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“Jersey Shore”: An Anthropological Field Guide

If you have been as fortunate as to come into contact with a teen or 20- to 30-something in the past three weeks, they have more than likely referenced a television program by the title of “Jersey Shore.” As they describe said television show, you have probably found yourself confused and at a loss for words about the characters and situations described. After the jump, your guide to understanding this wild subspecies and the show that glorifies them.
Field Notes

  • Jersey Shorers are characterized by their overuse of the word “Guido” for men and “Guidette” for women. In the greater Italian-American population, the “Guido” term has historically been considered derogatory and controversial, but this subsect has adopted it proudly. They are also prone to giving each other, and themselves, nicknames.
  • While Guidos/Guidettes exist in far-flung locations, they are found in the greatest concentration at the coast of the state of New Jersey, in cities like Seaside Heights, in the summer. Their hang-outs exist primarily of boardwalks, surf shops, and nightclubs where house music plays and dance-floor antics are encouraged until sunrise. They live in communal domiciles where five or more share the cost of living together.
  • The Guido/Guidette diet consists of one-third food and two-thirds alcohol, a substance designed to dehydrate the brain, impair judgment, and increase the desire to party.
  • Just as a peacock reveals its tail feathers, Jersey Shorers spend a considerable amount of time posturing in appearance. Both males and females of the species “tan” regularly, making their skin tones several degrees darker than natural. The males spend extensive time at the “gym,” where they build their musculature and spend up to 25 minutes styling their hair with “gel,” a substance that makes their hair stand perpendicular to their head. The women of this culture wrap their bodies in the least amount of clothing possible. Their hair is supplemented by extensions and topped with what they call a “pouf.”
  • Jersey Shorers appear to be in a perpetual state of heat. They strive for sex almost constantly and are known to court more than one member of the opposite of the sex in the same night, often simultaneously. Favorite breeding ground: the jacuzzi. Favorite euphemism for the act of procreation: “pound out.”

Members of the Species

  • Mike, 27, of Staten Island, New York. Because of his chiseled abdomen, Mike has nicknamed himself “The Situation,” presumably because he causes one wherever he goes. Mike’s focus is generally on attracting women. While he can only be defined by the words “extremely cocky,” he has yet to actually follow through with any of said women.
  • Nicole, 21, of Marlboro, New York. Nicknamed “Snooki,” her roommates jokingly refer to her as “Snookers” and “Snickers.” The tannest and shortest of the bunch, Nicole has a self-confessed need to be the center of attention and has some incredible dance moves that make her just that. Claims to be the “Party Princess of Poughkeepsie.”
  • Ronnie, 23, of the Bronx, New York. The largest and most muscular of the group, his physique is in great contrast to his baby face. Though his self-professed motto was “Don’t fall in love at the short,” he quickly started a turbulent relationship with housemate Sammi.
  • Sammi, 23, of Hazlet, New Jersey. The only native New Jerseyite of the bunch, Sammi is nicknamed “Sweetheart.” Her voice is high and she prides herself on being “the nicest b***h you’ve ever met.” While she initially participates in a flirtation with Mike, she quickly sets her feminine wiles on Ronnie.
  • Pauly, 28, of Johnston, Rhode Island. A disc jockey by trade, Pauly is the oldest of the group. He has also covered the highest percentage of his body with skin art called “tattoos” and has his genitalia pierced. He claims that women with girlfriends flocked to him.
  • Jenni, 23, of Franklin Square, New York. Nicknamed “J-Woww,” Jenni’s body has received surgical assistance to make her secondary sex characteristics (i.e., bosoms) more pronounced. She also has white streaks in her black hair and a voice that sounds as if too many cigarettes had been smoked.
  • Vinny, 21, of Staten Island, New York. An admitted “mama’s boy,” Vinny is perhaps the least filmed of the roommates. That is, except when he is dancing with elderly and oversized women.
  • Angelina, 22, of Staten Island, New York. Angelina has proclaimed herself the “Kim Kardashian of Staten Island” and describes how “I am all natural and I look good.” She enjoys confrontation, and her voice can boom at unreal decibels. She also loves fouling up the efforts of her male roommates to “pound out” women.

Historical Analysis

The most effective way to study the “Jersey Shore” species is to go by episode, of which there have been four:

  • Episode 1 and 2 (aired together): In the series premiere of the show, the eight roommates move into their shore house together. The drinking begins quickly, and Nicole imbibes too heavily, jumping in the jacuzzi in her underwear and molesting her male housemates before passing out in a hammock. The rest of the roommates go out, and there is instant chemistry between Sammi and Mike. Only, later that night, Mike, Pauly, and Vinnie bring home a group of girls, which does not go over well with the women of the house. The next day, Snooki feels tension with her housemates and decides to leave—Sammi talks her into staying. When the group goes out that night, Sammi and Mike finally kiss. But by an hour later, Sammi has pulled the ultimate bait and switch and ends up “making out” with roommate Ronnie. Mike is not pleased. Meanwhile, Jenni and Pauly also kiss—despite the fact that Jenni has a boyfriend.
  • Episode 3: As Ronnie declares that he and Sammi are “real,” and Mike still feels upset about Sammi ditching him. After Angelina and her boyfriend get in a fight, she calls out sick from work the next day. After her boss confronts her, she decides to leave the shore house. After Jenni’s boyfriend visits, she decides to tell him about her kiss with Pauly and he breaks up with her.
  • Episode 4: When Sammi sees Ronnie dancing with another girl, she starts flirting with another guy. Ronnie leaves the club, along with Jenni, and chaos ensues as Sammi assumes that the two of them are engaging in sexual activity. Through tears, the two resolve the tension and declare their feelings for each other. Meanwhile, Mike and Pauly juggle two sets of girls they met at a nightclub, and don’t succeed with either. The next night, while the group goes out, Snooki exchanges words with a man who keeps taking the group’s shots. He punches her, hard, in the face.
  • And now, you should have a full understanding of the phenomenon that is “Jersey Shore.”

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