By Michelle Joline
MTV has fostered the birth of reality TV for the past few decades, with the fame of shows like “The Real World” and “Laguna Beach” feeding off popular demand. These programs have showed what viewers consider to be realistic portrayals of society, and MTV perpetuates this tradition with the hit show the “Jersey Shore.”
The final episode of the show’s third season aired this past Thursday. Viewers greeted the completion of the third season with sadness. Critics, who predicted the show to be a flop in its first season, remain surprised by its success. The not-so-realistic portrayal of New Jersey’s shoreline features eight New Jersey “locals” spending their summer months in Seaside Heights, N.J. To the dismay of many fans, only two cast members, Sammi and Deena, are true New Jersey natives. The premise seems ridiculous, but the show managed to break records with 5.3 million viewers tuning in in its second season and 8.87 million in its third season. The reality show incorporates the lives of these eight people as they live and party at the shore for an entire summer, but what contributes to show’s growing popularity?
Perhaps the extreme personalities that cause the many catfights and blow-ups attract most of its viewers. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi seems to have gained the greatest success since the premiere, becoming a New York Times bestselling author and a well-known character. She has consistently sold her image as a “Jersey girl” since the first episode and has successfully proven herself to be an entrepreneur. The fiery New Yorker brings comedic relief as romantic turmoil suffocates the greater part of the one-hour time slot, with Sammi and Ronnie’s romance crumbling throughout the past three seasons.
Ordinarily, a show based on “GTL,” or “gym, tanning, laundry,” would not seem like an interesting premise for a hit TV show to executives at production companies, but as the economy falls, the production of reality TV rises. After many network budget cuts, reality TV has become even more popular due to its economical production without a need for expensive sets and actors. Luckily for network executives, shows like “Jersey Shore“ are just as popular as other hit series that air on NBC and Fox.
MTV executives are not the only ones basking in the benefits of the hit show; it has attracted attention to New Jersey, but many natives don’t feel that it is the best representation of the Garden State. Despite complaints from shore locals, the rise in tourism the show’s fame has caused is a welcome relief during the economic crisis.
As the success of the show continues to heighten, so does that of the show’s cast members, who get to shoot their fourth season in Italy. The new location will be playing off of the show’s Italian stereotype, adding just a little more intrigue and plotline to their upcoming episodes. The airing date has not yet been set, but the time remaining before it airs leaves just enough time for its viewers to realize they can’t live without these reality stars.