“The Show With Vinny,” a contrived hybrid of a reality series and a talk show, is a surprisingly sweet exercise in hospitality and good cheer, in which guests are invited over to the Guadagnino house for a home-cooked meal, courtesy of Paola, Vinny’s ma.
Lil Wayne (whom Vinny calls “Little Wayne,” as if more consonants will fully convey his respect for the man) “drops in” with his entourage. Paola and Vinny’s sisters have been duly warned to be on their best behavior (“Little Wayne is my Tony Bennett,” Vinny explains to Paola, who immediately gets it), but nothing can be done about Uncle Nino, who arrives open-shirted and camera-conscious, hoping to meet “John Wayne.”
Everyone here goes through the motions of pretending this is an organic, everyday experience, especially Vinny, who unconvincingly groans when Paola asks Lil Wayne, a New Orleans native, what gumbo is. Beneath all the phony-bologna, however, there are some tender moments, as when Lil Wayne sincerely thanks Paola for dinner: “We[’re], like, convicts and [stuff]. People don’t really invite us over.”
In the next segment, Vinny welcomes Jenna Marbles, whose comedic YouTube commentaries have garnered millions of subscribers (which Vinny envies). Jenna gamely accompanies Vinny to the garage, which has been retrofitted to serve as his mancave. A nervous Vinny giggles his way through their “interview” and relies on his fallback guido persona to flirt with her. The only things I ever knew about Vinny from my tentative watchings of “Jersey Shore” are that he earned a 3.9 GPA while at the College of Staten Island and that the ladies have responded positively to the size of his manhood; both claims are firmly restated for Marbles’s benefit, and she does him the kindness of seeming impressed.
There are a lot of scripted shows out there — comedies, mainly — attempting to mine both the relative comfort and underlying ennui of being a man who still lives at home with his parents, with the Great Recession as a social backdrop matched with a sense that millennial American culture suffers from prolonged adolescence.