The New York Times thinks Jerseylicious would be "mildly entertaining if it weren't so blatantly trying to horn in on the now-faded "Jersey" mania of [Jersey Shore and Real Housewives of New Jersey]."
My disagreement with this critique is based on the belief that relishing in the absurdity and unabashed trashiness of some New Jersey denizens is not, as the Times asserts, a "tired shtick," "flogged over and over again by lazy television executives." I contend that New Jersey is, in fact, deeply hilarious and sociologically fascinating, and that it is logical, appropriate, and necessary for television executives to capitalize on this wellspring of entertainment potential.
While I certainly appreciate the entertainment value provided by Jersey Shore and Real Housewives of New Jersey, these two programs barely scratch the surface of what New Jersey has to offer. Only one member of the Jersey Shore cast (Sammi, ugh) is actually from New Jersey. (Pauly D is from Rhode Island and the rest live in New York.) And while Real Housewives of New Jersey is amazing, it provides a limited glimpse at the range of outrageous personalities one is likely to encounter in the Garden State.
Jerseylicious takes place at Gatsby Salon on Route 22 in Green Brooke, New Jersey. When I was in high school, and occasionally during the summers when I was in college, I worked as a receptionist at Fine Lines & Artistic Nails, in Chatham, New Jersey, a mere sixteen miles from Gatsby Salon. So naturally, I was intrigued by the concept of the show, but I didn't necessarily have high expectations for a "comedy docu-soap" on the Style Network. But, I swear to you guys, it is seriously compelling. Until the most recent episode, I was uncertain as to whether the show's appeal would translate to wider audiences that lack a thorough understanding of regional culture and customs, and as such, I was hesitant to blog about it. Now, though, I can confidently endorse Jerseylicious.
What brought on this onslaught of enthusiasm, you might ask? Well, last night, one of my television yearnings was fulfilled when two of the most stereotypically Jersey girls I have ever seen received a rather harsh makeunder from Edward Tricomi himself at Warren-Tricomi Salon in Manhattan. I could attempt to describe it, but no matter how many superlatives I used, I'm not sure that you'd completely believe me. So I have to show you:
That is just one of the more satisfying segments of last night's episode, which was almost entirely focused on the deconstruction of these girls' self-caricaturization.
In anticipation of your arguments, I will point out that, yes Olivia bears a strong similarity to Jersey Shore's Snooki. HOWEVER, Snooki, amusing and endearing as she is, is from MARLBORO, New York. In other words, not anywhere near New Jersey! Whereas Olivia is a real deal Jersey girl, through and through. Jersey Shore may have aired first, but really, Snooki is biting Olivia's style (indirectly, obvs).
Although Jerseylicious is by no means a comprehensive examination of what it means to be, well, Jerseylicious, it does uncover a few more layers of the amazingness that is New Jersey.
P.S. Just for the record, at this point in my life I would sooner cut my own hair than go to any salon in New Jersey, because I am a humongous snob.