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COLUMN: Jersey Shore was more than trash television



While written off as MTV’s classic trash television, "Jersey Shore" discussed many hard issues in reality entertainment. Whether it was leaving a toxic relationship, drinking or consent, our friends at the shore house covered it. 

Starring six 20-somethings, "Jersey Shore" debuted in 2009 as a reality series about people living together in a Jersey Shore, New Jersey, house. 

The show followed these people around as they drank, partied, danced and got into legal trouble

With that as the basic rundown, it’s easy to assume this show was just mindless television, providing no substance. However, "Jersey Shore" actually tackled issues much more serious than not knowing what shoes to wear to the club. 

In the second and third seasons, as two of the roommates began dating, "Jersey Shore" discussed what it meant to be in an unhealthy relationship.

As the relationship dissolved due to cheating, rumors and fights, the housemates constantly made commentary on how this toxic relationship was destroying the roommates and the house.

Eventually, one of the roommates in the relationship left, saying the group home wasn’t healthy.

Instead of making toxic relationships seem okay, "Jersey Shore" showed that it is mandatory to take time for yourself and remove yourself from relationships like this – despite how hard it may be. 

In another episode, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was arrested for public intoxication. 

Although not entirely surprising, during the rest of the episode she talked about how she wanted to cut back from alcohol. She said she felt she needed to be drunk to have fun – and was unnerved by that. 

In the same season, the roommates discussed consent when under the influence. 

In this episode, roommate Vinny Guadanino refused to have sex with Snooki when she was drunk and he was not. It’s easy for Hollywood to gloss over these discrepancies, but "Jersey Shore" spotlighted it. 

Vinny kicked Snooki out of his bed because he said he felt that he would have been taking advantage of her. With consent being a pressing issue, especially on college campuses, it’s important celebrities on camera say a drunk yes is not a yes. 

If a "Jersey Shore" cast member knew he needed a sober yes, everyone should know they need a sober yes.

Instead of pretending these six adults were immune from mundane issues like bad breakups and alcoholism, "Jersey Shore" embraced these issues and opened them up for discussion – something reality television does too infrequently. 

Despite all the drinking, parties, drama and leopard print, "Jersey Shore" was more than just average trash television.

anneande@indiana.edu

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