Jersey Shore Review: “Once More On To The Beach”/”No Shame, Good Integrity” (Season 6, Episodes 1&2)

So how about that last season of Jersey Shore, am I right? The proverbial dookie really hit the fan, and it seemed like everybody was at each others’ throats, even as they left. Bad blood still existed, and not everybody was happy.

The Situation was on everybody’s hit lists, JWOWW and Roger were rocky, Snooki was pregnant, and various other issues were pulling the Jersey gang apart. But now that we’ve arrived at the final season of this cultural phenomenon (called so for better and for worse), it’s time to see how the group has grown.

It’s interesting to see a serious, toned down version of the group of hard partiers that we’re all used to. Snooki’s pregnancy is hindering her from being wild and crazy, Mike is on the path to recovery after a stint in rehab that seems to have done him some good and Ron and Sam are happy together. After living five seasons of the party ’til you puke mentality, it looks like Jersey Shore is finally puking.

The first episode of the two part premiere is a rundown of what we’ve all come to expect: reunion, moving in, first night at the clubs. It’s a surprisingly tame affair, and the tone of the show has completely changed. What was once a celebration of the club life is now a portrait of people who are nearly burned out on it.

So here’s the set up for the season: Snooki is pregnant and engaged to her boyfriend Jionni, Sam and Ron are back together and doing fine, Mike is clean of everything (including alcohol and cigarettes), Pauly and Vinny are the exact same, Deena has a serious boyfriend, and Jenni is still in a tenuous relationship with Roger.

With all of the pieces in place, the premiere shows the new attitudes that each person has taken. Mike begins the summer by making an apology dinner and by asking forgiveness from everybody he wronged (i.e. everybody ever). Snooki does everything she can to avoid going to the club and falling back into the party lifestyle (she’s drinking for two now, after all), which could present issues down the road if her touchy date with Jionni is any indication. Ron and Sam finally have their own room, which should cut arguments down by about 50% (hopefully). Deena misses her boyfriend like crazy, breaking down into tears by the second day.

Aside from a few members of the group (Vinny, Pauly, Jenni), everybody has had a total attitude adjustment, and even though not much happened during the first episode, it’s enough to leave us wondering where the end of the season will find everybody. The lack of sensation was more than made up for by the feeling of comfort gotten from seeing the group together again. Despite the radical change to Jersey Shore, it’s still the same group of people that we’ve been watching for years.

Luckily, we weren’t left having to wait for a week to see more of the gang, as another episode was aired as part of the season premiere.  Remember that whole club scene I was talking about a paragraph ago? Well, here’s a rundown of what happens: Drunk Ron returns, which means a pointless fight ensues, catalyzed by nothing more than alcohol and a camera crew. Deena weeps her eyes out over her boyfriend, even though he’s there with her and (so far) seems like a nice, supportive guy. Vinny and Pauly get chicks like always, and Mike manages to stay completely clean despite the temptation.

Other shenanigans ensue, including Mike helping Pauly ditch his girl since she’s on her period. The next morning, everybody works off their hangovers in different ways (cleaning shoes, eating greasy food, etc.), and we get to hear more from Mike about his sobriety.

Everybody (aside from Snooki) is starting to warm up to him again, commending him for how he’s doing, and it really is heartwarming to see this completely new man take over. Later that night, however, Vinny pokes the bear just a bit too much when he makes jokes about Jionni to Snooki. For those who don’t remember, there has always been tension between the two since they’re “eskimo brothers” now (they slept with the same girl).

Vinny and Mike connect over their techniques for controlling their anxieties, and Snooki is thinking about moving out of the house. She approaches Danny, who happens to have an apartment next door to the house open. At dinner, she announces her intent to do so, and everybody gets bummed out. Of course, they all understand and support her, but it still introduces an interesting dynamic to the group. But hey, everybody bonds over some cute little indoor games, and everyone leaves the premiere with a smile.

We’re only two episodes into the final season of Jersey Shore and already more than a few things have changed. The new attitude the show and those who inhabit it have taken on is an interesting one, especially since nobody expected anybody on the show to ever grow up anytime soon. With only eleven more episodes left before the series finale, all we can do is wait and see where the gang goes from here. Here’s to hoping it’s a better place.