“Once upon a time, we learned what happened when seven strangers came to live together in a house, stopped being polite, and started getting real. After 23 iterations of that concept, we learned that we were bored, and an ever-savvy MTV flipped the concept, assembling a group of strangers to live together in a house and act like cartoon characters.
As Jersey Shore’s first season debuted, eight sensory assaults masquerading as people—tanned, unquiet, self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes,” some of them not actually Italian-American—assembled in a summer rental to live, laugh, love, malaprop, hump in hot tubs, get arrested, and wander around drunkenly, eating ham.
The ratings were meager at first, but the show took off when Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, the show’s heroine, was punched in the nose by a high school teacher after a dispute involving a stolen drink. (This basically tells you everything you need to know about the show’s moral universe.)
As Snooki was walloped in the face, so was America, and the whole country became Jersey Shore’s battered paramours—uncomfortable but unable to tear ourselves away. The show gave a hopeless America exactly what we desperately sought—either something to aspire to or a reason to feel better about ourselves—and in the process became a smash, one of MTV’s biggest hits in years, and the kind of pop-culture phenomenon that spawned a zillion catchphrases and theme parties that cultural sophisticates are supposed to hate but secretly love.
The second season begins shooting this month, and barring any cases of hair-gel toxicosis, it will air on MTV this summer. In the meantime, the four dudes of the show—Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Vinny Guadagnino, and “Pauly D” Delvecchio—talked to Interview about their hopes, dreams, and penis piercings.”