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Featured TV on DVD Review: Jersey Shore: Season One

July 18th, 2010

Jersey Shore: Season One - Buy from Amazon

Jersey Shore is the latest Reality TV to become a big hit on MTV. Overall, I'm not a fan of Reality TV, but as it is with any genre, there are a variety of sub-genres and a very wide variety of quality levels within those genres. So where does this show fit in?

The Show

There are two basic sub-genres of reality TV. The competition sub-genre and the documentary sub-genre.

Competition shows include some excellent shows that feature people with real talent getting a showcase to display this talent. For instance, there's Iron Chef and its American remake that took some of the best chefs in the world and put them under the clock to come up with a menu based on a theme. Scraphead Challenge that took designers, engineers, and machinists and got them to build a machine using only parts they could find in a junkyard. These are the best of the best of this sub-genre. There are weaker examples, like shows that take average people and make them do tasks that have little to do with whatever they do in real life, but at least are not humiliating, for the most part. Shows like Survivor or The Amazing Race. Then there are the soul crushing shows shows that are based on humiliation, like Fear Factor.

The documentary type show includes some examples that are so good, I hardly consider them reality TV. Antique Roadshow, for instance. I might not be interested in antiques, but it is undeniable that there's real educational value here. Then there are shows that focus on a group of people who have real talent or do jobs that are interesting enough to sustain a show. Ace of Cakes or Deadliest Catch fall into this category. Then there are shows that follow around entertainers who may or may not have the charisma to carry a show. Rob & Big, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, etc. that can range in quality from light entertainment to guilty pleasure to complete train wreck. Further down the quality list we get to shows like The Hills where we follow a group of people who, without the Reality TV craze, would never appear on TV. They have no real talent and no charisma to entertain. Then there are shows that I'm actually offended that were made; shows that make celebrities out of people who shouldn't be celebrated but reviled. Growing Up Gotti, for example. The less I say about that show, the better.

So where does this show fit into the pantheon of Reality TV shows? It's a documentary show that follows a group of people who have no real talent and no charisma. Personality wise, I can't tell any of these people apart. They are all aggressively obnoxious. The show is exploitative, soul-crushing and painful to watch. I literally could not get through 10 minutes of the opening show without pausing to take a break. It took more an hour and a half to get through the first episode because I couldn't watch it in one sitting. Every minute I did watch it I hated it even more. And by the end of the third episode, I was beat. "No Más." I'm done. I can't stand another minute with these people. They are truly repulsive.

It's not even a well-made example of the genre. A personal plea to the camera man... learn to focus. A blurry focus with a lot of shaky camera work and quick edits doesn't make the show seem more real, it just makes it seem like you don't know how to do your job. Trying to add artistic merit to a show like this is a joke.

The Extras

There are audio commentary tracks of five of the nine episodes, but I couldn't even get through the first. They are even less compelling commenting on the show than they are on the show. The rest of the extras are on the final disc, starting with a reunion special. There's 30-minutes of deleted scenes, a Before the Shore look at the cast, tips from "The Situation" and "Snooki," and Michael Cera getting a guido makeover.

The Verdict

I went into this show with low expectations. I was expecting The Hills crossed with The Real World set in south Jersey. It is so much worse than I expected. Avoid Jersey Shore: Season One at all costs.

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