I’ve said a few times in the last several posts about this season of The Real World that this season has been one of the realest in recent memory. This season had the usual drunken arguments, roommate hook-ups and roommates getting sent home, but it also had cast mates dealing with bad parents, the death of family members and friends, their dependence on the opposite sex, possible true love, long-secured lies coming to the surface, the search for missing parents, pregnancy scares, rekindling parental relationships and lots more. Characters rose and fell in my personal opinion, but never got to the point where I was so disgusted that I couldn’t tune back in. I’d hold this return to Las Vegas as a good example that reality TV can still be meaningful, debaucherous and fun all at the same time. Hit the jump to see what happened.
We kick things off in this season finale (I guess I forgot to mention that above) with Naomi trying to convince Mike to marry her. He’s not interested, but she’s really into the idea. Naomi explains wanting to marry Mike because she has no interested in Dustin (followed by a montage of his more crybaby-ish moments, usually related to competition) and Leroy is way too cheap (again followed by a fun montage). This all seemed like goofy throwaway stuff in the beginning, but it wound up being a recurring theme throughout the episode. More on that in a bit.
From there the focus shifts to the music-based charity. Mike, Leroy and Nany head over to a radio station to hype the event, mentioning there will be a guitar auctioned off. While they’re doing that, we see Heather and Dustin using paint markers to customize a Gibson Flying V guitar (a favorite design of mine and one I actually own as a bass). All of this is very important to Dustin as he talks about how it was a great moment for them to come together and work on something. Heather actually did a really good job. I have no idea what Dustin actually did. Anyway, Cooke, Dustin, Heather and Naomi are supposed to be on TV the next day to tell more folks about the roller disco event that’s also meant to raise money. The night before doing so, though, Cooke gets really nervous about being on TV so she decided to paint herself blue in the empty jacuzzi. Also not feeling very excited about the impending TV appearance, Cooke gets in on the action and the both wind up looking like shiny, tail-less versions of those Avatar cats. Dustin and Heather get back from getting some food and he’s a little upset, Heather tells them that, even if they’re blue, they’ve got to be on TV. Everything works out, though, and the paint comes off easily. I guess they blue themselves for nothing. The next day they head down to the TV station dressed in their finest 70s duds, are given roller skates to wear and roll on out to have their face time. Before actually getting on TV though, Naomi completely bites it about a foot from one of the cameras. Luckily no one got hurt. That night is the big event and everyone has to have a pretty good time. Except maybe Dustin who looks like he’s auctioning off his child and not a guitar that was in his possession for a day or two that he and a girl he knows drew on. Some guy wins it and Dustin looks like he wants to kill him. Chillax bro. Unfortunately, the next day doesn’t have the usual “last few days” feel because Leroy gets word from home that one of his buddies was killed by police. I couldn’t hear or read fast enough, but it sounded like his friend had a gun when the police stopped him and things went south. Leroy’s distraught by the news and everyone’s trying to comfort him. Mike takes him downstairs and mentions that it might be best if he went home. He decides to do just that for a day or two, but will be back before they all go home. While Leroy goes home to deal with his business, the rest of the group continues on. While out at a restaurant, Mike asks Naomi to stand on the bench they’re sitting on at the table “to see how tall she is,” but then surprises her with a Ring Pop and asks her to fake marry him. He did some research and found out that some chapels will do just such a thing, so he decided to go through with it. This leads to Mike going to a strip club with the roomies, which is something he said he wouldn’t do back on the very first episode. He gets weirded out at one point and goes into the bathroom, but Dustin comes in and talks to him. He says he feels awkward and drunk, but Dustin reassures him that he’s there with friends and that they’re not going to make him do anything he doesn’t want to.
The next day we see both Naomi and Mike working on their vows. Mike even makes her sign something he drew up that says that, if somehow this wedding turns out to be real, she has no claim to his future earnings. Everyone, including me, got a good chuckle out of this. Mike also explains that he doesn’t want to have sex with Naomi on their wedding night because he knows he could never top her exploits with Leroy. Mike’s worried that Leroy won’t make it back in time for his fake wedding, but all that worry is for naught because Leroy winds up meeting them all at the chapel so they can all get dudded up and have their fake ceremony. Sure it’s a little corny and fluffy, but it also acts as a nice endcap for the season. Of course, the episode isn’t over and neither is the wedding night as Naomi jumps in bed with Leroy and he does his boy Mike a solid and gives it to her good.I figured at this point we’d just be shown teary-eyed goodbyes preceded by a packing montage and the usual “roommates leaving at different times” thing Real World always does. But, oh, it’s not over yet. Mike and Leroy head down to the tattoo parlor in the hotel (which now that I think about it was on one of those tattoo shows that wasn’t Miami Ink, I can’t think of the name though) so Mike can get ink that says “Veni, vidi, vici” on his bicep. “I came, I saw, I conquered” in Latin seems very appropriate for the roommate I would have dubbed “most likely to become the forgotten one” an episode or two in. Julius Cesar supposedly said that by the way. Latin class totally paid off today. Meanwhile, Dustin has apparently figured out a way to get the guitar Heather painted back by trading another one for it. The thing though is that he doesn’t get to keep it, but it’s put in one of the Hard Rock showcases. Dude’s weird. On their last night, Dustin decides to grab all the mattresses and put them in a big row on the bowling alley in their room so they can all spend the night together. Now we get the sad stuff as Dustin and Heather go through the usual “I’ll miss seeing you every day” stuff. I wonder if they’re still together. Now that I think about it, I didn’t see a commercial for a reunion episode. I wonder if that’s happening? Finally, it’s moving out day. Naomi says whoever winds up with Mike will be a lucky woman. Dustin says he feels like he really learned how to be a man. I agree. Hiding something and lying about it is what children do. Talking about it is what men do. In the end–and I think this might be a first, or at least a first in a while–all the roommates left their digs at the same time instead of on their own or in pairs. I summed up my feelings above. I liked this season, but had my problems with the people for sure, especially Adam. All in all it gets a big thumbs up. I do feel a little bad for Cooke though. Not only did she have the awkward position of fill in cast mate, but she also had static immediately. Mind you, she created a lot of that static herself, but still, it’s never easy being the new kid, especially when there’s only a handful of other kids. As this was already a pretty packed season, she definitely fell to the wayside and didn’t get her own story unless it was directly woven in with someone else’s. She wasn’t so much the forgotten cast member, but the plot point one. She served her purpose in the drama but didn’t get a lot of depth to her character. The lesson? Don’t go into a tight knit group of people and immediately start challenging the group dynamic, just find some other country fella to climb and leave the rest alone.