The Thursday, August 30, episode of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation was one for the books. During the episode, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro opened up to his roommates about his volatile relationship with on-again, off-again girlfriend Jen Harley, who is also the mother of his daughter.
He explained, through tears, that he was afraid to end the relationship because he was afraid Jen would take away the baby – something he said, she does every time they fight. After breaking down in tears, he finally decided to go see a lawyer to discuss his options. When he returned back at the hotel, Jen arrived shortly after, screaming at him for calling her a “slut” and “whore” and actually spitting on him. Eventually, security had to step in. The episode ended with her saying, “I’ll go to jail.”
Us Weekly broke the news of the altercation shown in the episode, which occurred on June 7. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed to Us at the time that the police were called.
SallyAnn Salsano, the executive producer who has worked on the show since the beginning, actually stepped in during the episode to comfort Ronnie and appeared on camera – something she has never done. However, it was important to break that fourth wall, Salsano told Us.
“We always try to avoid it. I know there are other shows that try to go for it a little more and I think there’s always reasons as to why it happens. In this case, it really wasn’t a thought-out process. It was a reaction to what you do when a friend or someone you love is going through something,” she said in an exclusive interview.
While she “hated” being on camera, she knew she had to do it, she told Us. “I get it, I’m a producer. They are people that are on my TV show. The truth of the matter is that we have relationships with these guys. We’ve known them for so long. It wasn’t a typical episode. It wasn’t a typical thing that we normally deal with. This is someone you love going through something completely unexpected, out of the ordinary, and you know, we all look to each other for guidance.”
She continued: “There have been times in my personal life where I’ve leaned on those guys. And this was a time where, I think, Ronnie needed to lean on us. I think honestly, as a human, I don’t know if there was another way to do it. As a producer, there’s always other ways to do it. But as a person who genuinely cares about these people and loves this cast, there was not an option.”
The producer said that of all the craziness she’s seen on the show through the years – including Ronnie’s past relationship with Sammi Giancola – this didn’t just take the cake – “I think this took the bakery.”
With the Ronnie situation, it’s a bit different than the usual drama since it’s so personal and so much of it has played out on social media.
“We do give each other a certain amount of respect or privacy. We all go through things as we’re shooting but this was one of those things where it was just happening and we were there. We were in his hometown. It just felt so unavoidable and it was unexpected,” she said. “I think it was unexpected for Ron, I think it was unexpected for the cast, it was unexpected for the baby. This was literally, like, ‘We’re going to Vegas to meet the baby,’ and like hell, who doesn’t like Vegas? It kind of was a perfect fit for the show, like it made complete sense when we were making the plan.”
So, when the drama went down, it didn’t’ feel right not to show it. “In true fashion, we always follow what’s happening. We feel like also, if we didn’t follow this, we weren’t being true to the fans and the format. We always show what’s happening every single season. So we can’t shy away from it now.”
In the preview for next week’s episode, Ronnie explains to his roommates that the cops came and told him this was “domestic violence” and he responded that he didn’t want to press charges. “Now Jen is going to have a warrant out for her arrest,” he says.
When it comes to the legality of the situation, “you’ll see it handled with total kid gloves,” Salsano said. “Things played out in the press. That was a big part of the conversation. It’s already out there.”
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation airs on MTV Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Sharon Tharp