The producers of the long-running Real World series deserve a pat on the back for, finally, throwing out the conceit that the five attention whores chosen to live in a ridiculous house and have their lives taped are not, in fact, interested in "being real," nor are they, strictly speaking, "ordinary strangers" just going about their daily lives while cameras happen to be running. In the early seasons that conceit was a half-truth, at best, but it clearly began to disintegrate the moment the cast members started to refer to themselves as cast members, and was completely thrown out the window when Real World/Road Rules Challenge became, apparently, a viable long-term career option.
This season, the Real Worlders have come to Hollywood not just to live in a house and run a ridiculous "business," but to make their attention-whoring dreams come true: all the cast members are there because they want to be actors, or singers, or in one case the host of some sort of Entertainment Tonight-style celebrity news program (it never dawned on me that this was a thing people aspired to; I always assumed Billy Bush wanted to be a newscaster or a game-show host).
In a sense, this latest season is a refreshing breath of honesty. But, in another sense, it means the people in the house are even more annoying self-involved assholes than usual.
Take 24-year-old Kimberly, a South Carolinian vying to be the next Liza Gibbons. In a recent episode, while ranting about strippers, she essentially berated all poor people for being unable -- or, in her view, unwilling -- to lift themselves out of poverty. "I mean, people can work at McDonald's. McDonald's is always hiring," she said with disgust. When one of her housemates pointed out that "sometimes people need to make more money than McDonald's pays," she scoffed and said "I just don't know why people want everything handed to them. What ever happened to hard work?" Then she reclined on the art-deco couch paid for by MTV, finished her Mai Tai and started thinking about which bar to embarrass her entire family in that night.
Then there's 20-year-old Brianna, a self-described "Philly girl," which apparently means dancing at a strip club fashioned from an old double-wide and getting called back from California because she's got a warrant out for her arrest stemming from a domestic with her boyfriend. Fellow cast member Will travels with her to Philly and, while she's dangling upside down from a pole, he tells us in an earnest voice-over that "if Brianna can work her stuff out, she's clearly got a lot of talent." Indeed.
Finally, perhaps the worst person to ever be on The Real World -- a tall order, considering the show's past collection of misfits and malcontents -- 24-year-old Joey, a bodybuilder and wanna-be actor who ends up leaving the show to check into rehab. Only I'm not sure I'm buying his "alcoholic" shtick. I have friends who are alcoholics -- hell I'm a little bit of an alcoholic -- and alcoholics don't drink Red Bull vodkas all night followed up by a couple unidentifiable pink things and half a bottle of white zinfandel. Or maybe Joey is just the biggest pussy in drunkland -- he'll be somebody's rehab bitch in no time.
Joey's real problem, like most of the other Real Worlders, is being self-involved to the point of insanity. Joey just happens to take it even further than usual: he's gone beyond the Dustin Diamond level of self-involvement and flown right into Terrell Owens Land. At one point, he tells a female roommate that "of course [he'd] like to be eating cake and relaxing," but he's a real man because he dedicates himself to his body (i.e., does a thousand bicep curls a day, wears sleeveless button-down-collar shirts and spends twenty minutes each morning on his faux-hawk). "That's what a real man does!" he shouts. "That's what responsibility is all about!"
Then, later that night, he gets girl-drink-drunk and comes home screaming at his roommates, pounding on the walls with his giant meathooks, finishing off all the booze in the fridge, telling the random girl he brought home to make him an omelet ("You better be making more than three eggs," he says. "I'm a man! I need more than three eggs!") Then his behavior not-so-gradually morphs from annoying to frightening, as he threatens to punch a few of the girls' skulls in, then packs up his bags and screams for the producers to let him go home. At 8:00 a.m. he's still at it, while two of the women huddle in the corner ("I hope he doesn't see us," one of them says. "If he sees us, I think he really might beat us up.") and his one-night-stand gives the camera a horrifying look as she sneaks out. Finally the producers intervene, and we watch as they convince him to check in for help. "You'd do that for me, bro?" he says, near tears, "You care about me enough you'd do that for me?"
On the plus side, I think Celebrity Rehab may already have its next star.
posted by Mike Ingram at 2:53 PM