'Jersey Shore': Has MTV's cash cow jumped the shark?

jersey-shore-s5-cast.jpgOn Thursday (Jan. 5), "Jersey Shore" creeps back into life on MTV. Since it's the show's fifth season in just over two years and season 4 just wrapped up in late October, we have to wonder if America is ready for more drama from the now mega-famous-in-a-D-list-way cast of mostly non-Italian Guidos and Guidettes.

Or is it possible that "Jersey Shore" has worn out its over-tanned welcome?

When the show started, Snooki, J-WOWW, Sammi, Ronnie, Vinny, Pauly, Mike and Angelina (remember her?) were refreshingly un-self-aware. They were unapologetically trashy and, as even some high-brow journos noted at the time, the show broke new ground. It even inspired academic exploration, with at least two universities funding classes or conferences to analyze the "cultural implications" of the show and things like "GTL as a practice of the self and way of life."

It also broke ratings records, drawing more than 8.5 million viewers by its season 4 premiere episode. And its stars became, well, stars. Initially, the gang reached for low-hanging fruit -- Snooki penned a "novel" and Mike endorsed an energy drink. But as we head into season 5, Snooki is a full-on celeb who makes the talk show rounds and has, for better or worse, has moved the fashion needle with her pouf and her trashtastic get-ups.

But, if Snooki is sick of "Jersey Shore" (she basically said exactly that in a Monday visit to "The Tonight Show," who are we to keep tuning in?

Much of what we liked about the show is still there: Trash talk, binge drinking, drunken antics, a group house worthy of "Hoarders" and lots and lots of inane conversation. But, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Not to mention that as the profile of the "Jersey Shore" kids has risen, the premise that they're all living together in a tacky shore house and working at a t-shirt shop just isn't believable anymore.

js-s5-deena-cortese-2.jpgAnd, not to be total haters, but they've changed: J-WOWW, who was... umm... bodacious to begin with is now so obviously 50 percent plastic that it's sort of painful to look at her. And based on newly-released MTV press photos it looks like Deena (who joined the show in season 3, at left) may be following her down that road.

And then there's Snooki. Although she's spent the off-season getting in shape and now weighs (allegedly) 98 pounds, it is getting painful watching her bottom out (literally) in every single episode. The girl simply drinks too much for a Smurf-sized person and we keep wanting to teleport her from MTV to A&E's "Intervention."

So, anyway, we'll be watching tonight. Will you?
Photo/Video credit: MTV
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