jersey shore family vacation
So long as Paola and Uncle Nino are in town, everything within the property lines of the Miami house is to be legally considered part of Staten Island. The flag of this, the fifth-and-a-half borough, bears a crest of red wine, chicken cutlets, and Speedo-clad genitals. Nino’s delighted poolside appraisal of the Sammi sex doll — “No fucking teeth! God bless America! We’re in business!” — will haunt me longer than the scariest scene in the scariest horror movie I will ever see.
Vinny’s excitement to see his mother is tempered by his horror at her having to interact in close quarters with these insane people, and likewise, for everyone else to interact with Uncle Nino. Nevertheless, all parties involved are delighted to have them there, particularly Mike, who practically breaks out into a rewritten “My Favorite Things” about the mozzarella, prosciutto, soppressata, garlic bread, and Funfetti cake (to name, like, a quarter of all the food that is happening here) Paola has provided them. Later, inspired by Nino’s characteristically hard-R profanity-laden insistence that “it’s like fucking 30 Viagra” (this being a good thing?), the men employ a pot and at least three knives in a hard-fought battle to open a single coconut. Just another night in Staten Island South!
The next morning, the women cook breakfast for Paola and Nino. Vinny’s family heads back to the airport, but not before Nino can assure Mike he knows guys on the inside if, you know, it comes to that, and Paola can offer some relationship advice to Ronnie. “The real test will come after the baby’s out,” she says. Ron’s shaken up about Jen: He reveals to the girls, and us, that his girlfriend cheated on him. (I hate to say it, but at least now we know they’ve got something in common.) He’s afraid that, post-pregnancy, it’ll happen again. “Everything I did was a reaction to her action,” he says, but fortunately our gal Deena sees fit to remind him that he chose to stay with her — and that none of this absolves him of his own misbehavior.
Over on the right side of the relationship tracks, Mike’s girlfriend Lauren is on her way to Miami. Mike plans on proposing the next day, although maybe “plans” is the wrong word, given that Mike has no plan, and doesn’t show any signs of making one, to the extreme dismay of his roommates. They offer to set up a romantic tableau in the backyard, the complete Bachelor finale package: Candles! Rose petals! Centerpieces! DJ Pauly D on the turntables, just like every little girl dreams of!
Over lunch, Jenni insists he write out his proposal speech. There’s been tension between the two of them since their late-for-dinner fight in Bimini, and Mike does not take kindly to her taskmaster intensity. As a controlling, type-A person who is extremely fun at parties, I am viscerally sympathetic to Jenni, but I know from personal experience she is taking the wrong tack here. The proposal isn’t about her. And sometimes, you need to let people fuck up — and to trust that Lauren loves Mike even when he’s suffering from a bout of Funfetti brain. At the barbershop with the dudes, Mike, still a little miffed, expresses his desire to pie Jenni in the face, albeit sometime after the beautifully planned proposal she will be largely responsible for (including setting him up with her ring designer) comes to fruition.
Everybody, say hi to Lauren! She seems lovely and genuinely very well-liked by everyone in the house, so good job. For his part, Mike is so excited to be back in her presence that he’s worried that he might accidentally spoil the surprise himself.
In a talking-head interview, Ronnie admits he’s jealous of Mike and Lauren’s lovey-dovey relationship. He’ll act out about it in 5, 4, 3 … whoops, here we go! In the cab with the non-Lauren girls on the way to dinner, Ron tells Jenni what Mike said about the pie, which frankly hardly registers on my gossip Geiger counter, but whatever. This is a feat of blatant shit-stirring that would do Ramona Singer proud.
Jenni is livid, turning a furious shade of pink. She got the ring, she planned everything, and this is how he thanks her? “I’m about to fuck up the next 24 hours,” she says. By the time they’re seated, Jenni has done the opposite of calming down, visibly charged with anger like this is Liberty Science Center (that one’s for you, North Jersey pals) and she’s a human Van der Graaf generator. At the far end of the table from Mike, she and Ronnie — you know something has gone wrong with your night when he’s become your partner in crime — keep on drinking and keep on shit-talking. “I’m about to ruin someone’s proposal,” Jenni says aloud, and Deena and Nicole look so horrified that I’m half convinced one of them will call in a fake bomb threat if only to clear out the restaurant.
Instead of committing a federal crime, as was my first thought, Deena invites Lauren outside for a chat. Jenni takes this opportunity to confront Mike, who is utterly bewildered. It seems pretty clear that the pie thing, if he was going to go through with it at all, would have been about as wholesome a prank as the dorkiest dad on your block growing up could think of. It’s “harmless fun,” Mike says.
“I don’t want to make tomorrow happen now. Because I feel insulted!” she shouts. Mike apologizes. They hug, to a relieved round of applause from their pals.
With that conflict at least temporarily resolved, thank God, everyone heads home and up to bed. Almost everyone, that is. Ronnie, clearly agitated, putters around the ground floor. He tells the camera he wants what Mike has: He wants to propose, he wants a family, he wants to be happy.
“Here I am,” Ron says in the confessional, before his speech becomes unintelligible through the tears. “The same fucking crying-ass bitch Ronnie in the same fucking place in the same fucking house.” A night-vision camera reveals him continuing to snuffle under the covers.
Somebody needs a slice of Funfetti.