It's a big week for TV shows set in the New York area that, for better or worse, became cultural phenomenons. Mad Men (for better) and Jersey Shore (for worse) are back! Despite vast differences in setting, tone, production values and general quality, the heroines of the series have more in common than you think.
Consider the similarities...
Betty lives 55 minutes north of Manhattan, in Ossining, a town on the Hudson River. Snooki grew up 105 minutes north of Manhattan, in Pougkeepsie, a town on the Hudson River.
Betty married and will soon divorce a man who lives under an alias, Don Draper (fka Dick Whitman). Snooki diddled a man in a hot tub who goes by an alias, The Situation (aka Michael Sorrentino).
Betty's husband sells ads. Snookie's roommate and hot tub paramour sells abs.
Betty once had cheap anonymous sex in a bar. Snooki was the victim of a cheap shot when an anonymous stranger punched her in a bar.
Betty's father disapproved of his daughter's superhuman cigarette consumption and her husband. Snooki's father disapproves of his daughter's inexplicable fame.
The actress who plays Betty (January Jones) hosted one of last season's most forgettable episodes of SNL. The actor who plays Snooki (Bobby Moynihan) on SNL had some of the show's few memorable moments last season.
Betty rides horses. Snooki rides "gorillas."
Betty displayed surprising proficiency in Italian while on a glamorous Roman holiday. Snooki pretends to be Italian, is fluent in guido.
Betty kissed and left her husband for an aide to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Snooki and her horny Jersey Shore cohorts pissed off New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Betty is often compared to the gorgeous Golden Age movie star Grace Kelly. Snooki was once compared to gorgeous Golden Age movie star Elizabeth Taylor.
We'll have to wait and see if the characters of Betty and Snooki converge during their series' new seasons or splinter apart. And we can only hope that the number of people watching Mad Men (2.3 million for last season's finale) catch up to the 4.8 million who tune into Jersey Shore.