Entertainment Television

Winter TV preview: Guidos of 'Jersey Shore' vs. Gallaghers of 'Shameless'

Two drunk, loud and usually obnoxious "families" are vying for viewers on the midseason TV schedule: The guidos of “Jersey Shore” and the Gallaghers of “Shameless.”

Some might say comparing a reality show to a scripted drama is like comparing apples to oranges, but as you read above, there are similarities between these two shows. If you had to watch only one, which would it be? Oh, I have that answer.

Nothing says winter like a cold wind chilling you to the bone, which is exactly what I felt as I typed “Jersey Shore.”

They’re baack! And despite being tanned within an inch of their lives, The Situation, Snooki, JWoww, Pauly D., Deena, Ronnie, Sammi and Vinny do nothing to warm me up as I contemplate their fifth season, in which they return to Seaside Heights after terrorizing Italy in Season 4. As evidenced by the season premiere (9 p.m. Jan. 5, MTV; half star), nothing has really changed. The gang gets ripped—surprise!—during a welcome-back party at Captain Hook’s that leads to the most ridiculous non-smackdown between Snooki and The Situation’s pal, Jonny “The Unit” Manfre.

“Like, who are you?” Snooki asks. And the snark flies. And Sitch says “stop” like, a thousand times. Stop, please. Stop. In my reality-TV-hating opinion, the whole stretch-our-15-minutes lot of them should be stricken from the air.

If you want bold activities, high drama and laughs motivated by something other than fame, tune in for Season 2 of “Shameless” (8 p.m. Jan. 8, Showtime; 3.5 stars). The scripted series follows the misadventures of the Gallagher family, whose deadbeat dad father (William H. Macy) can’t stay sober long enough to care for his clan of six kids ranging in age from adult to toddler. With exteriors filmed all over Chicago last summer and fall, this series offers a look at the South Side in warm weather—and the action heats up plenty. Three episodes in, and I am in love with the Gallaghers all over again. (More on that later.)

The Gallagher family and friends brawl, drink too much and do some shocking things (mostly Frank), but you actually feel something other than embarrassment or irritation when you watch them. Unlike the guidos, the Gallaghers have heart, soul and most importantly, something to say.

Click here for 20 brand new reality and scripted series premiering this winter.
Click here for a guide to January premiere dates.

SCRIPTED—RETURNING
Here are 15 scripted shows returning for new seasons that are worth watching.

  • “Portlandia,” 9 p.m. Jan. 6, IFC
  • “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” 9:30 p.m. Jan. 6, IFC
  • “Downton Abbey,” 8 p.m. Jan. 8, WTTW
  • “Californication,” 9:30 p.m. Jan. 8, Showtime
  • “30 Rock,” 7 p.m. Jan. 12, NBC
  • “Fringe,” 8 p.m. Jan. 13, Fox
  • “Being Human,” 8 p.m. Jan. 16, Syfy
  • “Justified,” 9 p.m. Jan. 17, FX
  • “Southland,” 9 p.m. Jan. 17, TNT
  • “White Collar,” 9 p.m. Jan. 17, USA
  • “Archer,” 9 p.m. Jan. 19, FX
  • “Spartacus: Vengeance,” 9 p.m. Jan. 27, Starz
  • “The Walking Dead,” 8 p.m. Feb. 12, AMC
  • “Eastbound & Down,” 9 p.m. Feb. 19, HBO
  • “Bob’s Burgers,” 8:30 p.m. March 11, Fox

REALITY—RETURNING
Here are the premiere dates for 15 high-profile returning reality series.

  • “Project Runway All Stars,” 8 p.m. Jan. 5, Lifetime
  • “Face Off,” 9 p.m. Jan. 11, Syfy
  • “Kitchen Nightmares,” 7 p.m. Jan. 13, Fox
  • “Undercover Boss,” 7 p.m. Jan. 15, CBS
  • American Idol,” 7 p.m. Jan. 18-19, Fox
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race,” 8 p.m. Jan. 30, Logo
  • “The Voice,” after Super Bowl on Feb. 5, then 7 p.m. Feb. 6, NBC
  • “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” 8 p.m. Feb. 7, Bravo
  • “The Celebrity Apprentice,” 8 p.m. Feb. 12, NBC
  • “Survivor,” 7 p.m. Feb. 15, CBS
  • The Amazing Race,” 7 p.m. Feb. 19, CBS
  • “Dancing with the Stars,” 7 p.m. March 19, ABC
  • “Khloe & Lamar,” 9 p.m. Feb. 19, E!
  • “Ice Loves Coco,” 9:30 p.m. Feb. 19, E!
  • “Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” 8 p.m. Jan. 24, Wetv
Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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