There was a time, not even all that long ago, when the Jersey Shore cast only cared about three things:
Doing laundry. Getting a tan. And going to the gym.
But these are very different days and, to a large extent, JWoww, The Situation and company are very different people.
When they get together off screen -- as Mike Sorrentino, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Deena Nicole Cortese and Jenni “JWoww” Farley all did this past Saturday -- issues often come up that go beyond drinking and weight lifting.
A deadly virus that has broken out around the country and how one best safeguards against spreading it.
Yup: The gathering of these MTV personalities sparked a debate this weekend over mask-wearing in public.
The aforementioned stars and their significant others went to dinner at The Butcher’s Block in New Jersey on the night of July 4 in order to celebrate Mike's birthday.
Based on social media reactions and the looks on their faces, these friends had a great time.
However, shortly after photos from the party went viral, the group found itself in scalding hot water.
Take a look at this photo below and the very first one posted above and perhaps you'll notice why:
Indeed, only Vinny is wearing a mask.
In one of the snapshots, he's even standing off to the side while doing so, seemingly because he's being shamed or because he's afraid to be near his NON-mask-wearing pals.
"Happy birthday @mikethesituation. @Vinnyguadagnino the mask won’t protect us with the shit u got jkjk," wrote Farley as a caption to the picture on Instagram.
(For those somehow unaware, all health experts are urging people to wear masks when out and about because it's the most proven way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.)
One of Jenni's followers, meanwhile, angrily addressed his/her frustration in the comment section of her post, writing;
"Vinny, the only one w respect for others. You would think some of u have kids at home u would protect them better."
"You should all take notes from Vinny," another critic wrote.
Especially because children were brought up -- and these strangers were insinuating that she was an irresponsible parent by putting her two kids at risk as a result of this inaction -- Farley quickly fired back.
"We have all been tested and don't see anyone who hasn't been regularly tested," Jenni replied, adding:
"It's also hard to eat and wear a mask. Glad you know all about us and think we would ever put anyone in jeopardy... especially our kids."
Snooki, it should be noted, posted a mask selfie from inside her taxi on the way to this dinner.
The star, however, will not be returning to Jersey Shore for Season 4.
“I’m quitting, I think,” she told Cortese on the season finale, which centered on Angelina getting pissed at her bridesmaids for their disrespectful wedding toast.
“I think this is it," Snooki added at the time.
"This is not fun. … I just love my roomies, always. Jersey Shore is literally my life. I never would have met my best friends, so the fact that it has to end like this, for me, it really sucks.”
Of course, the number one reason behind Snooki's retirement is the backlash from the speech she made at Angelina Pivarnick's wedding.
Yes, if you're a Shore fan, then by now, you probably already know all about this particular controversy.
(After all, the show spent four freakin' episodes documenting Pivarnick's nuptials.)
And it probably helps explain why Angeliners was not on hand for Mike's b-day celebration.
Many believe that Angelina killed the Jersey Shore franchise with her overreaction to the wedding toast.
We don't know if the cast shares that opinion, but we do know that they took advantage of her absence with a Pivarnick-style roast, this time with Mike as the guest of honor.
“Alright, we’re going to do a speech for Michael’s birthday,” Snooki announced at one point, according to In Touch.
“Mike, you are the smelly pickles under my bed,” Deena said.
“Mike, you’re the taxi cab when I thought I was going to Jenk’s but you sent me to f–king Manhattan,” JWoww added.
Both were referencing two of Mike's most famous pranks from the early days of Shore (when Angelina was barely even on the show!).
They also cslled Mike the “neck to their brace” and the “head to their wall" in reference to his epic self-sabotage during his infamous "fight" with Ronnie Ortiz-Magro
The structure of the speech echoed the one the ladies delivered at Angelina's wedding when they referred to Pivarnick as “lice to their hair,” the “fly to their s–t” and the “dump to their island.”
This time, however, there was no bad blood.
Mike seemed to enjoy every second of the speech, especially when the girls offered up some earnest praise toward the end.
“I can’t imagine my life without you in it,” Deena told him.
“We are so proud of you and the man that you have become,” Snooki concurred.
Obviously Snooki can laugh about the speech at this point -- but don't think for a second that she's changed her mind about retiring from Shore.
The long-time star then expounded on her decision on her “It’s Happening With Snooki & Joey” podcast:
You know, when I leave my kids and I film the show, like, I want to have a good time.
And I’m putting myself out there, and I just wanna come off as a good person. And lately, on the show, it’s just been very drama.
Our show, Jersey Shore, is about family and about making fun of each other and having a good time and laughing and just knowing that it’s all in good fun. And lately, it’s just like, everything is so serious...
I just don’t like the turnout of it, and I don’t like the person I’m portrayed as.
Will you still tune in for Season 4 without Snooki?
And do you think these stars deserved their backlash for not wearing a mask inside that restaurant?