As you may have heard, Jersey Shore’s beloved Vinny Guadagnino has returned to T.V. Vinny left the house after developing anxiety, something he’s struggled with in the past and that, for some completely mystifying reason, has returned post Italia. First, as someone who struggles with clinical anxiety, I empathize with Vinny. Second, Vinny is kind of Superman. His delicate mental health withstood 4 seasons, a vodka I.V., Sammy and Ron’s harpy fights, innumerable incidences of physical violence, David Bowie-style consecutive sleepless nights, and a T.V. crew up his rear end 24×7. I think it was the unfortunate haircut that finally pushed him over the edge.
I’m no doctor, but I wonder if “clinical anxiety” is really a fair diagnosis. I mean, yes, he probably does have it if he had it before, and yes, it is the kind of thing that can go away and then come back later… It just seems to me that being on Jersey Shore for 5 seasons would give any normal, healthy person uncontrollable anxiety and depression, let alone someone who’s already susceptible. The fact that so few of them have fallen apart emotionally is a testament to their robust Italian constitutions, or to their emotional numbness, or to the profit incentive, or to Xanax.
It’s funny: getting falling down drunk every day and smashing heads into walls is considered quality reality television because it’s entertaining. Getting anxious, quiet and sad is no fun to watch—also it’s a psychiatric disorder. Rage is great! Sleeping is boring. Don’t just sit there moping, go beat up some strangers and get arrested! Face-plant on the beach and then have sex with a prostitute! GO GO GO!
I felt Vinny’s desperation when his housemates ignored his miserable pleas for solidarity and understanding. I felt MTV’s desperation when they threatened the housemates with new roommates, forcing them to blitz Vinny at home and rip him from the healing breast of his mother. Now it’s just a waiting game: how long will it take before someone at the shore house really has enough of the media hounds, the papa razzos, the pickled organs, the rat cage… how long before Vinny or Sammy or, god forbid, The Situation, does something seriously deadly… I mean besides committing slow suicide with alcohol and head bashing… I mean committing faster suicide with heroin or a knife.
I don’t think I’m being overdramatic, when Hollywood is practically buried in young, beautiful, DEAD stars and starlets. We know exactly what stardom does to people. We take a bunch of admittedly strange but otherwise healthy young kids out of their lives, we set them up for public ridicule, and then delight in knocking them down with public ridicule. As a lark, go back to season 1 and check out the fresh-faced, happy little Jersey Shore gang….
Then take another look at season 5. They’re grizzled veterans. They’re on an endless tour of duty in an endless war: Jersey Shore.
If we strip away the bronzed veneer, the truth is, the cast is in prison—an unusual prison where clubbing is encouraged and everything’s bedazzled, but a prison none-the-less. Vinny can’t leave. None of them can leave. Their identities are forever tied to this experiment, and what are they without it? There’s no escape, Vin. It’s a life sentence.
Alright, so I got a little morbid there. Vinny did get an immediate book deal out of this. And I do see one less-armageddony solution: get Zoloft to pay them all millions of dollars and then put them all on Zoloft. Oh wait, but then they’d be content and probably take up golf or knitting. Nevermind. That’s not good television.