Credit: Photo Courtesy of MTV Photo: Jersey Shore Season 5: Cast Photo

The fabulous eight are back in America and we, uh, will never be the same.

On Thursday night’s premiere of Jersey Shore Season 5 we got to see Snooki, Vinny, Pauly D, Ronnie, Sammi, JWOWW, Deena Nicole and, yes, The Situation settling back into their old Seaside Heights house after their sojourn in Italy for Season 4. So, have our favorite guidos become more chul-therd and clahssy now that they’ve spent some time in Europe? Psh, of course not, and we would hate it if they lost their authentic Jersey charm.

Nothing has changed too much since we last left the cast at the end of Season 4. The Situation is still claiming that Snooki cheated on her then-boyfriend (and now-boyfriend) Jionni with him in a bizarre sexytimes situation with Mike’s friend The Unit and Snooks’ pal Ryder. Snooki (and frankly, the rest of the cast) still hate Mike’s guts for not dropping the Snooki tale and being a general troublemaker. SamRon are actually on good, non-drama-filled terms and Vinny and Pauly D are still bromancing.

However, the stress of filming two seasons in a row is really starting to show on the cast, and their usual gusto about heading out and stirring up trouble seems to be wearing off. This is particularly evident in Vinny, who complains of “home-sickness” but really it looks more like camera-time fatigue. (His family is just a car ride away in Staten Island, after all.) It’s no surprise that (spoiler alert!) he’ll be leaving the house in the next few episodes.

What was surprising in this episode was the added intrigue of two new drama catalysts: The Unit and Ryder. Snooki gets into it with The Unit after awkwardly hanging out with him with Jionni and Ryder hooks up with Pauly D almost as soon as he entered her line of sight. Clearly, we’ll be seeing these two friends later on in the season.

While Jersey Shore is always a rollicking good way to observe pure, unabashed trashiness this premiere felt a lot darker than seasons past, even with all the club cheers and carnival rides. Shooting from anonymous guidos to America’s favorite overly-tanned jokes has taken a toll on the cast. Their fuses are shorter, their fights are pettier, their tolerance for each other (and the cameras) is dwindling, and they all clearly just need a break. Hopefully they’ll perk up a bit now that they’re (somewhat) home.

Our rating: 4.5 stars.

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