I have a slightly complicated relationship with MTV's Jersey Shore: I'm completely obsessed with it, yet I'm not sure why, and judging by the comments we receive on Jersey Shore -related posts, apparently I'm not alone.

On paper, Jersey Shore represents everything I hate about reality television. Nearly every bad reality cliche is represented in the show: hot tub make outs, drunken club scenes, overly dramatic relationships, and sexist dudes saying truly obnoxious things while skeevily hitting on or dismissing the ladies. It's a show that essentially revolves around people who read the "How To Get Him/Her To Want You" articles in Cosmo or Men's Health and actually put the tips into action. I should, in theory, really hate this show and everyone involved in it. And yet, I love it beyond all things lately—especially the cast. But why!?

Perhaps it's because of something Rich pointed out in his fourfour recap of the show: "this show is a joyful celebration of life. Period. Whether at cooling at the shore, lording over Poughkeepsie or hilariously claiming Hollywood, these people are having the best time ever. They always win." This is absolutely true, of course: even when they're engaging in completely hideous behavior (see: every scene in which The Situation tries to get a girl to sleep with him) they still miraculously end up looking better than the random people who surround them.

In many of our Jersey Shore posts, commenters have admitted to having a crush on The Situation or to being a big Snooki fan. It's really weird when you think about it, as both The Situation and Snooki represent oft-mocked archetypes on the site, with the men of the Jersey Shore representing the Axe-body spray reeking, Ed Hardy-wearing crew and the women of the show representing every bad Cosmo article ever written. And yet there's something about this cast that makes us love them anyway: authenticity, which is a rare thing in the world of "reality" tv.

There something strangely refreshing about watching a reality show that focuses on "real" people, as opposed to wannabe actresses or washed-up rock stars looking for love. We love the Jersey Shore kids, despite their flaws, because we feel like we know them, or at least know someone very much like them. In my case, The Situation is a dead ringer for the captain of my high school baseball team, and J.Woww looks like many women I went to college with but didn't know very well. Watching them interact on Jersey Shore is a way to sort of spy on the lives of other cliques and other subcultures, and despite the raging stereotypes at play, it seems as though the audience has connected with the show not just to mock the cast members but to celebrate their genuine excitement toward life and their emotional connections (however ridiculous and overblown they might be) to each other.


There's just so much going on with this stupid show: it's fascinating and sometimes horrifying to watch bro culture at play, and it's interesting to watch how the relationships between the castmates develop and grow in a way that seems a bit more organic than the friendships forged on something like, say, The Hills In a reality tv show world often filled with scripted mascara-dripping tears, recycled Real World casting and softly lit shots of faux-celebrity mansions, it's nice to watch "real" people have real adventures and seemingly have a great time whilst doing so. Whether you're horrified or delighted by it is another story, but yet either way, it's hard to stop watching.

Of course, this ride will end soon, as the cast will surely go on to their obligatory spin-off shows (Snooki is already pushing hard for her own dating series), and the authenticity we all fell in love with with slowly fade away in favor of Gosselin-esque "Don't you know who I am?" douchebaggery. Our brief love affair with these kids will surely fade, and the more problematic issues within the show will become more prominent as that early haze of reality tv love burns off a bit, but until then I suppose the only way to handle a love/hate relationship with the Shore crew is to chill out, Freckles McGee, and see where the rest of the season takes us.

The Lessons Of Jersey Shore: Episode 3 [FourFour]

Earlier: 8 Things Learned From Jersey Shore's Talk Show Appearances