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'Jersey Shore' gang's trashy charm has us inexplicably coming back for more

The self-proclaimed "guidos" and "guidettes" of MTV's hit "Jersey Shore" are back for a second season, premiering Thursday night at 10. This time, the gang heads for Miami.

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The key to "Jersey Shore's" charm is that it's not a social study. As stupid as it looks, and as much as you can hate yourself for watching, it's a complex show about the nature of sin. There's a tendency to examine it too cerebrally in that regard, to think of "Jersey Shore" as pure performance art. Sometimes critics can be wrong in typing too many words.

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To fully appreciate the show, one must address some inner biases -- Middle American biases against the tri-state area, mostly -- which are timely, since the show has managed to anger Italian American groups and certain noble-minded Garden Staters.

The reason they object to "Jersey Shore's" extremes is because they know what stereotypes can do. They know what many of us think, deep down, of the horrible accents, the bravado, the filthy talk, the hitting, the threats, the steroidal physiques, the skanky orange skin, the loudness, the crassness, the endless badda-bing.

Who am I talking about? The young adults on "Jersey Shore," sure, and yet so much else: the grouchy crowds at rest stops on the New Jersey Turnpike on a summer Saturday afternoon. Bad Mafia movies. The celebration of thuggery. Ostentatious decor. (To quote a Fred Armisen skit from "Saturday Night Live," mawble cawlumns.)

The Jersey ethos is not for everyone. "Jersey Shore" benefits from a current, communal Jersey moment, which includes "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" on Bravo, which tipped the table, so to speak; and "Jerseylicious," on the Style Network (about a mother and daughter who own a salon). What all these shows have in common is a terrific amount of obnoxious yelling. Watching them quells some inner beast; they slap and scream and throw down so the rest of America won't have to.

Snooki: "I feel like I'm going to be like a tornado. I'm just going to go from place to place, destroying it."

That's it! Ah, wise Snooki -- she always knows: "Jersey Shore" brings a pleasure similar to those Weather Channel shows on which cameras chase disastrous storms and funnel clouds, bringing back actual footage of nature's wrath.

Jersey Shore

(one hour) returns at 10 p.m. Thursday on MTV.


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