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The longest-running international adaptation of the MTV hit 'Jersey Shore' proves that booze, sex and fake tan is a winning combination worldwide.
LONDON, UK — Most of the time, they’re drunk. They copulate like laboratory bunnies. The women’s skin is a shade of orange that doesn’t occur in nature. The men all seem to have some kind of allergy to sleeves.
The show launched in 2011 in the northeast English city of Newcastle upon Tyne. (In local parlance, a “Geordie” is both a person from Newcastle and the name of the region’s distinctive dialect.)
Its first episode drew the highest ratings MTV UK had seen in three years. The seventh season premieres Tuesday night in the UK.
A Spanish version, “Gandia Shore,” premiered in October on MTV Spain. A French series is reportedly in the works. Countries from Sweden to New Zealand have launched their own unauthorized “Shore” knockoffs.
The series proves that the winning formula of “Jersey Shore” — booze, abs, thick regional accents and lots of fake tan — truly does have global appeal.
Visually and structurally, “Geordie Shore” is a near remake of its US cousin. It follows the exploits of eight local young adults who share a house.
The women are all dark-haired and buxom. The men tend slavishly to their abdominal muscles. All share a single-minded fixation on their next “pull” (or “smush,” as they say on “Jersey Shore.”)
“Geordie Shore” even has its own counterpart to Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, the Jersey cast member proud enough of a body part to give it a pet name. (Gary Beadle has “The Secret” and — surprise! — it’s in his pants.)
It’s not until they open their mouths that it’s clear we’re not on the New Jersey Turnpike anymore. MTV occasionally subtitles the cast members’ Geordie brogue, with its throaty vowels and unique vocabulary (“nowt” for nothing, “gan” for go.)
No one knew what to expect when “Jersey Shore” premiered in the US in 2009. The show proved to be an international smash in the UK and elsewhere. So when MTV Networks UK and Ireland announced in early 2011 that it was adapting the show for the UK, locals had a good sense of what was coming.
Many of them did not like it.
“People need to visit Newcastle before judging! We are nothing like that!” wrote one outraged Geordie on a Facebook page decrying the series.
“I know plenty Geordie lads and lasses and the majority have more self-respect in their little fingers than these thick slaggy losers have in their entire body!” fumed another.
The official UK media regulator received 20 complaints following the show’s premiere. The local MP, Chi Onwurah, complained about the program in parliament and wrote to MTV in protest.
“Our research has shown that the people of the North-East . . . are extremely proud of their heritage and ultimately revel in being ‘Geordie’ – making this the ideal setting to showcase a well-loved region at its heart,” wrote the network's director of television, Kerry Taylor, in a response posted on Onwurah’s website.
Far from becoming a public relations disaster, the show seems to have been a boon to the struggling northeast economy. Newcastle-area hotels and travel agents reported a fourfold increase in booking inquiries a year after “Geordie Shore” premiered, the Independent reported.
“There was an understandable concern among local residents and the wider business community that Geordie Shore was promoting outdated stereotypes of Newcastle," said Sarah Stewart, chief executive of Newcastle's tourism authority.
"I think it’s fair to say the program is seen very much for what it is — an entertainment program that could have been filmed anywhere in the country."
Filming on the most recent season was suspended in July after cast members Vicky Pattison, 25, and Holly Hagan, 20, were arrested for assault following a bar fight in which an 18-year-old woman was allegedly struck with a stiletto heel.