The more things change, the more things stay the same, amirite? That’s the entire premise of MTV’s latest reality show reunion, Jersey Shore: Family Vacation. DJ Pauly Delvecchio is still a pointy-haired sweetheart, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is in a (very bad) situation, and Deena Cortese just wants to be a drunken, harmless meatball. But, some viewers probably expected to see two cast members deeply transformed during Vacation's Thursday night debut: Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jenni “JWoww” Farley, who are now both married women and moms of two. Yet, Snooki and JWoww, historically two of Jersey Shore’s messiest family members, are even more themselves than ever, fist pumping and all.
The pair’s debauched, wild TV behavior is a major reminder motherhood isn’t the end to fun forever.
“I’m basically just a hot mess mom,” Snooki says in her reintroduction package between footage of the reality star playing with her two young children, 3-year-old Giovanna and 5-year-old Lorenzo. That radically honest, quippy admission essentially becomes Nicole’s mission statement for Family Vacation as a whole. Before she even gets to Miami, where the reunion was filmed, Nicole drinks wine in her former place of employment, tries to trick best friend JWoww into whipping her “titty” out, and commits a minor crime by “stealing” the infamous duck phone from the original shore house.
By the time the Jersey Shore cast is actually in Magic City in premiere “What’s In The Bag?,” Snooki is going full tilt back to the good ole days. Every time we see her in Miami club Shots, she’s standing on a new piece of furniture with a shot of tequila or a mystery cocktail in her hand, having the time of her life. By the end of the night, in classic Snooki fashion, she’s grabbing random people’s behinds and getting carried out of the nightclub by Ronnie Ortiz-Magro. To quote resident audience surrogate and newly-minted keto diet obsessive Vinny Guadagnino, “Everything is right in the world … Snooki can still turn the fuck up.”
While watching Snooki stumble around outside a Miami hotspot as Jenni tells her, “Your nipple is out, let’s go,” it’s easy to imagine people accusing Nicole of being a Bad Mom. But, she’s not — she’s human. The 30-year-old explains as much in a talking head interview that contextualizes her hard partying. “Every mom needs to get out. I never drink like this when I’m home. I have a schedule,” she explains, doing a chopping motion to prove just how tightly wound her days are. “I feel like here I don’t have any responsibilities.”
If Snooki were falling down drunk in front of her kids, or going home to be their sole caretaker after mainlining Patrón, this would be a cause for concern. But that’s not what’s going on here. Anyone who follows Snooki on social media — or simply paid attention to her introduction package — can tell she’s always 200% plugged in when it comes to Giovanna and Lorenzo. But, even she deserves to let her freak flag fly once in a while. That’s why the kids' dad, Jionni LaValle, is at home holding down the fort; Jionni can handle that.
Although we don’t see Snooki’s spouse in Family Vacation — Jionni had a famously terrible time anytime he appeared in original Jersey Shore episodes — JWoww’s storyline proves men can handle the domestic duties while their wives are away (and maybe even in general all the time, who knows). Before Jenni leaves her Toms River, New Jersey, home, she details everything her husband Roger Mathews needs to do in her absence. JWoww can wear mommy-and-me onesies with their 3-year-old daughter Meilani, worry about the lives of the Farley-Mathews' three goldfish, and go drop it like it’s hot in a Miami club when she gets a free moment.
Following all of JWoww's impeccable pre-Miami prep, and Snooki's moments with her own family, it's difficult to see both women grapple with “mom guilt” while enjoying boozy breakfast with their roommates. The TV BFFs did everything they could to give their kids the best experience possible while they went to go film Family Vacation. But, Snooki still stars crying when she hears little Lorenzo’s favorite song over the loudspeakers, and Jenni is subsequently so overcome she has to go to the bathroom to compose herself. It seems impossible to accuse these women of poor mothering after seeing them so emotional over being separated from their children. Yet, Jenni knows it’s going to happen.
“‘You’re a mom. How dare you drink and act a fool and have fun and go to a club?’” she monologues as a mommy shamer. “Because moms aren’t supposed to do that.” Although Jenni is aware of how incorrect this line of thinking actually is, she’s still clearly mired in real guilt for living her life.
The contrast between Jenni and Snooki’s emotional upheaval and the nonchalance of their male counterparts is striking. Remember, Pauly D. has a daughter named Amabella who is roughly Lorenzo’s ago. The DJ hasn’t commented once on how this trip has affected him as a father or if he thinks people will hate him for downing shots and grinding on women in South Beach nightclubs, nor has anyone asked him to speak on the subject. Ronnie also has a child on the way and hasn’t been forced to work through those questions either. In fact, he makes fun of his female friends for their tears during a confessional and insists they need to just chill out over missing the little people they carried in their bodies for nine months. After all, this is family vacation, bro.
Even with all the general insensitivity, Jenni and Snooki still wipe their mom guilt tears away in time to day drink at the Clevelander and chug Prosecco for another day. You just can’t keep a good meatball — or praying mantis— down.
Looking for more theories, recaps, and insider info on all things TV? Join our Facebook group, Binge Club. The community is a space for you to share articles, discuss last night’s episode of your favorite show, or ask questions! Join here.
Read These Stories Next: