Who Is Jonny 'The Unit' Manfre On 'Jersey Shore'?
Is Mike's third-person comrade more extreme than the other 'Jersey Shore' folks, or is he just another piece of their family unit?
Ever since the season five premiere of MTV's "The Jersey Shore," fans have known that if there is one name to watch out for this season — one name that spells trouble and drama for the housemates — it's not Mike "The Situation," and it's not Snooki. It's "The Unit."
Actually named John Manfre, "The Unit" is Mike's best friend, who joined the housemates' friends and family for a big party welcoming them home from Florence. If you thought someone nicknamed "The Unit" was going to sit idly by and miss out on such a ripe opportunity to stir stuff up, you were mistaken. "The Unit" instantly began threatening to tell Snooki's boyfriend (and now, possible baby daddy) Jionni that he had witnessed Snooki and Mike hooking up.
The conflict eventually fizzled out with an apology, but the seed for more drama had already been sown. "I think in Italy it was all drama because we missed home and obviously some people were stirring up unnecessary, fake rumors in the house," Snooki told MTV News, shortly before the premiere episode. "So when we get back to Jersey, you're gonna see that pan out more."
Snooki is not always so delicate when describing Manfre. "He's like Mike times 10, so it's, like, gross, gross, gross. It's not attractive," she said, echoing statements made by Deena. "'The Unit' is another part of Mike. He's like Mike's unit, it's kind of unreal. He kind of, like, gives Mike more 'umph' to be, like, a jerk," Deena said.
Already, fans have seen Manfre involved in some, ahem, situations much more serious than Snooki's relationship. "The Unit" was arrested in Seaside Heights in July 2011 for possession of a controlled substance — specifically ketamine, a horse tranquilizer sometimes used recreationally. Manfre and his lawyer deny the allegations, according to TMZ.
But if "The Situation" possesses knuckle-headed qualities appliquéd, like sinewy muscles, onto a tender heart, there is something extra intense about the party-hard ways of his best friend. "The Unit" has Mike's douchey-ness seemingly unfettered by latent compassion, and that could keep getting him into trouble, as is shown in a video leaked by PerezHilton. In the clip, "The Unit" is three sheets to the wind, drunkenly relying on "The Situation" to shoulder him to safety.
If the portrait of a man nearer to the brink than any "Jersey Shore" castmate before him, however, appears too neat for reality but just neat enough for reality TV, that could be because it is. As the seasons accumulate and the cast members — amazingly — mature, there will have to be a fresh crop of outlandish personalities to keep viewers tuning in. "The Unit," allegedly now sober, was recently photographed in Santa Monica with his porn star girlfriend Amia Miley, according to the Daily Mail — and judging from the photographs, he may also have a soft side that nudges him away from the edge and back toward the center (relatively speaking, of course).
That this vulnerability comes from his weakness for women who dress in public the way Miley does may not be shocking, but there is a cute factor, too. Just listen to the way "The Unit" explains his and Miley's online nuptials. "We had a Facebook marriage, which is pretty much more legitimate than a real marriage these days because if your status says 'married' there's no legal document that can ever change that,' he said in an interview on his website JonnytheUnit.com. "She compliments me beautifully and we’re two peas in a pod. It’s like having a best friend, a hot ass girl, and a cool ass girl."
Maybe he's just another one of the gang, after all.