Having delighted Europe long enough, the Jersey Shore clan returns tonight to Seaside Heights for the reality show's fifth season. If the previews are any indication, the gang managed to avoid becoming too "cosmopolitan" while in Florence (what is someone getting humped in a rabbit suit but an indication?), but that doesn’t mean Italy didn't do some damage. While there, the crew — self-admittedly a little bored — started to tip more definitively over into unlikability: Will this be the season when these lovable, outlandish circus performers finally use up their fifteen minutes? Sure, there are rays of hope for this upcoming season. Sammi and Ron seem to have laid down their swords, and a newly den-mother-ish JWOWW presided over all of last season like an ochre angel on a skanky cupola. But Mike and Snooki's horrible maybe-hookup continues to linger, reeking stronger than the stench of the cast's toilet, and Vinny, long the most reasonable man on the show, may actually be taking off. While we wait, eagerly as ever, to see how the group will reacclimate to their vanilla-bean-scented natural habitat, let's take a quick look at where each cast member currently stands on a likability scale, measured in juiceheads, from "most likable" to Mike. (And while you're at it, check out our Jersey Shore Obsessive Guide, your resource for all things guido.)
Every season, JWOWW gets out a big syringe full of nice-o-cone and injects it straight into her sweetness glands. In Italy, the cast were strangers in a strange land, and JWOWW and her brand-new face was their Moses and their Kofi Annan. You know, if Kofi and Moses told you when your vagina was showing or brought you pregnancy tests when you were drunk. J-dub's diplomacy has earned her top Anticipated Likablility marks, and given that her juicehead gorilla boyfriend Roger appears to be back on the scene in season five, she'll probably continue to stay just above the fray, dispensing wisdom and focusing on her next upsetting Maxim cover.
Likability: 8 out of 10 Juiceheads
2. Pauly D
Pauly D's biggest complaint about Italy is that the barbers there don't know how to shave a star shape into a human head. Who knows what Italy's biggest complaint about Pauly is, but it's probably along the lines of, "He putt-a the hole-a in the ozone layer." Whatever — Pauly is a pleasant bag of breadcrumbs and sunshine, and he would never call you racist for doing a Chef Boyardee voice. Also, when he calls Vinny "my dude," it still warms our heart.
Likability: 7 out of 10 Juiceheads
This is actually a pretty astounding showing, given all that she's put us through. But if she and Ronnie agree to keep things al detente (sorry), Sammi has the potential to really earn her likability stripes this season. Living with Mike is enough to make anybody rage out, but maybe they can direct their collective dislike toward him instead of at each other, and then everybody wins. (Particularly those of us who would like to see Mike fall into a bubbly vat of humility lava.) Other good signs for Sammi: The trailer contains absolutely zero Sammi-Ron drama, and she recently agreed to do this makeunder. But juiceheads still must be subtracted for previous crimes, and also because her new perfume is called "Dangerous for Women," which sounds like it's about smoking on the Nuva ring.
Likability: 5 out of 10 Juiceheads
In the trailer for the upcoming season, the self-proclaimed little meatball and make out thief known as Deena seems to be operating on her customary two levels: fun time sweetie pie and raging drunk. There she is laughing about how she's the most sober one around, and then there she is... getting arrested. Okay Deena! You do you! That's always basically been pretty pleasant.
Likability: 5 out of 10 Juiceheads
As the most normal seeming cast member, Vinny was likable at some point, but he did a lot of damage last season with his rants about the ladies, probably forcing hundreds of wannabe guidettes to scrutinize their" problem areas" in the mirror, wondering if they would pass Vinny muster or whether no human woman is good enough for this ham-colored Pygmalion. Vinny is only marginally likable when he's with Pauly, which is like saying "Eat plain rice if you think you're going to throw up from drinking because it doesn't taste as horrible." Worse still, it looks like he's leaving the house: if that actually meant he was leaving the house we'd say vaya con Aqua do Gio, but this is Jersey Shore, and so "leaving the house" means milking as much drama as possible out of staying gone or coming back, before eventually returning because that's where the money is.
Likability: 4 out of 10 Juiceheads
A friend once said, of something not related to Jersey Shore, "It's pretty entertaining when it's not, like, 'Uh-oh, is this rape?'" This sums up our feelings about Jersey Shore's No. 1 attraction, Snooki, pretty perfectly. She had a rough time in Italy, what with the fighting with her boyfriend long distance, the throwing things, the car accident, and the maybe-possibly having had a sexual encounter with Mike. The diet pill sponsorship and further discussion of the cheating with Mike sure to happen in season five don't put Snooks in such a prime position: If she and The Situation keep bickering and tossing furniture, they may just turn themselves into the next Ron and Sammi.
Likability: 2 of 10 Juiceheads (this one hurts)
He's better than he used to be, and it's not his fault Mike ran his head into a cement wall rather than fight him, but some threatening, borderline abusive behavior just can't be forgotten or forgiven.
Likability: 1 of 10 Juiceheads
8. Mike, The Situation
Michael. Michael. When this all started you were — this is weird to remember — the most amusing and consistently entertaining one, even with your blatant, pathetic insecurity and deranged will-to-attention. But not so slowly you have become a cut-rate Omarosa, one of those reality-TV staples who just exists to be an asshole, and you don't even have the decency to own it. While the other housemates seem to be saying (admittedly sort of mind-blowing) things like, "Let's just try to enjoy each other, as a group," Sitch still seems pretty invested in … sowing discord and flinging milk at people. (And then crying into his sunglasses about it.) Barring some major unseen behavioral changes, nobody likes you, Hurricane Dairy.
Likability: -100 Grenades