back together as a whole — the whole world just freaks out.
What was that moment like when you were first back together and reunited on this crazy ride again?
DEENA: Surreal. Like we walked in and I was like, “Oh my god, we’re here, this is really happening.” It kind of felt like an episode of Black Mirror. We kept talking about it and then all of a sudden we were here and it was like, “Is this real life?” It is just so surreal and awesome.
VINNY: Shock. We’re sitting at the dinner table and I never thought in my life that I’d be in that position with them again. I just couldn’t believe that we were actually doing this. Like after a couple weeks, you get used to it, but those first two nights, I was like, “What the hell is happening? I can’t believe we’re here.”
MIKE: At first I was surprised and couldn’t believe it was happening. The wave from the last time was such a big wave, such a blessing, and now to do it all over again, I was grateful and I wanted to really, not go hard, but I wanted to come from any angle possible to get a good result, a good product.
It’s been more than five years since you last did this and so many things have changed in all of our lives, so how different was your mentality going in this time around?
SNOOKI: I just think going in this time, being 30, married with two kids, it’s not the same vibe I usually go in with, trying to look for a hot guy or a boyfriend to have babies with; that already happened. So I knew that I was just going to go in and enjoy myself for me, because I’m a mom 24/7 at home, so it was kind of my time to just have a mom vacation and go crazy.
DEENA: I mean, I had a couple rules: I couldn’t Jersey turnpike anybody besides Jenni and Nicole… I guess that was my only rule. [Laughs] My husband told me not to get super, super drunk, but I still did and he was fine with that. But my mentality was just to go in, have a good time, and just enjoy life with my family members.
RONNIE: You go in now and it’s actually different, because back then we were kids, like this was our job, our life was making money and entertaining people. Now, we disappeared for six years and started families and careers, so taking us away and then putting us in that house was like a real vacation. It was us being like, this is how married people and parents have a good f—ing time! Because you’ve got to appreciate every moment you’re in that house and I think you get that when you watch. Like, “These guys enjoyed themselves, they made it count.”
VINNY: It was very different. I’m 30 now and I feel the best that I have in my whole life. I’m just more mature, I can deal with a lot more than I used to in the past when I was a little kid.
MIKE: I had a lot of things against me. And how could I better the show? How could I make the show real? How could I make the show funny? How can I continue to still do that with all these changes and obstacles that I’m facing? [Sorrentino plead guilty to tax evasion in January and is currently awaiting sentencing.] And I challenged myself to do that daily, and also be a good person, also give a good product, also just continue to improve on myself, because it wasn’t easy to say sober, to do the show. It’s a monster show, recovery is big, and also I’m dealing with a federal court case. I don’t know how I did it all, but I’m finished and I feel awesome. I’m 28 months sober, we’re getting season 2, my court case is about to be closed, I’m a director of public outreach for a rehab in New Jersey where I do events once a month to help people who are affected by addiction. I’m trying to show people that anything is possible and you’d be amazed what you can do when your only option is to be strong.
VINNY: Everyone always asks me about Mike because he doesn’t drink anymore. They’re like, “Did you ever feel bad for him when you were out?” And I only did one time when MVP went out. Because we went so hard and he had to like babysit us. I felt bad for him that night, but MVP went out every night. Some people, they took a night off, but MVP did not miss one night. MVP brought it this season.
Family Vacation has already been renewed, so where would you like to go next?
SNOOKI: I always say like Jamaica or Fiji or Bora Bora, but it all depends on MTV’s budget. But somewhere amazing and beautiful that I’ve never been to. But not too long because I don’t want to miss the kids!
VINNY: Vegas. I like traveling abroad, but there is some kind of challenges that come with that. I love going to places like Miami where that’s our habitat, like put us in our habitat. It’s like putting a lion in the jungle and seeing what happens. So I’d love to do that.
DEENA: We definitely want to go to Jersey since it’s warm now and Jersey has our heart. But we do like vacation, maybe Greece or somewhere cool like that. Somewhere with nice water and nice weather.
RONNIE: I would love to go to Greece. Greece is like my one place that I have not been and would love to go. But we’ll probably just end up in Jersey. [Laughs] It’s where we started and I’d love to finish there… but not too soon. A couple years.
MIKE: I would like to go anywhere at this point. To get another shot like this is unheard of. Everyone is a star on their own, so for us to come together, it’s like the Avengers coming together to save reality TV.
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.