G-T-Later! Jersey Shore is still a ratings smash, even though audience levels have dipped from its 2011 high. But MTV programming executive vice president Chris Linn tells TV Guide Magazine that it was time for the show to retire anyway.
Speculation on the end of Shore has centered on the show's escalating costs, now that roommates like Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi make as much as $150,000 an episode. But Linn says that wasn't the case. Meanwhile, MTV still has another season of Snooki & JWoww in the works (including the birth of Polizzi's baby), while no decision has been made on the Pauly D Project. Linn says MTV has also nixed any talk of continuing Shore with a new cast.
The sixth season of Jersey Shore premieres Thursday, October 4 at 10/9c. Linn spoke to TV Guide Magazine about how things went down:
TV Guide Magazine: It's the end of an era. How did you come to the decision to end Jersey Shore?
Linn: We came about it pretty organically. We've always talked about when will we know that it's time, as you'll see in this season and what you've read and seen and heard, you know their lives are changing, like any young adult. Nicole has the baby, relationships are brewing, they're taking those next steps of young adulthood.
The show started out as an authentic phenomenon of what occurs when young people get together to live in a summer shore house. Over time your life starts to move on in ways that take you in different directions. They're changing and we've always wanted to be able to go out on a high note.
TV Guide Magazine: The show isn't doing what it used to, but it's still a huge ratings success for you guys. I imagine this is something you knew you had to do, but it still stings.
Linn: We're thrilled with how well the show continues to do and we expect Season 6 to do incredibly well. The show has been so good to us in so many ways so we felt like we wanted to do the right thing.
TV Guide Magazine: This allows you to promote the final season as the end and try to get a nice ratings bump.
Linn: That is not an intentional strategy on our part. But certainly as I watch the episodes now, seeing it through the lens of this will be the last season, it adds another layer to it. Maybe you savor it a bit more. But in all honesty [the decision] just came together.
TV Guide Magazine: I also imagine been harder to keep up the show's conceit as the roommates became major celebrities.
Linn: We've always wanted the show to be authentic as possible. And much to our surprise that they have become as uber famous as they are, it certainly added challenges. Their lives are evolving and changing, they're following different paths and they have different businesses. It sort of starts to lead them away from what the original conceit of the show was. So better to acknowledge that and know when its time to move on then to try to milk that or incorporate it in a way that doesn't feel organic.
TV Guide Magazine: At the same time, the salaries have increased astronomically for the stars, and the show has gotten more expensive. Did it no longer make financial sense to keep it going?
Linn: In all honesty, that hasn't been the case. The show continues to do incredibly well in the ratings. Even in its last season it was the No. 1 show in 12-34 each week. We didn't even get to a step to discuss negotiating for another option and other season. So it's not a matter of negotiations. It was a decision we made for the good of the franchise and the channel. Our audience also demands reinvention from us. We've had Jersey Shore on our air for a while now and it's burned brightly and been a big piece of who we are, but we don't want to repeat ourselves. We've constantly looking to reinvent. It's a difficult choice to kill your baby, but sometimes you have to do that and move on.
TV Guide Magazine: MTV has also been focusing more on scripted series.
Linn: I think it's a part of our portfolio approach, but it didn't play a part in this decision. We have a number of successful series on our air and great new shows in the pipeline, so we have the luxury of stepping away, even from a juggernaut like Jersey Shore.
TV Guide Magazine: You still have second season of Snooki & JWoww coming.
Linn: Featuring the birth of the baby. You won't want to miss that.
TV Guide Magazine: What about Pauly D Project?
Linn: We've not made a decision yet on Pauly D, he's just gotten out of shooting Jersey Shore, so we're evaluating everything now but no decision yet.
TV Guide Magazine: Any other spinoffs in the works?
Linn: Nothing specific to talk about right now. We're always open to ideas. The cast is a big piece of the MTV family and we're certainly open to working with them, but nothing specific at this point.
TV Guide Magazine: How will you end the show? Is there an opportunity for a farewell episode?
Linn: The way we're rolling the show out, the show airing before the VMAs is our final lookback that will help tee up the last season. There's going to be the finale, which we're looking to eventize in a way that feels like an organic finale to the show.
TV Guide Magazine: What was the reaction from the cast?
Linn: Obviously it's emotional, not necessarily sad, but emotional. This has been a big piece of their lives. This show has changed their lives, our lives. Knowing this show is coming to an end and the rest of their lives, personal and professional, is ahead of them, that's a monumental shift. But they've all got great careers ahead of them and are all pursuing individual and very different endeavors. In some ways I'm sure they're very excited to move forward.
TV Guide Magazine: Why not reboot with a new cast?
Linn: That's something that has bubbled up since Season 2, and something that's been contemplated. Our position has always been we really have lightning in a bottle with this cast. They are all unique, defined characters who spark off each other really in perfect ways. This show is about this cast and not even about what happens in each season, but how things evolve from season to season. They have such history now and the audience has such history with them. To try to completely revamp it with a new cast just feels like it would do a disservice to what the show has been.
TV Guide Magazine: How will Jersey Shore be remembered?
Linn: It shined a light on MTV and brought a lot of viewers back just after a time when maybe we had lost a bit of relevance. We've been able to tell fascinating stories and introduce a fascinating cast on to our audience. It's been dramatic, it's been comedic, it's really been a fun ride. For us, for the cast and for the viewers.
TV Guide Magazine: MTV is always reinventing itself.
Linn: If you look back at the history of MTV there's the era of Jackass, the era of The Osbournes, the era of The Hills. We're still in the middle of the era of Jersey Shore and it won't be too long until there's another era. Our audience tends to choose a show or two at a time, and then we move to something that feels completely different. I'm excited about what's to come.