The Situation wants to have you over for sausage and peppers. He wants to take you out clubbing in Seaside Heights, N.J., buy you a brewski, give you a fist pump and prove that, except for his spectacular six-pack stomach, he's just a regular dude.
His show, "Jersey Shore," draws more than 5 million viewers a week, and it's the most popular series on cable among 12- to 34-year-olds.
The cast has graced the cover of Entertainment Weekly and been name-dropped by President Obama. Slight misdemeanors by two of the gang made headlines. Club appearances translate to tens of thousands of dollars. Snooki is working on a book explaining her colorful twists on the English language. DJ Paulie just got himself a pad at the Palms in Las Vegas.
For the uninitiated, "Jersey Shore," MTV's biggest hit since it resurrected the corpse of Ozzy Osbourne, is a modern-day version of "Beach Blanket Bingo" with hard-drinking, bed-hopping, stilletto-sporting Italian-Americans assuming the roles of Annette and Frankie.
In its Miami-set second season, we've seen one housemate slap another across the face, another threaten to give a new cast member a beating, a round-table discussion on the merits of "wifebeater" undershirts vs. T-shirts, a three-way kiss at a club, the tragic aftermath of raw chicken spilling to the kitchen floor and the joy of smoking in the hot tub.
"We're not 'Saved By the Bell,' " says Ronnie to his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Sweetheart, in a rare moment of sobriety.
The popularity of a show this trivial, this superficial, this stupid, should give us all pause, and that includes former sitcom star Tony Danza, who spent a year teaching in the Philadelphia school system for an upcoming, much more noble reality show on A&E.
"Every day I tell kids, 'Good behavior will pay off. Promise. Good behavior will pay off,' " he said. "And then they go home and watch that show and say, 'Wait a minute, Mr. Danza. You're wrong. Bad behavior pays off.' That's what really hurts us."
That old guy from "Who's the Boss?" has a point. But here's the thing about the "Jersey Shore" kids: They're not totally bad role models. Yeah, they drink too much and they aren't versed in Shakespeare. But you can't help liking this group, in part because they truly don't seem jaded — at least not yet.
They have impeccable manners (even when they're hammered). Unlike other young reality stars — think Paris Hilton and Spencer Pratt — they sincerely seem humbled and happy about their good fortune, an attitude one suspects will stay with them until at least, oh, season four.