Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino might have been a brainless meathead, but he’s also the architect of the modern-day reality television celebrity. He’s devoted years of his life to shaping the television landscape giving viewers such classic moments as getting rocked in the face by his co-star, running his head into a wall, and getting punched by a different co-star who picked him up and flung him around like a rag doll. He also has one of the most endearing redemption stories in reality television history, and it only took him 12 years to transform from an absolute jerk to an endearing himbo.
The Situation first graced America’s televisions in 2009 as an inaugural cast member of The Jersey Shore, a show that was essentially The Real World: New Jersey but somehow better. There was absolutely nothing likable about him, instead, he relished his role as an asshole who had little substance beyond working out. He wasn’t yet a himbo despite those abs because a himbo is likable by its very definition. Instead, everyone loved to hate Mike, a man with absolutely no character or depth, spending his Jersey Shore years drinking, fighting, and wearing some of the worst clothes imaginable. But nine years later, when the original cast reunited for Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, the world met a different Mike. His famous six-pack gone, he was now sporting a dad bod and going by Big Daddy Sitch. Much of his bravado was also gone, as Mike was in the middle of a court battle over tax evasion.
In 2018 both Mike and his brother pleaded guilty to tax evasion, setting the stage for the second season of Family Vacation. The latter half of the season focused on saying goodbye to Mike, who would be serving an 18-month sentence, and his wedding to his fiance Lauren, who had become part of the Shore crew. This season gave the first taste of a humble, more mature Mike, a man who seemed like he was actively working to earn the love and respect of his new wife. He’d made the transition from a laughable villain to an almost likable person.
Mike’s final evolution to lovable reality TV himbo came to fruition during the 2020 season of Family Vacation. He was fresh out of prison, rebuilding his six-pack, and working toward starting a family. He was also sporting a brand new Life Coach-esque personality, speaking almost entirely in inspirational sayings. Prison humbled Mike and changed his attitude. Suddenly he was interested in things he’d never even known about before, like spirituality, gratitude, and not holding a grudge against Ronnie. Despite the fact that Ronnie constantly took jabs at him and called him The Incarceration whenever he ran out of other one-liners, Mike took a benevolent approach to Ron. Having once been a heavy drinker himself, the man formerly known as The Situation encouraged Ron to stop drinking and focus on getting his life in order for the sake of his daughter. This was particularly charming considering that just a few years before, the two of them were killing each other over less important things, such as who was allowed to spend time with Sammi Sweetheart. Mike’s himbo transformation was complete.
It only took years of hard liquor and hard falls outside of Karma (the club), serious sun damage, creatine tubs, and an 18-month stint at Club Fed to carve out this beautiful, kindhearted himbo from a mound of absolute shithead. It was totally worth the decade-plus long wait.