"Speaking the name of the State of New Jersey shall always get a big laugh. The Constitution cannot say exactly why."
— Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, The Constitution of the United States of America, Article IV, Section 5
In the media, New Jersey is often portrayed one of three ways:
An overgrown Little Italy. Everybody seems to know somebody who knows somebody who is "connected", be they a mechanic in Hoboken or a soccer mom in Parsippany. The politicians rival Third World dictators in brazen corruption. All the white people are Italian (and as of the 2010s they'll be white in name only, as they'll be slathered in fake-tan body paint), and they all know what the hottest clubs are. The men have blowouts, dress in either Armani Exchange clothing or muscle shirts, do vast quantities of steroids, drive '80s IROC-Z Camaros or entry-level BMWs, and are insanely misogynistic and homophobic. The women, known as "Jersey Girls," are all Hard Drinking Party Girls, still have '80s Hair decades after it went out of style, wear ten pounds of makeup, and are always dressed like they're headed to the club. The only radio station is WKTU, and they are always playing Lady Gaga or Cascada remixes. If a techno-sounding beat starts playing, the natural response is to start pumping one's fist in the air. And everyone speaks with an obnoxious, nasally, highly FlanderizedItalian-American/New York accent.
A Place Worse Than Death, where people's hopes and dreams go to die. Suburbs, malls and smokestacks dominate the landscape, most of the kids are either vapid Alpha Bitches, Jerk Jocks or guidoes (see above), and the adults aren't much better. The cops are inept and more concerned with DWB (Driving While Black) than with the dude beating his wife just down the street. Ourheroes are forced to have "fun" by loitering in convenience stores or malls, going to Action Park, and moping around to either a hip indie/emo soundtrack or '80s power ballads (preferably Bon Jovi or The Boss). The highways are jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive. You can only wonder why 8.7 million people choose to make New Jersey the most densely-populated state in the nation. This is arguably the most popular portrayal of New Jersey in the media, and will be played either for laughs or dead seriously.
For information on the various regions, cities and locales of the state of New Jersey, as well as a long list of famous New Jerseyans, check out our handy Useful Notes page.
Not to be confused with that other Jersey, from which it was named after.
Appearances in media:
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Shangri-La, the hometown of most of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ's main characters, is a lot like the stereotypical image of Jersey... if it were a 60 km-long cylinder floating around in space. Unsurprisingly, it's mostly used as a space garbage dump.
Part of the Intoccabile Arc of Noir, of all series, takes place in the Skylands.
Some comic book fans believe that Batman's Gotham City is a thinly-disguised Newark. In current continuity, the city is now confirmed to indeed be located in New Jersey.
If this is true, then perhaps Bludhaven is a version of the nearby Elizabeth or Linden.
Given its position on the coast it seems Gotham is in the area of Little Egg Harbor. This would make Bludhaven the equivalent of Camden, which we can all agree is fair. Gotham's official history (yes, there really is such a thing) explains that it was heavily settled by Swedes; since Swedish immigrants had a large presence in southern New Jersey and Delaware, Camden is a fair candidate.
Buddy Bradley moves back to Jersey after giving up on Seattle in the pages of Hate.
While the state itself isn't featured, Tomorrow Stories had Cobweb and Clarice running into the Lost Housewives of New Jersey, a tribe of housewives who got lost on "a cheap package tour, never to return" in Gowandogandoland. Their "language" is a very exaggerated New Jersey dialect.
Lost Housewife 1: Ehwajehno! Wigodda perra skoytsfum sumuddaboyg! (Translation: Hey whaddaya know! We gotta pair of skirts from some otha' burg!)
Felix the Cat: The Movie has Felix setting his eyes upon the crumbling, corrupt Progress City, and what does he say? "Where are we, New Jersey?" Also an example of Self-Deprecation when you realize that Felix the Cat Productions Inc. just happens to be located in New Jersey.
In Superman: The Movie, Lex Luthor's master plan involves two nuclear missiles, one aimed at the San Andreas Fault in California, and the other aimed at Hackensack, New Jersey. It's implied that the latter target was chosen because he doesn't like his girlfriend's mother who lives there.
In Dude, Where's My Car? the good Aliens threaten to banish the bad Aliens to none other than Hoboken, NJ.
The first half hour of The Remake of The War of the Worlds had New Jersey (specifically Bayonne) getting blown up. The film crew actually did blow up a small park in Bayonne as part of the movie (the crew rebuilt it afterwards).
For that matter, the infamous 1938 radio show was also set largely in New Jersey.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop, though it suffers from some Boston Doubling (to be more precise, the well-loved South Shore Plaza in nearby Braintree).
At one point in Zoolander, Derek goes to work with his family in the coal mines of South Jersey. The real South Jersey is a vast coastal plain, hardly the place where one would find coal mines... but of course, this is supposed to be a joke.
Especially since the scene was actually filmed in an old mine (now a tourist trap) in the Highlands.
This is the state Gracie represents while undercover in Miss Congeniality. We never actually get to see the state outside of one deleted scene, but Gracie can't resist going for the easy target when her training starts to wear on her nerves.
Victor: Why is New Jersey called "The Garden State?"
Gracie: Because it's too hard to fit "Oil and Petrochemical Refinery State" on a license plate?
The Wrestler. There the state is depicted as a feckless purgatory of trailer parks, run-down local shops, monotonous public housing, and abandoned amusement parks (no, not that kind).
Hellboy's Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense is located in New Jersey, where it's disguised as a waste treatment plant.
In The Long Kiss Goodnight, Geena Davis' character, a CIA agent, lives in New Jersey, and has to get out. She complains that she gave birth to a child got herself out of Beirut, so getting out of New Jersey shouldn't be too hard. Samuel L. Jackson's character disagrees, saying many have tried and failed, including the state's entire population.
The slasher film The Prowler takes place in Avalon Bay, New Jersey.
The Professional (aka Leon) fails Jersey geography spectacularly in its final moments: Mathilda is at the Spenser School, which is (according to an overheard conversation) supposed to be in Wildwood, New Jersey. However, the final moments of the film show that it overlooks the Hudson River and Manhattan. Wildwood is in fact an oceanfront community near the tip of Cape May, over 150 miles away from New York City. (The scene was actually filmed at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.)
Daniel and his mom from The Karate Kid were originally from New Jersey.
Michael Myers' hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois in the Halloween series was named after producer Debra Hill's hometown of Haddonfield, New Jersey... which shares a freeway exit◊ with the nearby town of Voorhees.
In Eddie And The Cruisers and its sequel, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!, Joisey-accented Eddie Wilson is proud of his home state, warts and all. In fact it seems like the warts are what he likes about it. From a conversation about his inexplicable homesickness while on tour in the sequel:
Eddie: Baby, there's nowhere else in the world like the Garden State! You got miles of swamps and mountains of dumps... different colored rivers... automobile graveyards, breweries, factories, ballparks, all mixed up together. It's the best place to live.
Diane: Uh huh. Then why does the Statue of Liberty face the other way?
Jean Shepherd wrote many short stories about Joisey. Many of them satirizing pop art — such as the large ship sailing against traffic on Route 22, Lucy, the giant elephant hotel room in Margate, and them concrete Mexicans and flamingos on people's lawns.
Irene Adler, one of the few people (and the only woman) to have ever outwitted Sherlock Holmes, was from New Jersey.
On Big Bang Theory Leonard is from NJ, which comes up from time to time. For example in the 2011 Halloween episode Leonard manages to pull a trick on roommate Sheldon who says as a Texan native he is an expert at retribution. However when Sheldon tries to pull a trick on Leonard, Leonard manages to turn it against Sheldon.
Leonard: You may be from Texas, but I'm from Jersey!
The highly acclamed dramedyEd filmed exteriors of its fictional location Stuckeyville in Upper Middle Class Westfield, NJ. Many local residents were used as "Stuckyville Extras".
The credits for Ed consisted of him driving through town. To this Westfield native, it was very odd to see the familiar sights of downtown Westfield, cut and pasted out of sequence.
In certain towns in the area it was filmed some shops still have the Stuckyville name painted on their windows. Most visible at a Jewelry shop in Westwood.
New Jersey is often used as the butt of jokes by late-night comics like Jay Leno and David Letterman, as well as New York-based sitcoms like Seinfeld and Friends. Listing all of the instances of this would require a separate page.
Particularly notable is How I Met Your Mother, which has devoted entire episodes to mocking Jersey, despite the writers seeming to have no idea what the state is like. note Nobody would say "There's a motel just down the Turnpike." The Turnpike runs the entire length of the state with very few exits, and is used to travel long distances quickly. They probably meant the Parkway. Needless to say, critics from New Jersey were not very happy.
Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, the fictional hospital where House takes place, is in New Jersey.
A genuine Princeton-Plainsboro hospital is under construction on Route 1 as of this writing; the design of it has obviously been inspired by House. (The actual building used for House is just a mile or so away — it's the back side of Princeton University's Frist Student Center.)
The Sopranos was set in New Jersey, and helped to reinforce many of the Mafia stereotypes.
Point Pleasant was set on the Jersey Shore, but was filmed in California. It showed.
Similarly, the short-lived 1992/1993 sitcomDown The Shore was set in a townhouse in an unspecified Jersey Shore town (possibly Belmar).
The X-Files featured the Jersey Devil in its fifth episode.
Stewart is also a devoted fan of fellow Jersey native Bruce Springsteen. When he announced on the show that he went to see Springsteen in concert over the weekend, he added, "It was, uh, what's the word I'm looking for? Oh yeah, the greatest night of my life?" He also delivered a heartfelt tribute to The Boss during the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors.
The Cake Boss takes place in Hoboken. Chef Buddy was slightly irked when a Manhattanite took a call while ordering her cake with a "Yeah, I'm in Jersey, can you believe it?"
And later: "You went all the way to Jersey for a cake?"
Will and Grace played with this. They described Jersey as something of New York City's suburb, a nice, peaceful place to raise a family. However, this being Will and Grace, that was also considered where New Yorkers go to die. The only reason to go to New Jersey (aside from the outlet malls) is if you've gotten married and had kids (and essentially your "interesting" life as a New Yorker is over.)
And let us not forget the inestimable Uncle Floyd and the various incarnations of his (deliberately-cheap-looking) program.
Particularly his character of Jerry Jersino ("I love New Jersey and I'm proud!") and his Cowboy Charlie parody song "Deep in the Heart of Jersey".
Jean Shepherd hosted a program on New Jersey Public Television called Shepherds Pie, which concentrated on New Jersey.
After New York's then-Governor David Paterson made an otherwise forgettable verbal jab at New Jersey, Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen made Jersey-slamming one of the main points of his caricaturization of Paterson, in part to make the joke portrayal less about Paterson's visual impairment.
This was pretty much the only joke of the early Joe Piscopo Saturday Night Live character Paulie Herman, that he was from New Jersey.
Problems arose from one Paulie sketch, which portrayed Piscataway as heavily-covered by chemical plants and toxic dust. Ted Light, Piscataway's then-mayor, was not at all amused.
A The Daily Show interview mentioned a truly bizarre case of this: the interviewee, Maziar Bahari, is an Iranian reporter who was imprisoned and tortured for six months on suspicions of being an American spy. One of his captors, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was apparently obsessed with a "paradise on Earth" located in America named... New Jersey, which he apparently saw as "the prototypical American state where people drink all the time, have sex all the time and never run into Jews"
Voltaire's song "Bomb New Jersey" (the other Voltaire). However, there are enough in-jokes that only people from New Jersey would get that it's hard to be offended.
Voltaire grew up in New Jersey (and hated it), and mentions it in more then one of his songs. For example: "Hell in a Handbasket".
I'm goin to Hell, (he's going to hell) in a handbasket. (in a handbasket)
And I might like it that way.
No this ain't no lie, I'd rather be Kentucky Fried
Than live and kicking in Jersey any day
Bruce Springsteen is from New Jersey, and several of his songs are love letters to his home state. Several others are about how much the state sucks (see: "Born to Run"). He also contributed the Ending Theme for the above-mentioned The Wrestler.
Less Than Jake's song, "Never Going Back to New Jersey"
John Gorka has a song called "I'm from New Jersey," which is a pretty accurate impression of residents' reactions to New Jersey jokes. Can be seen here.
The Fusco Brothers, which takes place in Newark, combines types 2 and 3. As the page quote indicates, the very name of the state is treated as a joke.
TNA, in a transparent effort to cash in on Jersey Shore's popularity, briefly had the gimmick "Shore", featuring expies of the Situation and Snooki who feuded with the real J-WOWW.
Comedian Artie Lange on The Howard Stern Show. When on the show and in his comedy act, he'll sometimes exaggerate his Joisey characteristics to the point of becoming the epitome of a stereotypical Hudson County resident.
Humorist Jean Shepherd broadcast nightly from WOR, and would often talk about New Jersey, coining the phrase 'Slob Art' for concrete Mexicans, and other such, and particularly applying it to Rt. 22 in northern NJ, pointing to the big ship sailing along in the median.
And Lucy the Margate elephant.
Stand Up Comedy
On his album What Am I Doing In New Jersey?, George Carlin proposes retitling New Jersey from "The Garden State" ("Ha-ha, sure...if you're growing smokestacks, yes") to "The Toll Booth State".
Dom Irrera got mileage out of the fact New Jersey wanted to use Born to Run as the state's official song, apparently without having heard the lyrics.
''[Franklin leaps to his feet and marches out behind Adams.]
The reference is to a camp of the Continental Army located at New Brunswick, New Jersey at the time, where whoring and drinking were rampant and discipline was nearly dead. One poor innocent delegate gets a truckload of jokes poured on him and his family when he says, confused, "That can't be, I have an aunt who lives in New Brunswick!" Of course, by the time 1776 came out in 1969, Rutgers University in New Brunswick had a strong reputation as a "party school", meaning that the joke still worked for modern audiences.
And of course, the running joke about the delegation from New Jersey not being present.
John Hancock: New Jersey. Where the hell is New Jersey? John Dickinson: Somewhere between New York and Pennsylvania.
Which leads to the most love New Jersey has even been shown on screen: When the New Jersey delegates enter just in time to tie the vote for independence, prompting John Adams and co. to run to embrace them.
In One Touch of Venus, the characters, being New Yorkers, sing a number called "Way Out West In New Jersey," whose premise is that the territory beyond the Hudson River might as well be The Wild West.
The jukebox musical Jersey Boys about the singing group, The Four Seasons.
The Toxic Avenger Musical is particularly gleeful in its bashing of New Jersey. The villain song is called "Jersey Girl", and it describes the mayor of Tromaville to be evil and slutty. Then there's the opening song that establishes the setting.
There's a place between heaven and hell/Don't need a map, just follow the smell/a place full of filthy air/a place filled with dark despair/a place you have no prayer/a place called New Jersey
Super Hero League Of Hoboken takes in place in tri-state area, with super heroes having headquarters in, well, Hoboken. It's not much better even with heroes.
The Cellphone game Tank Battles in Suburbia has eleven levels set across New Jersey suburbs like Montclair, Glen Ridge and Raritan, with the final level being on the Turnpike.
The increased amount of Real Is Brown, grungy textures and film grain in Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse as opposed to its earlier two seasons is Hand Waved in-story as being due to the New York local government 'importing grime from New Jersey'.
Obsidian Entertainment's "Project New Jersey"note Obsidian assigns code names based on US states in order of introduction to the union., which was ultimately canceled.
Several levels in the final stage of Need For Speed: The Run take place in New Jersey, and they play the Type 2 stereotype to the hilt. No prizes for guessing that said tracks mainly comprise industrial parks, highways and landfills, or that the one area of Jersey covered in greenery also happens to be within sight of New York. And in Challenge Mode, there's even a race called "The Situation".
Two levels in Max Payne 3 take place in New Jersey. Later, during Max's flashback to Panama, he jokingly compares the boat he's on to Jersey, what with all the tanned people with plastic surgery listening to dance music and doing drugs.
"Why is it a cult, you may ask? WELL, yesterday, I went to the "Sunset beach"; as beautiful as it was watching the sun set over the ocean, EVERYONE was there. I mean everyone. It was just a normal day, no carnivals or anything. New Jersey just gathers at a single beach to worship the sun for giving them tanning privileges."
The automatic censor at Worth1000.com changes "hell" to "New Jersey".
Michael Jones, Rooster Teeth employee and star of Rage Quit, was a New Jersey resident before he moved to Austin, TX to work at RT full time.
The End of the World: The Jersey War. On December 21, 2012, Snooki turns into an Eldritch Abomination and gives birth to a tide of hair-gelled, tanned, A-shirt-wearing insectoid gremlins onto New Jersey, while a poisonous black gas that smells like hairspray swells over the landscape.
TV Trash features one of the villains, Malicia, get sent away to "a far-away, desolate place" by Jeannie after the former's fight scene with Chris "Rowdy C" Moore.
"So New Jersey? Yeah, Oklahoma's not far enough!"
Megas XLR: The New Jersey Fireball is a regular occurrence on the show. The show is set in Jersey City, although the creators seemed to know nothing about the location (culturally, Jersey City and indeed all of Hudson County are quite different from the suburbs and the Shore that most outsiders are familiar with). The suburbs and Shore tend to conform more to the Jersey stereotypes outsiders are familiar with. But Jersey City, on the other hand, most definitely does not.
The inexplicable 80s cartoon Dinosaucers features an odd episode revolving around football where the titular characters assume a football jersey and New Jersey are one and the same thing... and thus during the game wear "new jerseys" featuring the state's outline on the front rather than regulation numbers.
Leela: (hugs Fry and smells him in the process) What have you been doing, rolling around in New Jersey?
Fry: Well, actually...
In "All The President's Heads", it is revealed that back in 1776 the Continental Congress voted to make New Jersey the official joke state.
An episode of South Park has Randy and the boys going up against the Jersey people. Every person from New Jersey is incredibly loud and arrogant and "all they do is have sex and fight each other". It's a Jersey thing. It gets so bad they have to get help from Al Qaeda.
Referenced several times in the 2003 TMNT series — which makes sense, given that most of the protagonists are life-long New Yorkers. One particular jab involved Casey Jones' description of a world were global warming had caused humans to evolve into mole-people to survive the scorching heat. Jersey, apparently, was the first to go. Also, in the first episode the Turtles are stuck above ground and trying to find a manhole with which they can head back underground without anyone seeing them. The first one they come across gets parked on by an armored truck; leading Raphael to kick it in rage.
Leonardo: Way to be stealthy, Raph!
Michelangelo: Yeah, I don't think they heard you over in Joisey.
The 1987 series had characters making references and similes to New Jersey.
John Corzine: Hello. I'm New Jersey governor John Corzine. I hope you've enjoyed this reenactment of our state's proud history. [eats some rainbow] The Garden State: Come get in on some of this rainbow!
HarleyQuinn has a New Jersey accent, which mixes with the implications of Gotham City in relation to New Jersey.
Squirt, the street smart chihuahua in The Hub'sPound Puppies has a Jersey accent and, in an episode, even mentions he's from Hoboken.
In The Simpsons, they do a parody of Jersey Shore when Fat Tony invites them to his mansion after Selma snubbed Marge at their wedding.
In another episode, Marge and Homer are supposed to go to Dayton, Ohio for an elderly relative's birthday, but decide to take a last-minute romantic getaway to Miami...then wind up in Atlantic City when they find they're being tailed by Bart and Lisa. Homer and Marge are making out in a glass elevator, and Marge expresses (mock) concern about other people seeing them.
Homer: "What, they've never seen a fat guy making out? It's on the freakin' state flag!" (Cue a shot of a flag featuring a fat man kissing an attractive woman.)
The magazine Weird NJ has undoubtedly contributed to New Jersey's reputation as a Weirdness Magnet. Teenagers will often go on tours of the state using the magazine as their guide. Has been spun off into two books, as well as books covering other states.
Atlantic City has the distinction of being the original setting for the board game Monopoly. While other variations (read: licensed editions) of the game are abound, official Tournament Play uses the AC-based version, a fact that many Shore residents are proud (and defensive) of.
Most media about The American Revolution will reference New Jersey in some capacity. The state played a pivotal role in the war, being the host of some of its most famous battles. George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, immortalized by the famous painting, was the beginning of his attack on Trenton, and he made his winter camp at Morristown twice in the war.
New York and Philadelphia (two of the three largest cities in the colonies at the time, with Patriot hotbed Boston the other) are literally next to it, and control of New Jersey meant quick access to both.
An Iranian journalist who was imprisoned following the 2009 election riots said that his jailer/interrogator was obsessed with New Jersey, which he saw as some sort of capitalist American paradise and was intensely jealous that the journalist had been there. Neither the journalist nor Jon Stewart could figure out the cause of that.
"I told my boyfriend, 'Arnie, ya gotta kiss me where it smells'....so he drove me to Wapping." — Bette Midler
Speaking to almost any Pennsylvanian about New Jersey will almost inevitably result in them stating that New Jersey should be blown up. Why, you ask? Because New Jersey is the armpit of the country and Pennsylvania needs a beach. What lovely neighbors...
It does not help that immediately across the river from Philidelphia is Camden, a Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy.
Nor does it help that on the other side of that very same river is Philadelphia.
The vast majority of bridges leading out of New Jersey (either east across the Hudson to New York or west across the Delaware to Pennsylvania) are tolled (those that aren't are small ones that trucks wouldn't be able to use). Moreover, all tolls are collected one-way leaving New Jersey (in order to avoid perpetual traffic congestion in New York or Philadelphia). In other words, it's free to enter New Jersey but you have to pay to leave it (and it ain't cheap — all six crossings of the Hudson*
from north to south: the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the Bayonne Bridge, the Goethels Bridge, and the Outerbridge Crossing
On the contrary, friend. The Ben Franklin Bridge has not one, but TWO walkways on each side of the bridge that you can walk from Philly into Jersey. That said, the walkways lead into Camden, the aforementioned Wretched Hive. You are advised to use the southern walkway if you care to save your life—the south side of the bridge leads to the actually pretty much OK area around the Camden campus of Rutgers University; some professors and students actually commute by taking the half-hour walk. However, "north of the bridge" is the proverbial worst part of Camden, with a violent-crime rate high enough to deter college students from walking there to buy cheap booze.
The Holland Tunnel is particularly cruel: it's labeled as an Interstate, but it's an at-grade road with driveways and stoplights.note Interstate 78 was originally planned to go through Lower Manhattan and into Brooklyn, but this would have required demolishing a lot of residences and led to "freeway revolts" that forced its cancellation. Which leads us to....
An old cartoon in The New Yorker shows a religious pilgrim walking through a dark tunnel with a glum look on his face. The caption explains that he has just learned that "the light at the end of the tunnel" is New Jersey.
Why do so many people move from New Jersey to Vermont? They were in the northbound lane, had to go that far out of their way to make a U-turn and figured they might as well stay...
In late 2011 a New Jersey resident created a demographic map of the state (currently at the top of this page). Thanks to Facebook and Twitter it immediately went viral and made the local papers. A couple of politicians were unhappy with the portrayal, but the vast majority of residents found it to be hilarious and pretty much dead-on, as seen here
Waldorf: Do you know why New Jersey has more toxic waste dumps and Washington DC has more lawyers? Statler: I'm not sure, Waldorf, there was more money in it? Waldorf: No. Jersey got to pick first! Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!