The news that broke this week was staggering. And no, I’m not talking about how we learned Matt Lauer’s desk at NBC was outfitted with a nifty little locking device so just a mere flick of his wrist was all that was needed to keep young women from fleeing out the door and away from what should have been a safe work environment. I’m also not talking about how the President tweeted some hideously racist videos that earned him the immediate praise of David Duke. All of that was surprising – well, sort of – but the really stunning news came from MTV when they revealed the original stars of Jersey Shore would soon be crawling back to our airwaves in a brand new series wherein they’ll once again reside inside of a house together…only this time, THEY ARE BRINGING THEIR CHILDREN.
Upon hearing this announcement, I instantly had two thoughts:
1. As children are not capable of offering anything resembling consent when it comes to agreeing to brandish their images, their temper tantrums, or their diapered tushies on TV, should CPS maybe be called?
2. The producers of these shows are certainly not stupid. It makes all the sickest sense in the world for some of our Floribama buddies to drop in on the original MTV masters of mayhem because we all know nothing says “ratings bump” like a good old-fashioned crossover episode. The only real question here is which Floribama players will get the invite? I’ve been in a betting mood lately – I like to warm up for March Madness early – so I’ll kick in $50 and wager Kortni or Aimee will eventually show up in Jersey. I’ll also wager that Kortni will greet her new friends by peeing on the carpet in the foyer and Aimee will announce her arrival by ramming her car straight into the living room.
Speaking of Aimee, she really started coming out of her shell at the end of last week’s episode. Though it was clear to anyone with sight that the girl could turn from relatively calm to totally calamitous in under a millisecond – I mean, that’s why she was cast on this show – she held it together for almost two full hours of television…and then she didn’t. The first crack in her temporary sanity came when Jeremiah condescendingly stood over her while she cleaned her side of the bedroom and her eyes began to narrow in a way that seriously scared me because it reminded me of that one Gremlin who shoved one of its own into a microwave, pressed ON, and then watched gleefully while the furry thing cooked until he exploded. I was shocked when the supervised cleaning scene didn’t end with Aimee backing Jeremiah up into a wall until he dabbed purely in a defensive pose. I wondered if perhaps I’d read this Alabama girl incorrectly. I did not. Aimee’s eventual willingness to bound out of bed and scream at Codi for disrespecting Nilsa – you know, by telling her the truth – made me realize my first impression had been absolutely right. Listen, it’s lovely to come to your friend’s aid, but when said friend is drunk off her ass and using a telephone shaped like a crocodile to dial up an ex-husband while simultaneously screaming about how insane it is for one of her roommates to be attracted to a twenty-six year old, I have to wonder if Aimee ever learned the art of picking the right battles.
The rest of the roommates stay downstairs because sometimes it’s better to avoid the carnage. (I said sometimes. We’ll get to the moment when these people go swan-diving into the carnage without holding their noses in just a bit.) They’re giggling at how Codi is insulting Nilsa about her plastic surgery and her obvious desperation while Kayla Jo, the object of Nilsa’s momentary fury, apologizes for what her mid-twenties existence has done to alter the climate in the house. I fully realize Kayla Jo couldn’t have known exactly what would transpire that evening, but she had to be aware that she wasn’t sauntering into one of the parlors on Downtown Abbey. She’s a girl walking into a house leased by MTV that’s filled with booze and people with no boundaries and the paper she signed to appear on camera in the first place was a release form, not an application for MENSA. Chances were pretty good she’d be met with a rabid strand of crazy.
Nilsa – also known as “that rabid strand of crazy” – has come to the conclusion that Kayla Jo isn’t genuine and Jeremiah is a fool to take her side over the side of a person who is bile-green with envy because she’s not the center of attention. When spreading her legs and rhapsodizing about how even the coroner who will eventually treat her corpse will be dazzled by her vagina doesn’t work to pull in a crowd, she decides to hump the couch and pose existential questions to the universe, the cameras, and Kirk, a man who just wants to get some fucking sleep. “If I was thirty and had no ass, would they care about me?” Nilsa muses aloud, and though I know a rhetorical and tragic question when I hear one, allow me to respond that she’s now twenty-three and she has an ass and still everyone in the vicinity is doing their very best to try to avoid her.
Also: Gus and Jeremiah tie for being the first Floribama floozies to officially get some ass in the house. Their official prize will be this footage, which will be available long after their great-grandchildren take their dying breaths.
Also: Codi pukes his small intestine out.
The next morning dawns idyllic and lovely. Codi and the Gatorade he’s spooning are still upstairs asleep, as are Gus, Gus’ hair, and the girl who thought it an excellent idea to spend the evening in a house outfitted with night vision cameras. Downstairs, however, things are less serene. As Kirk is trying to sleep on the couch, Kayla Jo bangs every pan in sight in her attempt to make omelets. “Why is she here?” asks Kirk – and his deadpan delivery of the question zips him to the tippy top of my current rankings of FLORIBAMA SHORE CASTMATES I’D LEAST LIKE TO KILL. Kayla Jo eventually brings the omelets upstairs to Jeremiah, Gus, and Ellen – because those who writhe under the covers in the same room at the same time should celebrate their new closeness with eggs and spinach – but Gus is having a tough time eating his breakfast. He’s sad. Ellen is going back to Nashville and now he must start all over, but since there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that she’s The Right One, he pinky promises her that he’ll come visit. Jeremiah watches this emotional exchange with his mouth open. It is his staunch belief that men “catching feelings” is so much worse than men catching something else that will cause their balls to itch uncontrollably for the next seven to ten days.
Once Kayla Jo finally leaves and the house is down one nemesis, Nilsa decides to clear the air with Jeremiah. She swears she totally will not spend the entire summer cock-blocking him, but as he stares at the very girl who just spent the last few hours doing everything she possibly could to block his cock from having any sort of excitement, he decides to take her declaration with several hundred bushels of salt. Another person who cannot believe what he is hearing is Kirk. He listens as Gus calls Ellen about ten minutes after the girl walked out the door to say he loved spending time with her and that he’ll definitely be making a Nashville road trip soon. “You’re gonna meet a hundred Ellens,” Kirk groans, and I have to wonder if being kept up all night by a question-posing lunatic, getting woken by an omelet-making non-roommate, and then stumbling upon a mountain of hair waxing poetic to a relative stranger has finally been enough to do this guy in.
Now that he’s sober, Codi apologizes to Nilsa for his comments the night before. She listens to what he says, gives him a hug, and sweetly refrains from burning him with the flatiron she’s wielding, but she also thinks Codi acts one way around the girls and then another way around the guys and since apparently this shore house is divided based on the inclusion or exclusion of a Y chromosome, Nilsa would like Codi to eventually pick a fucking side. In a battle of the sexes, she’s looking for a majority.
If this gender battle ever gets commemorated with a poster, maybe Aimee, the goddess-mermaid-princess, shouldn’t appear on it to represent all of womankind. Her life’s goal is to become a trophy wife so she’ll never have to work again. There’s a really good chance, however, that even before she meets the foolish man who will sweep her off her fins that her days of working will have already ended. The girl is the single worst employee anyone has ever seen – and that includes the Amazon delivery driver who recently found it all kinds of necessary to take a shit on some guy’s driveway. Need a few Aimee-is-the-fucking-worst-at-having-a-job-ever examples? Well, as Kortni and Gus set out chars on the beach and pick up trash, Aimee attempts to feed a flying seagull some Cheetos, smokes a cigarette, and then requests a massage from an exhausted co-worker. That Kirk and Kortni don’t end up burying her head-first in a sand marsh is a miracle and my guess is the only reason such a thing doesn’t happen is because they are too weary from working their own asses off as the needy mermaid reclined languidly across a lounge chair.
Back at the house, it’s looking like the gender battle doesn’t only exist in Nilsa’s mind. Just about everyone sees the division – and it’s starting to get contentious. The guys are sick of cooking food only to have the girls expect to be served without doing a bit of the preparation and the girls (and, oh, I so hate having to say this about my own tribe!) see absolutely nothing wrong with any of their actions and cannot comprehend why the boys they live with are such “bitches.” Seriously: when Nilsa actually says the words, “I haven’t done anything wrong,” I couldn’t decide if a better sound cue to accompany the asinine moment would have been a group of people laughing hysterically or some studio scoring similar to the kind you’d hear as Michael Myers treads slowly down a narrow hallway, butcher knife at the ready. There is an eventual happy ending here, however. Kirk apologizes for raising his voice at Aimee about how she just expects food to be made for her and Aimee decides to remedy her actions by making dinner for everyone. It made me sad that she was nervous to serve them her tortilla soup. It made me even sadder to hear her say she was raised poor and therefore doesn’t know how to cook “fancy” meals. Maybe it’s my hormones. Maybe it’s that I’m writing this recap from a hotel room in a strange city. Maybe it’s that I haven’t had nearly enough coffee today, but fuck me if I didn’t actually tear up when everyone congratulated her on the meal, told her how much they liked it, and a wide grin caused by sheer pride spread slowly across her face. And sure, that tortilla soup basically ended up causing every person in the house to require medication to treat dysentery, but still…it was a lovely moment.
But we all know Floribama Shore never would’ve earned its huge viewership if each episode was filled with heartwarming examples of roommates scarfing down tortilla soup and declaring one another future groomsmen, so now it’s time to talk about the brawl captured on camera that hopefully earned this show’s producers a hefty raise. See, there are fights and then there are fights, and the one that ended this episode had all the bells, whistles, and bellowed “motherfuckers!” one would ever need to classify it as noteworthy in Reality TV Land.
Let’s ease into it, shall we?
After everyone has explosive diarrhea, they decide to go out to a place that serves dollar drafts. It’s looking like the night will be pretty low key, but a quick flash of crazy appears when Nilsa politely declines a shot given to her by a stranger. It’s a wise move on her part, one made purely from caution, but the guy in question finds her refusal rude. Oddly, he doesn’t find it at all rude to then announce to her face that her real problem is she strives too hard to get attention and perhaps she should just shut her mouth. This absolutely unnecessary opinion stated by a true asshole is the impetus that gets the fists flying. Aimee sees how hurt Nilsa is so she tells Kirk that some person “is treating Nilsa bad” and he goes outside to comfort her. Right about then is when some girl wanders by (her face is not blurred; she gave consent to be shown to the world this way) and she calls Nilsa a “princess” and tells her to just leave.
“Get the fuck out of here, bitch!” Kirk says to this very nasty person who probably saw cameras and decided any sort of exposure is worthy, even the kind in which you are exposed as a humongous asshole. The humungous asshole’s response is to try to punch Kirk while Jeremiah and Gus use their bodies to block her from reaching their friend. Meanwhile, this repulsive person’s husband comes outside. Rather than quietly removing his hammered beloved from a situation she started and then escalated, he decides it would be way more fun to try to punch Kirk instead.
Then Kortni wanders outside. She sees a ruckus, looks scarily thrilled, screams out, “Who are we hitting?” and begins swinging wildly and indiscriminately.
Aimee joins Kortni and eventually needs to be restrained from killing someone on a dirty sidewalk.
Nilsa looks shocked – but on a happy note, her lipstick hasn’t smeared even a little from being in this fray.
Gus is still trying to pull people off of one another and load his roommates into a cab before anyone can seriously get hurt for almost no real reason whatsoever.
And Jeremiah? He stands against the bar watching this darkness go down and contemplates if maybe he should’ve just applied to be on The Bachelor instead.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Her Twitter is @nell_kalter