Pop Culture

'Jersey Shore' finale marks the end of a reality TV era

AP / MTV / Ian Spanier / Today
The cast of "Jersey Shore" will take part in MTV's "Restore the Shore" benefit.

Bye-bye, endless parties! So long, smush room! On Thursday night, "Jersey Shore" is calling it quits.

Longtime critics of the show and those who simply never gave the GTL action a chance will no doubt celebrate the end of all of the fist-pumping and drunken drama on the MTV series. But for those who found it to be a guilty pleasure and a perfect prime-time escape, there's nothing to cheer about. After all, it's the end of an era.

Granted, it was a brief era. It might be hard to believe -- now that "Shore" lingo and cast names are solidly part of pop culture -- but it's been only three years since the Seaside Heights-based reality show first debuted. Only three years since we first met Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and saw her go from knocked out in season one and to knocked up in season six. But it's true.

Time flies when you're captivated by reality TV's most bizarre bunch. (Or former most bizarre bunch -- Honey Boo Boo and family might just be vying for that title now.)

In the time between those seasons, cast members have come (Deena Cortese) and gone (Angelina Pivarnick), but the essence of the show has stayed the same. Given free rein to party and a swanky pad to crash at, the self-proclaimed Guidos and Guidettes always end up in ridiculous situations.

It doesn't make for high-brow viewing, that's true. No one ever got smarter for having watched Ronnie Ortiz-Magro get whipped up into a rage or by catching a glimpse of Snooki's boozy hijinks. But who flips over to MTV for an education? It's plain old voyeuristic entertainment -- or it was.

Now, Snooki and Jenni "JWoww" Farley and some of their fellow former housemates have, or soon will have, other shows of their own. They've (somewhat) grown up and moved on.

That's why Thursday night's series ender is a mixed bag for fans. It's not a happy TV occasion, but it's not out of place either. On the one hand, viewers will sorely miss the weekly dose of tipsy adventures, big fights and hilarious misunderstandings between the show's regulars. But on the other hand, the timing seems right.

Snooki's a mom now. JWoww's engaged. Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is sober. The days of constant, over-the-top parties were coming to an end anyway. The cancelation just makes it official.

What will you miss about "Jersey Shore"? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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