Can Jersey Shore sustain its success?

Industry weighs in on this season's prospects after show sets MTV ratings record

If there was any doubt whether the super-coiffed, super-tanned partiers from Jersey Shore could pull in big ratings once the show left American soil, the numbers from last Thursday’s premiere on MTV prove that fist pumping is captivating no matter where it happens.

Jersey Shore’s season four premiere was the number one program on specialty television in Canada that night. With 808,000 total viewers, it was up 114% among total viewers compared to January’s season three premiere.

The premiere was the largest audience in MTV history in Canada. That’s right—ever. (Insert Pauly D shouting out his signature overzealous ‘Yeah, buddy’ here.)

Because this show still gets massive audiences and it’s one of those love-it-or-hate-it concepts, we asked a couple of media folks for their thoughts on gorillas (read: dudes that take steroids), spray tans and house music. In a broader sense, the phenomenon known as Jersey Shore:

Joe Conforzi, media buyer, Media Experts

How do you predict the rest of Season 4 will fare? Do you think the Jersey Shore can sustain huge audiences right until the end?

Jersey Shore has garnered an almost cult following. The show is ridiculous, but that is exactly why people tune in each week. A lot like passing an accident on the highway, you definitely cringe, but at the same time, you can’t look away. I think Season 4 started off with a bang and will not let up until the finale. Snooki and Mike, Deena and Pauly: how can you not watch the rest of the season after that beginning?

What do you think the allure is for viewers?

Some viewers tune in just to see what high jinx [the cast] will come up with this week. Others look up to these people as if they are the pinnacle of cool. No matter how staged these hook-ups are or how fake you think this show may be, it is meant to be mind-numbing entertainment, but entertainment nonetheless.

If MTV changes the cast next season, do you think Jersey Shore will still resonate with viewers? Is it the concept that works, or the existing cast?

It would be good to add some new Italian blood into the cast, but still keep the majority of the cast for those die-hard fist pumpers. The addition of Deena last season turned out to be a smart move as people seemed to warm up to her “blast in a glass” attitude faster than a Vespa whipping down the streets of Florence.

Who’s your favourite character and why?

You have to love the spectacle known as Snooki [pictured below]. From her packing more clothes then she can wear in a year for the Italy trip to her falling over drunk in almost every episode, you cannot look away from this Italian train wreck that somehow seems to derail on a weekly basis.

Paul Schnabel*, principal and founder, Dicomm Media
*As a long-time resident of New Jersey, Schnabel says he gets a long list of “soul-withering comments” when he tells people where he’s from. He says they ask: “Which exit? What’s that smell on the NJ Turnpike? Do you know any guidos?”

How do you predict the rest of Season 4 will fare?

I think the series has done a great job of developing a must-watch effect by allowing us to peer into these peculiar lives—and the viral buzz keeps audiences coming back. The sustained popularity of the show has caught me by surprise. From our offices in the Empire State Building, we are actually encouraging select clients to give the series a look and include it on recommendations. At the end of the day, it’s all about audience. Judgments aside, the aspiring hip viewers are spenders in the right demographic profile for marketers looking to build brand loyalty and awareness.

What do you think the allure is for viewers?

Part shock and part aspirational viewing; these characters are in the prime of their party years with entire summers off to tan, drink and mate. It makes for an enthusiastic, engaged audience.

If MTV changes the cast next season, do you think Jersey Shore will still resonate with viewers?

The characters are replaceable. In a New York City metro area that surpasses 25 million people and plenty of coastline and a massive club scene in New Jersey, NYC and Long Island, there is an endless supply of like-minded potential actors.

Who’s your favourite character and why?

Growing up in Jersey and spending time on Long Island, I can relate to all of the characters. As a bouncer in a large nightclub in Belmar, New Jersey during university in the late 1980s, the guys remind me of fellow bouncers, patrons and bar staff. I got fired after about four weeks; with no jewelery, a light, non-tanning complexion and no vowels on the end of my name, I just didn’t fit in. Every guy in Jersey knows a Snooki: the buxom party girl with the loud (usually raspy) voice and wide emotional range.

Julian Brass, founder and publisher,

How do you predict the rest of Season 4 will fare?

If the first three seasons are any indication, I’d assume just more of the same. Everything’s always the same: same drama, same partying, same hooking-ups, GTL [Gym, Tan, Laundry] etc. Only this time they’re in a different country. If it goes like Miami, I’m guessing these will be some Italians who won’t be welcome in the homeland anymore.

What do you think the allure is for viewers?

The Jersey Shore crew consists of caricatures. People love them because they’re outrageous and unbalanced and a heightened version of the stereotypes of “Guidos” and “Guidettes.” What they do and how they act isn’t a norm, so it’s kind of like looking into a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not episode…only prolonged and somewhat tedious.

If MTV changes the cast next season, do you think Jersey Shore will still resonate with viewers?

That’s tough to say. I think at this point it’s these specific characters. MTV would have to top the current crew, and I don’t think anyone would be ready for that. Already you can tell people are starting to get over it – maybe not the new crop of viewers, but the early adopters are getting ready to drop it. It’ll be interesting to see how MTV goes about sustaining the viewership in upcoming seasons… if they can at all.

Who’s your favourite character and why?

Snooki. She’s a mess, but her heart’s always in the right place. Plus, she’s the most relatable of all the characters (not saying that any of them really are). Though it’s interesting you ask who my favourite character is, and not my favourite person. That just proves the point further; they’re looked at as characters, not people.

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