Imagine living in with eight housemates with 35 remote-control cameras in fixed locations, 12 hand-held ones, one IMX camera and six DV cameras. As said by one of its cast member “They have cameras everywhere, all the time…
You’re always being watched. You kind of get a little paranoid, because you’re like, ‘Who’s watching me?’… It’s trippy. It messes with your head. But that’s why we go crazy.
That’s why we fight with each other. That’s why we drink. We’re living in a house for two months with that shit. We can’t have cellphones, TV, radio or internet… There’s no normalcy. It’s like a prison, with cameras. The only time we’re not on camera is when we’re in the shower, and that’s why we all take three-hour showers, just to get away from it all.”
This is the format of MTV reality TV show Jersey Shore, created by Anthoby Beltempo. The premise of the series is to follow the vapid lives of eight New Jersey 20-somethings, Angelina Pivarnick, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, and Vinny Guadagnino, enjoying the summer heat in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Its first season premiered in December 9, 2009 which was shot entirely in Jersey Shore. Season 2 followed the group as they escape to bask on a cold northeast winter of Miami Beach, with Season 3 having their way back to Jersey Shore. The fourth and upcoming season has been announced by MTV to be filmed in Italy which will air fourth quarter of 2011.
The Jersey Shore premiere of back-to-back episodes attracted 1.375 million viewers, while its finale got 4.8 million of audience share, more than triple that of the premiere and was MTV’s highest rated original series telecast in almost two years. Season 2 was even better for them premiering with over 5.252 million viewers and posted continued growth week by week. Come season 3, it made as MTV’s most viewed series telecast ever with 8.45 million viewers with its January 6, 2011 season premiere.
With unprecedented success, it has made a mark in the television landscape being dubbed as a cultural phenomenon. The series’ cast was also credited for introducing lingos and phrases into American pop culture. It even stirred a large amount of controversy when they used the term “guido / guidettes” to refer to the hot, tan and crazy casts and their portrayals to Italian-American stereotypes. Meanwhile, prior to the show’s debut, UNICO national formally appealed to MTV to cancel the show citing a “…direct, deliberate and disgraceful attack on Italian Americans”. Even New Jersey governor Chris Christie found the show as representing a negative image to New Jersey. However, despite all negativity thrown away to the show, it has successfully rated and has even exported to a dozen of countries worldwide. In addition, they made it to the list of Barbra Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People in 2010. Indeed, reality shows like Jersey Shore have hooked viewers with its varying styles of programming.