Maybe the Jersey Shore Cast Shouldn't Come Back
Jersey Shore's first season was filled with friendship, first-time larks into face-pummeling, amorous confessionals worthy of Plato's Symposium, blurred crotches, situations full of situations, and inadvertent promotions for Mystic Tan's newest color swatch "This Farmhand's Been Dead for Days Brown." We all learned something about turning walkovers in a short skirt and thong, and we'll pass it on to new generations as we hold the spirit stick. But have the joys of the seminal Jersey squad depleted? Rumors of a contract standoff with MTV may force the troop into retiring their flagship cast. It's for the best.
The obvious objection to a second season is the cast's awareness of its reputation, catchphrases, and bankable opportunities elsewhere. Snooki has pitched her spinoff project in every venue possible, from The Tonight Show to any other place she utters the phrase, "Snookin' for love" (read: often). MTV's The Real World doesn't run into this problem since it changes rosters every year and rotates past cast members through its countless Real World/Road Rules Challenge iterations. With Jersey Shore, MTV finds itself trying to calculate a follow-up to a show that hinged on spontaneity and our awed discovery of its characters. We can't rediscover JWOWW's kleenex-like yellow top, or Vinny's furious sweat stains. Going home again is impossible.
The less obvious objection to a second season is that the show will suck. You cannot schedule a second year of Schnickers's fisticuffs, or JWOWW's boyfriend issues, or Pauly D's passion for mixing it up on the ones and twos and resembling a Goomba. If each of these caricatures finds better vistas in spinoffs, that'd be watchable. (As if you're not already prepping for the inevitable Sammi Loves Ronnie six-episode arc.)
Let's not pretend that MTV can't find a replacement cast in Seaside Heights, if Jersey Shore is to return. Unlike The Real World, this series's appeal is tellingly based in homogenized casting. Vinny, The Situation, and Snooki hold different roles, but their penchant for parties and familial gatherings are identical. Other reality shows seek to find elusive X-factors in their new hires, but Jersey Shore's zvengalis are snookin' only for one twentysomething, tireless archetype. The formula for success is in place -- the players who will stun us with their bravado are not.
(But while it's still salient: Vinny is the best cast member, and this video proves why. Comedy!)