Watching recent episodes of Jersey Shore, it’s somewhat hard to believe that this is the same group of hard-partying guidos that we came to know and love over a decade ago.
For the most part, the changes are positive, and it’s been a joy to watch Mike Sorrentino get sober, and several cast members embrace parenthood.
But there’s no denying that the show is considerably less lively than it was in its heyday.
It’s not for nothing that viewers have christened it with the nickname Jersey Bore.
While the cast still manages to deliver laughs, watching a group of late-thirty- and early-forty-somethings sit around a hotel lobby and endlessly discuss year-old drama is often not as compelling as the non-stop party that was the early seasons of Shore.
Not surprisingly, fans have wearied of the endless conversation surrounding the bridesmaid speech at Angelina’s wedding — and it looks as though the cast is growing tired of it, too.
Already, Snooki has quit the show as a result of the backlash she received from Angelina stans.
Now, many fans suspect the Pauly D, the perennial life of the party, might soon follow suit.
Unlike Snooki, Pauly was not implicated in the bridesmaids’ speech mess — but that doesn’t mean he wants to hang around and watch the franchise that made him famous die a slow death.
In this way, Shore might soon become a victim of its own success.
The principal players are very well-paid — but at this point, they no longer need the money.
Pauly, in particular, is very well off.
He has two other shows on MTV (A Double Shot at Love With Vinny and Pauly and Revenge Prank), and he’s often forced to take a break from Shore filming in order to headline high-paying DJ gigs.
In other words, he doesn’t need the cash, and several observers have noted that he appears to be sleep-walking his way through the current season of Shore.
Sure, Pauly has delivered laughs with the help of sex dolls, mini-motorcycles, and Vinny Guadagnino.
But there will likely come a time when he decides to follow Snooki and Sammi "Sweeheart" Giancola into the Guido Retirement Home.
Forty might be a bit old to star in an MTV reality show named for infamous party spot, but it’s very young in the grand scheme of things, and Pauly is likely well aware that he has the bigger picture to think about.
And at a certain point, remaining associated with a over-the-hill basic cable series will become more of a detriment than it’s worth.
The question many fans are asking these days is — will Shore be able to survive without its most popular pranskter?
Would the rest of the cast even want to carry on without Pauly?
Already, JWoww has talked about quitting, and the entire cast has revenue streams that do not require their continued involvement with the show that made them famous.
They may wish to assemble for one more go-round just to give the show a proper send-off, but it’s looking more and more like the next season of Shore may be the last.