“My ultimate dream is to move to Jersey, find a nice, juiced, hot, tan guy and live my life.” These are the famous words of Nicole Polizzi, known to every avid watcher of MTV’s Jersey Shore as “Snooki”. Lately I’ve been watching the show 10 years after its premiere, thanks to its existence on Hulu. It’s trashy, ridiculous, and tremendously entertaining. I never watched the show when it was a cultural phenomenon in the works throughout 2009, but I find myself drawn to 2000s reality shows as demonstrations of the trends and vernacular of the time.
We all knew about T-shirt time, Juicy sweatpants, and Britney and Kevin’s meltdown marriage. Now, it’s time to whip out your flip phones and revisit the explosion of reality TV in the early 21st century.
Premiering in the tail-end of 2009, Jersey Shore isn’t exactly a “2000’s show” but it certainly feels like the disfigured offspring of every 2000’s trend. From the widespread use of low-rise jeans to JWoww’s BAD blond streaks, Jersey Shore epitomizes that time in pop culture. The show revolves around a tanned group of 20-something “Guidos” living in a beach house for the summer. As the seasons changed, so did the locations. Season 1 was set in the Jersey Shore, while seasons 2 and 4 had the cast jet-setting off to Miami and Italy. The show includes cast hookups, constant drama, too many bar fights to count, and lots of hairspray. You might start to question your intelligence after watching too many episodes, but you know what they say: “what happens in Jersey, stays in Jersey.”
The Simple Life
Remember when Paris Hilton invented Juicy sweatpants? In this early 2000’s gem, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie struggle to live “the simple life” — that is, live like a normal person. The premise revolves around the two obscenely wealthy socialites, who trade in their credit cards and closets for manual labor, internships, and service jobs in different parts of America. Richie and Hilton’s banter is iconic, as is their proclivity for getting into trouble with their host families. Throw in Paris saying, “That’s hot” for 30 minutes straight, and you’ve got good TV. There’s no accounting for taste, I guess.
Who else remembers Justin Timberlake crying on live TV because he thought the IRS was repossessing his house and beloved pets? This is the wildly entertaining content that Ashton Kutcher and his team churned out every week in the mid-2000’s. The show featured a bevy of 2000’s stars like Lindsay Lohan, Beyoncé, Jessica Biel, and Wilmer Valderrama being pranked, or in some cases, pranking other celebrity friends. Punk’d ran for 8 seasons before it ended in 2007, with a revival premiering in 2012. However, I can definitely say that the first run of the show was solidified into pop culture. Never forget when Beyoncé thought she ruined Christmas for a group of underprivileged children. The show revealed to us that people love watching celebrities suffer even if it’s just for a quick sec!
My Super Sweet Sixteen
One of the biggest memories I have of this show is the chirpy theme song, sung by Hilary Duff in wonderful 2000’s fashion. This MTV show featured a bunch of spoiled teenagers being thrown lavish parties for their sweet sixteen. There were catfights, brawls, and a questionable amount of scenes where the birthday boy or girl demands more money from their parents. The show was admired and (understandably) hated by teenagers and adults across America. On the one hand, some of the parties were pretty epic, but on the other hand, it showcases a lot of things wrong with these kids and their parents.
The Hills and Laguna Beach
The Hills and Laguna Beach are basically the same thing, but they are both entertaining and definitely staged in their own way. The former is about is about a group of attractive, rich young people in Los Angeles, California, while the latter is about a group of attractive, rich young people in Laguna Beach, California. The shows both revolve around Lauren Conrad and the dramatic people in her life, including the bitchy-but-iconic Kristin Cavallari and the best friend-turned-crazy Heidi Montag. We love these shows for many reasons, but one of them is the nonstop drama and the nights at the club gone wrong. The show also displays the crazy enigma that is Spencer Pratt, who is now basically an iconic formerly much-hated villain.
So if Love Island or The Bachelor isn’t doing it for you anymore, do some internet sleuthing to find these iconic shows and return to the reality TV glory days [insert questionable nostalgia].
Cover Photo: Entertainment Tonight