Are you a reality television junkie? These days, it’s hard to channel surf without seeing the likes of the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, Gordon Ramsay or even the newest bachelor or bachelorette. As contestants line up to sing their hearts out on American Idol or the housewives dish the dirt on The Real Housewives of Orange County, viewers can’t help but watch in anticipation while cheering on their favorite contestants and stars. But when did reality television first get its start?
Seeing a huge boost in 2000 with Survivor on CBS, MTV had already tapped the reality television market with The Real World and Road Rules only to follow up their success in 2009 with shows like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore to attract a younger audience. While Teen Mom followed stories of teenage pregnancy, Jersey Shore became an even bigger hit documenting the lives of eight young adults living together for the summer first on the New Jersey beach and then in Miami and Italy until 2012.
With millions of viewers instantly hooked by the train wreck of opinionated Italian-Americans getting plastered, fighting and hooking up, Jersey Shore was more than a hit reality series as it became a lifestyle for viewers desperate to be just like Snooki, The Situation, Sammi and the others. But, now that the series has been over for four years, what has everyone been up to? Join us as we take a look at the cast of Jersey Shore then and now! Come on, aren’t you the least bit curious?
#18 – Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi (Then)
“At home, I’m a princess!” Our trip down memory lane begins with none other than Nicole Polizzi, but you can call her “Snooki.” Born in Chile and moving to the United States at six months old when she was adopted, Snooki grew up in New York where she attended community college to become a veterinary technician before starring with her obnoxious boyfriend in 2009 on MTV’s Is She Really Going Out with Him? She immediately caught the eye of the Jersey Shore casting director and was soon named “the breakout member of the cast.”
Enjoying many memorable moments on the series between 2009 and 2012 (even if she doesn’t remember most of them), Snooki earned $5,000 per episode during the first season but managed to negotiate $30,000 per episode as her star status skyrocketed. With the series coming to an end, luck was in Snooki and her costar Jennifer Farley’s favor as they had little to worry about when MTV offered them their own spinoff, a modern Laverne & Shirley series called Snooki & JWoww. Saying “yes” had never been easier!
#17 – Nicole Polizzi (Now)
Wrapping up the final episode of Jersey Shore in December 2012, it was only six months before Snooki and JWoww returned to television for a four-season run on their own spinoff that ended in 2015. During that time, Snooki announced her engagement to Jionni LaValle and gave birth to her first child, a son named Lorenzo Dominic, on August 26, 2012. Managing to turn even more heads, the former Jersey Shore star made her post-pregnancy debut on the cover of Us Weekly looking better than ever after losing 42 pounds.
In the midst of appearances on The View and Jimmy Kimmel Live! as well as events like WrestleMania XXVII and MTV’s Club New Year’s Eve, Snooki teamed up with professional dancer Sasha Farber for an eighth-place finish on the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars. Since then, the 28-year-old tied the knot with LaValle on November 29, 2014 just two months after giving birth to their second child, daughter Giovanna Marie. As for her life in the spotlight, stay tuned for Nicole & Jionni’s Shore Flip, an eight-episode FYI series that follows the couple as they flip houses. Go ahead and brace yourselves for the pouf and zebra pants!
#16 – Angelina Pivarnick (Then)
“I’m a bartender. I do, like, you know, great things.” The final cast member from Jersey Shore is one you most likely forgot about until we mentioned her earlier on the list, Staten Island’s Angelina Pivarnick. Pulling double duty as a dental assistant by day and a bartender by night, the Polish-Italian was thrilled to join the Jersey Shore house only to discover that her tenure would be short-lived. After refusing to work at the t-shirt shop with the rest of the cast in the third episode of the first season, Aneglina was evicted from the show.
Returning for the second season in Miami, Florida, Angelina attempted to make amends with the rest of the cast but even that didn’t last long as she was kicked off the show after violent altercations with The Situation and Snooki. With Angelina’s flair for drama being a little too much even for MTV, the network refused to give her a third chance for the safety of the cast and, we imagine, for the sanity of the entire crew.
#15 – Angelina Pivarnick (Now)
Seeing the rest of the Jersey Shore cast bring in top dollar and rise to celebrity status motivated Angelina to find other ways to stick around the spotlight a little longer. In 2010, she released her first music single “I’m Hot,” which unfortunately never made it any chart in existence. Making a brief appearance in the music video for Dacav5’s “Dirty Style” as well as starring as a dating contestant on Excused, she surprised everyone when she reached the top 40 of the Club Play Songs on the Billboard chart in 2011 with her single “Gotta Get Out.”
By 2012, Angelina’s entertainment career was pretty much over after a catastrophic appearance on Couples Therapy and her polarizing views on gay marriage that alienated the few remaining fans she had left. She attempted to return to everyone’s good graces by challenging her former Jersey Star costars to celebrity boxing matches, but no one ever took the bait. So what’s she doing now? Other than hiding in a corner and licking her wounds, the 30-year-old is laying low with her most recent appearance occurring at a Mob Wives viewing party.
#14 – Deena Cortese (Then)
“Ew, you peed on my foot!” Unlike the other guidos and guidettes we’ve seen so far on our list, Deena Nicole Cortese wasn’t technically part of the original Jersey Shore cast. Interestingly enough, the New Jersey native dropped out of community college and had big dreams of joining the reality television circuit when she auditioned for the first season of the show. However, with a last minute change of heart, Deena rejected the network’s offer for the first season in order to spend quality time with her family.
After the second season saw Angelina Pivarnick’s grand exit from Jersey Shore, MTV needed another female lead and called on Deena once again since she had already auditioned. Receiving a huge vote of confidence from Snooki, Deena took the offer and joined the show for the final two seasons from 2011 to 2012 where she was known for her relationship with Snooki as well as the $106 fine she received after being charged with disorderly conduct while filming. Who could ever forget her tantrum on the sidewalk and her refusal to move?
#13 – Deena Cortese (Now)
Since throwing her fit in the middle of Seaside Heights, New Jersey for the world to see, what has the 29-year-old been up to? Well, that’s a tough question to answer! Launching her own website shortly after she starred on the show, Deena’s website is currently expired although she remains active on social media with over one million followers on Instagram. With little else known about her current line of work or even much about her personal life, we do know that she’s still dating Christopher whom she met while filming Jersey Shore.
According to her Instagram account (we don’t have much else for reference), Deena doesn’t have any children like some of her former cast members but she certainly isn’t shy about her love of selfies, which she posts almost daily. And, while many thought she would certainly continue her reality television career, that surprisingly hasn’t been the case with the New Jersey native only making sporadic appearances over the years on Snooki & JWoww and Couples Therapy. Looks like this Jersey Shore star needs to up her selfie game!
#12 – Jennifer “JWoww” Farley (Then)
“Fiancé. It sounds French…” While many people assume that MTV grabbed as many people off the streets of New Jersey as possible to star in Jersey Shore, a lot of the show’s cast members were quite successful beforehand including Jennifer “JWoww” Farley. Raised in New York, Jennifer attended the New York Institute of Technology and worked as a nanny before opening her own graphic design company called Jenni Farley Designs, Inc. By the age of 23, she was cast with seven other New Jersey natives on MTV’s newest reality series.
Turning a lot of heads on the show (partly due to her oversized chest!), JWoww took her popularity to the runway where she launched the Filthy Couture clothing line in Las Vegas shortly after the release of her book titled The Rules According to JWOWW. Unfortunately, her clothing line tanked after four months but good news overshadowed her disappointment when MTV announced that she and Snooki would star in their own spinoff series set in Jersey City, New Jersey, which extended her television career for another three years.
#11 – Jennifer Farley (Now)
Not yet closing the chapter of her career as a reality television personality, the famed JWoww has made guest appearances on shows like Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars and Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition, which she surprisingly won. In 2015, the 30-year-old even made her silver screen debut as an actor and executive producer in the independent film The Mint. But what about her personal life? Has she settled down since her Jersey Shore days when she and boyfriend Roger Matthews got engaged?
Welcoming their first child—a daughter named Meilani Alexandra—in 2014, Jennifer and Roger finally made it down the aisle on October 18, 2015 only to announce at their wedding reception that she was pregnant with their second child. Giving birth to her son Grayson Valor in May 2016, JWoww is as opinionated as ever before and continues to flaunt her stuff on social media where she has over 4.5 million Instagram followers not to mention Twitter fans who enjoy her outspoken support of gay rights that have led to online battles between Bristol Palin and former costar Angelina Pivarnick. Looks like some things never change!
#10 – Vinny Guadagnino (Then)
“Don’t touch me, I’m tan!” Coming in at just 12 days older than Snooki as the second youngest member of the cast, Vinny Guadagnino was only 21 years old when he joined the cast of Jersey Shore. Born and raised in a loving Italian-American family in Staten Island, New York, Vinny graduated with honors from SUNY New Paltz and worked as a political aid before making his reality television debut where the self-proclaimed mama’s boy became one of the few on the series without a ridiculous nickname.
Far from being considered the most rambunctious or even the wildest of the group, Vinny didn’t achieve the same kind of recognition that costars Snooki or The Situation found on the series. That isn’t to say, however, that Vinny wasn’t incredibly popular with fans. In fact, one of his biggest claims to fame came when he hooked up with Snooki and Angelina in what’s now considered some of the most memorable scenes of the entire six-season run.
#9 – Vinny Guadagnino (Now)
Throughout his time on Jersey Shore, Vinny made guest appearances on a variety of shows including 90210, The Hard Times of RJ Berger and Jersey Shore Shark Attack before MTV offered him his own talk show in 2013 called The Show with Vinny. Centered on famous celebrities like Lil’ Wayne and Mark Wahlberg visiting with Vinny at home and having dinner with his family, the show wasn’t as successful as the network hoped and was cancelled after only 11 episodes.
Based out of New York City and still booking appearances in clubs, Vinny was last seen making headlines in 2014 when he called Nicki Minaj a “b****” after trying to take a photo with her didn’t work out quite like he planned. Now trying to lay low when it comes to negative publicity, the 28-year-old has even co-authored a book titled Control the Crazy: My Plan to Stop Stressing, Avoid Drama and Maintain Inner Cool. It’s a good thing he’s no longer on Jersey Shore if he’s looking to avoid drama, don’t you agree?
#8 – Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio (Then)
“This hair ain’t movin’, my dude!” Resident Jersey Shore DJ and the oldest member of the cast, Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio of Rhode Island grew up in an Italian household and was working as a DJ after his high school graduation when he took his talents to MySpace. Gaining a small following on the site, Pauly D received a message from the Jersey Shore casting directors who came across his profile and liked his look so much that they wanted to know if they could bring a camera crew to film a day in his life.
After the camera crew filmed his daily routine of working out, tanning and hitting the club, Pauly D received word that he had a spot on the show. Instantly becoming the most recognizable of the entire cast thanks to his unique hairstyle, TIME magazine even dubbed his fans “seriously rabid” as he took home the 2011 Teen Choice Award for Choice Reality Star. And, like fellow costars Snooki and JWoww, he received even better news during the show’s final season in 2012—the network wanted more of Pauly D!
#7 – Paul DelVecchio (Now)
With his career far from over after Jersey Shore wrapped up, Pauly D was the first of his housemates to get a spinoff series on MTV—aptly named The Pauly D Project. Highlighting his career and talent as a DJ as well as his fun and easygoing personality, the show only lasted 12 episodes before being overshadowed by Snooki & JWoww (imagine that!). Not to be deterred, Pauly D settled in Las Vegas and began booking DJ gigs around the world while helping to raise his daughter, Amabella Sophia, who was born in October 2013.
Spending the last three years making special appearances and releasing the first single of his debut album called “Back to Love,” Pauly D made his grand return to reality television in 2016 when he joined the cast of Famously Single and started dating singer Aubrey O’Day. Today, the 36-year-old Pauly D is still riding the wave of his early success with nearly two million fans on Instagram who follow his every move as he travels around the world entertaining crowds with his signature DJ style.
#6 – Ronnie Ortiz-Magro (Then)
“I’ve dranken a lot more than I drank tonight…” Every group needs the “Enforcer” just in case the squad runs into trouble and, for Jersey Shore, that person was Ronnie Ortiz-Magro. Born and raised in The Bronx, New York, the musclebound half-Italian half Puerto Rican was working in the real estate industry with his father when he auditioned for Jersey Shore on a whim. Needless to say, he surprised himself when he landed the gig and appeared on all six seasons of the hit reality show.
One of the biggest storylines of the entire series was between Ronnie and Samantha “Sweetheart” Giancola, better known as Sammi (who we’ll see next on the list). The on-screen romance between the two was far from a happily ever after as their tumultuous relationship revealed Ronnie’s extreme temper and emotional abuse. To make matters worse, Ronnie clocked a guy and was arrested for aggravated assault within the first few weeks of living in the Jersey Shore house. Although the case was eventually dismissed as long as Ronnie stayed out of trouble, the civil case is ongoing.
5 – Ronnie Ortiz-Magro (Now)
Channeling his anger and temper elsewhere towards the end of Jersey Shore, fans saw Ronnie pop up in the professional wrestling circuit with an appearance at TNA Wrestling’s Impact Wrestling event in 2011 where he beat Robbie E for the win. A year later, he rejoined his Jersey Shore cast for an appearance in The Three Stooges but has been surprisingly quiet over the last few years after kidney stones kept him out of the gym for months and left him looking surprisingly different.
Having since made a full recovery, the 30-year-old is looking like his old Jersey Shore self these days and has even rekindled his romance with Sammi after being spotted together multiple times in 2016. While their relationship isn’t exactly torn out of the pages of a Disney script (or any fairytale for that matter), it undoubtedly falls in line with exactly what you would expect from an MTV reality series starring a bunch of hot-headed and opinionated New Jersey natives proud of their Italian roots.
#4 – Samantha “Sweetheart” Giancola (Then)
“I’m sorry I punched you in the face.” The other half of Ronnie Ortiz-Magro’s drama-filled Jersey Shore relationship brings us to Samantha “Sweetheart” Giancola from Hazlet, New Jersey. A model high school student and a star athlete in soccer, softball and track, Sammi attended William Paterson University on a soccer scholarship where she helped her team take home a huge win at the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s Metro Tournament. By the end of her collegiate career, the young athlete auditioned for Jersey Shore and made her series debut in 2009.
Although Sammi and Ronnie’s relationship was one of the biggest highlights of the series (after all, who could forget all that arguing?), Sammi was also part of a few other moments that we’re certain she’d like to forget. Regardless, the young star was bringing in $80,000 per episode by the final season in addition to bringing in profits from her own line of unisex fragrances inspired by fellow reality star Paris Hilton and known as Dangerous and Dangerous Desires. What is it about reality stars and fragrances?
#3 – Samantha Giancola (Now)
Once Jersey Shore ended, Sammi stayed fairly busy with appearances on television shows like Makeover Manor, Project Runway and The Ellen DeGeneres Show in addition to reuniting with her cast members on The Three Stooges and Snooki & JWoww. However, not even that was enough to seal the 29-year-old’s fate in the spotlight as she shifted her priorities behind the scenes with the launch of her own clothing and accessory line called Sweetheart Styles that features everything from active wear and dresses to clutches, bracelets and earrings.
Although she may not have the same star power as she did on Jersey Shore, Sammi hasn’t given up just yet and has joined Siggy Flicker and Clare Galterio for a podcast called Just Saying where they chat about celebrities and themselves, of course! Other than that, Sammi’s biggest headlines have come from her perpetual on-again, off-again relationship with Ronnie, which people can’t seem to get enough of. As for other news, she keeps nearly two million followers on Instagram entertained with pictures of herself and her three-week old niece. Aw!
#2 – Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino (Then)
“Lock up your daughters, handcuff your wives, The Situation’s taking over the Italian nation…” The next Jersey Shore star on our list is Mike Sorrentino, otherwise known as The Situation. Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Sorrentino graduated from high school in 2000 when he moved back to Staten Island to work as a fitness center manager. Fired after seven years, the 25-year-old Sorrentino turned the bad news into a new opportunity and launched his career as a model, an underwear model to be exact.
Slowly gaining recognition as a model, Sorrentino had little to lose when he auditioned for a spot on Jersey Shore in 2008. A year later, he made his debut on the series and became an even bigger name thanks to his GTL lifestyle, simply known as Gym, Tan and Laundry. So just how popular was he? At the height of the show’s popularity and thanks to numerous endorsement deals with brands like Devotion Vodka, Reebok and GNC, Sorrentino was actually the second highest paid reality star only behind Kim Kardashian.
#1 – Mike Sorrentino (Now)
By the end of Jersey Shore, Sorrentino was riding a tidal wave of popularity that just might have been his last. Appearing on shows like The Choice and Celebrity Big Brother as well as his infamous flop at the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump, Sorrentino’s life behind the scenes was actually spiraling out of control. Finally admitting his addiction to prescription medication in the midst of filming the final season of Jersey Shore, Sorrentino entered a Utah rehab facility in April 2012 for treatment.
Seeing his popularity decline immediately after the series, Sorrentino found himself in trouble once again when he was arrested for assault during a fist fight at a tanning salon—and we all know how much he loves to tan! The same year, he was slapped with tax fraud for failing to pay nearly $9 million in taxes, which he pled guilty to in December 2015. Today, the 34-year-old seems to have his act together but looks nothing like his younger GTL days causing many fans to wonder if all those years of tanning have finally caught up with the fist-pumping star or if he’s had a few too many rounds under the knife.