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Our reviews of Jersey Shore: Season One (published July 19th, 2010), Jersey Shore: Season Three (published July 25th, 2011), Jersey Shore: Season Four (published December 27th, 2011), Jersey Shore: Season Five (published August 24th, 2012), and Jersey Shore: The Final Season (published March 25th, 2013) are also available.
"This time the party has moved to South Beach."
There was a time when reality shows were about getting people from completely different walks of life together to see how they interacted: the Mormon virgin next to the promiscuous atheist, or the white Texas cowboy alongside the black New York rapper. Sure they trafficked in stereotypes, but they were stereotypes from across the spectrum of our great land. Apparently that didn't quite get at the heart of the kind of hothouse drama that shows like Survivor or The Real World were after, so Jersey Shore was born. Rather than taking a bunch of disparate people and shoving them in a house, Jersey Shore took a group of guys and gals (or guidos and guidettes as the slang goes) from a very distinct (and to most folks, alien) subculture, the Jersey Shore from which the show gets his name. Most famous for being a haven for Italian-Americans where the young men are obsessed with their physiques and all the women tan constantly, the show made household names of characters like Mike "The Situation" and Snooki (even to people like me who never saw a single episode of the show). Because the show became a sensation through a combination of outrageous shenanigans and outrage over Italian-American/Jersey stereotypes, a second season was inevitable. It's more of the same from the cast and crew, and enjoyment of these 13 episodes is going to be highly individual, though the DVD package is nothing to get excited about.
Facts of the Case
This season moves cast to Miami from the frigid winter on the shore, where the group shares a house while indulging in all the drinking, dancing, and sex that Miami's South Beach is famous for. All 13 episodes are spread across four discs:
I fully admit to not being in the know about Jersey Shore before receiving this set. Sure I'd heard about it, seen it parodied on an episode of Bones and new it was a big enough hit to let names like "Snooki" and "The Situation" ring a faint bell. However, I have acquaintance with a lot of people who loved the first season, so I quizzed them about Season Two. Every one of them wrinkled their nose when I mentioned the sophomore season, saying it was a far cry from the naïve brilliance of the first 13 episodes.
Watching the set on my own, it's not hard to see why. The first season was lightning in a bottle, a bunch of media-innocent kids going buck-wild for the camera. Season Two is more of the same, without the innocence. While the first season was all about presenting their idealized versions of themselves, this second season can sometimes feel manipulative, as if the cast is not only trying to paint themselves a certain way, but are doing so cynically to cash in. The move to Miami also seems totally forced. I don't think the Jersey Shore in the dead of winter is a particularly picturesque locale for a reality TV show, but the cast of Jersey Shore plus cabin fever seems like a winning combination to me. Instead, the show opts to move camp to another famous party place to offer fans the same again.
When I say more of the same, of course, I mean Jersey Shore: Season Two features more drinking, more "creepin' on girls" (and guys), lots of sleeping around, dancing, and finally drama. There are so many relationships in this season it would take a combination flow-chart/Venn diagram to follow everything. There're fights, break-ups, make-ups, and random hook-ups galore. There's even a (lame) attempt to get Ronnie to stop his evil ways which goes predictably wrong.
And that's really where fans might be divided on Jersey Shore: Season Two. If 13 more episodes of the guidos and guidettes getting it on sounds good, then this release will likely satisfy. Those looking for the same kind of novelty the first season offered will probably be disappointed.
Whatever the merits of the show, Jersey Shore: Season Two Uncensored is an odd beast. The "uncensored" of the title is only a half-truth. Most of the show's profanity is restored here, but not all, and subtitles for the quieter dialogue is bleeped. Nudity is blurred, so those hoping to get a better look at some of the cast will be disappointed. And this set is being released on the eve of 2011, into the second decade of the 21st century: there's simply no excuse for a letterboxed, non-anamorphic transfer from a major company. The show looks pretty crappy for the most part (despite the fact that the creators are obviously going for visual flair with the use of post-production trickery). The show's not unwatchable, but it doesn't look as good as a hit show should. The audio suffers from similar difficulties. The stereo track occasionally make dialogue difficult to hear, and even though the show sometimes subtitles quieter moments, those looking for some help in the form of regular subtitles to follow all the slang will be disappointed (though there is closed captioning).
Extras are perfunctory and offer little fun. There's a reunion episode that goes on way too long, a pair of talk show bits called "After Hours" that feature interviews with the cast, 12 minutes of deleted scenes, 20 minutes of cast interviews, and a short featurette on "Gym, Tanning, and Laundry" in Miami.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
All the objections to the previous season still stand. This is a bunch of people behaving badly, and those who want to be offended by the sex, the drinking, the ethnicity, and more will find plenty of ammo.
Jersey Shore: Season Two Uncensored is the same song with the second verse: more young people with questionable judgment getting together to get wild. If that's your thing, this season is probably worth a rental, though those looking for the novelty of the first season will likely be disappointed.
Though everything about this set could be better, Jersey Shore: Season Two Uncensored is not guilty.
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