Somewhere between Sammi and Ronnie's 500th fight and Snooki and Deena's lesbians-for-ratings experience, I stopped tuning in to Jersey Shore.
As soon as the ultra-tan cast started acting as caricatures of themselves, the party was over. By the end of the third season, the series spiraled into a nightmare of binge drinking, sleazy hookups and emotional and physical abuse. It was a trainwreck -- and not the kind that makes for must-see reality TV.
Season 4, or the "Italia" edition, was a failed experiment. It was apparent that Snooki and the gang had no interest in Florence, and the people of Florence had no interest in meatball guidettes and gorilla juiceheads, which made everyone, including the viewers, a little uncomfortable.
It drove The Situation so insane that he literally slammed his head into a wall (a definite highlight from an otherwise lackluster season).
However, the fifth season, premiering Thurs., Jan. 5, is a genuine reprieve for fans of Seaside drama, as the cast heads back to Jersey to spend yet another fist-pumping summer down the Shore. There's no place like home -- and no taste like pickle juice -- for Snooki, who was so over Italy, with its stick-shift cars, confusing traffic signs and cobblestone streets.
So the cast members settle back into their old ways: Calling cabs, partying at Karma, G.T.L, working at the Shore Store and repeating the same played-out jokes to pass the time.
Season 1 gave us G.T.L (gym, tan, laundry) as a way of guido life and introduced us to the plight of the "grenades." Then, Season 2 followed up with a few equally amusing catchphrases: "T-shirt time" and Pauly D's "Cabs are here!"
But sadly, in Season 5, the Seaside quote machine is on the fritz. After all of the Ronnie and Sam drama in Season 3, it seems Pauly D lost his will to be funny. Now, all we get are tired retreads of their greatest hits. Can't MTV hire more writers to get in there and punch up the dialogue? Because I think the Shore Store needs some new phrases to iron onto their muscle Ts.
At least Snooki can come up with a few potential Twitter hashtags per episode. Anyone remember the five-minute #meatballproblems scene in Season 4? Surely, that was a sign of the show's impending doom, right?
Unfortunately for MTV, even rats in a cage get boring to watch.
While the cast is happy to be back in their natural habitat, they also haven't had a chance to let some of their Italia drama settle, resulting in the same fights, with the same people, over the same things. The Situation is still trying to get Snooki to confess to their hook-up, and the tiny guidette is still claiming that it never happened.
In Season 2, The Situation called himself the glue in the house -- "the one that keeps everyone together" -- after a nasty fight with hated housemate Angelina. But after picking fights with JWoww, Vinny, Ronnie, Sammi, Deena and now Snooki, it looks like Sitch is the problem.
When we first met him, Sitch's constant ab flashing and Cheshire grin seemed oddly charming. But over the course of the last four seasons, it's easy to see that the guy is nothing but a complete "jerkoff." He constantly inserts himself into other people's drama to get more screen time, and Season 5 is no different.
It's all beginning to feel like deja vu. No wonder Vinny gets depressed and tries to leave the Shore. I'm right behind you, Vin.
'Jersey Shore' Season 5 premieres Thurs., Jan. 5 at 10 p.m. EST on MTV.
While the party may be over at the Jersey Shore, there are a few reality spinoffs in the works, including one featuring the Shore's favorite guidettes, Snooki and Jwoww. The cast talks about their post-"Shore" projects below.
Follow Crystal Bell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/newyorkbell