Jersey Shore stirred up controversy before the first episode hit the airwaves. Starring eight self-professed “guidos” and “guidettes” living in a house in Seaside Heights, N.J., the characters led Italian-American activist groups to complain the show portrayed negative stereotypes.
But the series really took off when promotions showed castmate Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi getting punched in the face by a guy at a bar during the show’s fourth episode. The clip instantly went viral, and Snooki was suddenly a star. Under pressure from domestic-violence groups, MTV decided to cut the punch from its Dec. 17, 2009, broadcast, but the show had taken hold. Ratings skyrocketed, and the program became a must-watch train wreck.
Since then, the show has broadcast three seasons, and it’s about to shoot a fourth in Italy. Snooki has recovered quite nicely after the punch heard around the world she’s published a novel, has graced the cover of Rolling Stone and has a potential spin-off show in the works. The guy who hit her didn’t fare so well. Unable to find a job after all the publicity, he recently joined the Army.