The XX Factor

The Shakespearean Appeal of Jersey Shore

Let’s start with some high-school recapping: In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing , Don John attempts to spoil the wedding of Claudio and Hero by staging a scene in Hero’s window intended to sully her reputation. Sure enough, Claudio’s friends see Hero’s handmaid wooed by John’s goonie and they run to inform Claudio that Hero has strayed. Thus the somewhat cringe-inducing comedy of misinformation starts. In dramatic fashion Claudio calls off the wedding at the altar, Hero fakes her own death, and high-stakes drama ensues. That is, until some much-needed real talk proves that all of this yelling and screaming was much ado about nothing. Incidentally, sub in some creative nicknames and this is basically the plot line of every episode of the Jersey Shore.

The last episode of the Jersey Shore season , which aired last night, couldn’t have been closer to a Shakespearean comedy of misinformation. It’s the Shorians’ last night in Miami, and the always villainous (though highly entertaining) Situation engages his housemates in an ill-advised game of “Who’s More Likely.” Blame booze, sleep deprivation, whatever, but the game takes an unfortunate turn when the housemates start discussing who among them is the “fakest.” The usually reasonable J. Woww informs The Situation that someone in the house thinks it’s him. After she leaves the room, The Situation retaliates by calling J. Woww the fakest, and soon enough drunken Snooki is running to tell J. Woww that Mike called her fake and everyone nodded in agreement with him.

No one actually nodded in agreement with The Situation, but nevermind that! Let the drama in the hot tub begin! J. Woww runs out to accuse Pauly D. of agreeing she’s fake, and Pauly D. almost bursts a neck vein yelling at her, “Why are you trying to break up my friendship with Mike?” Snooki starts crying and denying she said anything at all. (Thou dankish, boil-brained liar, Snooki!) Everyone starts packing in a huff. The tension is finally broken when The Situation throws Snooki over his shoulder, hauls her into the living room, and declares, “This is over. No one’s mad at anyone, right?” The next morning they’re the best of friends again.

Sure, Jersey Shore may be casually embracing the notion of solving problems with punches , or the double standard that girls who sleep around are “loosey gooseys” while dudes are studs, but you cannot say that the show doesn’t provide MTV watchers with a keen understanding of dramatic irony.

Photograph of Snooki, JWOWW and friend by Bobby Bank for Getty Images.