The Jersey Shore spin-off is "essentially a dumbed-down Laverne & Shirley," writes PEOPLE's TV Critic

June 21, 2012 09:40 AM

If I were on a desert island with Jersey Shore‘s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, I would swim away into shark-infested waters. But Snooki? I would ignore passing ships. Maybe she would ask why the ocean has so much water. What an adorably dumb question! Maybe she would compare herself to that Gilligan Crusoe dude. I would smile indulgently and spear a fish for her supper. All Snooki moments are magical.

Snooki is the star, along with Jersey Shore colleague JWOWW, of the unimaginatively titled side project Snooki & JWOWW, premiering Thursday (10 p.m. ET) on MTV. Filmed during her current pregnancy and engagement to Jionni LaValle, the show allows Snooki to say of her unexpected journey to motherhood: “Instead of life throwing me a curve ball, it threw me a sperm ball.”

It’s an awful line, but it’s so Snookian. She accepts the simple, amoral axiom of reality TV: rolling downhill just means that the diameter of your snowball will grow and grow. Snooki could be banished to the moon – or revealed to be the long-lost heir to Downton Abbey, for that matter – and she would react with the same happy, shrugging stupidity.

“Honestly,” she says, “I really didn’t know I could make a baby.” This may even be true.

On S & JW, she and JWOWW move into an apartment in Jersey City, N.J., for what is essentially a dumbed-down Laverne & Shirley. Yes, such a thing is possible. In the premiere, Snooki parallel-parks for the first time. JWOWW panics because an apartment they’re shown doesn’t have toilet paper when she desperately needs it. The girls ask their two realtors if they’re having a fling. The realtors say no.

The show is horrible, but Snooki is a classic product of reality TV, a fully crystalized and probably unalterable personality. She’s a character actress without being an actress.

If NeNe Leakes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta can graduate to comedy work – she was on Glee this season and has a part in NBC’s upcoming The New Normal – why not Snooki?

CNN is looking for a fresh perspective on the upcoming political conventions? Snooki.

I expect great things of Snooki. Just not of her work.

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