'Jersey Shore' on MTV: Furthering guido stereotypes or just harmless fun?

So, last night was the premiere of MTV’s delicious, guido-loving, fist-pumping docu-reality series Jersey Shore, a show that’s been ruffling more than a few feathers because it supposedly builds on negative stereotypes and bad behaviors of a subset of Italian-Americans that call themselves “guidos.” But… did those haters actually watch the show? Well, I did, and I’m here to tell you it’s pretty much the bomb. (Sorry if that offends you!) Sure, it’s also pretty much complete trash—and it certainly does build on stereotypes of “guidos”—but c’mon! It’s really just harmless fun. (And if you aren’t one of these “guidos” but still can’t separate yourself from then, then… well, you’ve got bigger problems.)

Jersey Shore is like The Real World, but filled with super-skanky folks of Italian descent who want nothing more than to tan, drink, and hook up. What’s wrong with that? And, in this instance, just like The Real World, the people depicted on screen are there—tanned skinned, “juiced” muscles, gelled hair and all—on their own accord. These seemingly silly “guidos and guidettes” (their words, not mine) aren’t being forced to do anything—MTV just brought its cameras and let them do their thing.

Which, to be honest, is super trashy. The action in last night’s episode kicked off with the group of eight strangers meeting for the first time at their shore house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Just like most of the country, every region has its vacation spots where people—especially the younger set—go to cool off and blow off steam during the summer. In the Midwest, it might be a lake somewhere. In LA, the beach. In the NYC area, there are multiple options, ranging from the tony Hamptons to the—well, let’s just say less-tony—Jersey Shore. Think: a boardwalk, T-shirt shops, and classy dance clubs named “Bamboo” and “Karma.”

Just a few minutes into the show, we’re getting getting a picture of these soon to be Jersey BFFs. A sampling of my favorites: Pauly is from Providence, yet looks like he’s from the cast of Growing up Gotti; Mike calls himself “The Situation” because of his “Rambo”-esque abs; Jenny, or “Jwoww” (pronounced J-Wow), likes to put makeup on her boobs and says that her going to the Shore will be like “a kid in a candy store,” because of all the hooking up she’ll be doing. No one in the cast, though, is better than Nicole “Snooki,” who her housemates refer to as everything but “Snooki” (lots of times it’s “Snickers” or “Snookums,” etc.). “Snooki” proceeds to get trashed the first night in the house and dip into the hot tub in her thong and bra. Oh, and she rubbed up on every single guy and made about a million phone calls on the house’s quacking duck phone while half-drunk. Yes!

Again, I’m failing to see the problem with this show. If you didn’t see last night’s two-hour episode, catch up here (look out for “Snooki”!):

To the people who think this perpetuates stereotypes, I have one thing to say to you: Get over it. Such perpetuating of stereotyping happens all the time. As a gay man, do you think I wanted someone as heinous as Carson Kressley representing me when homosexuals finally got their due on reality television with Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Um, no, no, and NO! (His hair alone was offense enough.) Also, the ridiculous nature of Jersey Shore only proves that these particular partying, slutting “guidos and guidettes” are a special, tragic breed and, thus, not representative of the greater whole of Italian-Americans.

To all you PopWatchers out there, what do you think of Jersey Shore? Did you watch last night? Were you offended? Are you Italian-American and have something to say about it? Get the debate started in the comments section below!

Photo Credit: Scott Gries/MTV

More on ‘Jersey Shore’ from EW.com:
MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ — let the fist-pumping commence
MTV stands behind ‘Jersey Shore’ despite Italian-American protest
Tonight’s Best: ‘Jersey Shore’

Comments (238 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Murk

    This show is just really stupid, It offends me as an Itallian and a viewer. It’s just nothing but a bunch of douches and douchets on tv for an hour. I would just like to know……..WHO GREENLIGHTS THIS CRAP?

    • andrew

      I don’t think you watched this at all because the first episode was two hours long, not one hour. You being offended because of your ethnicity is silliness. Of course it’s offensive and it was greenlighted by MTV because viewers DEMAND this kind of television. Get used to the decline, friends!

      • Angie

        I sure the f8ck don’t DEMAND this kind of crap. I DEMAND they stop these kinds of horrible shows rewarding douchebags for being vile examples of humanity. Grow up.

      • @Angie

        Andrew said “viewers” demand it. And he’s right, obviously. Leaving aside your personal dislike of the show, cable companies aren’t in the business of putting on shows that viewers don’t want to see.

      • nottellingyou

        I think you are one of those people who support idiocy on TV for our children and next generations to learn from. I was lucky to be born in a smarter generation that the ones coming up because god knows how stupid this new generation is becoming with TV, cell phones, Internet and all that stuff. Kids cannot even put sentences together, cannot spell and we expect mankind to progress. it is like going back to cavemen times. Please support smart things and not idiotic things and our world will have hope.

    • Sunshine

      fyi, not everyone on the show is Italian. It’s not about their ethnicity, it’s about their lifestyle. Just saying.

    • Vincent

      Italian Americans need to own this. It is a complete lie to say that “Guidos” and Guidettes” are not real Italians. They are, and there a plenty of them spread all throughout America in hefty numbers to validate this fact. They may be embarrassing but this is pure urban Italian bravado at its finest! No one expects the “Guido” to represent ALL Italian, but they do represent a segment of the Italian American population.

      I’ve seen so many of these greaseballs over the years there is no denying they are an Italian American phenomenon. AND THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AROUND. They just morph in each generation. A previous generations called them “Greasers.” Another called them “Degos.” My generation called them “Goombas.” And now the modern from is the “Guido.” I’m not justifying any of these labels, these are just the term that were/are used.

      Yes, the Italian American community is angry because it is forced to look in the mirror and acknowledge its less than honorable segments. But these segments are a complete valid part of the culture and always have been. Whether they were called Greasers, Degos, Goombas, or Guidos!

      The show depicts proud fist pumping self-proclaimed Guidos/Guidettes. These are not teenagers. They are adults ages 21-29. Quit calling for censorship and issuing fatwas because you can’t handle that these are authentic Italian Americans. Suck it up Italians.

      • lucky

        Vincent you are right. These people do exist. I am a born and raised Brooklynite (still live here) and I have seen these types all my life. Although I am not Italian, my husband is and he is not a guido, thank god.

      • Brigette

        I get it these people exist, great, I got it. As an Italian-American I don’t want to be this stereotype. Why can’t we get our own show for all the normal, non-skankified Italians. I for one am boycotting this expert retardedness and would like it to be taken off the air.

    • snickers

      A Mr. Murk – Calling people “douches” and “douchets” is so something the people on this show would do! Spelling “Italian” incorrectly is a really nice touch at dispelling negative stereotypes about guidos as well.

    • Catie

      To those of you who think its crap and are offended that it is on TV, i have a solution… just dont watch and quit your complaining.

  • Elizabeth

    Love. It. And yes, i am ashamed to admit it. It’s total trash, but it sure is going to be entertaining.

  • lettergirl

    i watched the first 10 minutes and felt like i need a bath and a penicillan shot. it was kinda gross….yet, i am not intrigued by the skankiness the show promises and may flip to it whilst watching another ‘quality’ show (and i’m ashamed to say i also watched the first 15 mins of the new steven seagal show, so my ‘quality’ show may not be so ‘quality’ after all).

  • lettergirl

    oops…i mean i am NOW intrigued…

  • Sarah T.

    My husband is Italian-American (though nothing like those on the show last night) and he wasn’t offended at all. I think it’s just that, a represenation of a small group of people that are that way. Honestly, there are people like that in EVERY culture group (Hello-Real World proves that every season!). I don’t really see it as something to get bent out of shape about.

    • annie

      You are right on with your comments. You can’t possible define an ethnic American group with a set of 8-10 people. None of the cast are the full representation of Italian-Americans. They are a bunch of uninhibited young partiers who have several social norms in common. The show is getting tons of hype on the internet, so someone must be watching it. Just the recaps make my skin crawl.

      • Vincent

        Comments like this are silly. How on earth does one surmise that a show about self-proclaimed Guidos/Guidettes ever intended to be representative of the millions of Italian Americans in this country? It is a show about Guidos. It is meant to depict, exploit, highlight, and embellish the Guido Italian American sub-culture. Nothing more.

        MTV is not the problem here. If you don’t like it tell UNICO and the other Italian American activist groups to stop whining for MTV to cancel the show. Instead UNICO should draft a blanket statement to the Italian American community and its parents urging them to instill better values into their children.

        MTV is simply broadcasting the reality of the Guido phenomenon. They did not create it. These eight 21-29 year old ADULT Italian Americans who comprise the shows cast are not being tricked into behaving like this. This behavior is not the result of social discrimination or of being an oppressed and disenfranchised minority group. This Guido culture sprang solely from the Italian American ethos and has been reinforced and celebrated. It’s nothing more than Italian young people wanting to look and act “cool” and “tough.”

      • Gia

        Yes it’s true that you should not define these pack of mutants by there culture, but here is another fact that you dont get about Italian americans they sure define everyone else by their’s. So I say its about time they start getting judged by something as well. So why not let it be there ways or culture as well. Never mind just the trash on that fake show. The fact is a good majority of guidos are very prejudice against blacks,this is facts.. Its on every movie and every show ever made about Italians. So Jersey shore or not, all that is a fact.. And of course they are not showing that as one of the facts. Just the fictional stuff. Like a couple of very ugly Italian men getting women they clearly have to pay for. Or four skanks only goals in life is who they can catch the best stran of vd from. And Sometimes all you have to do is walk past a real guido and listen to them open there mouth and it is proof of there prejudice behavior against blacks. And I just find it comical that they would make a show about a bunch of guidos who hate blacks and at the same time work so hard to become one.Talk about not being real or who you are. Maybe there hated so much by them because the blacks do know who they are.. Kudos to them!!! waste of air time shore or not
        its the truth. But of course they would leave it out!! And one of you posted a comment above that this is a mirror image for Guidos and they hate the show because it makes them see who they are. Well its only half the mirror guy!!! Anything else revealed would be to shocking even for television..I have Italian origins and I know full and well what and who they are and this show makes me more ashamed to be italian then ever before!!! Because if that above guy is right about this being the mirror we all need to look in and reveals us as guidos. Id crack it myself in an instant and forever be ashamed of who I was. Thank God for only being half..

  • maiv

    I think it’s offensive. It is funny, but if there were a show like this out there with Asians instead of these people, I’d be annoyed.

    • Hey

      if it was a show about Asians, no one would watch!

      • Sunshine

        In all honesty, I don’t think anyone cares. If there were a show about Asian Americans and the drama was compelling, people would watch regardless of the ethnic group.

    • Raf

      So you’re saying all asian-americans aren’t like the ones in The Joy Luck Club? I had no idea.

    • Heidi

      This show does not show how every Italian American is so they should just get over it but it most certainly shows how most young Italian Americans in the Tri-state area act. The truth hurts and they need to realize that the black people deal with the same shit on I love new york and flavor of love and we have our white trash on rock of love but it doesn’t mean all black people act that way nor do all white people act like those white trash girls. If you don’t have confidence in your race that’s your own issue. The show is meant for entertainment only… get over it.

  • karen

    ummm it seriously cannot get a ny douchier than this…sad thing is they think they actually look good with that cheap tacky outdated 80’s tan!! i hate to see what theyll look like at age 30(leather handbags anyone?)

  • J. Baker

    Particularly entertaining was how one of the so-called guidos tried to explain how there were actually TWO types of guidos – the old school “stretch black t-shirt, hair gel, gold chain” guys and the newer “stretch black t-shirt, hair gel, gold chain AND muscles” version that’s sullying the guido good name. I couldn’t have hit “record entire series” on the DVR fast enough.

    • Ames

      that last line had me rolling!

  • CHRIS

    Sorry , but stereotypes exist for a reason and if those people that fill stereotypes didnt exist you would not see them. I think the average person should be smart enough to know that were all individuals and if were not apart of the stereotype what is there to be offended by?

  • WompWomp

    Good to know the show only got 1.37 million viewers…at least it’s comforting to know that most people didn’t give in to the cheap hype.

    • Sunshine

      Clearly you don’t know that 1.37 is a high rating for a cable show series premiere. Get your facts straight. It also had a 4.5 share, which means that more than 4% of the TV viewing audience was watching MTV during that time slot.

      • EWsMom

        Errr no, it was NOT a good rating – considering much of MTV’s primetime programs have higher ratings (and much less buzz)

      • EWsMom

        And PS – please get YOUR facts straight…it didn’t have a “4.5” share. Moron

        Jersey Shore (120 minutes)
        – 1.375 million viewers
        – 0.9/2 HH
        – 0.8/2 A18-49

  • Really?

    Let’s see. Carrie Prejean says she doesn’t agree with gay marriage, and her reputation is smeared. A female golf announcer says something about stringing Tiger up in a back alley as a joke, and she loses her job. But we can make fun of Italians and the Italians need to get over themselves if they are offended? If I said African Americans are making too big a deal about the confederate flag being flown, I’d be called a racist. Same for me saying anythings against gay marriage. As an Italian, I’m tired of only certain classes of people being off limits to comment on, but the rest of us need to get a sense of humor.

    • TF

      yawn

    • robert

      picking on only the voiceless – well guess what goes around – comes around – how do you all like being identified only as a sterotype seen on tv or movies – join the rest of us who have had to live with someone elses interpretation of who we really are – as you tell my people – suck it up – it’s not that bad

      • CI KING

        U guy’s r crazy bro the show is good t.v. young people havin fun

    • Corrado

      I have to agree with you. I am italian and it is pretty fun to see how we are prappresented in American emdia if the same bunch of stereotypes (on the Simpsons, Sopranos, this MTV stuff) would have been used on Jews or afroamerican there will be racist but it is ok if you did it on italians. Anyway we do have sense of humor so it doesn’t matter too much but guys you do have a problem with racism )and upon how to handle) it in the US (anyway I love your country)

      • Mr Happy

        every race has their ax to grind with the media and how do we respond? by using other people who are also fucked with as examples to make our points. hilarious!

      • Courtney

        Um as an Italian and a Jew I find your comment ridiculous. My roman Catholic father, whose family had mob ties, loved watching the Sopranos and did not find it offensive. I look at this show and I can recognize family members, sadly.

        And furthermore, I doubt you even realize just how many Jewish stereotypes exist that get played out on TV and in the movies. Every culture gets this treatment, whether it is African Americans, Jews, Italian Americans, etc.

    • Jane

      Perhaps because a show like Jersey Shore and any sterotypes it portrays aren’t rooted in a history of slavery, violence, murder and genocide. How much anti-guido violence is there in the world? Anyone been lynched lately for a blow-out?

      • Timmy

        The show isn’t making fun of Italians any more or any less than “Flavor of Love” and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” make fun of black folks. I grew up around guidos. These people exist, deal with it.

      • Alex

        This little blurb made me miss Josh Wolk. Oh, the brilliance he would pen about this show.

      • emf

        I don’t see how this is any different that Flavor of Love, that show with Branci’s little brother or I Love NY. They all promote stereotypes but most intelligent people realize that and don’t think it represents the entire race. At least, I hope that’s the case.

      • Gia

        Jane has a point!! There is no history of guidos ever having so suffer any lynches or concentration camp horror, its about time they get a little bad publicity and joint the other ethnic groups that truly have suffered.

    • KingLion

      That female announcer you’re talking (Kelly Tilghman) about did not lose her job, it was a two suspension AND she went on to be an announcer in the 09, 10 years of Tiger’s golf game.

      • KingLion

        *two week*

    • Nancy

      Small correction Kelly Tilmon is still employed on the Golf Channel.

    • Vincent

      Double yawn… and will somebody please hand me a violin. So the Italians now feel MTV is persecuting them? That America may get the wrong impression of them as their young adults proudly dance, shimmy, get naked, drop f-bombs, paint themselves orange, and wildly pump their fists. Get over it! These Guidos/Guidettes are proud of who they are and want the world to know(LOL!). I thought the Italian American community was all about family. Why divide the familia? Don’t leave these young people out in the cold for the margins of society to devour. Embrace them. More Italian unity please.

  • AlisiaMarie

    As mentioned, it reminded me of “Real World”, and I couldn’t tear myself away! Usually I avoid reality TV, but this one was fun!

  • MICHAEL

    WOW! I used to think Italian people were very cool. Not anymore!

  • aron

    I live in NY, and from my experience, these people do represent many Italian-Americans. It’s good to see that guidos are keeping up with the times and “juicing” to build muscles. Back during the Howard Beach Attacks days, guidos made up for their lack of muscle by using baseball bats against their victims. Now, maybe some of them can use their bare hands which is a slightly more honorable way to getting non-guidos out of your neighborhood.

    • emily

      what??

  • ughh

    I quit reading and felt angry for wasting my time as soon as I got to the part where you said you were gay.

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