If a TV show is dumbing down an entire generation of Americans then we have a society full of weak-ass parents. Beavis and Butthead was satire, The Jersey Shore is just a reality show. However it's easily the best crafted reality show on television right now. Its popularity and influence is undeniable. If you watch the first season the personalities on display by the cast are not unreasonable for a group of 20-somethings on a summer vacation.
If you take a group of 20-somethings and give them a beach house with unlimited booze, you're going to see some outrageous stuff from time-to-time. Keep in mind that the cast did have to work a part-time job during the first season and only a couple of them struggled with that responsibility.
What I liked about The Jersey Shore is that the cast actually bonded and became friends. Most reality shows take a group of people with different backgrounds and throw them together with the hope of drama and friction. The Jersey Shore cast actually got along for the most part and all of the fights in the first season were actually instigated by random people they meet, never a cast member.
I also respect the fact that the cast gets a lot of hate from people but they seem to take it in stride. Everything they do they do with enthusiasm and positivity. Mad Men is an excellent show. Jersey Shore is just junk food television, but it's the best junk food available today, and an important part of our pop culture. Why not embrace it?