In honor of the cancellation of Made in Jersey, NJKS is looking back at some shows set in the Garden State that lasted a bittttt longer (although it is not hard to beat two episodes).
Made in Jersey was a failed experiment that had a British actress playing a Jersey girl who goes to New York City to be an attorney in a Manhattan law firm. The creator, a Los Angeles Times reporter, thought the street-smart and sassy lead character would grab the attention of viewers. I like to think she was looking for a toned-down version of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. Unfortunately, no one watched. My best guess is because viewers are either tired of a) shows about New Jersey b) shows about lawyers or c) shows with a smartass lead character.
To be honest, the abrupt cancellation of Made in Jersey will probably make it more famous than it ever would have been if it lasted. It was not exactly The Sopranos, speaking of which…
The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Essex, Bergen and Hudson Counties
Admittedly, this quintessential Jersey series is a tough act to follow for any product that comes out of NJ. How good was The Sopranos? Over the 8 years it ran, it won 21 Emmys, 5 Golden Globes, and is the most commercially and financially successful cable series in television history. It has inspired video games, music albums, and books and has to be included in any conversation about the best series of all time. Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, and James Gandolfini never have to work again, which begs the question why Gandolfini ever agreed to do Surviving Christmas. Put that aside though and the cast has had great success after the end of The Sopranos. Speaking of the ending, it might have been criticized to death, but if the only thing people remember about this show is a Journey song and a plate of onion rings, they need to go back and watch it again.
The fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital
Clearly lightning does not strike twice as Fox’s House was able to bring in a British actor to play a lead character and not only be successful, but win two Golden Globes in the process. Hugh Laurie and the rest of the diagnosticians at PPTH were favorites of the world during a stretch that saw the series become a top-ten rated show and the most watched TV series worldwide in 2008. Its popularity dipped in its last few years as I recall multiple people asking “is that show still on the air?” kind of like what people say about CSI, but its domination was apparent. We will forgive the producers for not shooting the show on location (it was actually shot in Century City) because at least the aerial shots of the fictional PTTH are of Princeton Univeristy’s First Campus Center.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000-Present)
Seattle, New Jersey
I guess this counts. I am not an avid watcher of Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Aqua Something You Know Whatever as it was recently changed to, but it is set in New Jersey and it is the longest running original series on Adult Swim, so that’s something. The three main characters, Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad, did temporarily move from New Jersey to Seattle, Washington in 2011, until the show’s creator said screw it and combined the two and made Seattle, New Jersey in 2012. I would not expect them to stay in New Jersey for long, as the creators say the title will change every year from now on so I am guessing the location will too. If it even matters. I’m guessing it doesn’t.
Cake Boss (2009-Present)
I guess this counts too, despite it being a reality series on TLC. Cake Boss is huge. It has spurned books, an uptick in tourism to Hoboken and in particular Carlo’s Bake Shop, and two spin-offs. The first being Next Great Baker a competition show hosted by Buddy Valastro. The show has two seasons and the winner of the second season was Pompton Lakes, NJ’s own Marissa Lopez (shout out!). The other series is the new Kitchen Boss, which goes further than just cupcakes–so much further.
Charles in Charge (1984-1990)
Scott Baio has come a long way from his days as Charles, a Copeland College (a fictional Rutgers) student who worked as a babysitter in charge of three kids. Now he is a dad on See Dad Run where his wife goes back to work and he is in charge of watching three kids…okay maybe he hasn’t come a long way. CBS to Nick at Nite though, now THAT is a long way. The one thing Baio can be proud of– Charles in Charge, which he mainly directed, lasted longer than Joanie Loves Chachi. Silver lining?
Boardwalk Empire (2010- Present)
I would not have expected HBO to return to New Jersey after the highly successful Sopranos thinking lightning would strike twice in the Garden State (which we have learned already it does not). However, if you are HBO and you are friends with Mark Wahlberg who is friends with Martin Scorsese, the rules do not apply to you. In its short life (three seasons), Boardwalk Empire has already won 12 Emmys and a Golden Globe award and Steve Buscemi has received critical acclaim as Nucky Thompson, the fictional version of Enoch Johnson, the political figure who controlled Atlantic City during Prohibition. Terence Winter, the creator of Boardwalk Empire, was a writer and producer for The Sopranos before this. Winter must have a knack for New Jersey gangsters, old and new.
Our apologies to the Jersey Shore series, but we ran out of time.