I am a self-described Smart Girl. I probably possess several other positive traits but my intelligence is one that I cling to and frequently define myself by. I have an MA in Applied Linguistics, I’ve been known to read Dickens on the beach and I have Very Strong Feelings about the correct use of “you’re.”
And yet? I never, ever miss an episode of MTV’s favorite train wreck: “Jersey Shore.”
Now, before you give yourself a headache from all that eye-rolling, I’d like to state my case.
1. Jersey Shore is an amazing sociological survey. The cast of Jersey Shore is made up of English-speaking, second and third generation Caucasian Americans. I’m an English-speaking, third generation Caucasian American. But I have almost nothing in common with JWoww and Snooki. There is virtually no overlap in the way we view gender roles, relationships, food, hobbies or appropriate behavior.
When I go out, I pull on my skinny jeans, head to a neighborhood pub, drink one or two glasses of cider and make small talk about local bands with some dude standing next to me. There are no mini dresses. There are no vodka Red Bulls. There is little-to-no beating up the beat.
But I love that our country is so huge and our culture is so varied that there are white girls on the East Coast whose lives bear no resemblance to mine. I literally have more in common with the average Swede.
And I think that’s fascinating.
2. JWoww, Snooki and Deena are really good friends to each other. Reality TV is not a place for female friendships. Women are constantly undermining each other, flipping tables and announcing “I’m not here to make friends!” And while these girls aren’t perfect, they’ve got each other’s backs.
There are lots of post-breakup “Girl, we’re gonna get your mind offa him!” nights out. There are pep talks about how awesome each of them are. There are compliments about how cute their boobs look in that top and many deep n’ meaningfuls. There is a lot of shared spray tans.
These are girls I want on my team. You know if your boyfriend cheated on you, JWoww would be first in line to slit his tires. Or maybe punch him in the face.
3. The girls possess totally unshakable self-confidence. We all know it can be tough to love our bodies, particularly when faced by the media’s images of tall, stick-thin blonds. Snooki and Deena couldn’t care less. Snooki is 4’9”. Deena has an adorable, curvy body significantly more zaftig than what we usually see on television. Both girls regularly announce that they’re hot and stalk the cutest boys in any given club. It’s fantastic to see women outside the prescribed prototype loving themselves and rocking a mini dress with complete commitment.
Of course, JWoww has huge fake boobs, Deena’s admitted to a nose job and Snooki has lost a significant amount of weight. But none of these girls ever changed their hair, their tans or their clothing choices despite being mocked in the press. They love who they are and they’re not changing for anybody.
4. Pauly D is adorable. What?
While I’ve probably failed to convince you that “Jersey Shore” is a good alternative to “Masterpiece Theater,” I think we could all do worse than a show featuring women who love each other and love themselves.
Sarah Von writes writes daily at Yes and Yes about topics like non-traditional adulthood, how to cheer yourself up and creating an awesome group of friends. Also: cats in vests.