Jersey Shore returns with MTV’s highest ratings ever, Snooki products, a GTL Foursquare badge

The return of Jersey Shore Thursday night drew 8.45 million viewers, which MTV said was its “most watched series telecast ever.” So, yes, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, DJ Pauly D, Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, Vinny Guadagnino, and the rest are still very, very popular.

There was a huge increase in viewers compared to the second-season premiere (63 percent more viewers ages 12 to 34) and 36 percent more than the already high-rated finale.

The cultural saturation of Jersey Shore is undeniable, but shows no sign of going away: You can now unlock a GTL badge on Foursquare (if you go to a gym, a tanning salon, and a laundramat within seven days of each other), and Snooki is creating her own licensed products, adding to the glut of Jersey Shore products.

As to that rather insane licensing, Mary Elizabeth Williams examines this trend and argues that “the deluge of ‘Jersey Shore’-related products suggests that we have entered a new era, one in which reality fame quickly translates into superstore product.”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.