You probably won't be hearing many comparisons between Jersey Shore and Mad Men. But here's one: both are shows that everyone seems to be talking about despite no one actually watching.
Yesterday the Times summarized the controversy behind the MTV series. A host of Italian-American groups have protested what they see as Jersey Shore's offensive stereotypes and cavalier defamation of the "guido" lifestyle (and use of the word itself!) Dominos, of all advertisers, was the first to yanks its ads (which are not exactly paragons of cultural sensitivity themselves) from the show.
Falling somewhere between outrage and support is the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau. While that organization is "flattered that MTV thinks we’re an interesting enough destination to warrant an entire reality series," the Bureau points out that "one-dimensional, dramatized version of a very small group of visitors’ summer experiences in one Jersey Shore town."
Meanwhile, only 1.4 million viewers tuned into Jersey Shore's much-hyped season premiere. Those are OK numbers by MTV's lowly standards, but a mere fraction of the 12 million or so people who watched an average episode of HBO's The Sopranos, another show about wops gone wild in the Garden State that upset some Italians. Of course, The Sopranos was good.
That's not to say that Jersey Shore is without its fans. Its ratings might grow. After all, the Italians pretty much invented neorealism, so the demon neon spawn of Fellini and Antonioni could have their dolce vita after all.