Mental Health on the Jersey Shore

One of my guilty pleasures is the Jersey Shore. I began watching the show in Season 1 out of curiosity, and quickly became hooked, in part because of Rich at Four Four’s amazing re-caps. Even if you have always thought the show was awful, you should check these out because they are seriously awesome and incredibly entertaining.

This year, thanks to my roommate Dina, I got sucked back in (had not watched Seasons 2-3, thank you very much) when the guidos found themselves in the lovely Venice, Italy. I didn’t watch all of Season 4, but I did tune into the last few episodes and got hooked back in. Ridiculous. It is all such lunacy!! I seriously cannot believe that these people are real. At least that is how I felt until I watched the latest episode, in which Vinny, one of the characters, leaves the show due to anxiety. His frank discussion of anxiety his struggle with anxiety and depression and then another clip including his roommates blatant misunderstanding of anxiety are fascinating to me. First of all, I was really impressed that Vinny is so open about what he’s going through, and it is heartening to see it brought up in the fake world of Jersey Shore. In my opinion, Vinny is way too intelligent for these people, and I can understand what he’d be going through after 3 years of this insanity. Gawker has a decent re-cap of the show if you don’t want to watch all of it. But I think there’s more to this episode than meets the extremely made-up eye. Sammi, in the aftershow video, says she thinks Vinny left because he saw his mom and it made him sad. Which is why seeing what Vinny says is so important. Vinny explains that no one in the house understands (I totally agree), and that they just want him to be happy and keep trying to make him happy, but that he needs to leave to get better. Because he needs permission to go through a tough time, to not be the person who is easy and not a problem. I can’t even begin to explain how much I identify with what Vinny’s going through–it was eery watching and realizing that I have been there, emotionally, exactly. Especially because any feeling I had for this show was horror and shock that these are real people. So I’m even more surprised that this person is not only real, but just like me (maybe not just like, but stil. relatable). I wish he could be around other people who’ve experienced depression and anxiety–he says he’s alone and no one understands, but that isn’t entirely true. Other people do understand, they just sure as hell aren’t at the Jersey Shore (Vinny himself notes that the Jersey Shore is not the place you want to be when you’re going through a high-anxiety time in your life). In any event, I really am proud of MTV for their portrayal of mental health. There is dignity and respect there, and I’m impressed by that. For all the shit they get about being a horrible continuance of disgusting pop culture, I actually think they do a relatively good job of being open, honest and non-biased. Though I’m sure some people would consider that to be liberal.