MTV’s Jersey Shore is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures, and I shamelessly confess to my crime of being an avid viewer. However, my reactions to the cast members’ antics has progressed from an amused: “Whoa, I can’t believe Snooki and Vinny made out in the hot tub,” to: “Whoa, I’m afraid that Ronnie may actually physically harm Sammi.” As the show has progressed, the risky behaviors of cast members seem to have become more pronounced, or maybe it’s just that as their drinking-clubbing-fist-pumping schtick has become a little stale, I’m paying closer attention to all the stupid, unhealthy things they do. So, here’s a breakdown of six ways that living like a Jersey Shore cast member is hazardous to your health:
1. They Binge Drink
Nearly every night out in Seaside Heights or Miami involves getting blackout-level wasted, usually starting with some hefty servings of Ronnie’s signature “Ron-Ron Juice,” a pink concoction that’s heavy on the booze, light on the fruit. Fights with significant others, friends, and strangers also ensue. Cue the early-morning call from the police department when another cast member needs to be picked up. Not behavior to be emulated.
The Lesson? All things in extreme moderation.
2. They Smoke
What goes well with binge-drinking? Chain smoking! Nearly every cast member lights up like it’s the ‘80s and they’re in a Virginia Slims ad. This may be the only show on TV, aside from “Mad Men,” where lighting up is treated so nonchalantly. No one talks about a distaste for other cast members smoking, and they all puff away unapologetically, as if smoking weren’t banned in most public places in major cities and lung cancer and heart disease didn’t exist. A very bad chain of events.
The Lesson? Quit while you’re ahead – or at least on the Jersey Shore.
3. They Engage In Unsafe Sex
In this reality TV house, having sex, or “smooshing,” is practically a sport for the guys (and sometimes the girls). It’s the culmination of a successful night out of trying to find an attractive woman who’s amenable to getting it on. Or even an unattractive girl. Either way is fine. While this kind of glib bed-hopping is pretty risky, there’s usually talk of using condoms, at least. However, on a recent episode, The Situation decided not to sleep with a woman because he suspected that she might have a yeast infection or an STD. Still, the moron didn’t realize that he could contract an STD through oral sex. JWoww had to call a doctor for confirmation of this fact because The Situation didn’t believe her when she told him. This is a man who is in his late 20s, sexually active, and lacks basic knowledge about STDs. While there are many other valid reasons not to sleep with The Situation, this is probably the most health-related one.
The Lesson? Much like the Jersey Shore cast members, condoms aren’t infallible.
4. They Have Fights and Abusive Relationships
Perhaps MTV and VH1 are planning a Celebrity Rehab: Jersey Shore Edition show once the Seaside Heights crew outgrows its fist-pumping days and nights. They’d certainly have a glut of material to work with, including serious anger management issues among several cast members. Ronnie, JWoww, and Sammi are just a few who have engaged in fisticuffs. In Seaside Heights, NJ, the policy seems to be “punch first, talk later.” This has resulted in hitting, hair-pulling and clothes-tearing over petty issues that could’ve been calmly discussed without escalation. Of course, that doesn’t make good TV, so the fighting (usually induced by binge-drinking; see #1, above) ensues. Still, despite the ratings-bait effects of mostly benign girl fights, the abusive relationship between Ronnie and Sammi this season has become seriously disturbing. Even more distressing is the fact that the couple continues to get back together despite the fact that their relationship is clearly a toxic and dangerous one.
The Lesson? Toss as much toxicity out of your life as you can.
5. They Tan Like It’s a Full-Time Job
The “T” in GTL, tanning is an essential ritual in the cast members’ quest to look, as Pauly D puts it, “fresh to death.” Excessive indoor tanning may be the one behavior that cast members recognize as unhealthy – even going so far as to guess who will develop skin cancer first (Pauly). For this image-conscious crew, a worse fate would probably be getting wrinkles (which will happen sooner than later), but then there’s always Botox for that. At least for now, the possibility of skin cancer and premature aging is far less threatening than the alternative: Fair skin.
The Lesson? This may be the beach, but no tanning allowed. Tanning salons = cancer.
6. They Work Out For the Wrong Reasons
Okay, working out is clearly a healthy behavior, even if it’s the only one with which these kids are acquainted. And while the cast of Jersey Shore may be hitting the gym strictly for appearance’s sake (and not being healthy), hey, at least they’re going. Their abs are ripped and their guns are fully loaded. In this one aspect of their lives, they’re setting a somewhat good example for the health benefits of physical fitness. But do you know what’s not healthy? Sitting on your couch watching Jersey Shore. So don’t do as they do. Instead, choose being healthy over being Jersey Shore-ified.
The Lesson? Watch what they do. And then do the opposite.