A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the this racy MTV reality series includes many negative stereotypes about Italian Americans. The cast members are proud of their heritage, but they choose to "celebrate" their ethnicity by engaging in extremely inappropriate behavior -- from swearing like sailors (the strongest words are bleeped) to engaging in bar brawls and other physical altercations. Conversations about sex are endless, cast members are shown hooking up (all nudity is blurred), and they drink frequently -- which often leads to throwing up and/or promiscious behavior. Bottom line? These aren't the kind of young adults you want your teens looking up to in any way.
What's the story?
JERSEY SHORE follows a group of young Italian-American adults spending the summer together at the Jersey shore. The four women and four men live together at the stylish Shore House and must work at a T-shirt shop owned by their landlord, Dan. In between shifts, the gang spends their time experiencing all the lively entertainment the popular East Coast hot spot has to offer -- which, in their case, seems to translate to lots and lots of partying.
Is it any good?
Jersey Shore centers on the broad ethnic stereotypes of the "guido" (a male Italian American) and the "guidette" (the female version) -- who are often characterized as uneducated and hot-tempered and who proudly sport fake tans, over-gelled hair, and tight-fitting and/or gaudy outfits as cultural assets.
Rather than challenging these characterizations, the cast members of the show have proudly reclaimed the stereotypes. Instead of looking at Jersey Shore as a chance to transform these over-simplified characterizations into a positive celebration of their ethnicity, they use them to excuse inappropriate behavior. As a result, the show leaves viewers with a depiction of Italian Americans that's both misguided and offensive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between celebrating a cultural heritage and playing into stereotypes about that culture.
Do you think the show's portrayal of Italian Americans is accurate? Or could the cast members be playing up to specific stereotypes because they're on a reality show?
Should racial/ethnic stereotyping ever be used as a source of entertainment? Is there such a thing as positive stereotypes?
For kids who love reality TV
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