Everyone knows who Snooki is. Widely acknowledged as the most famous of the Jersey Shore cast, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi has ridden the wave of notoriety right to the top, managing to sustain her trademark mix of charmingly quirky, unabashedly clueless, and emphatically party-hard through all five seasons of the breakout show. Snooki enjoys a special kind of renown: far from being a universally adored starlet, she nonetheless attracts a substantial fan base, which differentiates her from other objects of pop-culture ridicule, such as Rebecca Black. People love Snooki’s antics, such as when she sits in a freezer because her butt has a rash, or when she and Deena pull two consecutive all-nighters, enabling them to be drunk for literally two solid days. At the same time, people enjoy trashing Snooki for some of her dumber quotes, such as when she said that “whale sperm is what makes the ocean salty.” Everyone loves to play the critic sometimes, and Snooki gives them ample opportunities to feel superior as they watch her on-screen. While nobody is ever quite sure how much of her comic brilliance is natural, and how much has become spoon-fed to her by the show’s producers, one thing is clear: it makes for pretty darn good TV.
However, recent news regarding Snooki has the potential to permanently change the reputation which the reality star currently enjoys. Snooki is, in a word, pregnant. While she denied the rumors for several weeks, Snooki has recently confirmed that not only has she conceived a child, but that she and her boyfriend, Jionni LaValle, are now engaged. Rumors have begun to flood the news channels with the possibility that MTV will produce a Jersey Shore spinoff, á la Khloe and Lamar or The Newleyweds, which will follow Snooki and Jionni as they embark on their life together. The way in which this show is produced has the potential to hugely impact Snooki’s carefully maintained image. When somebody who is most well known for getting drunk regularly (and engaging in exceptionally entertaining activities while thus inebriated) can no longer drink and party... where will the laughs come from?
As I see it, such a show featuring Snooki has two possible paths before it. One, Snooki can pull together her act, class up her outfits and her attitude, drop the curse words, the baby talk, and the self-centered mentality, and show the world that she has the potential to sustain a marriage and a family. Most people, while they love Snooki as a symbol of pop culture and as a centerpiece of Jersey Shore, don’t actually believe that she will be a good and capable mother, and so a show based around this model would be an excellent vehicle with which to to rebut that notion. However, the other option is for Snooki to stay true to the strategies that have made her famous, and unfortunately, I think that this is the more likely path for the show to follow. A reality show following mature, grown-up adults has never, to my knowledge, succeeded (talent shows aside, and even those tend to attract inordinately dramatic cast members). Therefore, in order for a show, especially an MTV show, to take off, the producers will doubtless encourage Snooki to play up her ditzier, drunker, stupider side. It’s more fun to chronicle a steamy, hot mess of a marriage in shambles and a baby being trucked off to foster care than it is to methodically walk through how to change a diaper.
And while, in one part of my mind, I hope that Snooki says no to contract for the show and to the money, in order to mature and grow in her relationship and prepare for her coming child, the selfish, reality-TV-junky part of me just wants the show to be produced, because I’ll watch it, of course I will, popcorn and pickles in hand.