If you live in what is known in this region as the Tri-State area, I'm positive you have asked this question. You meet someone; they say they're from Jersey; the next question inevitably is "What exit?" I assume that's because to get just about anywhere in this state, you will travel on the NJ Turnpike and/or the Garden State Parkway.
Sunday's edition of the Asbury Park Press asked an interesting question: Does NJ need an image makeover? NJ has always been picked on by late-night hosts and comedians. I assume it has something to do with NOT being New York. Surprisingly, a recent Fairleigh-Dickensen poll showed that 60% of viewers of the show "Jersey Shore" had a positive image of the state versus 44% of non-viewers.
I think the ability to laugh at oneself is a great quality and that's one thing we Jerseyans have. Of course, there's always a few fuddy-duds who have NO sense of humor at all and get their pants all in a twist about the"image" being portrayed of our state on TV. When the Sopranos was on, we had the Italian-Americans up in arms because it portrayed NJ Italians as members of the Mafia. Well, let's face it. Some of them are. I've known a few in my day.
I used to own a travel agency in a town heavily populated by Italians. Every year this group of 4 men would come in to book their annual golf outing. One of them was part owner of a popular Italian restaurant known to be a mob hang-out. He always brought us veal parmigiana sandwiches. And, I admit, they sounded a lot like Tony Soprano's guys. They were very nice and extremely funny. One year, they came in, but were missing one of the guys. Naturally, I asked where he was. Without hesitation, they said he was in prison and wouldn't be able to make it this year. But they had just visited him and he was doing fine. And, sure enough, the following year, the foursome was back. BTW, I never asked why he was in jail. I figured, the less I knew, the better.
I have never seen "Jersey Shore" or the newest addition to reality in NJ, "Jerseylicious." I did catch one of the NJ Housewives episodes and, from what I've been told, it was the best. The one where they're all out to dinner with their spouses and the discussion got heated and one of the wives picks up the table and throws it over. I would like to think that most viewers of any of these reality shows are bright enough to realize that the people on them have to be outrageous. Isn't that why we watch? Honestly, how many people would watch a show about a group of young people who rented a shore house and spent the day reading the Bible and watching "Little House On The Prairie" repeats?
So, all in all, I think we Garden Staters should embrace these images being portrayed today on tv. I agree with an interviewee mentioned in the article. Instead of fighting it, maybe even promoting the images as the land of interesting and different people: "Come to Jersey. You have to see it to believe it!" Fughetaboutit!
BTW, if you're interested in seeing a bit of real NJ, check out this post from last year