When Jersey Shore made its MTV debut in 2009, a show about hard-partying 20-somethings didn’t automatically register as a formula for immediate success.
The series original trailer showed the show’s stars before fame changed the way they looked and behaved ahead of becoming a global phenomenon, focusing on the fact that all they were looking for was a good time, and it didn’t matter how that good time was had.
Looking back on the original, rough MTV trailer, the series might not have made it if not for the strong personalities that began to peek through. Filmed during the summer of 2008, Jersey Shore Season 1 didn’t have the flashy, streamlined look of today’s reality series. In fact, the rough edge of its initial season was likely why it was embraced by a generation of television viewers who had never seen anything like it on television prior.
Even MTV’s The Real World, with the same premise of a group of strangers thrown together to live in a home, didn’t have the generational appeal of Jersey Shore, who gained a following from young to old during its six-year television run.
So what is the appeal of Jersey Shore? Why is it that over a decade later, it is still a viable presence on MTV?
Let’s break down why its popularity endures and the reasons the cast are still celebrities today.
Through battles, breakups, and trauma, the cast is at heart, a family
It was unlikely that when the group which included Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, Vinny Guadagnino, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Angelina Pivarnick, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, and Deena Cortese were cast, that they would remain close friends after all they endured both on-and-off-camera.
The first few episodes already showed a house divided against one of the most beloved members of the cast, Snooki, whom everyone believed was too much of a party girl to be friendly with. It was only after a random man punched her in the face while the cast visited a bar on the Seaside Heights boardwalk that the cast banded together and realized how close they had all become.
At the end of whatever issues the day brought the housemates, they always found a way to sit down together for a meal and hash their feelings out. The show ultimately became, at its core, a series about a family and how even the closest of clans can dislike things about the other but would fight for them until the end.
Fans are still tuning in for Jersey Shore, 11 years later
Jersey Shore continued to live in reruns on MTV even after production on the original series wrapped in 2009. The cast went their separate ways and in the days before Instagram and Facebook, it was unclear just how involved they continue to be in one another’s lives.
When it was announced by the network that the show would return with a reboot series titled Jersey Shore: Family Vacation in 2018, fans wondered if the energy would be the same surrounding their favorite reality stars. Many had experienced major life changes. Jenni and Snooki were mothers and married. Deena was married. Mike had gone to rehab for his addictions, Pauly had become an in-demand club DJ, Vinny had starred in several MTV series and had written a book.
Would there ultimately be an audience for grown-up partiers?
“We’re older, but I don’t think many of us are wiser,” said Ronnie.
Snooki added, “As we age, we just get more … delinquency? What’s the word?”
The series recently wrapped filming on the second half of its fourth season and remains a cornerstone of MTV’s programming schedule.
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation airs beginning Thursday, June 3 at 8/7c on MTV.More: Jersey Shore