All good things must come to an end. For everything else, we just pray it eventually dies. Then there’s “Jersey Shore,” the raunchy, controversial reality show entering its final season, set in Seaside Heights, N.J.. Full disclosure: I lived in New Jersey for six years and am often bombarded with mentions of the show when I bring up my high school years. Also, I love “Jersey Shore.” Not because it’s a quality show, but because every time I watch it, I feel substantially better about myself by the end of the episode. So, as a “fan” and having seen all five seasons of the show thus far, watching the two-episode premiere of the final season felt business as usual, except for an odd shift in dynamic as the shorehouse roommates shift away from their original attitudes.
The first episode of the two-part premiere starts out same old, same old with a rundown of the housemates getting ready for another summer in Seaside Heights. Snooki is now six months pregnant and annoyed at not being able to indulge in her usual drunken escapades. Mike, “The Situation,” admits he is fresh out of rehab for prescription painkiller abuse and is committed to remaining sober the entire summer while trying to make amends with everyone after a tumultuous season five. Pauly D is his usual self and ready to create more homoerotic tension between himself and Vinny – who seems more comfortable going back to the Shore this season. Staple couple Ronnie and Sam are still going steady despite the occasional drunken fight. JWoww is trying to make things work with longtime boyfriend Roger as they recover from problems that arose during the spinoff reality show “Snooki and JWoww.” Finally, Snooki’s sister-in-meatballdom Deena seems to be trying to settle down with her boyfriend of nine months but is still gearing to have fun at the Shore.
“The Situation” arrives at the shorehouse first and tries to start the healing process between himself and the rest of the cast with a fresh cooked dinner. While skepticism still runs high with many of the housemates, his fresh attitude seems to be helping keep things calm – and boring – for now. Deciding who rooms with whom was shockingly uneventful, creating a soothing atmosphere unheard of in previous seasons. Small conflicts such as Vinny not greeting Snooki’s fiance and Snooki’s concerns about being pregnant in the house just don’t have the same effects from previous years.
The first episode is flat-out boring, but the second brings the show back to its usual format of blunders at nightclub Karma, uncomfortable sexual encounters and just plain weird emotional ups and downs from various members of the cast. But between Mike finding his niche of soberly soaking in the drama of the rest of the cast and Deena having her own version of a philosophical conversation while getting hammered, “Jersey Shore” is sticking to what it does best, but with a twist of coming of age virtues underlying every interaction.
Starting off by promising a less-than-eventful season is probably why “Jersey Shore” is in its last run. Everyone is getting older and “wiser,” which translates to boring to the target audience. Wrapping up with watching everyone mature and become stable by adopting steady values may end up giving “Jersey Shore” a kind of redeeming quality after years of drunks making fools of themselves, but the producers at MTV aren’t going to let “Jersey Shore” go out without a substantial bang. The gears are still turning as they usually do, but I’m skeptical as to whether they will keep going for the rest of the season. Still, it makes me feel better after tough days and makes a hell of a drinking game, so I’ll keep watching.