Yes, you read that headline correctly. Unlike most Jersey Shore fans, I don’t consider The Situation to be the worst person in the world. In light of his recent decision to go to rehab due to his prescription pill addiction, it’s time to give the kid a break. Why? Allow me this attempt to lighten your judgments.
He’s Sick. As Vinny recently told a reporter, filming Jersey Shore is not a reality in any sense of the word. In Vinny’s words, “It’s nothing but each other and alcohol.” For someone without an addictive personality, that sounds like a vacation. But for an addict like Mike, it’s a recipe for disaster. Mike’s own father revealed recently that Mike went to rehab years ago, before Jersey Shore even began, so this is obviously an ongoing battle. Mike’s problem isn’t that he drinks too much and does too many drugs — his problem is that he mentally and physically can’t stop drinking and doing drugs. That’s a disease, not a defect.
He Got Rejected in Season 1. It’s hard to believe it was less than three years ago when Jersey Shore first entered our living rooms, but our first impression of The Situation had a lot to do with pity. One of his very first storylines involved his intense crush on Sammi, and not just the DTF kind of crush. He actually liked her. At first she put him off politely, but eventually she was laughing at him behind his back, and making it obvious to everyone in the house (and watching at home) that she preferred Ronnie.
No one was at fault, but when you go from Nobody to Guy Who Got Rejected on MTV overnight, it must have hurt. His maladjusted response was to over-compensate by going into extreme tough guy mode — kind of how the only reason Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook in The Social Network was rooted in one girl’s rejection of him. (Yes, I just compared The Situation to Mark Zuckerberg. We could argue that they’re equally famous.)
He’s a Middle Kid Who Tried to Stand Out. The Situation has two older brothers, Frank and Marc, and a younger sister named Melissa. For any fellow middle child, the need to stand out from the categorically defined youngest and oldest is relatable. As MSNBC reported in a 2006,, “Middle children have to try a little harder to ‘be heard’ or get noticed. The middle child usually has to fight harder for the attention of their parents and therefore crave the family spotlight.” This serves as yet another reason why Mike feels the need to be a big, spotlight-hogging personality, almost in competition with those around him that are cuter (Pauly D, Snooki) or stronger (Ronnie, JWOWW).
His “Act” is an Act of Defense. I get just as annoyed as Mike’s haters do whenever The Situation starts saying, “You nyew?” instead of “You know?” (Say it out loud, you’ll recognize his trademark eccentricity.) But when Mike started to become famous when Jersey Shore first premiered, he was not famous for any discernible talent. He couldn’t act, sing, or dance. He had no marketable skills. So he was bombarded with money just for his stupid nickname. The Situation workout DVDs, The Situation tuxedos, The Situation lollipops, and on went the endorsements. He is essentially told that he is good for nothing on a daily basis. To invent some kind of justification for his fame, we’ve seen him work a little harder for the punchlines in Seasons 4 and 5. He has literally bashed his head into a cement wall for attention, people! He’s doing his best to come up with reasons for us to look at him. Ronnie calls that “high-maintenance,” but I see it as a series of desperate cries for help. As he said on Jersey Shore Season 5, Episode 4: “Free Vinny,” “I like to isolate myself around my birthday, so I can see who pays attention.”
More Often Than Not, His One-Liners Do Land. Please recall that Mike is the one who said, “I’m Hurricane Situation, and I’m heading straight for Snooki Island.” We would argue that this is a funnier, smarter line than “Let’s get Wastey-pants.” Sorry, Snooks.
Of course I’m not asking you to agree that The Situation may have more merits than people give him credit for, but I would argue that Mike isn’t actually an asshole. He’s a nice guy who’s scared and lost, and has accidentally made a very lucrative career out of playing an asshole on TV.
Need a Jersey Shore fix? Catch the next new episode of The Pauly D Project on Thursday, April 5 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.
Follow Molly on Twitter @MollyFriedman.
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