I got a little excited over Jersey Shore’s second season, even though I ought to be constitutionally opposed to it:
By any reasonable algorithm that takes into account how I feel about art, entertainment and human behavior, I recognize that I ought to be repulsed by everything about the series. But I actually find its self-awareness relatively charming, with the exception of Angelina, who should never have been allowed to return, especially if she hurts Snooki’s feelings or her pouf. The producers know how to please: we like the duck phone, the first season’s unlikely totem? Snooki mourns the duck phone in the trailer. The antics don’t feel scripted because the folks on the show simply behave that outrageously. And the iota that the integrity in being drunk, dumb, and really excited to work in a t-shirt shop outweighs the pretty, dumb polish of scripted shows like The Hills somehow matters.
I spent a bunch of time talking to my friend Tony about this last night, since part of what I think is so genius about the show is the editing. The folks behind the show manage to extract an amazing amount of pathos out of what is essentially a chaotic moral void, riven by harsh conflict over insignificant things. He says MTV and VH1 are the masters, whether they’re inserting authoritative statements early in a conversation to make someone look like a know-it-all jerk or tricking you into forgetting where the cameras are located in a room. The networks know what we want, they give it to us, and we’re happily to be fooled.