I graduated in 2007 and months later began a job as an assistant buyer at Neiman Marcus, foolishly under the impression that my work day would resemble Rachel Green’s on “friends.” (It was actually a lot of writing purchase orders and analyzing sales, and probably closer to Chandler Bing’s job of “transponder.”)
My living room was also the historic site where, on Saturday mornings, my roommate and I would regale each other with tales of the previous night. I talked mostly about the men I hopelessly pined for, including the hot and flirty bartender Thomas, who was likely more interested in tips than me, and a gorgeous neighbor, Brian, whom I admired from afar on pool days.
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I’d seen previews teasing MTV’s Dec. 3, 2009, “Jersey Shore” premiere and decided nothing about eight twentysomethings partying on a New Jersey beach appealed to me. But later, a marathon seduced me, much like a good beat drew the cast to the dance floor of Jenks Club. The show and its subjects were unlike anything this Texas native had ever seen. One cast member, Paul Michael DelVecchio, aka “Pauly D,” had a tanning bed in his home and said he spent 25 minutes on his gravity-defying blowout. Another housemate, Mike”The SituationSorrentino had a habit of lifting his shirt to reveal chiseled abs. Both were devoted to a routine of gym, tan, laundry (GTL). The cast’s No. 1 priority was having a good time.
In sharp contrast on an episode of its sequel, “Jersey Shore Family Vacation” last month, Jenni “JWoww” Farley addresses missing Pauly’s DJ gig: “Can you imagine driving all the way to Madison Square Garden and staying out past 9 pm?” This is the same girl who declared on the original series debut that she was “bringing New York to Jersey, a) because they don’t even know how to drive and b), they don’t know how to party.”
The reality is that the stars of my favorite unscripted series going on with their lives, and more planned reboots of the shows, make it evident that time is marching on. And by comparison, as a single woman without children who at times feels like her future de ella is as mysterious as “the blank page before you,” it can feel like my personal life is at a standstill.
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Young me, with more face collagen, added “Jersey Shore” to my lineup of reality TV, which included E!’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (where once Kendall and Kylie Jenner were the only kids) and MTV’s “The Hills.” The latter centered on “Laguna Beach” alum Lauren Conrad, who became iconic when she shouted, “You know what you did!” at her ex-bestie Heidi Montag at former Los Angeles hotspot Les Deux. We were all young, making mistakes and figuring out life together.
In May, MTV revealed plans for “Jersey Shore 2.0” with a new cast that’s “traded their poofs for plumped pouts, and UV rays for spray tans.” I need to sit down. The network also has plans to launch “The Hills: Next Gen” (working title) focused on a new set of twentysomethings. And I’m feeling faint.
Brody Jenner, featured on “The Hills” and its spinoff”The Hills: New Beginnings,” told People magazine he was “so stoked” about the spinoff’s cancellation in January because at his age (38) he doesn’t “go hunting for chicks in nightclubs” anymore. But for me, there’s something about ushering in the new that makes this girl feel older than Botox and bone brother can camouflage.
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Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” will have its own spinoff series featuring former housewives of the Big Apple. Executive producer Andy Cohen told Variety the series was being referred to as “RHONY: Throwback” or “RHONY: Legacy.” Legacy?! That’s more offensive than someone calling me, “Ma’am!” (“RHONY” will continue with a fresher (and therefore cheaper) cast.)
Reality TV stars have grown up. Kris’ Kar-Jenner kids have welcomed 11 children since “Keeping Up” debuted in 2007. One couple on Bravo’s “Summer House” got marriedanother is living together. “Southern Charm” star Naomie Olindo recently told People magazine that her former castmate Cameran Eubanks (who first appeared on “The Real World: San Diego” at 19) is “so past the point” of returning to the Bravo series because she’s “got a family.”
Friends, naturally, have also advanced beyond my current stage of life. What dog whistle used for spouse-and-kids musical chairs did I not hear? My nickname for my former roommate, “TK,” no longer applies, as she’s married and has taken her husband’s last name from her. Google tells me even our gorgeous neighbor Brian is married. (These detective skills are good!)
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Five years ago, on my 30th birthday, I posed next to my sister-in-law, who is my best friend. She was just weeks from giving birth to her first child. “We recreated the club scene from ‘Knocked Up,’” I captioned the Instagram post, comparing us to Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann. Their characters are denied immediate entry to a nightclub in the 2007 movie because one is pregnant and one is too old “for this club, not for the earth,” a doorman (Craig Robinson) determines.
Overhauls of my favorite reality shows that helped me ride out fugue states from nights of trying to measure my alcohol tolerance are further reminders that my days ahead are less Champagne on ice and more eggs on ice. I recently had two first dates in one weekend and then slept a good 10 hours. “Beat up that beat?” No, these days, I simply A.M beat. Especially when I don’t take my iron pill.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism