by Tierney Bricker | Tue., Dec. 3, 2019 2:00 PM
GTL. DTF. T-shirt time.
While it's hard to imagine, those iconic catchphrases didn't exist just 10 years ago. But they, along with infamous pop culture moments like the letter, , all thanks to MTV's Jersey Shore.
The reality hit premiered on Dec. 3, 2009, introducing viewers to seven guidos and guidettes, each more coiffed and spray-tanned than the next. But those seven unknown fist-pumping and gym-loving twenty-somethings—Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, Jenni "JWoww" Farley,Paul "DJ Pauly D" DelVecchio, Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, Vinny Guadagnino, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Angelina Pivarnick and later Deena Nicole Cortese—would go on to become some of the most famous reality stars during the show's five season run, which ended in 2012.
While the show may have ended years ago, its legacy has endured, with Jersey Shore and its stars remaining household names even before MTV revived the series in 2018 with Jersey Shore Family Vacation, reuniting the cast (minus Sammi) and original crew, including series creator Sally Ann Salsano.
When it first premiered in 2009, Jersey Shore's debut attracted just 1.3 million viewers and a whole lot of negative press, with audiences and advertisers alike shocked to see the debauchery on display as the cast descended on Seaside Heights, N.J. for a summer.
Then something crazy happened: people became obsessed, investing in the love lives (Oh, the never-ended Ronnie and Sammi drama!), friendships(Oh, the spinoffs they generated!) and family unit (Oh, Sunday family dinner forever!) the cast has established. At its peak, Jersey Shore was bringing in 9 million viewers, setting record ratings for MTV.
But did you know Jersey Shore was actually pitched as a completely different show? And that it was considering recasting its stars at one point? So go put on your t-shirt and finish spritzing your hair because forget the cabs, 20 surprising secrets about Jersey Shore's early run are here!
Scott Gries/Picture Group for MTV
1. The show was originally set to air on VH1 and was more of a competition series, titled America's Biggest Guido and only featured male guidos. The only JS cast member who was part of that initial pilot was The Situation.
2. When the concept changed, with producers realizing they needed women as well because they "fight," per casting director Doron Ofir, The Situation was their first housemate, making quite the impression during his casting interview, walking in and saying, "'Okay, let me just take my shirt off first.' I was like, 'What?'" Salsano recalled to Vulture. "I have never in my life met someone that felt more comfortable upon not knowing you. He's like, 'Enough said, right?'"
3. Working as a bartender on Long Island, JWoww actually auditioned for another Vh1 reality show at her place of work to support a friend: Paris Hilton's My New BFF. But a few weeks later, she got a call about on a little show about guidos instead.
4. For Pauly D, who was working as a DJ in Rhode Island, he was contacted via MySpace. (2009 for ya.) But what sold the casting directors was a certain amenity he had in his home when they filmed a day in the life package as a trial. "What put Pauly D at the instant top of the list was that he owned his own tanning booth at his own house," Ofir told Vulture. "A tanning booth is like $10,000. Who's saving up coins and then buying a tanning booth?"
5. Snooki, who had a developed a taste for reality TV stardom after appearing on the MTV show Is She Really Going Out With Him? with one of her exes, showed up "drunk" for her audition after seeing a casting call on Facebook. "Nicole showed up in a miniskirt and she literally did cartwheels and flips," Ofir remembered. "She was extraordinary. Her application was smudged with fingerprints from her bronzer to the point that I was like, 'What happened to her application? What spilled on it?'"
6. While she's known by her infamous nickname Snooki, the pint-size reality star didn't actually go by that nickname, she just listed it on the application. "Then I was like, "Oh, s--t." Now that it's stuck, I wish I'd put something else," she admitted to Vulture.
7. Before the show moved from Vh1 to MTV, another guido had been selected to join the show: Joey Fist Pumps, a pretty well-known regular on the Shore. "He was literally called Joey Fist Pumps," Ofir said. "He was a union contractor, which is one of the reasons he wasn't able to do the show." Another reason: MTV wanted a few younger stars. Goodbye, Joey Fist Pumps, hello Ronnie and Vinny!
8. The iconic duck phone, which was found at a local thrift store, was a happy accident, according to Salsano. "Our art director went out and goes, 'I saw this duck phone. It's so ridiculous.' I said, 'We cannot leave that in the house. It doesn't make sense.' Then the show started and I'm like, 'Oh my God, we left that duck phone in there.' Now the duck phone is the national symbol of Jersey Shore."
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Ian Spanier Photography/MTV
9. In season one, the cast really did work at the T-shirt shop, with Vinny telling Vulture, "We did the first season for nothing, zero dollars, except whatever we made at the Shore Store."
10. Shop owner Danny Merk revealing their salary to Vulture: "They started off at $10 an hour, then it went to $15, and then I think I gave them 20 bucks an hour at the very end." The hardest worker? Pauly D, with Jenni and Sammi proving talented at the cash register. Meanwhile, the worst employees were the Situation and Snooki.
11. After the monster success of the first season, the cast reportedly got a major pay raise, earning $10,000 per episode, per the New York Daily News. By the series' end in 2012, they were bringing in $100,000 per ep.
12. Ever wonder where GTL came from? You can thank production, who found the cast's daily routine of going to the gym, hitting the tanning salon and doing laundry so tedious and mundane they were afraid they didn't have a show. "We were writing on a dry-erase board—because we always were like, 'OK, so-and-so went here, so-and-so went here'—and every day we'd write 'gym, tanning, laundry,'" Salsano revealed. "Then we got lazy and just started writing 'GTL.'"
Getty Images/E! Illustration
13. Unlike many reality shows, over 40 cameras are rolling 24/7 on the Jersey Shore cast for the 30-50 days of filming, with Salsano once telling us, "We don't wait for something to happen, we keep them rolling."
14. The reality stars having no access to cellphones, TV, pen and paper and magazines, though they were initially allowed one personal call per week. "The only time you're off camera is when you're in the bathroom. Even if you're in the bathroom with somebody else, they say two is a party, so they film it," Pauly D revealed to Vulture. "We took long showers to get away from cameras. But it does become second nature."
15. After Angelina's dramatic exits from the cast, Deena, who had auditioned for the show before it began, was brought in as her replacement in season three. "Well, me and Nicole have been friends for, like, two years now, and, you know, she needed a partner in crime, like, you know, on the show with her," Deena told EW.
16. Any guests--whether it was a DTF fan or grenade--were carded before being allowed to enter the Jersey Shore home. "People are literally given a field sobriety test to get into the house," Salsano explained to Vulture. "We have the same carding system they have at that club—that electronic thing where they run your ID—because we don't let anybody in the house that's not 21. Also, if someone is that inebriated, we'd ask people to leave."
17. Could you imagine Jersey Shore with a new cast of guidos and guidettes? It almost happened, with MTV initially looking at an all-new line-up of housemates for the second season.
18. The gang's Jersey Shore home is available to rent, but it'll cost you $2,000 per night to stay in the 6-bedroom and 3-bathroom Seaside Heights landmark. But fair warning: the jacuzzi isn't actually part of the house, as it's actually on the roof of the t-shirt shop.
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19. When Jersey Shore first debuted in 2009, many advertisers boycotted the show and pulled their ads, including Domino's Pizza and Dell, with the show also receiving backlash from the Italian-American organization UNICO for its depiction of guidos.
"It was insane, I did not expect it," Salsano told THR at the time. "I was like, 'Why are they so mad?' If you look at the credits on the show, it's all Italian kids from the East Coast. This is our heritage; this was us as teens."
20. While the cast rarely held back on the show, JWoww and the Situation revealed the struggles they kept off-camera during the show's initial run on an episode of the revival series, Jersey Shore family Vacation. Ahead of the cast's Italy-set fourth season, JWoww suffered a miscarriage, revealing she was a "f--king mess" during filming because of the medication she was taking to cope. The Situation, meanwhile, explained his erratic season four and season five behavior was due to withdrawals as he was struggling to get sober.
Watch the 2019: What E! Year end-of-year special Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 10 p.m.! E! News returns Monday morning, Jan. 6 at 7 a.m.!
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