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2000 To Now, Via New Jersey: Reality TV in Numbers

Jersey Shore, reality TV, Hulu, streaming, now streaming, streaming service, Television, reality Television, movies

Back in 2022, Time Magazine offered readers a lofty appraisal of reality TV as “radically” changing everything in the US, from celebrity and power to politics. 

Author Judy Berman lamented the other side of reality’s coin in almost the same breath, noting that the genre had also made vices like cruelty and disloyalty into desirable traits. After all, selling out your friends is nothing if not entertaining – at least, on TV, it is.

Jersey Shore

There’s no denying the impact that reality TV has had on the cultural landscape of the United States – and it’s not too difficult to quantify.

Productivity company ZipDo claims that 750 reality shows were brought to air during the genre’s heyday, in the years 2000 to 2005. These dates coincide with the launch of the first Big Brother on UK TV. More recent figures, from Gitnux, put that figure at closer to 100 in 2021. 

We can thank New Jersey for many recent trends in reality TV. While earning a dismal 3.9/10 score on IMDb, MTV’s Jersey Shore still pulled in almost 5 million viewers for the finale of its debut season (1.4 million episode average). 

The crude show is now a media empire encompassing eight spin-offs and an equal number of foreign versions, including the UK’s Geordie Shore and Acapulco Shore, set in Mexico. It’s also made several millionaires, including Pauly D, with $20 million. 

Atlantic City

Behind New York and California, the Garden State seems to have something of a monopoly on entertainment. Both The Sopranos and House have New Jersey connections, while Atlantic City is a popular destination for gamblers – and has been since 1977. 

After 2013, Atlantic City saw a boom in online gaming too, with demand for local players growing even a decade on. These online casinos offer a safe space to play the same games offered by brick-and-mortar establishments. 

One real-money online casino NJ hosts offers an “exclusive” experience to this end, despite having no street-level presence. The need to differentiate itself from competitors in such a crowded marketplace also means that welcome offers have become increasingly generous to attract players. 

Oddly enough, New Jersey’s fondness for slots and table games seems to be an import from beyond its western borders, in Maryland. The state was one of the first places in the country to introduce slot machines to the masses way back in the mid-20th century. 


Around 40% of adult women in the US are fans of reality TV (of any description) according to Gitnux’s figures, with a similar number – 41% – believing that the genre’s influence on primetime TV is beneficial. 

Viewing figures for Jersey Shore do seem to support this. By the time its third season rolled around, 8.45 million people had been converted to fans, almost double the amount that tuned in to say goodbye to its first outing.

Still, it’d be more accurate to state that the US has the same relationship with the like of Jersey Shore that many of the contestants do with each other – love/hate. Roughly the same number of people (37%) in the previous survey found reality TV the bane of their viewing time.

What’s clear is that a slump in the 2010s, largely due to the exhaustion of the X-Factor and Big Brother formats, didn’t leave any lasting damage on the reality TV industry. With nearly 20 series around the world, though, how much life does Jersey Shore have left in it?

Source: Unsplash

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