Jersey Shore has always felt a little bit separated from actual reality. While those of us outside of the TV screen worry about responsibilities and anxieties, the meatballs and GTL-ers of the MTV reality show live in an endless summer of fist pumping and shot-taking. Yet, the recent few weeks of revival Jersey Shore: Family Vacation have proven its cast members can no longer live in a vodka-induced stasis. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jenny “JWoww” Farley are crying about their children at home. Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino has a real situation with the IRS that might result in actual prison time. Vinny Guadagnino has UCB comedy standards to uphold!
But, no one seems more crippled by the cognitive dissonance of being both a Jersey Shore star and genuine adult than one Ronnie Magro. During filming, Ronnie had a baby on the way with his girlfriend Jen Harley, and, as we saw in Thursday night’s, “About Last Night,” Ronnie had a meltdown over that soon-to-arrive baby. It was the kind of meltdown that included confessions of unrequited love for an ex-girlfriend (staaahp), clear signs of cheating, and a desire to dig himself even further into a black hole. It’s hard to parse out which part of this televised catastrophe is hardest to sit through as a viewer, but let’s try.
The most noteworthy part of Ronnie’s episode-long descent into abject darkness is his admission he still loves ex Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, with whom he had a rollercoaster relationship for nearly a decade. The moment comes when Snooki asks Ron why he can’t marry Jen. He slurs, “Because she’s not…” Snooki, smart enough to pick up what her longtime friend is putting down, finishes the sentence, saying, “Because you … love Sam.” Ron wordlessly agrees.
The exchange was something we all could have guessed from how Ronnie bristled over Sammi’s decision to skip Family Vacation, or his fixation on the creepily lifelike “Sammi” doll DJ Paul DelVecchio brought, but it was still shocking to hear the father-to-be speak his emotions out loud. Because, you know, he’s expecting a baby with a woman whose name isn’t Sammi Sweetheart. A woman to whom he promised to remain loyal during his time in Miami.
When you think about pregnant, unaware Jen at home, Ronnie’s reasons for holding onto Sam, who’s happy with her boyfriend in New Jersey, feel even worse. “Every man wishes that he can be with the love of his life,” he explains in a talking head. “Being with someone for seven years and you don’t end up with that person? Yeah, it hurts.”
It’s important to remember what that kind of admission follows: Ronnie cheating with a random woman he picked up at a nightclub, whom he was all over in public and brought back to the Jersey Shore house. It’s unclear what exactly happened between the reality star and his surprise new friend, but nearly everyone in the house agrees it was an infidelity.
Even Ron can’t avoid dropping some incriminating details, telling the woman, whom he locked himself in a bathroom with, “Believe me I wanted to finish.” Later, while talking with Pauly and Vinny about his bad decision, Ron adds, “It felt so good though.” When Vinny suggests Ron doesn’t have to marry Jen simply because he’s having a child with her, the dad-to-be-asks, “Then why am I having this conversation with you when I could have my dick sucked in the bathroom?” When you put everything Ronnie said together, it certainly sounds like something very sexual happened in the bathroom, whether he “finished,” to use Ron’s wording, or not.
That’s why the greatest problem of this episode isn’t Ron muttering about his undying love for Sam. Rather, that major issue is a symptom of the true issue here: the fact Ron doesn’t respect the woman carrying his child, nor does he seem to care about the possibility of Jen seeing all of his hurtful behavior splashed across MTV.
We get evidence of this fact during nearly every segment of “Last Night.” At one point, Ron explains he misses Sam because she gave him the feeling of “security.” Snooki asks if Jen can offer the same feelings of safety. Instead of considering that possibility, Ron shrugs, “No, I don’t trust her. Shit, I don’t.” Later in the installment, apropos of nothing, Ron announces, “I have always said I would rather pay child support than alimony.” This follows his repeated statements that Jen probably isn’t “the one,” and he may never be ready to marry her. By the end of the episode, Ron is asking, “If it is over, might as well enjoy the rest of my time here, right?” In this situation, “enjoy the rest of my time” means going to more clubs, probably with the option of touching more sheerly-dressed women. It’s not like Ronnie avoided that misstep when he supposedly wasn’t trying to enjoy Miami to the fullest — why would he when he's completely off the metaphorical leash?
In a show that’s meant to be about partying and Sunday dinners, this is dark. Especially when you remember that Jen Harley gave birth to the pair's daughter a matter of weeks ago at the beginning of April. With Jersey Shore: Family Reunion already renewed for a second season, it might be time to switch out the depths of Ronnie’s downward spiral for the great unknown: Samantha Giancola.
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