“They’re running out of table, exactly like I said they would, in the best way possible,” Jersey Shore creator SallyAnn Salsano announces in the actual Staten Island basement-turned-production control room of one of her stars, Vinny Guadagnino. Upstairs, Guadagnino and the rest of his MTV cast — slowly reformed outcast Angelina “Dirty Hamster” Pivarnick included — are filming a new holiday special, “A Very Jersey Friendsgiving” in a sprawling dining room. Downstairs, amid the clatter of the production team’s typing, there are American Gangster and Reservoir Dogs movie posters on the wall, countless boxes from Staten Island’s best bakery, Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe, on the table, and a drawing of rockabilly Audrey Hepburn giving rockabilly Marilyn Monroe a tattoo hanging over the basement bar. This is Jersey Shore Thanksgiving.
Of course MTV’s most iconic crew is running out of space in the dining room — Guadagnino’s mom, the tirelessly doting Paola Guadagnino, led the 15-hour Thanksgiving meal charge with a little help from the production team. Paola cooked 299 pounds of food.
The extremely packed scene perfectly captures what is so special about MTV's “Jersey Friendsgiving,” premiering November 15. It is both utterly, relentlessly ridiculous and still filled with the kind of palpable, authentic love that can only be fostered over a decade of family-style reality TV.
The upcoming 2-hour special essentially runs as both a peek at the holidays Jersey Shore-style and a clip show. Between all the mangia-ing, cackling, and playful roasting stuffed into the Friendsgiving spectacular — you know, the chaos we’ve come to expect from this posse — the cast takes a walk down memory lane via nostalgia-fueled video packages producers have put together. That means the fans at home will get to watch all the casts’ cringes, shrieks, and “Awwws,” as everyone, save for Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, is reminded of their wildest moments from days gone bye.
Yes, Deena Cortese stripping during her first day on Jersey Shore is there. Yes, the previously unheard origin story of DJ Pauly Delvecchio’s “Cabsahhere” catch phrase is there. Yes, the Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino-Sammi Sweetheart-Ronnie Magro-Ortiz love triangle drama is there. Even The Letter is there.
Unsurprisingly, all the ghosts of hookups past were the hardest clips to watch again, the cast unanimously agreed. For both Guadagnino and BFF Pauly D, their romps with co-star Angelina Pivarnick were the most excruciating to relive. “I had to do it and her boyfriend was right there — kinda weird. I forgot about that,” Delvecchio admitted to Refinery29 after filming of “Friendsgiving” wrapped. Pivarnick, who will eventually be joined by her husband-to-be Chris Larangeira during the special, wasn’t happy with the situation either, adding, “[We watched it] right in front of my fiancé. I’m like, ‘Shit.’”
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, who also hit the sheets with a cast member (never forget Snooki’s description of hooking up with Guadagnino), was equally affably awkward about watching those amorous clips. “Sometimes we’re like, ‘Oh my god. Why’d I do that?’” the How Far Is Tattoo Far host said. “I’m like, ‘Gross.’ I’m like, ‘Ugh.’”
Or, as Jersey Shore’s best friends put it, “Usually people, they get to just put their 20s behind them,” Guadagnino said, setting up the joke for Delvecchio to finish, “We’re like, ‘Well, play the clip!’”
Despite how awkward some of filming “Friendsgiving” will be, it’s also undeniably clear how close this cast actually is, even when the cameras are off.
At one point, Jenni “JWoww” Farley falls asleep on the couch next to Guadagnino’s uncle, Nino Giaimo. In between courses, The Situation goes to check on Guadagnino’s mom Paola, who cannot stop washing dishes, even with a producer-sponsored cleaning crew on the way. Snooki and a very pregnant Cortese lean on each other for support when the toll of a 299-pound meal of traditional Italian antipasti, focaccia, a life-changing, eggplant-stuffed ziti, the single best chicken cutlet ever fried, and much, much more starts to take its toll
Considering the timing of “Friendsgiving’s” mid-October filming, the entire day feels especially poignant. Farley, who is now reportedly “working on things” with husband Roger Mathews, filed for divorce two weeks earlier. Sorrentino, whose legal woes have been a major specter over the Family Vacation proceedings, was sentenced to prison a mere week earlier. Magro has experienced a rollercoaster of a year with girlfriend Jen Harley, which his reality show has heavily documented.
Yet, there they all were for Friendsgiving, laughing for hours on end, even when a cameraman wasn’t in the room.
“Who ever has this type of opportunity? I don’t know if the other reality shows are as close as we are. I don’t know if the Housewives do all this, ” DJ Pauly D said. “We experience things in each other’s lives that is real-life stuff. Weddings. Family. Babies. Court stuff.”
Cortese, very much in her third trimester, agreed, adding, “I feel like we became like a real family. These guys have been with me through this entire pregnancy.”
This real love disproves any lingering speculation that this show is scripted in any way, or that producers coach the cast.. “You can’t fake 10 years, I’m sorry. You can’t do it,” Delvecchio announced. The fact that JWoww struggled to properly introduce a single clip package for three full minutes during filming is proof of that.
So, in the immortal words of DJ Pauly D, “Everything that happened that we were watching — that shit had happened!”
The 2-hour A Very Jersey Friendsgiving special airs Thanksgiving Day at 3:40 p.m. on MTV.
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