Why Jersey Shore is totally fake

Jersey Shore made its triumphant return to MTV six years after the final season aired in 2012. A lot has changed since the housemates put a horrifying dent in New Jersey's alcohol reserves and were basically run out of Seaside Heights by angry state officials. The cast is healthier (Vinny Guadagnino doesn't eat carbs), they're sober (the Situation doesn't drink), and they've settled down (JWoww and Snooki have kids!). One thing hasn't changed? They're still unapologetically themselves. But, while Jersey Shore's success has always hinged on the cast's overwhelming authenticity, can reality TV ever be truly authentic?

Jersey Shore is surprisingly true-to-form as far as MTV reality shows go. Bizarrely enough, the cast actually does adore each other in real life (name one other show where a randomly assembled cast considers their housemates family). They also held real jobs, where they got paid real money, and they formed real, long-lasting relationships. Evidence: Snooki and JWoww both married their on-screen boyfriends, which is more than most winners of The Bachelor can say.

Despite the show's inherent realness, however, MTV producers still managed to orchestrate some intense drama. From the infamous note to Shore Store antics, here's how Jersey Shore is totally fake.

The only time these cast mates Jersey Turnpike is on the dance floor

Deena Cortese coined the term "Jersey Turnpike" while dancing at clubs in Seaside Heights. Today, we refer to the move as "twerking." Regardless, that's about the only Jersey Turnpike most of the cast members regularly see because they're not actually from New Jersey.

Cortese and Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola were the only two castmates who were born-and-bred Jersey Strong.  Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and Vinny Guadagnino were from Staten Island. Ronnie Ortiz-Magro was born and raised in the Bronx, and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Jenni "JWoww" Farley grew up in New York state. Paul DelVecchio ("DJ Pauly D") is the only one from outside of the tri-state area, having come to the shore house all the way from Rhode Island.

Needless to say, the fact that most of these cast members were New York natives really annoyed New Jersey governor Chris Christie. "They parachute these New Yorkers into Seaside Heights, New Jersey, and they try to make the whole country think this is New Jersey. It's not. It's bad for New Jersey," he said during an interview on The Joe Crummey Show (via Politifact).

Snooki's nickname was faker than her tan

For the better part of a decade, the Jersey Shore cast members have been referred to by their epic nicknames. There's Sammi Sweetheart, the Situation, and JWoww. While JWoww developed her nickname in the Long Island club scene years before the show, it turns out that Snooki totally made hers up for MTV. No one really called her that before she started filming.

According to an interview in Vulture, Snooki created her nickname because the Jersey Shore application was specifically looking for one. Years later, she can't escape it.

"Before the show, no one really called me 'Snooki,'" she admitted. "One of my girlfriends used to call me that, just to be funny, so I wrote that down. Then I was like, 'Oh, s**t.' Now that it's stuck, I wish I'd put something else."

Lesson learned: If you're giving yourself a nickname, you better be prepared to have it for life.

The Shore House was a sham

The Shore House will go down in Jersey Shore infamy. It was so important that it may as well have been an unofficial cast member. The sprawling, six-bedroom property was the perfect backdrop for some steamy jacuzzi hook-ups and quirky duck phone conversations — or was it?

It turns out, the Shore House wasn't actually a rental property like the show would have us believe. Shore Store owner Danny Merk lived there for a decade before he was quickly given the boot so MTV could film the series. According to a Vulture interview, they gave him a massive envelope of money and told him to pack up in 24 hours. He happily obliged.

The fact that the Shore House wasn't a rental isn't the only sham. That infamous jacuzzi roof-deck wasn't actually on the property at all. Instead, the deck was located above the Shore Store. The duck phone didn't come with the house either. It was purchased at a thrift shop, and the Italian flag on the garage door was painted by MTV producers.

Today, fans can rent out the home and recreate their very own Jersey Shore experience, but it will cost a pretty penny. It was previously listed at over $2,900 per night.

Vinny wasn't a fist-pumping ladies' man

The Jersey Shore cast is filled with self-proclaimed guidos and guidettes who relax during the day with a casual GTL and spend their nights fist-pumping and hooking up. It just so happens that Vinny Guadagnino wasn't one of them, despite the fact that he grew up around the culture in Staten Island.

"I felt like an alien landing in guidoland," he told Vulture about staying in the house for the first time.

Guadagnino was actually so pale that Snooki was sorely confused when they started filming. She said, "When I walked into the house, I was like, 'Oh, these aren't guys I would hang out with down the shore.' Pauly is the only one that looked legit. Vinny's pale and doesn't tan. That's weird. I felt like I was in the wrong house." 

In real life, the Staten Island star isn't a hard-partier; he's an artist and an actor. He spent his childhood drawing and painting murals before later taking improv classes (via NY Daily News). This sensitive soul wasn't a ladies man until he fell under the influence of Pauly D and the Situation, and he didn't have sex with a single girl during the first season despite the number of supposed hookups MTV aired. Eventually, Guadagnino came out of his shell and became the man we all know and love (even if that means he'd rather drunkenly pick pepperoni off a pizza than eat a carb).

Ronnie ran a real estate business behind the scenes

Most of us assume that the Jersey Shore cast only kept summer jobs at the Shore Store for the drama of it. Surely their massive TV show paychecks would have been more than enough to cover their summer expenses, right? Wrong. The cast didn't actually get paid anything for the first season beyond what they made at the boardwalk t-shirt shop (which was an abysmal starting salary of $10 per hour). The castmates were so broke that some of them considered leaving the show in the very first week.

In an interview with Vulture, Guadagnino admitted, "Me and Ronnie, the first week, we told production, 'Listen, I think we have to leave. We don't have any money.' I'd just graduated college, I didn't have a job."

Because of the show's limited talent budget, Ortiz-Magro didn't actually quit his day job before filming. Apparently, the star was trying to make real estate deals over the duck phone, but it was pretty difficult. He had to make all parties consent to being recorded before having a conversation.

Things have since come a long way since season one. According to Radar Online, some of the cast were able to pull in $2 million per season. Snooki herself allegedly took home a whopping $150,000 an episode by the end of season 6.

The hook-ups weren't as drunken as you'd think

The hallmark of Jersey Shore has always been the crew's drunken shenanigans — whether it's accidentally exposing their lady parts on the dance floor or knocking someone out in a bar fight. The majority of drunken drama that ensued on the show was 100% real, and the cast guzzled down an ungodly amount of alcohol (so much so, that Snooki once admitted she wasn't sure how they were even alive). Despite the fact that cast members were wasted throughout the majority of the series, their late-night hook-ups were unexpectedly sober.

According to executive producer SallyAnn Salsano, who spoke to Vulture, overnight guests were given field sobriety tests before they were allowed to enter the shore house. To make sure everyone was over the age of 21, producers used the same ID-scanning system as a bar or club. MTV didn't leave any room for lawsuits, and, if a guest was too drunk, they'd be asked to leave.

Though the hook-ups weren't as drunken as we expected, we can rest easy knowing the "smush" room was really as disgusting as it seemed — so much so that Pauly D refused to use it.

Producers had a hand in the infamous note

Who wrote the note? Who wrote the note? The note will forever go down as one of the most explosive moments in Jersey Shore history. It all started when Snooki and JWoww decided to tip Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola off about Ron's bad behavior. They penned an anonymous note saying, "Sam, the first night at BED when you left, Ron made out with two girls and put his head between a cocktail waitress' breasts."  They also accused Ron of "grinding multiple fat women" while their friend was cozied up in bed. Of course, since notes are strictly prohibited on set, the girls thought Sammi would blame the producers. Oh, how wrong they were.

As it turns out, Giancola might have blamed the producers if they weren't the ones who told her where the note came from in the first place. Producers intervened and assured the worried girlfriend that the note came specifically from one of her trusted roommates. Whoops!

"It completely backfired," JWoww told Vulture. "She really was more mad that someone wrote the note than about what was written in the note. It was so hard for us in Miami. Picture two months with no cell phone, internet, TV, no pens or paper, and living with someone that hates your guts."

The shore house had some secret roommates

Angelina Pivarnick was undeniably the least recognizable roommate after she left the series for good in season 2 — at least, that is, if you don't count the producers. Jersey Shore creator SallyAnn Salsano actually lived with the cast during their run, and she barely got a stitch of sleep.

"We would treat the cameras like baby monitors. If it was quiet, you ran upstairs and went to sleep. The minute you heard them chirping, you ran back downstairs," she told Vulture.

Salsano, a former Real World: Miami finalist, joined the cast as a roommate in Miami and Italy (via The Daily Beast). Back in the States, she set up camp in an upstairs apartment inside of the shore house. The show had a whopping 42 cameras inside the home, and she decked out her tiny apartment with 14 camera live feeds in both her living room and bedroom. Basically, she was the cast's Big Brother, constantly keeping an eye on the shenanigans happening one story below.

In addition to the cameras inside the home, Salsano also set up cameras all the way down the Seaside Heights boardwalk up until the ferris wheel. The entire town was wired, catching the cast's every move.

Everyone hated Snooki until she got punched

Snooki is undeniably the most beloved meatball in the Jersey Shore house, aside from the ones served with Sunday family dinners. Since the very first season, the star was painted as a good-hearted, fun-loving party animal with a penchant for pranks (excusing the occasional drunken brawl). In real life though, the cast wasn't as friendly to their little sis as you'd think. They hated her so much that she wanted to leave the show at the very start of filming. So, what changed? Well, tragedy brought the Jersey Shore family together.

In the fourth episode of the first season, Snooki was assaulted by a male bar patron after ordering shots for her roommates. It was the punch heard round the MTV universe and aired it exactly once during a teaser at the end of the second episode.

"That was actually my parents' doing," Snooki said in an interview. "They demanded MTV not show it. It was nice that they listened, because my dad was really, really upset about it."

After the punch, the roommates managed to put their differences aside. At one point, Snooki was one of the few cast members who was friendly with everyone on the show (well, except for Angelina). Brad Ferro, the then-24-year-old man who did the punching, was charged with assault and spent six months on probation. 

The Situation caused a situation at the Shore Store

MTV didn't give the Jersey Shore cast a free ride in Seaside Heights. They actually had to earn their keep because the producers wanted to capture the real experience of 20-somethings spending their summer at a shore house. To make things super authentic, the cast worked at the Shore Store, a t-shirt shop on the boardwalk, and they eventually made pretty good money. They started at a meager $10 per hour before worked their way up to $20 — an unheard of payday for a job that'd typically pay minimum wage.

However, the extra cash wasn't the only totally unrealistic aspect of their employment, as the stars were allowed to be terrible employees. In fact, the Situation would have probably been fired if MTV didn't have a hand in things.

According to Shore Store owner Danny Merk, everyone on staff dreaded working with Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino.

Speaking with The Huffington Post, Merk called Sorrentino "the laziest guy in the world." He explained, "He works so hard at not working hard. He'd rather think of a million excuses not to do stuff. He'll just wander around in circles. It's a real talent. He's by far the worst person to work with."

Thousands of people followed around the cast as they GTL-ed

MTV did a pretty great job at making it seem like the cast of the Jersey Shore led a normal life in Seaside Heights. It was so convincing that many of us questioned how the heck the biggest reality stars on the planet — and the probably biggest scene-causers in the world — could slide along the boardwalk unnoticed. The truth is that they couldn't.

Sure, the cast managed to fly under-the-radar during the first season, but, by the time the series ended, MTV was struggling to keep up the front.

According to producer SallyAnn Salsano, there was between 1,000 and 3,000 people following the cast around every time they left the house. A security tent was erected next the home and police monitored the property at all times. Barricades were set up to keep fans away, but they only served as a resting place for paparazzi hoping to catch a glimpse. Eventually, producers stopped allowing the cast to go out on the balcony altogether.

"Every time we went outside, the whole block would scream," Ortiz-Magro admitted in a Vulture interview. "It was like being at a Yankee game when they chant everybody's name."

Things weren't much better at the Shore Store, where thousands of people lined up hoping to get inside and meet the cast. Salsano only let them in if they pretended to be real customers and didn't talk about the show.

None of the cast's boardwalk trips were spontaneous

The cast of the Jersey Shore usually took hours getting ready for a night out. According to the girls of the show, they spent two or three hours glamming up before t-shirt time, and Pauly D's blowout took a solid 25 minutes on it's own. Normally, production had plenty of warning when a castmate was going to leave the house, but, even if they didn't, it was required nonetheless.

Despite the seemingly spontaneous Meatball Day (that time Cortese and Snooki randomly got tanked on the boardwalk in the early afternoon), castmates were required to give an hour's notice anytime they wanted to leave the house. Running out for a carton of milk or getting on your GTL on was certainly a pain.

"It's kind of like being in jail for two months — and people wonder why all we do is drink! It's because there's nothing else to do," Snooki told V Magazine.

It's unclear whether this rule also included the jacuzzi roof-deck, where a number of allegedly spontaneous hookups took place. Remember, the deck was really above the Shore Store, and they would have had to leave the property to get there...