Jersey Shore v Geordie Shore

Cast of Jersey Shore and women on a night out in Newscastle

MTV is to launch a British version of its hit show Jersey Shore, which tells the story of eight outgoing teenagers growing up near the beach. And it's picked Newcastle as the city that most fits the bill. So how similar are they really, and what's the truth behind the stereotypes?

One is the sun-kissed shore of an affluent state on the US east coast. The other is a former ship-building powerhouse in England's chilly North East.

So when MTV decided to reproduce its most successful show, Jersey Shore, in the UK, why did it pick Newcastle? Because the people know how to have fun.

"Jersey Shore is set in the summer and it is always summer in the North East. No one wears a coat and Geordie girls are always out in their mini-skirts," says Kerry Taylor, the director of television for MTV Networks UK and Ireland.

Here, two natives reflect on life there, beyond the misconceptions.

Meet the Jerseyan And the Geordie
Brigitt Hauck

Brigitt Hauck, 23, born in Ridgewood, New Jersey

Caroline Briggs

Caroline Briggs, 34, born in Gateshead, Tyneside

A quick geography lesson

Location of Jersey Shore Location of Newcastle

Appearance

In New Jersey's seaside towns there is a clear convergence of two different styles. The cast of Jersey Shore is rebellious and outrageous, even in their appearance. To the female cast members, a night on the Jersey Shore means short, tight and bright clothes with big hair and dark make-up. And the men take just as much care in their appearance as the women do. Paul "DJ Pauly D" DelVecchio admits he buys hair gel in bulk and it takes 25 minutes just to perfect his trademark, bouffant blow-out hairstyle.

When it comes sartorial style, Geordies are known for what they don't wear rather than what they do. The missing item being a coat. There are rumours that shops do sell them, and some of my best friends even own one, but on a night out it's rare to see anyone wearing one - whatever the weather. If you do, good luck trying to find a cloakroom in a Newcastle pub. They're as rare as hen's teeth. The city isn't exactly famous for its tropical climate, quite the reverse. But even in the sub-zero temperatures of a Newcastle winter, coats are still left at home.

The glowing tans though are perhaps the most notable element of their style. Both the men and the women have expressed an affinity for sun beds. But, what isn't shown on the show, is that there are just as many people who sport a more conservative style. These women are more likely to wear seersucker dresses, while the men may choose comfortable critter pants, an oxford and top-siders.

Both sexes take pride in their appearance and a fake tan is popular among lads and lasses. The men like bright shirts and lots of hair gel. When it comes to women, less is more, with skirts worn very short. And you're not going to make your fortune as a tights salesman in this city. Geordies also like to put their own twist on trends. The sales of cowboy hats must outstrip any other UK city.

Lifestyle

A clambake

Jersey Shore follows eight men and women in their 20s as they flock to the seaside for a summer of debauchery and hedonism. The young stars stand out in their evening attire, which includes skimpy clothing and over-the-top hair (a Snooki poof anyone?). And big benders are not uncommon. Night after night the young adults are seen binge drinking, stumbling through the streets swearing loudly and acting in a sexually liberal way. But not everyone living at the Jersey Shore is an overly tanned, fist-pumping Italian-American.

Sage Gateshead

When people think of a typical Newcastle night out, it's the Bigg Market that springs to mind. It is the street where all the coatless youngsters flock to for a night "oot on the lash". The city's party reputation is international, often voted one of Europe's top destinations for nightlife. And when the Geordies go out, they go in packs. Roaming in large groups of men and women. After the party is finished it's usually time for a kebab or a "Geordie dummy" - sausage rolls to the rest of the UK.

What the show fails to convey is that much of the Jersey Shore is still a quaint family destination. One town in particular, Ocean City, prides itself on being family-friendly and keeps the party atmosphere to an absolute minimum. The city is "dry", meaning no bars, restaurants or stores are permitted to sell any kind of alcohol. Most other municipalities prohibit alcoholic beverages on the beaches. After a long day of building sand castles on the beach, bike riding or sailing, a number of young families would rather unwind over a backyard clambake or a night at the boardwalk riding the carousel and eating cotton candy.

But Newcastle can do sophistication too. The city's quayside is home to good restaurants, while the Ouseburn area is a hive of quirky pubs and music venues. The city, and nearby Gateshead, boast a thriving arts culture. The quayside has the Live Theatre, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Sage Gateshead. The Theatre Royal is used by the Royal Shakespeare Company. And there is a shore involved in the life of your average Geordie - Whitley Bay. A few miles east of the city, it's where the masses head on any Bank Holiday Monday, transforming it into the Bigg-Market-by-the-Sea. Bikinis optional.

Lingo and accent

New Jerseyans have a reputation for talking with a distinct accent. And the emergence of reality shows featuring the state has extended that perception. But do people from the Joisey [Jersey] Shore really tawk [talk] differently? Not quite. New Jerseyans, not unlike others around the world, have a slight accent. But it isn't necessarily a shore thing. Differences in New Jersey dialects are largely apparent by a north-south division, said professor Dale Coye of Thomas Edison State College in a 2009 report.

Like the New Jerseyans, the Geordies are famed for having a very distinct accent and dialect. So distinct in fact, there has been talk of using subtitles on the new show to translate local colloquialisms for the uninitiated, such as "howay", "hinny" and "canny". What gives Geordie its unique sound is how the vowels are pronounced, for example the "o" in town or brown is pronounced as "toon" and "broon". The intonation patterns are also different, with a rising expression at the end of many sentences.

People from the north tend to adapt speech patterns of those from the New York area, while people from the south tend to talk like those from Philadelphia, he says. At the Jersey Shore, which has a relatively central location, people seem to draw on both dialects. Consonants are relaxed slightly, so words like football sound like "footbawl" and words like water sound like "wudder". Some accentuate their "o's" so home may sound more like "howme". Despite these distinctive sounds, two things are certain: nobody says "Joisey" and phrases, like GTL (gym, tan, laundry), coined by Jersey Shore cast members are not the norm.

Geordies have a large vocabulary not heard elsewhere in the UK, like "hyem" (home), "gadgie" (man), and "hacky" (dirty). Other local words and phrases are now well known, such as "whey aye" (yes), "howay" (come on) and "gan doon toon" (going down town). To the untrained ear everyone will probably sound the same, but there is such a thing as a posh Newcastle accent and a not so posh one. Those from more affluent areas like Jesmond have a much softer brogue. But while the accent is distinct, it is also very popular. Many research studies have found that people find Geordie accents "friendly" and "trustworthy".

Perception from outsiders

A typical New Jersey boardwalk

Thanks to popular television shows like Jersey Shore having a New Jersey driver's license now evokes snickers and curious questions about the validity of the shows. People worldwide wonder if all Jersey girls are just like Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and if all Jersey guys sport abs like Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino. The series is partially accurate, but depicts only a small portion of the people who frequent the coastal New Jersey towns.

Alan Shearer

The well-known aversion to wearing coats even in the chilliest of temperatures, that's one perception most people have about Geordies. But the other thing we are known for is being very friendly and down to earth. We don't really do snobby or stuck up in this part of the world. In shops, on the Metro or in the pub, it's more likely than not that someone will strike up a conversation with you.

And the majority of these people aren't even from the area. In fact, the cast of Jersey Shore and their counterparts were dubbed "bennys" long before the show even aired. A "benny", is derogatory name derived from an acronym of some of the places the tourists come from: Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York. The term now refers to non-residents who crowd roads, homes, stores and beaches during the summer months. Year-round residents of the shore resent the growing stereotype of the typical Jersey Shore personality and have a hard time accepting the loud, summer crowd.

And at some point during that chat it's very likely they will call you "pet", a local term of endearment. Geordies are also viewed as being out for a good time and having an appetite for life. Basically, they work hard and party hard. Some people might not think they do it in the most sophisticated of ways, but they definitely know how to have a good time. The Rough Guide once named a night out in Newcastle as the UK's top tourist attraction. This energy also feeds into football. Newcastle United is like a religion for a lot of Geordies and its fans have a reputation for being the most passionate and the most loyal.

Weather

If Jersey Shore has gotten anything right, it's that New Jersey's coastal towns are a summer playground for many urban dwellers from the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. With average temperatures varying from a low of -6C (22F) in January to a high of 30C (86F) in July, the population soars between the American unofficial markers of summer, Memorial Day in late May and Labor Day in early September. During the chilly winter months only about 3,100 residents remain in Seaside Heights where the show takes place, but during the summer months the population balloons to nearly 30,000 people.

Cold, that's how you can sum up the weather in Newcastle for a large part of the year. Average temperatures aren't dissimilar to other parts of the UK, but because the city is situated near the North East coast, the sea breeze can make it feel like the coldest place in the world sometimes. But in the summer that breeze can keep things nicely cool. But one thing you don't have to worry about too much is the rain. Being in the rain shadow of the North Pennines, it is one of the country's driest cities. But this is the UK, so it's probably advisable to still pack an umbrella if you come for a visit.

Famous people

Bruce Springsteen

The notorious cast of Jersey Shore has made it easy to forget that the state's beachside towns boast a slew of big names. Although New Jersey is one of the smallest states in the US, it's also one of the most populous. Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, "the boss", are two of the most notable local stars. Both men are Jersey Shore born and bred and got their start playing in the area.

Cheryl Cole

Where do you start? What about with one of the most famous women in the country at the moment - Cheryl Cole. Yes, "our Cheryl" is a very proud Geordie. The city is also the birthplace of two more people who have won the hearts of the nation - Ant and Dec. The pair were recently named the best entertainment presenters at the National Television Awards for the 10th year running.

Springsteen, in particular, is known for his performances at the world-famous Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Even after gaining international acclaim, Springsteen and Bon Jovi both pay tribute to their roots by referencing New Jersey in their music and regularly playing at local music venues. Other notable stars that hail from the shore include actress Kirsten Dunst and actor, comedian, director and producer Danny DeVito. Whether famous or not, one thing is for sure: a true New Jerseyan will always be one through and through.

When it comes to music, Sting is one of the area's most notable exports, along with Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler. Then there's the Pet Shop Boy's Neil Tennant, Maximo Park and Jimmy Nail. And for a city obsessed with football, it has produced some of the game's biggest names, including Jackie Milburn, Bobby and Jack Charlton, Alan Shearer, Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley. And where would anyone be if local lad and engineer George Stephenson hadn't designed his steam-powered locomotive all those years ago?

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