Of Course Ron Found a Way to Be Cruel to Sam on 'Jersey Shore Family Vacation'
Despite not appearing onJersey Shore Family Vacation, Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola was a prominent figure in Thursday night's premiere. At first, the cast addressed her absence with a degree of understanding: Snooki told Danny (the guy from the T-shirt store) that Sam was sitting out the season because she's "settled down now, she met a really good guy." Deena echoed that statement, saying in confessional that Sam is "really happy with who she's with." (Sammi gave her own explanation a week ago, on Instagram, "I am currently extremely happy in every aspect of my life and want to avoid potentially toxic situations.") But as the episode progressed, it became clear that Sammi would not be treated kindly. She'd be ridiculed, disrespected, and dragged into the sort of Sam-Ron drama she'd wanted to escape. No one delighted in that more than Ron.
Ron and Sam had a dysfunctional, emotionally-abusive relationship that played out over six seasons ofJersey Shoreand lasted for almost two years after the show wrapped. (They officially split in 2014; the show was canceled in 2012.) Their relationship made for compelling reality-TV, sure — there was fighting, crying, and raw emotion — but it was a tragedy. Ron and Sam were two people in pain, stuck in a cycle of abuse. That Sam refused to put herself back in that situation should have been a happy ending to a sad story. Instead, it was an invitation for everyone to laugh at her.
This was accomplished through a sex doll named Sam that Pauly D brought into the house. (The doll was wearing a T-shirt that said "I'm in a really good place," as if Sammi's declaration of happiness deserved to be mocked.) To be fair, the cast, with the obvious exception of Ron, is still friends with Sam and probably meant for the sex doll to be all in good fun. But hearing the doll repeat "Raaaaaahhhhhn stop" — one of Sam's most iconic lines, which she yelled with tears running down her face in the middle of a volatile fight with Ron — was disturbing given the context. If Sam had decided to come on the show, if she were a willing participant in this "walk down memory lane," her storyline might still have been troubling (You don't have to do this to yourself, Sam!), but at least it wouldn't have felt so gratuitously cruel.
Deena was the lone cast-member to defend Sammi — and that made her Ron's Public Enemy Number One. "Don't stick up for her," he said at one point, getting in her face. "Don't tell everyone to relax." The tension passed quickly, but by the end of the night, a drunk Ron was back at it. "She's not here," he tells Deena. "She's not our friend. She doesn't have our back. Because if she did, she'd be here with us. Bottom line ... I'm having a motherfucking kid, do you understand? And I'm still here ... What the fuck does she have going on that's more important than me?" He meant "what does she have going on that's more important than what I have going on," but his word-choice speaks volumes. Ron still thinks he's entitled to Sam's time, consideration, and emotional energy.
It'd be irresponsible to say Ron was entirely to blame for his toxic relationship with Sam, if only because it's a serious issue that people shouldn't weigh in on without all the facts. But it's absolutely fair to say that, in theFamily Vacationpremiere, Ron was nothing short of a bitter, malicious ex. In one breath he said Sam was "gonna make a great mother, a great wife"; in another, he asked if anyone really wanted her there. "Do you really wanna deal with that bullshit?" he asked — as if the "bullshit" was all her fault.
When they split, Ronnie toldPeoplethat he and Sam "were drifting apart and not really spending any time together." On Thursday night's premiere, however, he admitted to cheating on her after they moved in together. The reveal wasn't surprising — infidelity was a cornerstone of their relationship — but it was an unnecessary, one-sided disclosure of personal details. "We were getting towards that stage where I either have to shit or get off the pot," he said. "She gave me a timeline, she's like, 'I want to get married in six months.' I'm like, 'I'm still trying to figure my life out,' I got cold feet ... ended up cheating, she found out. I blew it. It's over."
These are not the words of a man who wants to honor the love he shared with his girlfriend of five years. These are the words of a man who wants to get back at her, a man who thinks that, because he showed up for a reality-TV reunion, he can dictate the Sam-Ron narrative that suits him best. But the joke's on him. Because Sam may not have been there to defend herself, but Ron was more than there to sink himself.
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