Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jersey Shore. Season Two. Episode One: We're going to Miami...Bitch!


Party's Here! That's right, MTV. You sure did something right! I've been counting down the days until the premier of Season Two of Jersey Shore. There've been dribs and drabs of news about the shore kids, but nothing is as good as the real thing.

Also, I want to get something straight right off the bat. I watch the Jersey Shore because I think these kids are genuinely entertaining, and also because I kinda like them. I've heard others theorize that the show's popularity can be attributed to the fact that it's so easy to mock or hate on these kids -- that it's schadenfreude -- but that's never been part of the fun for me. I don't watch the show to deride their morals or disparage their wardrobes or scoff at their intelligence or denounce their sense of propriety. And while I'm interested in discussing and savoring the details of their social world and the drama and relationships within, there's something about the show and the cast that allow me to put my cynicism and the snarkiest of my snark on the shelf. It's sort of like the way I suspend my disbelief when I watch Totoro. Maybe it's because the whole thesis of the show is about summer and pleasure-seeking and fun. Or maybe it's because the show is basically a comedy. I just love how extreme these kids are; they make me laugh, and I love to laugh.

So here were are. We start off with an amusing montage of last season (oh! it's the duck phone! remember? And the hot tub! And fighting! And smushing! And GTL! And "we became a family!"). Next we get a series of shots of a depressing and snowy Northeast (brrr!) and then cut to Snooki gleefully crowing "We're going to Miami!" Okay, it's kinda weird that the Jersey Shore kids are going to Miami, except that the Jersey Shore kids are entertaining no matter where they are or what they're doing. Plus, we might get some hilarious fish-out-of-water situations.

So they're packing their bags and getting ready to go. Snooki's shiny new amazing gorilla juicehead meatball boyfriend thoughtfully applies bronzer (or what I like to think of as "eau de Snooki" -- I swear, if that girl doesn't have an endorsement deal with a bronzer company, then she should) to her face with a spray pump contraption, and then Snooki makes a ridiculous and mildly offensive joke about a tanning tax and Obama and McCain. I can't help but forgive her for said joke when she emerges from the house in an adorable black and white winter ensemble, trundles a tiny herd of black and white Snooki-sized suitcases to an enormous black Escalade, and then struggles to get them into the vehicle without toppling over. Her knowing look to the camera as she adjusts the driver's seat to accommodate her petite frame is priceless.

The crew makes their way South. Along the way, Snooki and JWoww stop for fried pickles in Savannah (thus allowing Snooki to make an esoteric and appropriately obscene joke about a man and his sister) and Pauly D and the Situation shoot fireworks and get stuck in the mud somewhere in South Carolina (thus allowing them both to wonder who triple a calls when triple a gets stuck). The Situation and Pauly D are the first to arrive at their shabby mid-century chic hotel apartment in Miami and claim "the best room." Although I'm quite a bit older than these kids, it seems strange for 3 grown-ups to share tiny bedrooms with twin beds. How are they going to smush? The next person to arrive is Angelina, who I will never forgive for declaring that girls "who dress like sluts deserve to be abused." Throughout the episode she insists that she's going to be "classy," but her slut-shaming past in only obscured by new allegations of "talking shit" behind people's back. Sammi "sweetheart" is the next to arrive. Poor Sammi is feeling all sorts of mixed-up about Ron, which is weird because -- to me -- Ron is the least charming of the boys, and Sammi is actually very beautiful and seems like a nice, fun girl. Later in the episode, she puts herself to bed early after confiding to the camera that she is still in love with Ron, and of course Ron is out at da club getting "obliviated" and making out with multiple girls simultaneously. Vinnie and Ron arrive next, and I don't really have that much to say about them. They're kinda the least interesting to me at the moment, so let's get on to my bitches JWoww and Snooki. JWoww is wearing an amazing sparkly pink strapless dress that -- if you ask me -- she should have worn out to da club. Snooki is adequately poofed and adorable. The most notable thing about their arrival is that they both are very annoyed to see Angelina, and thus ignore her. When Angelina greeted Sammi earlier and asked "are we cool?", Sammi responded "I don't know, because I've been hearing that you're saying stuff, and I don't like that." But it's clear that all three girls from last season aren't really feeling Angelina, who, fortunately[?], is rooming with Pauly and the Situation (Pauly did say something about how it might be convenient that they are all sharing a room in the event that it rains and they can't go creeping).

So everyone's settling in and drinking ron ron juice. Angelina joins the boys in the hot tub while Sammi and Snooki sit on a couch and put giant conch shells to their ears and try to listen to the sounds of delicious gorilla juiceheads frolicking in the Miami surf. It seems like Snooki looses her earring in the conch, but I can't really tell because they are promptly interrupted by JWoww's screams from the closet. You see, a shelf full of Sammi's clothes fell on top of a dresser littered with cups of ron ron juice, so now all of Sammi's clothes (including her favorite white shorts!) are stained with a beverage named after her unrequited love. Poor Sammi. But don't fret, something positive does come out of the situation. As the girls try to help Sammi clean up her clothes, Snooki bemoans her plight of washing clothes in the sink like "a pilgrim from the 1920s." Then she puts the wet clothes in a garbage bag and attempts a southern twang, asking Sammi "iz there-a some-a-place where you-a want me-a to put these ma'am." The whole scene is so hilarious and so absurd and is actually sort of bonding for the girls. They really do seem like sisters. Twang speaking pilgrim sisters from the 1920s.

The clock says quarter to 11 which means going out time. Everyone gets all gussied up and piles into two cabs: one for the boys and one for the girls. For the first time, the four girls are all alone together. JWoww and Snooki ask Sammi to open about about the Ron situation so they can help her, which somehow inspires Angelina to interject that they shouldn't judge her for leaving last year because she left for a guy and if they like guys then they should understand. This would be annoying even if it wasn't an attempt to rewrite history (because we all know Angelina was kicked out of the shore house last summer because she was too lazy to work at the tee shirt store), but it is even more annoying because she's interrupting Girl Bonding Time. The girls are confused, and when Angelina clarifies, JWoww sets her straight -- insisting that they're freezing her out because she's been talking shit about them, NOT because of her early departure from Seaside. Things escalate, and JWoww asks Angelina if she wants to "take it outside." The absurdity of this request is only enhanced by the fact that both Snooki and Sammi are laughing hysterically. When the girls spill out of the cab in a disgusted huff, Snooki and Angelina exchange a few last, hilarious insults.

SNOOKI: You're a white rat! You're are fucking pale and you're nasty!
ANGELINA: And you're too tan!
SNOOKI: I am tan and I like being tan, bitch!

When Snooki finally exits the cab, she has to run in her teeter-tottery high heels to catch up with JWoww, who at this point is striding defiantly down the busy street. "Jenni!" Snooki bays, hurrying to catch up with her friend. And you know, you just gotta hand it to Snooki. In the midst of the Miami traffic, Snooki is just this tiny, tan, poofed, stilletoed, mini-skirted spitfire, barreling ahead as fast as she can, crowing "Jenni!" I love her.

Things don't get much better when the crew arrives at the club. Ron and Sammi get into an inscrutable argument, and then Ron calls her "the c word." The boys and Angelina move on to the next club, and Sammi and JWoww and Snooki head home.

Back at the apartment, the girls get ready to turn in. JWoww says something about "putting vaseline on my face, taking my earrings out, and putting my hair up, and I'm going to be the crap out of her" to someone on the phone, and Sammi whispers to Snooki that she doesn't know if she can live in the same house with Ron. The credits play over alternating shots of the girls at home and the boys and Angelina at the club, suggesting that the unresolved romance between Ron and Sammi and the tension between the girls and Angelina are going to the be the chief narrative threads for the first few episodes.

In the confessional, Sammi muses that "things don't always end like a fairy tale ends." And based on the season previews, it definitely doesn't look like a fairy tale, but that is probably because Jersey Shore is more of a farce. It's a respite from the real world, an opportunity to escape into an alternate reality of GTL, Snooki-snacks, ron ron juice, cheesy club music, bedazzled tee shirts, and fist-pumping for friendship, fantasy, and fun. Snook the night, y'all.


x-posted to Celebricidal (coming soon!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

LC WAS RIGHT (over The Hills)*

Okay. I know The Hills ended weeks ago which in internet time is like five years, but I have to say: LC was right. She knew early on that Spencer was bad news.



And you know what? The producers should have listened to her. I have this feeling that one of the reasons she left The Hills is that she was fed up with being pressured to film with Hedi and Spencer, and maybe also a little annoyed that she had to keep pretending that there was some on-again/off-again thing with Brody. If the producers had simply gotten rid of Heidi and Spencer -- who were ridiculous and boring anyway -- and refocused the show on Lauren and other young women exploring their careers in Los Angeles, The Hills might have ended on a note that secured its reputation as a pop-culture phenomenon. Instead, it was like a sad little gasp.

I re-watched the first episode of The Hills during the incessant marathon that preceded the series finale, and I was struck by how different the show had become by the final season. The first episode is filled with close-ups of faces and details, silences, and the main story is that Lauren is starting fashion school and trying to get an internship. The women are ambitious and optimistic, and the main relationships are those among the women. The boys are on the periphery. Even into season six, when there was little interesting left, the show's most compelling moments continued to be those between the women.

There's been plenty of discussion about The Hills closing montage. It was effective at acknowledging the constructions of real/unreal that pervaded the show and characterize its environs, but why did it focus on Brody? Initially, I was somewhat baffled that Brody was the subject of the closing shot, but I've come to the conclusion that his silhouette against the painted backdrop actually recalled the initial disruption and symbolized the subsequent fall of the show. In this way, it is probably a fit ending. Jason was bad, but he was *really* Lauren's boyfriend. It's been widely acknowledged that Brody and Spencer hatched a plan to get on the show by dating the leading ladies, and they did. And we all know how that turned out.

In a perfect world, there would have never been a Brody or Spencer on The Hills, and the closing shot of the series might have been one of Lauren confidently striding down the runway at the finale of her own first fashion show. But Lauren left the show, perhaps because she was too real for the contrived drama of the hothouse. So instead we get Brody -- chiseled and robotic -- bidding farewell to Kristin (whose total lack of ambition kept her presence rather vague and pointless). As Kristin's car pulls away, Brody cuts a generic silhouette against the fake hills on a studio lot in the valley of the real hills as, somewhat half-heartedly, footage from the past six seasons flickers through a familiar and almost plain boring montage. When at last the painted background is rolled away and we see the cameras and the cranes and the crew, there is a reminder that at one time this show was interesting.





But LC moved on, and this is just what's left.

*this is just a sneak peek at our next project, CELEBRICIDAL (coming soon!)