Jersey Shore Family Vacation
I think about Angelina Pivarnick a lot. Trash bags full of clothing in hand, she pulled up to the shore house with an “umm, hello?!” that still resonates in our hearts, and possibly also our eardrums. In a moment that didn’t make the cut for Vulture’s oral history of Jersey Shore, casting director Doron Ofir called Angelina — who peaced out three episodes into the first season, and again in season two — “probably the most underappreciated reality character of all time.” The self-styled Kim Kardashian of Staten Island (alternately, the Rob Kardashian of Staten Island) failed to ascend to the reality megastardom of her roommates, yet achieved permanent notoriety as the show’s early-days heel. Ever since Mike traded in smashing his head into concrete walls for sobriety, the Family Vacation cast has had a villain vacuum. Angelina is about to get a third chance to fill it.
But first, Nicole and Jenni are heading home for a few days to see their kids. In a gesture motivated both by genuine goodwill and a desire not to contaminate their planned “Operation Boys’ Weekend” with estrogen, the guys buy Deena a surprise plane ticket of her own to visit her husband Chris. Gütenpränk! In homage to the greatest note ever to appear on a television show (that Sex and the City Post-It could never), which Nicole and Jenni anonymously wrote to Sam in Miami to tell her that Ron had been cheating on her — some things never change! — Ron writes Deena a note of his own. “I got a phone call this morning … and then I found this,” he says solemnly, handing it to Deena.
“He was grinded [sic] on multiple meatballs. He motorboated multiple meatballs,” reads the note, which I might very well have believed was written by Charlie Kelly, had it involved at least one disturbingly childlike drawing and/or reference to the Nightman. The real tragedy here is the failure of the American education system. Of course, no one in the room believes that Chris did any of this, not even for a second. And who called you anyway, Ron?
“Buckner.” (Buckner being Deena’s husband’s last name.)
That’s funny, I’ve never heard of a Brian Buckner at our school. Once she finally understands she’s going to Jersey, Deena cries enough happy tears to redrown the Sammequin in the pool out back. Operation Boys’ Weekend is a go.
After cosplaying as an Italian stereotype-themed boy band in matching white tanks, the boys are off to Mokai, where it’s Staring at Asses in Fishnets Night, as I suspect it is seven days a week. Vinny spots an unforgettable face in the crowd: “Junior Mini Sammi Sweetheart,” a young woman sucking on a lollipop, for some reason, who bears a passing resemblance to a certain missing cast member (no, not Danny from the Shore Store). She looks the Lifetime movie version of Sam, or maybe the Investigation Discovery reenactment version of Sam, but still, she’s significantly closer to the mark than the sex doll.
Pauly takes Sammi Jr. home, but in a separate cab so as not to rile up Ronnie, who nevertheless has Vertigo-style meltdown back at the house. The Keto Guido watches the couple hook up in the next bed over (isn’t there a designated smush room?), while snacking on a bunless burger delivered by Mike. Remember when Mike watched Pauly have sex with someone while eating an egg sandwich, also in Miami? Jersey Shore is a dense and deeply self-referential text. Eventually, after talking to a plant for while, Ron takes the liberty of calling a taxi for Sammi Jr. mid-hookup, a totally normal and not weird thing to do, much like watching your friend have sex while eating a burger. “Bye, ex-girlfriend,” he says to her. “Bye, ex-girlfriend,” she says back.
As Jenni bakes a cake with her daughter, Nicole helps her kids with their homework, and Deena and Chris plot to conceive a “mini meatball” of their own, the men browse an exotic-car showroom full of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Jaguars, and Bentleys. Best of all, as far as Mike is concerned, there’s also a plate of cheeses and cured meats set out for snacking purposes. They reflect on how Mike’s legal battles have cost him his own collection of fancy rides, then take a joyride in a pair of extremely expensive-looking convertibles that I would gladly tell you about if I knew literally anything about cars. That part of my brain was long ago reallocated to the storage of information regarding cheeses and cured meats.
Operating on the assumption that Mike is “too nice” now, Pauly decides to test his mettle by inviting the late, great Angelina (I mean, she’s not dead or anything, but still) to Miami as a “prank” on Sitch. Pauly lets Vinny and Ronnie in on his secret plan; both men are visibly panicked. “That’s a prank on all of us,” Ronnie observes. Lest we forget, Angelina fought with everyone, especially the women. Pauly, basically vibrating with pre-prank excitement, likens the feeling to Christmas morning. Vinny evokes the trembling glasses of water in Jurassic Park.
Cut to Staten Island, where Angelina is packing her (non-trash bag!) suitcases and wearing lash extensions as long as her pinky finger. “Deep down, I really wanted this one day in my life to happen,” she says. “The new Angelina’s coming for you, Miami.” Cut to the airport, where Nicole, Jenni, and Deena, feeling “refreshed” by their time away, proceed to get extremely wasted when their flight is delayed. They call up the house on speakerphone and squawk over one another in cartoony Donald Duck voices, and I have to say, for the record, I could have done with more drunken plane antics and less car-dealership antics in this episode, but to each their own.
The boys have sat down to dinner, the table set with candles and red Solo cups, when there’s a knock on the door. Mike answers, expecting the returning roommates. Technically, he’s not wrong. Angelina has arrived. Mike looks like he’s seen a ghost (like, a very tan ghost) while the other men scatter. “Do you still think I’m a dirty little hamster?” she asks Mike. “No, not at all, I didn’t even know you were alive,” he responds. They hug.
Angelina — who’s engaged, mazel tov! — asks Mike why he blocked her on Twitter. (Excuse me, how do we not already have a TV show on which C-list celebrities confront each other about why they’ve been blocked on social media?) He explains he saw a tabloid story alleging she slept with him and that he’s got a “small peesh.” Angelina acknowledges that, while they never had sex, she did indeed impugn the size of his peesh. She apologizes; he, too, is sorry for his dickish treatment of her in the past.
Wow, this is going almost unbelievably well! Angelina worries about how the girls will receive her. The boys assure her that they’ve all grown up and moved on. But when the Donald Duck trio finally does arrive, Nicole and Jenni regard Angelina with a look of horror that suggests otherwise. (Meanwhile, Deena — who joined the show in season three and never overlapped with Angelina — offers a genuinely friendly “Oh, hi!”)
That’s all for this week, but I’ll leave you with this: Yes, Angelina is a Staten Islander, but aren’t they recasting The Real Housewives of New Jersey? Come on! She can take the new Goethals Bridge and get to Envy by Melissa Gorga in under an hour.