overnights

Jersey Shore Family Vacation Recap: Meatball’s Eleven

Jersey Shore Family Vacation

Pork Roll or Taylor Ham?
Season 2 Episode 15
Editor’s Rating *****

Jersey Shore Family Vacation

Pork Roll or Taylor Ham?
Season 2 Episode 15
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: MTV

I’m so thrilled to tell you that the 2040 reboot of MTV’s What Was Once the Jersey Shore But Has Been Desperately Eroded by Climate Change So Now All We Have Is This Makeshift Floating Island Fashioned from Reclaimed Boardwalk Pranks and Expired Hair Gel just signed up a new cast member: Nicole is pregnant! May her third child be a meatballsculine child.

Where last we left them, Ron invited Angelina’s friend, a woman with a human name who nevertheless prefers to be addressed as Jewish Barbie, to sleep in his bed. “How could he want to do this?” a dumbfounded Pauly asks his own pillow in the dark. An answer is not forthcoming.

Schrödinger’s Cheater takes a shower as Jewish Barbie curls up under the covers. “And there goes my life,” we hear him monologue through the bathroom door. “Not gonna be good. Nothing about this is good. Nothing good can come from this. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.” Apparently, exactly nine evers and not a single ever fewer is the push Ron needs to abstain from self-destruction. He wanders downstairs and whiles away the remaining hours until sunrise moodily smoking and texting. Jenni is impressed to hear that no smushing occurred; it is depressing that this passes for growth on Ron’s part.

The star of the one-man show that is Jersey Shore Toxic Relationship announces that, “apparently,” he’s single once more, following another volley of fucked-up messages from Jen. He’s ready to take a step back from his baby’s mother, he says, which would be more encouraging if we weren’t experiencing every episode of Jersey Shore in tandem with the present-day tabloid timeline in which Ron and Jen are (usually) still together.

In a scene that I am genuinely baffled has not already occurred on a much, much earlier season, Nicole and Mike engage in the timeless Jersey debate as to whether the Garden State’s favorite salty pig-based breakfast discs are properly termed Taylor ham (so says Nicole) or pork roll (so says Mike, who is correct). I suspect that producers may have conveniently prompted them to have this conversation, but the passion behind it is real.

Deena’s presence is sorely missed, so rather than picking up the phone and calling her, or making plans to get together for dinner, the gang escalates with characteristic efficiency to plotting to kidnap her from her house. Walkie talkies, bandanas, and face-concealing pantyhose hosiery are obtained with mysterious ease. Angelina, Nicole, and Jenni wear football-style eye black on their cheeks. Pauly finds a box of enormous, meatball-sized trash bags in a kitchen cabinet; Vinny hypothesizes Angelina owns an “unlimited stock” of trash bags, although I have it on good authority that she actually secretes them from the palms of her hands like Spider-man.

The heist is on. The roomies—minus Ron, who is dead asleep—drive to Deena’s house, where their unnecessarily elaborate plan involves leaving a salami plate on the doorstep, ringing the bell, fleeing to the backyard, and entering via a sliding door. (I hope Deena has updated her home security since taping this, and also maybe sent her neighbors an Edible Arrangement of apology.)

I can’t imagine this ambush came as a complete surprise to Deena, who is sitting inside her living room with a camera shooting her, but it is nevertheless very sweet to watch these dummies gently dogpile on their 18-weeks-pregnant pal.

The “shore” house is nice and clean, they promise, and it’s not even far! She’ll have her own bedroom and private bathroom! Deena, who knows all too well the crowd she’s dealing with, asks only one question before she agrees: “Did anybody do sex in my bed?” Fortunately, she loves the house, in spite of its vaguely “garbage-y” smell, and especially because of the adorable “Meatball on Board” sign that decorates her door.

Ron won’t rouse from his blanket bunker to greet Deena, even when Mike lifts his visibly drool-stained pillow to tell him they’re going out to dinner. At the restaurant, his empty chair serves as a much-needed buffer between Vinny and Angelina. Oddly enough, though, it’s she and Pauly who have by far the weirdest interaction of the night.

“Do you have a bra on?” Pauly asks her, unprompted, and so she invites him touch her two-months-old set of new boobs, on the grounds that her fiancé hasn’t even felt them yet. This news is received incredulously, which apparently suggests to Angelina that this is the perfect time to air all her grievances about sex with Chris. She’s disappointed that their sojourns to the bone zone have never again been as intense as their first night together. Helpfully, Angelina smacks one fist onto her other hand with cervix-bruising force to illustrate her point. “She just wants to be pounded out,” Nicole coos sympathetically. Who among us?

Dedicated students of the Jersey Shore canon will recall that, back in the day, Angelina and Pauly supposedly hooked up (I don’t know about smushed, but) at some point between shooting seasons one and two. In the cab ride home, Angelina tells the girls that she’s “ecstatic” that “the king,” a.k.a. Pauly, should notice her boobs. “The king of your life is your man,” Jenni chides her. “My fiancé is the king of garbagemen,” Angelica replies. Excuse me! Roz on Frasier dated a garbageman, and one day, that very guy went on to become President of the United States of America.

Back home, the Ronbernation continues, to everyone’s great distress. “He’s dyiiiing” is Nicole’s exact diagnosis. I, for one, am not worried. This is precisely how I spent most of my junior year of high school, when I wasn’t on LiveJournal. (If we’d had smartphones then, I would’ve been on LiveJournal under the covers.) Lo and behold, by morning, Ron is feeling much better. He even joins the boys for a haircut.

Mike gets his nose hair waxed at the barbershop. When the dainty little sticks in his nostrils are ripped out, the men all marvel at the awful, gnarly bugger stubble that they’ve taken with them. Lucky for Ron, that’s an image of renewal and optimism, of our freedom to leave behind the parts of ourselves we find disgusting.

Until, of course, you remember that nose hair always grows back.

Jersey Shore Family Vacation Recap: Meatball’s Eleven