A new MTV special celebrates Jersey Shore‘s earliest and raunchiest days. Titled Jerztory: How Jersey Shore Changed TV, the special dives deep into how the series changed reality TV and made instant superstars of eight twenty-somethings, whose representation of the Italian lifestyle turned both the culture and MTV on its head.
‘Jersey Shore’ was a summertime show that debuted in December
Jersey Shore was the buzzword in the late fall and early winter of 2009 when MTV heavily promoted their new reality show. However, the series, which launched the careers of its stars, originated as a VH1 competition show. Shelly Tatro pitched casting director Doron Ofirhim a show called America’s Biggest Guido. Bringing producer Sallyann Salsano on board, the series morphed into a reality show after realizing the women’s competitiveness balanced out the male contestants’ pretty-boy nature.
Ahead of its December 2009 premiere, promos showed a group of young men and women, reportedly of Italian heritage. They made bizarre statements about themselves and had enormous fun on the night at the Seaside Heights, New Jersey boardwalk. The show promised a “house like you’ve never seen, full of the hottest, tannest, craziest Guidos.”
‘Jersey Shore’s’ earliest and raunchiest days are celebrated in a new MTV special
A brand-new MTV special called Jerztory: How Jersey Shore Changed TV celebrates the show’s origins, lasting legacy, and continued success. Weighing in are comedians, celebrities, and cast members, who speak about why this series remains a pop culture phenomenon.
“It went from being some little TV show to this national news story,” says original cast member Vinny Guadagnino in an MTV promo clip.
All of Jersey Shore’s original cast are featured in clips highlighting its ridiculous and raunchy past. Cast members include Guadagnino, Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Sammi Giancola, Angelina Pivarnick, and Deena Cortese.
Cortese is seen in the clip highlighting some of her wildest moments at the jersey shore. The mother of two and wife of Chris Bucker claims, “I still have my meatball days.”
The show depicted their version of Italian culture and ticked some people off
On Jersey Shore, the housemates embraced their “Guido” identity. They insisted you didn’t have to be Italian to be a Guido or Guidette. As it happens, not all housemates are of Italian background. The only Italian-American Jersey Shore cast members are Sorrentino, DelVecchio, Cortese, and Guadagnino.
Farley is part Spanish and Irish. Polizzi admitted that although her technical nationality is Chilean, she grew up Italian, as both of her parents are Italian. Pivarnick is half Italian and half Polish. Giancola is of Greek descent, and Ortiz-Magro is Italian and Puerto Rican.
Fans were initially ticked off at the representation of Italian culture and took issue with the word “guido” – slang for a working-class urban Italian-American and widely perceived by Italian-Americans as a pejorative word.
In response to the initial backlash to the show, Tony DiSanto, MTV’s former director of programming, released a statement reprinted by The New York Post. “The cast takes pride in their ethnicity. It is a key driver of how they bond with each other and self-identify. They refer to themselves as ‘guidos’ in a positive manner.”
Jerztory: How Jersey Shore Changed TV airs Sept. 8 at 9 p.m. EST, right after a brand-new episode of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation!