As human beings, we have a lot invested in the idea that our modern existence is more civilized than what has come before us. Although there are daily examples of death, violence, terror and the Tea Party to convince us that we have, in fact, most likely regressed overall, our most compelling example of our own dim humanity is never more present than in the continued adventures of the eight beloved, barely literate gel-trolls that make up the cast of "Jersey Shore." So in the interest of keeping humanity honest about itself, yes, I will be chronicling Season 4. Sorry to let you down, mom and dad.
The hook for this new season is sending this dream team, most of whom had never left the Tri-State area until two years ago, to their supposed motherland, Italy. I say "supposed" not simply because the Italian heritage of most of the cast is suspect at best, but also for the obvious reason that the closest your average Seaside Heights Italian-American gets to European culture is a Brazilian wax, which they think is part of Europe. If you don't believe me, ask Snooki herself:
"Italy is that big county... no, Europe is like that big country, and then you have, like, Britain in there, and England, and... Italy." -Snooki
As the opening montage of passport photos and extremely careful hair dryer maintenance makes abundantly clear, Italy, in the cast's minds, is just an enormous, ancient Seaside Heights, full of exciting new genitals to sit on. Of course, for Snooki, this presents a problem, as she's been seeing a new man, the creatively spelled Jionni, who, like any dutiful boyfriend, helps her pack—an act that's essentially like helping her load the gun that he will eventually be murdered with:
Yes, although Snooki has assured Jionni that her obsession with Vinny is in the past, bringing the "I <3 Vinny" panties along is something of a mixed message. It's a well known fact that Vinny has the second largest penis of the entire cast, after JWoww, a fact that Vinny himself will surely remind us of as soon as we see him. Oh look, here he is now!
"No grenata, per favore... DTF... come with me, perché...I have a big..." -Vinny
Good for Vinny, taking matters into his own hands with the language learning! I've made no secret about the fact that I think Vinny, once the runt of the litter, has let his new-found fame and attention go to his head. And since the state of New York won't let him legally marry his own mother, he tells us that he's looking for a "nice, traditional girl, but I fear he's going to have as much trouble in Italy as he did in Seaside finding a girl who considers snowballing reality tv stars much of a "tradition." We'll see. Open mind.
We then catch up with walking restraining order Ronnie and deaf-mute beauty queen Sammi Sweatheart, who both inform us that they are broken up for realsies and ready to have fun, which means we can look forward to a co-dependent meltdown by episode 3. We get to watch human Labrador DJ Pauly D wag his tail for a while, which is nice, and hopefully if they ever add DJ'ing as an event in the Special Olympics we'll get a chance to see a bit more of him. A newly face-lifted JWoww and her boyfriend Roger, who looks like The Undertaker with a haircut, profess their fidelity to one another, although you get the sense she'll be on the receiving end of someone else's orgasm before the plane leaves Newark International.
Finally, we meet back up with professional sad clown Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, who's made "trying too hard" into something of an art form over the last three seasons. Mike is getting his hair cut at what appears to be the barber shop in the Fourth Circle of Hell, and it's overrun with deformed Situation lookalikes in various stages of decomposition. They're laughing and bullshitting, and Mike tells us he's excited to see how "free-spirited" the European women are, but as we quickly find out, he only has eyes for the 4'10" goddess that's been in his backyard all along: the one and only Snooki.
After some lackluster family meal scenes, our Guidos hop the airplanes, and the episode really slows down a bit. The girls endure a horrifying two-hour layover in Dusseldorf, which, since they've never heard of it, can't possibly be a real place, and they're not happy about it. And the problems don't end when they land:
"It's hard for all of us, I mean, we can't luggage all that shit, it's like 100 pounds each, and we're 100 pounds." -Snooki
See, they've landed in Milan, which is another whole different city than Florence, and since they've each packed several bags, any of which could double as a coffin in case they need to get Deena's body out of the country quietly, they've got a lot of luggage to "luggage." Furthermore, Snooki can't seem to figure out where to turn her money into Pesos, which would suggest that she has more than one surprise waiting for her when she finally discovers the kiosk. W-JoWW has had her only can of one of her nine cans of bronzer explode in her bag, and Deena fell down:
No permanent damage, though. Next time?
Meanwhile, the boys land smoothly in Florence, and with an extra taxi called for The Situation's 9 extra bags (which we're assuming were loaded down with Marlboros and HGH), they make their way smoothly to their villa. Though Pauly D is concerned that "the alleys are so narrow, Ronnie's gonna have to turn sideways," which seems like a legitimate concern except that Pauly's making that same self-satisfied, tipping-his-hand grin that an 8-year-old makes when he's telling you a joke. He's the best.
Their new home is a spacious palazzo off of a charming cobblestone street, which MTV has clearly made great pains to redecorate as garishly as possible. Vinny is horrified/secretly curious to discover the bidet, which at the end of filming should be able to definitively answer the question of whether an inanimate object can commit suicide.
The girls finally show up, and Ronnie and Sam share an awkward hug. Not awkward, as they'd have you believe, because they've both moved on with their lives, but awkward because everyone in the house immediately realizes that they'd better enjoy the first few days of this trip before it predictably devolves into yet another Sam/Ronnie Royal Rumble. Deena has a green stuffed beaver for some reason. I didn't realize doctors delivered their diagnoses via stuffed animal.
"First toast in Italy, it's only right to toast with limoncello. It's an Italian drink, it tastes like lemons."
Since it's presumably been at least an hour since anyone's consumed any alcohol, it's time for our heroes to chase off the delirium tremens with a round of shots. Of course, unless you're Danny DeVito, you have no business shooting warm limoncello, and Snooki's face bears the pain of the world:
Meanwhile, in Breaking J-Woww Boob News, J-Woww's boobs have definitely gotten either bigger, smaller, or stayed the same size, according to a scintillating conversation she has with Sammi Sweathog:
"These f#%#ers are like 700 cc's, and they're gonna stay 700 cc's." -JWoww
Perhaps the doctor, in one of those perfect harmonic moments, opted to fill J-Woww's breast implants with Jose Cuervo, to be accessed in case of emergencies. Maybe she's simply forgotten to refill them after a heavy night of drinking.
We narrowly avoid a haircare disaster, as Pauly D and J-Woww slowly but methodically figure out how to plug in their high-powered hair tools. Ronnie breaks a table by sitting on it, which Pauly declares makes this "the best day of my life! The best day of my life!" God bless your simple heart, Pauly
Meanwhile, The Situation makes his intentions on Snooki insidiously clear to the rest of the cast, telling Deena and Sammi that he's pretty sure that even with her boyfriend, he considers her single. He also hints that he "knows something that you guys don't know." Later, he confesses to a completely uninterested Ronnie that he hooked up with Snooki a few weeks previous, when she was supposedly faithful to her boyfriend. Ruh-roh!
As if sensing that his penis has somehow ceased to be the center of Snooki's attention, Vinny must resort to desperate measures to reintroduce ol' Seabiscuit into the conversation by hovering over her while she does her mini-P90x/air humping routine. Shockingly, it seems to do nothing for Snooki. Has Vinny's penis, like J-Woww's boobies, shrunken to a reasonable size in the offseason?
Finally, it's time for the only thing we've been waiting for: they're calling the cabs. Pauly D and Vinny philosophical rumination on how to translate his "Cabs Ahhhh Heee-yah!" J-Woww is thoroughly displeased with the outlet selection in the 800 year old city of Florence.
"I know this is an old city but c'mon... do Italians believe in electricity?" -JJJJJWWWWW
And then this happened. Honestly, I have a hard time believing they were clubbing with the general population of Florence, it seems far more likely that MTV rented out a club, put up a casting call, and encouraged the cast to mostly keep to themselves, at least for this night. As we know, the beginning and end of each season is reserved for cast-on-cast incest, to both break the ties of the relationships that have developed before the season starts, and then at the end to set up new ties that can be easily broken. So while The Situation skeeves all over a disinterested Snooki and Vinny uses his Pre-K level Italian to help his boys "spit game", Deena decides to once again stick her enormous beak into the spotlight:
"This is better than D'Jais in Belmar, and D'Jais is my best place. Just saying." -Deena
See Deena loves Italy, and this is a totally new experience, so why not set off this once-in-a-lifetime experience with an incredibly gross makeout with Pauly D? Remember that movie Nell, where Jodie Foster is like retarded or raised by wolves or whatever, and then Liam Neeson has to awkwardly explain sex to her? Well, Deena may be similarly confused about "kissing like a French person," based on how she's chewing on Pauly's lower lip like it's a chunk of Red Man. As the rest of the cast watches in horror, we cut to MTV's stale, fake-film-reel editing effects, and just like that, the first episode is a wrap.
So what do we have in store for ourselves this season? Incest, of course, and extreme culture shock, if a group of people as marginally functional as these can ever really experience a new culture. As our heroes so often remind us, they're a family, which essentially means that no matter how horrible they treat each other, and how objectively awful they all are as a unit, they'll never leave one another. And I guess you, me and the millions of other Americans who sit ourselves down in front of their antics are in that exact same boat. So, welcome to Italy, "Jersey Shore" guidos. It's going to be a wild ride.