In 2009, America fell in love with a houseful of boozy naifs and their plastic duck phone. But, much like naked pecs in a neon mesh top, the appeal wore thin over time.
It used to be a watercooler point of pride to be one of the few holdouts avoiding Jersey Shore. But now, if feels as though the crowds all packed up their koozies, put on sensible underpants, and decamped for home long ago. Sure, many of us are nostalgic about the end of the series, the last episode of which airs tonight, especially given the recent destruction of the guidos' and guidesttes' annual stomping grounds, but no one seems especially sad to see it go.
How is it possible that it only took a few short years for the show to completely fall out of the zeitgeist? Here are a handful of theories as to why and how America decided T-shirt time was finally over, and a national love affair with eight human paninis was packed quietly into a trash bag, and dragged home.
No Fresh Meat(balls)
Reality shows that do well as they stretch out into later seasons usually maintain relevance by freshening up their casts. But with the exception of the odd mental-health hiatus or Angelina-Deena swap, familiarity bred boredom, if not contempt, on Jersey Shore. Would we have watched The Real World for a couple dozen seasons if it was the same cast over and over again? Well, maybe, if T-shirt-shop Danny went crazy from Lyme disease.
They're All Growns Up
Like Mogwais, or David Faustino, sometimes things that start out cute and novel grow into something frightening and strange, or worse: boring. If half of the fun was the delirious discovery that such people as the guidos and guidettes do indeed roam the earth, it was disappointing to watch them get makeovers, sober up, and settle down.
They Made It Weird
It's a little odd when anybody in their thirties has roommates, let alone has sex while their grown-ass friend occupies the same room. As time passed, this seemed less like a necessary evil of prime real-estate than enforced voyeurism.
The Moonlighting Effect
Apparently this show learned absolutely NOTHING from Bones. At some point, you can't rely on sexual tension anymore. Especially when it became clear that any hookups that were going to happen had happened, and even the Vinny and Pauly will-they-won't-they got stale when they got all culturally sensitive and stopped all the homoerotic verbal towel-slapping.
They Get Along
Hair-pulling, back-stabbing, scheming, and daiquiris to the face are the stock on which the stew of reality TV draws its savor. Mike tried valiantly to stir up controversy in the last two seasons, and the effort of it was as painful and pathetic as if he'd attempted to get them all to start a book club.
Messes Are Dishes Best Served Hot
In unscripted programming, as in life, there's always somebody younger and hungrier. We've moved on to newer, fresher spectacles for our uneasy classist entertainment. Our pregnant teens, our betrothed itinerants, our sugar-dazed hilljacks with their mesmerizing chins and exotic gay pets. Eight ham-colored adults being forced to use a landline doesn't have the same quaint charm as it once did.
One of the most insidious corrosive elements of public sentiment towards the cast has been festering resentment over their paychecks. If half of the fun of the show was watching people act cheap, or at least, in such a way that it offended the delicate sensibilities of the entire state of New Jersey, what did it mean, then, when they could buy and sell us?
Good-bye, Jersey Shore. May a flight of Angelinas sing thee to thy rest.