The Challenge Rivals II Episode 4

I don’t usually like to front load these posts with all the Challenge: Rivals II details, but I just have to point out that the two major fights in this episode revolved around one person supposedly writing a wrap about another and a third person throwing a condiment on a fourth. Seriously. Adults were flying off the handle about poorly crafted flows that might not even exist and ketchup.

That first conflict stemmed from a night out at the club that kicked the episode off. There’s some flirting between Jonna and Jordan as well as something between CT and Nany that is, of course, shot so that Diem’s also literally in the picture. At some point back at the house, Jemmye tells Nany that Diem wrote a rap about her. This seems to equate to something like, “She bludgeoned your cat with your mom,” in Nany’s head because she gets all up in Diem’s face. Diem’s like, “Uh, look at me I can’t rap.” Jemmye claims she heard it in the bar. My wife and I looked at each other during this and said, “Can you believe we’re watching two adult women argue about a rap that no one heard or saw?” The next morning, Johnny and Leroy actually did write a rap about Nany and posted it in the kitchen. Hilarious.

Jemmye and Leroy have a thing going on. Wes sees this and immediately jumps in to sew seeds of destruction. He brings up Leroy and Knight to Jemmye who says she wants to get down with Leroy and she says that she’s not worried about doing it with Knight still there. The editors then cut to Knight wading in a pool drinking wine out of what looks like a square vase of some kind.

The challenge, called Stumped, was pretty bonkers. There was a bamboo maze and the team had to go through tied not only to one another but also to a 25 foot pole. Teams got disqualified after 20 minutes. Whenever they throw something like that in, you assume it’s going to take a long time, but far fewer people got DQed than I expected.

Since it was a women’s day, let’s gloss over the guys. Every team but Knight and Preston finished. Knight fully placed the blame for this on Preston after initially saying that his partner was in charge. Nice play, there. It basically translate to, “I know we’re not going to finish this, so I’m going to put it all on this guy.” It boggles my mind that they’re still in this game. Oh, Jordan and Marlon won for the guys which means they get to chose who goes in what order next time and get some cash.

The first two teams of women to go up were Nany and Jonna and Cara Maria and Cooke. Neither looked particularly competent out there, but both eventually finished. After that it was Aneesa and Diem along with Theresa and Jasmine. Aneesa and Diem killed it pretty quickly as you might expect. But, Theresa and Jasmine could just not get coordinated — partially because Jasmine’s arms are like a T-Rex’s compared to her partner’s — and wound up getting DQed. Finally, it’s down to Emily and Paula as well as Jemmye and Camila. The latter team winds up getting off to a great start, but Camila winds up losing it as Emily and Paula blow past them and finish. The remaining team got the two minute warning from TJ and it looks like they’re getting the axe, but they pull it out at the very end. Of course, Theresa and Jasmine are going in and it’s up to the men to figure out who will go up against them in The Jungle.

The decision making time was kind of weird this time around. Most of the guys seemed okay with the same strategy Diem talked about last episode which is to keep sending in the same team to piss fewer teams off overall. Wes seemed to think this wasn’t a great way to go, but didn’t really present an alternative to camera. He and CT did talk to Cooke a bit who went around to the guy teams seeing if they’d vote in Diem and Aneesa instead. Ty seemed receptive to the idea, but Zach looked at her like she was insane saying something like, “Why would I rock the boat when I’m in a pretty good spot right now?” She came back with something silly along the lines of, “Because it’s the right thing to do!” Laughable. Still, it seemed like she might have swayed something or other.

As it turned out, Cooke’s stumping didn’t do much of anything. Diem says she talked to everyone as well, but we didn’t see it (we didn’t see a lot of seemingly important elements revolving around her this episode now that I think about it). Anyway, five of the teams voted for Cooke and Cara Maria while Ty and Leroy once again did a throaway vote of Nany and Jonna which I think is part of their plan, distract with a weird pick that can’t possibly sway voting.

After the voting, Jemmye’s drunk and running around. She steals Cooke’s shorts and Knight smacks her on the butt, which was out of line. Jemmye got in his face, so to get her away from him, he sprayed ketchup on her. As it happens, Jemmye has a phobia of the condiment. This sounds as ridiculous as it sounds, but she ran away screaming out of the room only to come back in with a trash can which she threw in his general direction. The fight went off and on, but was mostly verbal. Leroy saw all this and said he’d rather not get into it with Jemmye because she’s drama-central. The next morning he lets Theresa paint his toenails.

The Jungle was pretty interesting. The women walked into the arena to see a large metal gurney hooked up to several different car batteries. This looked suspect to me from the beginning. I assumed a lot of it was window dressing. Adding to the atmosphere was the fact that TJ was standing there in a crazy leather or rubber apron. He explained the game called, Can You Take It? which would pit members from opposite teams strapped to the gurney with 400,00 megawatts of electricity running through it. Whoever lasted longer without quitting won. Best two out of three got to stay. He even announced who was going against each other and asked if they were ready to start.

After a quick commercial break, TJ explains that this is all a gag and that both teams get to stick around. I was actually embarrassed that I didn’t see this coming because it was so obvious. Then again, we’ve seen these game-makers send these kids into a semi-gas chamber for yucks. Back at the house Cooke and Cara Maria are pissed as are the other top dog female teams. Not really sure why. What does it change? They won their previous Jungle and it changed nothing for them, why would this change anything?

As it began, the episode ends with a club scene. This one’s got a good deal of dancing and flirting but the focus is different. This time, Diem decided to take the advice CT gave her earlier in the episode and went out without a wig, bandana or hat on. I know I don’t know any of these people personally, but I felt really happy for her that she was able to get past that hurdle. Now CT needs to stop flirting with other girls, they need to work through their crap and form a mighty Challenge Union!!!

Reality Rundown: Summer Camp, Below Deck & Catfish: The TV Show

usa-network-summer-camp

Well gang, it’s summer, so you know what that means: there’s not much to watch on TV if you don’t like reality shows. I was thinking about doing one of those “What We’re Watching” posts I do from time to time, but since it’s 95% “non-scripted” shows, I figured a Reality Rundown would make more sense. There were a few weeks in the beginning of the warm season there where nothing of interest was on, but thankfully a swath of shows we dig have premiered to help fill our evenings.

One such program is USA’s Summer Camp. I stumbled upon this one a few weeks back as it was debuting, which seemed like auspicious timing. Also, for a guy whose been fascinated by camp going back to the days of watching Salute Your Shorts and Camp Nowhere (there’s even a Camp Movie category over there on the right) this was a pretty easy sell. The idea here is that a large group of adults are taken to a camp and broken up into teams based on sex. Every episode each team choses a captain who will pick two of their own players to go up for elimination should they lose the daily game (like this week’s guess-whoe’s-kissing-you contest). Those two people then go to the other team, plead their case and either get to go or stay.

What I dig about this show is that it’s just plain goofy fun. The contestants aren’t overly scummy — something I’ve found with a lot of other reality shows of this nature — so you can enjoy most of them. It even seems like the producers were going for “likable” instead of “dramatic” when putting the group together, which is a nice change. Even though it’s not similar thematically, the show kind of reminds me of Beauty And The Geek which I remember enjoying for the first season. At the end of the day, Summer Camp‘s like your third light beer on a hot day, it serves its purpose, but you’re not going to remember the details by the next one.

Below Deck - Season 1

 

I don’t know about you guys, but Bravo seems to go in waves of putting out shows I actually enjoy. The beach was pretty dry there for a while and then they came rushing back hard with a group of shows we like Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Million Dollar Listings New York, Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis and newcomer Below Deck.

Deck follows the adventures of a charter yacht crew as they take on new guests every week. Each employee has varying levels of experience in the field, so you get a mix of the basic job reality show tropes where some people are just doing their job really well and others are dealing with all kinds of new experiences. For the most part, this is a pretty interesting group of characters, many of whom have surprising back stories that keep getting revealed as the series progresses. I will say, though, that the last episode got on my nerves a bit with how much some of the employees complained about the guests. Granted, the clients were super douche-bags, but you’re working a luxury yacht, you should pretty much expect daily piles of BS from entitled weirdos who think the world revolves around them. Of course, this inability to cope has lead to tons of drama that might even lead to a crew member getting thrown overboard next episode.

catfish-the-tv-show-1

 

Two years ago I watched a documentary called Catfish about a guy named Nev discovering that the young lady he’d been chatting with online was actually a married woman with kids. In my review of that movie, I actually said, “To me, the movie felt more like a show that would be on the Learning Channel or Discovery about weirdos who lie on the internet. ” I must be psychic because now it’s exactly that, but on MTV.

Catfish: The TV Series finds Nev, his pal Max and their film crew traveling around the country helping people find out if the folks they’ve been talking to on the internet are who they say they are. We watched most of this show’s first season, but more casually than now. These days I get excited every time a new episode is on. I like how this show makes delusional people face reality. That’s not always easy for them, but I think it’s important to not live in a completely fictional world of your own creation. The craziest part to me is when the people asking for help are pretty sure they’re being lied to and still go on with their online significant other. Heck, the guy on this week’s episode was living with his girlfriend while talking to his longtime online girl! It’s just crazy.

I will say that Catfish is right on the edge of the kinds of reality shows I can watch. “Trying to make people see through their delusions” is a subgenre that also includes things like Hoarders and Intervention, which are just too real, sad and unnerving for me to watch. I know that love can be just as addicting as anything else and that betrayal is a very difficult feeling to deal with, but it seems a bit softened by the show itself, something I attribute to Max and Nev who seem to be getting more and more skeptical with each episode. Good for them because we’re getting close to the point where folks are going to be scamming them just to get on TV.

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 3

Well, this was quite the episode of The Challenge: Rivals II. We had castmates leaving, more than two getting sent home, new hook-ups, a pretty intense challenge, two big fights and a Jungle with surprising results. The episode kicks off with a tryst between Marlon and Derek. If you remember from Marlon’s season, he told his housemates that he was bisexual, but since the season didn’t air before Rivals II started filming, the others had no idea what was going on. Jordan tells them the story we heard, so word of him being bi gets out.

Marlon doesn’t care about any of this until the whole group is playing a game where you pull a name out of a bowl and have to act like that person until the others guess correctly. Leroy gets Marlon’s name, but doesn’t really know him well enough to play the game. Wes says he’ll do it, but Knight gets word of whose name is on the paper, so he gets up and simulates oral sex on Wes before quickly saying, “It’s Marlon!” This is the equivalent of dragging a needle across a record and stops the party dead. Before you know it, Marlon and Knight are about to get into it, with both of their partners trying to hold them back for fear of getting sent home themselves. This puts Preston in a bad place because, as a gay man, he’s defending a guy who’s at the very least insensitive (and possibly a downright homophobe). But, hey, it’s for money, right? During all this, Jemmye made me laugh pretty hard when she said she’d pay money to see Marlon knock Knight out. You can put me down for a five spot too.

Marlon walks away to cool off and eventually finds himself back outside talking to Aneesa who says she can relate to him coming out in front of a group like this that’s not always great at not being jerks. For some reason, Aneesa talking to Marlon off to a side bothers Trishelle who starts complaining about it. Jemmye comes over and tells Aneesa this and then a-whole-nother fight breaks out. There’s a lot of yelling and, at one point, it looked like Trishelle was going in to hit Aneesa, so she put her arm up and maybe-sorta close-lined Trishelle a bit. As Aneesa said, she didn’t hit her though, so she’s good to stay.

Trishelle wakes up the next morning and starts packing, telling Emily she’s leaving. Emily relays the information to Trishelle’s partner Sarah who looks bummed but not overly shocked. Trishelle seems to leave pretty quickly and later on TJ shows up at the house asking everyone to get together. Turns out, Cara Maria was the only woman on the bench they had and Sarah got sent home (just like she did when Vinny acted a damn fool during Battle Of The Exes). I’ve got to say, this move surprised me because you’d expect with a concept like Rivals that production would have a number of potential fill in people. How crazy would it have been to bring Laurel in this late in the game?

Anyway, that wasn’t happening. Instead we cut to the challenge which was called Mind Over Splatter. There’s this bonkers structure hanging over water (of course). They’ve got to climb up a rope ladder one at a time and then travel down two ropes while straddling them, but they’ve got to do this part in pretty close proximity. You’ve got 10 minutes to finish. If one person falls from the ropes, the other person has to stop and wait for the other to get back up on the structure, re-climb the rope and then go from there.

You  might remember from the last episode that Wes and Preston dropped out of a female challenge because they didn’t want to do stuff. TJ said they’d be penalized this time around and that turned out to be not only a 30 second penalty, but they also had to go first. And they gave the craziest show because Knight and Preston flipped over so they were dangling upside down. Knight wound up falling into the water and finally getting back on the ropes. They got a few feet away from the finish with very little time left and then Preston wound up falling making them the team to beat in order to avoid the Jungle automatically.

The rest were pretty standard. The teams, which alternated between sexes, all finished and all seemed pretty equal with one another. Highlights included Marlon and Jordan flipping over, but still killing the rest of the course and pretty speedy performances by Zach and Trey, Frank and Johnny and Marlon and Jordan, but Frank and Johnny walked away with the victory as did Emily and Paula.

This time around, Diem explains her group’s plan: continue voting for Robb and Derek in an effort to not make any other teams upset. At first this sounded dumb to me, but after thinking on it, it makes more sense. You’ve got to vote for someone, so why spread around the anger you’ll cause by voting people in? When it comes back around to you, a team like Robb and Derek will only have one vote and something like three or four teams to vote for, so the odds are in your favor. Well played Diem.

But, everyone’s not in on the plan. Diem and Aneesa, Emily and Paula and Camila and Jemmye vote for Robb and Derek. Meanwhile, Marlon and Trey get votes from Nany and Jonna and Cooke and Cara Maria while Leroy and Ty get a vote from Jasmine and Theresa. Now, this seemed goofy and odd, but I think it might actually be a good plan these two teams have worked out. In the last voting session, Ty and Leroy voted for these ladies which seemed like a complete throwaway, this time the women “got them back,” but it’s possible this is all just a nice game of misdirection, especially because they did their votes in the middle or towards the end. Well played you sneaky folks.

We then move on to what might be one of the best Jungles/finals of all time called Snapper. When I saw the big red circle on the ground I groaned, thinking this would be another one of those finals where dudes try to smash each other out of a box. But, oh no, that’s not the case. Instead, each person is blindfolded, wearing bells around the ankles, given movement clues by their partner and handed a colorful stick. The goal? Break that stick over your opponent. It looked like the goofies Star Wars cosplay in the world and there’s nothing wrong with that.

First, Robb went up against Preston. This one went by pretty quickly once they got close to each other with Robb just wailing on Preston like a snake. They got the first point. Then Preston and Knight developed code words and a pretty solid idea: stay low. Derek got close to Knight, but he was doing all these crazy motions and wound up getting Derek in the leg. Finally, it was done to a battle between Robb and Knight. Robb had some trouble squaring off in the correct direction, but Knight was doing all those crazy moves and wound up sending Robb and Derek home.

I was stunned. I’ve made my opinions about Knight pretty clear. I think he’s an emotional terrorist who knows how to hit buttons. In other words he’s a bully who relies on his words because he usually doesn’t have the physical presence to actually be good at these games. It’s time for that jerkstore to be done with these things.

Anyway, I’ve noticed a few things about this season that seem noteworthy. First off, the rivalries all seem pretty dead, right? All the fights we’ve seen are between non-teammates and it looks like the supposed enemies are getting along well. That’s kind of boring and defeats the point of this season, right? There’s also a weird let down that comes immediately after a team wins the challenge because right after that, they’re no longer important. In other Challenges, the winners would be safe but also have a hand in figuring out who would go in. Now, the focus shifts immediately away from the winner to the folks of the opposite sex trying to figure out who they’re going to toss in. It’s a bit anticlimactic and also shifts the focus of the challenges from “Who will win?!” to “Who will lose?” which feels strange to me. Ah well, like I said, I enjoyed this episode for the most part and am always curious to see what happens next.

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 2

Last week I went the live blog route when it came to the season premiere of The Challenge: Rivals II, but I think I’m going to go the play-by-play route tonight. The episode kicked off with a fun little maneuver by CT, Johnny, Theresa, Anastasia and someone else I missed all dressed ninjas throwing water balloons at the rest of the group who are sleeping in the air conditioned living room. This didn’t explode like you might have thought, but even more surprising was the fact that CT and Johnny did something together.

A big source of drama this episode came thanks to the Diem-CT-Anastasia love triangle. As we learn throughout the episode, CT basically wants Diem to tell the other girls like Anastasia to back off. He wants her to make it known that she wants to be with him. He’s basically playing games with her and using Anastasia to prove his point…and get his rocks off.

Actually, that leads to another point of conflict in the episode and one of two fights. CT’s in a room talking to a group of people including Derek, Trishelle, Frank and Knight. Frank and Trishelle tell him that Anastasia’s been telling people they slept together. CT says it’s hokum, but it doesn’t stop there. Frank starts getting in his face for some reason and a fight is pretty close to breaking out, though both CT and Frank tell the camera they know the game: punch someone, get sent home. Frank and CT start pushing back and forth and CT’s shirt gets ripped, but that’s about it because Knight decided to jump in and basically stop the whole thing by wrapping Frank up and bringing him to the floor. This tension ends with Johnny trying to talk his almost-in-tears partner down.

All of this brings us to the episode’s challenge, bawdily called The Triple X Games. But before getting into that, TJ Lavin reveals Cooke’s partner will be none other than Cara Maria. I figured it’d be Heather, the only other female she actually had problems with on her season. Instead, she got partnered with a person that apparently no one else on the cast likes. You guys, they didn’t even clap for her when she came out, it was crazy. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a cavalcade of complaints about her thanks to a quick talking head montage.

The Triple X Games were broken up into two parts: Woody and Ball Gag. For the first, you and your partner are joined at the crotch with a saw and have to cut through a log. The winning team gets a five second head start with each subsequent team getting one. With the second part, one partner stands with the other one facing them, but upside down and attached to them. You’ve got to get up from a position on the ground, run through an obstacle course, pick a ball up off a stick, drop it down to the other play and pop that ball into an periscope-esque pipe sticking out of the ground.

Since it was a woman’s challenge day, the fellas went first. Right off the bat, Wes wound up quitting, so he and CT were disqualified. Wes and Preston wind up finishing first, but before the second round can begin, Preston says he doesn’t want to dangle in front of Knight’s junk and bails, so that’s one more team out. CT actually picks Knight up and runs a good deal of the course with the others until TJ tells them to bounce. Zach and Trey wind up winning and walking away with the money.

Then it was the ladies’ turn to see who would wind up avoiding elimination and who would be going straight to The Jungle. Nany and Jordan wind up finishing the Woody portion first, but the real treat here is watching Camila go at this thing like a cougar with her first stud and editing that with Jemmye talking about how ridiculous her partner is.

Even though they won a five second head start, Nany and Jonna can not get their poop together and actually stand up. This apparently wound up being a problem for Jessica and Anastasia AND Jemmye and Camila who wound up rolling over one another between obstacles in an effort to not come in last. It was basically a three-way battle for second to last with the rookies coming in last. Oh yeah, Emily and Paula won.

Before heading back to the house, CT drops a bombshell on the two teams of quitters: a penalty will be assessed at the beginning of the next challenge. BOOM. As far as I can remember, that’s never happened before. Back at the house, CT, Wes and Diem are talking about who the guys are going to vote in. Diem — who pretty much always plays safe/scared — wants to throw in newbies Cooke and Cara Maria because they’re new, but CT and Wes think it might make sense to ally themselves with a strong team like that who might stick around for a while and be able to help them with votes down the line.

Voting itself wound up being only slightly interesting, which tends to be the case in these early episodes when the rookies are still around. Most of the newer teams vote for newer teams, so Cooke and Cara Maria got sent in, but the surprise was that Trishelle and Sarah got two votes, mostly for popping off against CT earlier in the episode. So, that’s that, but afterwards Sarah tries to talk some sense into Trishelle, asking if she’s really there to compete, which apparently is the case.

At this point, the Anastasia-CT-Diem triable comes back into play when Theresa explains some of the history between CT and Diem to Anastasia who finally realizes she’s just a pawn. This plays out the next morning when CT comes into her room which sets her off. Anastasia slapped him several times, threw his glasses and kicked him in the butt. Once again Knight was there to stop someone from going after CT (does he think this will help him somehow? is he training for bodyguard school?). Ana lost it, but to be fair, CT just kept pushing her on purpose which isn’t cool.

With that, we’re at The Jungle which is called Hanging By A Thread. Both teams hang down from swings that are part of this large apparatus. While upside down they’ve got to cut through a super-thick rope with tiny hand saws, thus making the opposite team fall into the water. However, before getting to that, Anastasia has a minor medical freakout that sounds an awful lot like dehydration (shock upon shock considering how much wine flows in the house, right?). While waiting for her to get back in action Cooke actually pees into the water they’re supposed to fall into should they lose adding another reason for them to win.

Once the game actually starts, it seems like Cooke and Cara Maria have the lead because they’re attacking this thing from opposite sides. But, their intense movements have started them rocking which — if we believe the editing — allows Anastasia and Jessica to catch up a bit, but it winds up all being for naught. Team C cuts through the rope and we say goodbye to the ladies from Real World Portland. I don’t see these ladies as having anything close to a shot at these things down the line, but I bet we’ll see at least one of them again (a CT/Anastasia Battle Of The Exes team would be funny).

As one ill-conceived “love” dies by way of realization and poor sawing skills, another one between Sarah and Trey starts heating up back at the house. What starts as some couch flirting very quickly turns into shirt-off, straddling time in what they seem to think is a closet area without cameras, but are clearly mounted way up in the top corner.

All in all it was a pretty good episode, packed with all the kinds of craziness you expect from these things: fighting, “romance,” interpersonal drama, etc. The funny thing about this season is that I keep forgetting about some of the more fiery characters who don’t seem to be causing any trouble just yet. It’s still pretty early, but I expected Jasmine, Camila, Ty and Trey to get into it a little more by this point. Maybe next episode!

Live Blogging: The Challenge Rivals 2 “Rumble In The Jungle”

ct and wes rivals 2I’m writing this team evaluation part before the first episode of The Challenge Rivals 2 has aired yet partially because I haven’t talked about this upcoming season yet, partly because I want to comment on a few of the teams and partly because I want to link to my posts about the first The Challenge Rivals. I’m most excited to see Wes and CT. I think they’ve got a shot at knocking longtime winner Johnny off the gold medal stand if Wes can restrain his douchey nature a bit and CT doesn’t go into a berserker rage. I think the former’s far less likely than the latter.

Speaking of Johnny, he’s teamed with Frank based solely on a Twitter feud that I would wager was at least partially manufactured like the old timey Jack Benny/Fred Allen one. Even if it wasn’t, both of these guys are smart enough to put on a good deal of theater for the cameras while not actually letting it get to them. That is unless enough teams smarten up and do their best to get rid of them early on. I’d say Real World: Portland dudes Marlon and Jordan have a fair shot too if they can win early and dodge going into elimination rounds. However, Jordan’s kind of a hothead and has zero experience with Challenges, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he loses it. leroy and ty rivals 2

Ty and Leroy should be interesting. He got third with Emily on Battles Of The Exes, so he’s got some cred while Leroy made it to the end on the first Rivals. Camila and Jemmye got into one fight, but one of them’s a total hothead and the other likes to shout at folks when she gets drunk, actually, they both do, so this could be an explosive pair no matter what.

Dunbar and Tyrie seem like a pretty lame duck team. Both have skills, but neither seem adept at actually learning this game. Maybe getting burned so many times has taught them though. Jasmine’s also kind of a joke on these shows too, right? She’s there to get drunk and smash stuff, but do her and Theresa have a chance? Who knows, I can’t even remember why they supposedly don’t like each other. Paula and Emily are both pros when it comes to these things. I put high odds on them winning this thing.

Preston and Knight are a joke. Knight’s only skill is talking all kinds of smack and becoming an emotional terrorist to the women on the show. I have a real problem with the way he treats people. Preston’s alright, but he’s not super athletic and is saddled with an anchor so unless it suits the other teams, they won’t be around very long. sarah and trishelle

In the “not really enemies, but we wanted to shoehorn them in” category you’ve got Real World: Portland alumnas Jessica and Anastasia who probably just got sick of living together and Robb and Derek who got in one drunken fight that lead to Robb ripping his shirt off in Battle Of The Seasons 2. If Robb could take weeks of crap from whatshername from his season, he should be able to squash this and move on easily. Still, he’s a rookie, so there’s a target. I’d put Trishelle and Sarah in this category as well. Trishelle stirred up trouble when she thought Sarah was getting with Alton just to cause problems with their team on Battle Of The Seasons 2, but that’s just how the game is played.

Trey and Zach are going to have problems. Trey wants so badly to be part of the group but only if he can lead which will never happen. Meanwhile, Zach still looks like Thor and could literally carry Trey through the entire competition if need be.  Finally, I can’t remember why Diem and Aneesa, Nany and Jonna and Cooke and Naomi even have beef. I’m guessing booze and hurt feelings over competitions or fellow cast mates were involved though.

Alright gang, that’s what I think is going to happen. Hit the jump to find out what actually happened in my patented live blog format. SPOILERS for the episode follow, if that wasn’t already obvious.  Continue reading Live Blogging: The Challenge Rivals 2 “Rumble In The Jungle”

Real World Watcher Portland Episode 4

I’m not really sure what to think about tonight’s episode of Real World Portland. We finally get to really meet the latest roommate Nia. Thanks to a series of clips shown off since the very first episode and the fact that she weirdly lied to her soon-to-be-roommates on the phone by telling them she was Southern and part Cherokee, I find myself not particularly interested in her as a person. From what we’d been shown of her in the episodes leading up to this one, she likes stirring up crap with people and that becomes perfectly evident throughout this episode.

While watching I thought about how crappy it must be coming into a situation like this one later on down the line. When you show up with six other strangers you’re all on the same footing, exploring who they are and how you react to them. When you come in late in the game, though, you’re not only dealing with a somewhat united front (or at least an existing ecosystem of personalities) and you don’t really get to discover on your own. Day one, you’re being told by everyone what everyone else’s real deal is and that seems unfortunate to me.

It wasn’t until partway through the episode that I realized I was being unfair to Nia, but also that I was doing so because MTV and the producers clearly wanted me to. The truth is that, from what we see in this episode, Nia is a strong, independent woman who likes to keep an open mind about things. You can also tell that she’s a very hard person, possibly cold, but she also seems to have some goodness to her. At the same time, she gets really excited when she hears about Jordan’s regular run-ins with the women of the house, specifically Jessica. She assumes they’re not strong enough to deal with it and decides to take it upon herself to deal with him.

During various conversations, Jordan admits that he goes about trying to explain himself to others poorly, but that he’s like that because of how he was raised. He basically wants to treat everyone like his parents treated him which involved pushing him so he could find his true limits. That doesn’t sound so terrible, but he doesn’t want people to ask him for help, he basically wants to push all of his roommates to be like him even if they’re not even remotely interested in the process. Anyway, Nia’s theory is that his insecurity stems from him having a small penis. To test this she asks him if she can perform a sexual act on him in front of the roommates, which he’s a-okay with. She runs around the house and he wants this to go down, but we don’t see what happens because the episode ends.

This is all a little gross to me. From the wildly public showing to the intense, forceful reaction Jordan has to the whole thing. It seems like it’s one big joke to us — which MTV made clear in a commercial between segments — but I felt really bad for Marlon who was completely vibing on Nia and she does this thing right out of nowhere in front of him.

My wife who’s not a fan of the series was in the room but working on something else while I watched. Even though she was only half paying attention she said that it felt like almost everything Nia said to her roommates was a lie. I felt very similarly, but I was also more steeped in the MTV stuff that had been shown before. It doesn’t help that the very first thing she said or did with her roommates on the phone was a lie. And yet we learn some really deep, intense things about Nia’s past that explain why she is who she is to some extent. And that’s really the reason I watch this show. It’s not enough to love or hate the characters, I want to learn what makes them tick, even if they’re not the kind of people I’d want to spend time with it.

Real World Watcher Portland Episode 3

I’ve got to say, this third episode of Real World has a lot going for it. While there’s nothing close to social commentary or anything approaching altruism in any fashion, it did feature the loss of one roommate, the introduction of a new one, the cast going out and getting jobs and one of the cutest Real World romances in quite a while, juxtaposed against one that seems to be making at least one of the parties uncomfortable with the developments.

Let’s jump on in. While it’s not necessarily the main storyline, one of the key elements of the episode revolved around the gang getting jobs. Unlike previous casts, this crop wasn’t given super rad jobs, but were instead set up with a series of potential places they could interview at. There was an all night diner, a yogurt shack and a pizza place that also served drinks. Averey, Johnny, Jordan and Marlon all decided to work at the pizza place while Averey and Jessica wound up at the yogurt place.

“But, wait!” your thinking, “What about Joi?” Well, Joi is a big ol’ quitting quitter who quits. I’m sure it was more complicated than  presented on the episode, but she seems to leave because she thinks getting a counter job would be a big step backwards for her being a college graduate. She calls her dad and pretty quickly leaves the house. Even though Jess and Ava make sad faces about her leaving, no one really seems all that broken up about it. In the single instance of me agreeing with Jordan he says he can’t imagine giving up this kind of opportunity because you’re never going to get another chance to experience something like that. Even with the pouty lips and sad faces, Ava moves into Joi’s old spot with a real quickness, not wanting to be in the room with lovebirds Averey and Johnny anymore and not wanting to risk the potential new roommate being crazy. I wonder how early Joi actually left because it seemed awfully suspicious that she barely appeared last episode. Seems to me like she wasn’t participating with the cast very much or the editors wanted to frontload the second episode with the more prominent storylines of the Johnny/Averey relationship and the Jessica/Jordan animosity.

Speaking of the animosity towards Jordan, everyone seems to be feeling it. There’s a few things between him and Jess (who really does seem to get a kick out of arguing with him), but the real cracks start showing in his relationship with Marlon and Johnny. While out at the clubs one night both guys tell him he’s being a douchebag, but Johnny goes off on him in particular. After Johnny says his piece he tries to remove himself from the situation to calm down, but Jordan won’t let him. He keeps coming over and getting in his face. As Johnny has said several times, he’s not used to not hitting a dude like that. Jordan does get a little respect from his roommates at the end of the episode when he shows off his mad wakeboarding skills, but they still agree that he’s an ass…that can wakeboard well.

Jordan’s usual sparring partner Jessica — who I thought might be bailing because she’s sick of Jordan’s nonsense until I realized that she antagonizes him as much as he annoys her — actually got herself in one of the nicer relationships I’ve seen on the show in a while. She met a gigantic handsom fella named Tyler at a club and he wound up being a pretty nice guy. What’s refreshing about this relationship is that they’re taking things slow and didn’t jump bones right away. I don’t want to judge anyone’s sexual escapades, but it’s nice to see people taking things a little slower, something that’s become almost non-existent on reality television. I loved seeing her get all giddy as she called him up and he asked her on a date. I remember doing something very similar when asking girls to date dances in high school.

If that relationship’s not to your liking, the episode also had healthy doses of Averey and Johnny hooking up. She apparently won’t let him sleep for want of more sex. As if it wasn’t clear from the jump, it doesn’t seem like Johnny really knew what he was getting himself into when it came to Averey. This is actually said a few times throughout the episode — by Averey herself — but is exemplified early on when Averey and a not-yet-gone Joi talk to him about going to a sex shop. Another choice Averey line came in the form of, “I don’t think he’s ever been bondaged. I’m gonna get you to do it and you’re gonna love it.”  Yowza. Later on, after their first day of work, the pizza shop gang hangs out there and gets pretty smashed. After getting into it a bit with Jordan, Johnny goes to the bathroom and Averey follows him in. Everyone knows what they’re doing and one of their fellow workers knocks on the door to break it up.

There’s a moment after the broken up hook up session where the manager tells Johnny that he’s not the type to do something at work and I thought that was really telling. Is he really getting in deeper than he’s comfortable with with Averey? If so, it’s understandable why. He doesn’t want to look like a wuss on national TV or admit that he’s not up to the task of being her sex toy or even interested in the position. Speaking of the manager, I get the feeling that she could be a real Yoda-like figure. She’s a spot-on judge of character, earlier noting that Jordan is the kind of guy who can’t be wrong. He of course thinks that his roommates are talking smack about him, but I think she can just smell it on him.

The episode ends with a person I assume the manager will be able to see through in a heartbeat, new roommate Nia. This is a woman who tells the camera in her audition tape that she loves lying. If you don’t believe her, she pointlessly puts on a fake Southern accent when she calls the house to let them know she’s coming. She also says she’s part Cherokee, again for no reason. I can’t help but think this broad is the most obvious ratings grab in Real World history. Heck, we’ve already seen her hit Jordan in the “this season on” preview, how long can she last? I hope the answer is, “not very long,” because after New Orleans 2’s Ryan, I’m done with vain sociopaths on Real World.

While on the subject of previews and commercials this season, we’re only 3 episodes in and they’ve killed a lot of the dramatic tension. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but knowing that Nia is coming is actually ruining a bit of this episode because she’s going to be such an asshole. Plus, you’ve got this bubbling conflict between Johnny and Jordan, but you know it’s going to end with Johnny and Averey boning in the bathroom, so there’s zero tension. I know these are little, silly things, but they bug me. Not enough to keep me from watching (yet), but they do get on my nerves.

 

Real World Watcher Portland Episode 2

I mentioned this on twitter, but I think it deserves repeating here on the blog. I don’t watch Real World to see young kids getting into crazy shenanigans anymore. Sure, this show used to me my window into the world of still-young older people and how they interacted with one another and spent there time, but that’s not the case anymore. Now that window’s on younger people doing their thing, but I don’t get a kick out of the show because it’s some rehash of my past glory days or anything along those lines, at this point, I like watching these people like a character study. Even though they’re constantly monitored and even though they’re edited, you can still get a glimpse of why they do what they do. I’m far less interested in Jordan being an argumentative dickhead than I am as to WHY he’s that way, which seems to boil down to his dad (best guess: his pops was always right and Jordan wants to be like him/he loves arguing with other people because he couldn’t argue with his dad). That’s basically where I’m coming from both because I think I’m naturally curious about people and I want to be a writer, so all of this is like inputting raw data for future characters.

Anyway, now that my mini dissertation is over, there was a new episode of The Real World Portland and it wasn’t nearly as much of a doozy as I expected. As you probably know, there’s a new castmember named Nia, but she still hasn’t show up yet. My money’s on Jordan flying off the handle and getting sent home, but it also seems just as likely that someone — Anastasia or Jessica — is going to just get fed up with that dude’s nonsense and bail. So, with each commercial break I was trying to figure out who was going to leave and why and it wound up all being for naught because it didn’t happen this episode.

What did happen this episode? Well, we got to see more of Johnny and Averey’s relationship development. Basically he’s into her and her dog Daisy, but she is super afraid of being hurt by dudes. She must have had some major relationship trauma in the past, though I’m sure we’ll find out more about that as the season progresses. Their kiss from the previous episode is the talk of the house along with Jordan’s weird freakout on Anastasia that lead to him spilling her drink near her feet. The next day he wants to know why he started getting yelled at — like a little kid, constantly asking questions and demanding order from a chaotic universe, screaming at the void for answers! — and Anastasia wants nothing to do with him and just walks away.

Jordan finds a much more willing sparring partner in Jessica this episode. Instead of just backing down, Jess will go so far as to look up facts on the internet just to prove Jordan wrong. What does he do in response? Find THREE sources that contradict her one! Yeah! That’s highly entertaining programming. Good work casting people. We were all hoping that the major drama this season would stem from the costs and benefits of smoking a hookah.

While still on the topic of Jordan, he admits to Jessica that his dad beat him. He says it was a way to teach them right from wrong or somesuch nonsense, but Jessica straight up tells him its abuse. Meanwhile, Jordan tells the camera that his dad told him that it never came from a place of hate, but instead love. Right, because we’re hit the things we love, that’s how life works.

Let’s see, what else? Everyone basically agrees that Jordan needs to be right all the time. They ride around on their bikes and run through a giant fountain. Averey calls her grandma who tells her not to hook up with Johnny because she just met him. Averey informs us that she’s a very sexual creature (wonder where THAT’s going). Jessica has an ex that she broke up with whose emails make her cry, Jordan thinks this is nonsense, but it’s less an ideological opinion and more of the Joker saying that the way Batman throws a Batarang is just silly. Jessica writes some poetry to deal with the feelings about her ex, which she shows to Averey and then everyone in the house swarms around and makes fun which leads me to believe that most/none of them are creative people which sets this cast about as far away from the original New York season as possible.

Oh and did I mention that Marlon admits to hooking up with a guy? He drops this bomb amidst a conversation about anal sex and then MTV promptly cuts to a commerical so you’re not sure if he’s being serious or just messing around. Turns out he was serious. After high school he wasn’t a star football player that people fawned over anymore and he wound up in Austin’s gay scene which was apparently very accepting of him. He eventually hooked up with a white cheerleader dude who called him up for what sounded like a booty call and it went down. He also explained — to Jess who asked him about the details at a later time — that he hasn’t had a girlfriend since the seventh grade. Of course there’s comments ranging from “He can’t be GAY, I saw him macking on girls the other night” to “Maybe he is gay because he hasn’t had a serious girlfriend.” My initial reaction was, “Hey, kids, it doesn’t matter, he likes who he likes,” but then again these are kids at various stages of openness and worldliness, so they’re probably not the best at expressing themselves.

Aside from that, Marlon and Jordan wind up at a gay and lesbian bar because a gaggle (flock? murder?) of lesbians are hanging out outside their loft and tell them they’re heading to said bar. Both seem pretty cool with the whole thing, with Jordan even doing shots with a very large, manish drag queen and exclaiming, “I’m turning gay!” to his pal with a huge smile on his face. It would be easy to read into this like a maniac (and I did, of course), but I’ll just ask the question: would the son of a hardass father who beats him for various reasons ever feel comfortable coming out if he happened to be gay?

There’s some more stuff between Johnny and Averey too. Marlon and Jordan brought some lesbians (or 90s skate punks from the way they were dressed) to the house who woke Johnny up. Instead of partying with them, he crawled into bed with Averey who happened to be naked. The next morning she’s surprised because he didn’t try anything. On another night, they’re out at a club and the two talk about their status and whether they want to be friends with benefits or move on into a relationship. As those kinds of talks usually proceed, they have sex that night. The next morning, Johnny’s all amped and getting breakfast with the guys while Averey goes into the confessional and opens her soul to the camera, desperately hoping that Johnny’s a nice guy, not the type to “Hit it and quit it” as our grandparents used to say. Here’s hoping.

Hey, you know what’s crazy? I’m fairly certain Joi wasn’t in this episode AT ALL. The only reason I even remembered she existed was because one of the Real World accounts I follow on Twitter retweeted her. That’s BONKERS you guys. What’s also bonkers, and a little disappointing, is that neither Marlon nor Johnny are willing to check Jordan on his bullshit. They both kind of nicely point out that he takes things to a weird level and tell the ladies that he’s nearly impossible to talk to because he always needs to be right, but neither of them are like, “Hey man, shut up and grow up.” He’d either responde well to that because it’s what he’s used to or it will be the kind of thing that makes him flip. I’m guessing that the guys just haven’t been personally offended up to this point, but we know from the “this season on” clip that, at some point, Jordan will get into a pretty big shouting match with Marlon which may or may not lead to his dismissal from the house (here’s hoping, though from what I’ve seen Nia doesn’t exactly open a dialog about humanity herself).

Real World Watcher Portland Episode 1

MTV Real World 28 PortlandIt’s been a while since I’ve done one of these lengthy TV write-ups, but what can I say, Real World brings out the blogger in me. I did a lot of writing earlier today about older, classic seasons of the perennial reality TV series, but now it’s time to start talking about the latest batch of kids agreeing to let their lives be taped while living in a loft — their words, not mine — and whatnot. For what it’s worth, I know absolutely nothing about Portland aside from what I’ve seen in Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s Portlandia, so if I wind up not liking this season, I’m going to re-write it in my brain as one big, extended sketch.

Alright, let’s break this down. We’re first introduced to Averey who seems pretty pleasant aside from the extra “e” in her name which makes me misspell it nearly every time I type her name. She lives in Arizona with her dog Daisy, but is actually from Ann Arbor which is about 45 minutes away from my home town. Daisy comes along with her to the house because she has no other family. She works at Hooters and loves it because it gives her the opportunity to provide for herself and not live off her parents. She’s the first one at the house.

Meanwhile, Jessica who’s 21, from North Carolina and lives with her parents. She admits to being sheltered and doesn’t seem to make much of an impact overall on the episode aside from wearing a g-string bathing suit and being a little more surprised than the others when they go to a burlesque club. She meets Boston-ish boy Johnny who has a bit of a cocky exterior but freely admits to being wildly insecure about what other people are thinking about him. When he gets to the house and sees Daisy he’s happy because, even if all the other roommates dislike him, the dog will probably still dig him.

You’ve also got Joi from Seattle who’s a big fan of her own body and shows it off at seemingly every turn. Marlon, who’se 24 and an Army brat from Texas who played football for Texas Tech picks her up in one of those bike taxis before heading towards the house. You’d think they’d be next there, but it’s all a ruse!

Instead, we meet Jordan who gets to the house by himself. He’s from Oklahoma, has several fingers missing from his left hand (he was born that way) and is super competitive which seems to stem from a dad who pushed him ultra hard at everything, possibly because of his hand.

The next roommate to reach the house is Anastasia, a model who hails from Detroit where she was raised by her mom and grandma. Within moments it seems like she and Averey are talking about how their alcoholic dads were never around, something Jordan says he can’t relate to, though he does reiterate that his pops is a hardass.

After that Johnny and Jessica get there next. They start hanging out and we discover that Anastasia has a boyfriend, something that Jordan does not think will last, mostly because he’s got a thing for her. Finally Joi and Marlon get there and everyone’s all together. “But wait!” you say, where’s this Nia person I’ve been seeing on all the commercials and promos? Isn’t she supposed to show up? Well, it doesn’t look like it. This first episode seems to cover several days and she has yet to show up which either means that MTV really wants to throw the cast members a curve ball or she comes in to replace someone who leaves or gets kicked out. From the clips they showed at the end in the “this season on the Real World” thing, it could definitely be for fighting, though it certainly looks like Nia does her fair share of it.

Here’s something interesting that popped into my head while watching these kids all get to the house: I wonder how much of day one is actually reacting in the moment and how much is reacting how you think you’re supposed to react in the situation. By this point there have been 27 seasons of this show and, for the most part, the first episode seems pretty formulaic. The people show up either on their own or with a roommate and either take a moment to get to know each other or run around like crazy trying to figure out rooms. I was actually a little surprised that they didn’t make a big deal out of that old chestnut this time around. In fact, we’re not even directly told who’s living with who throughout this whole episode!

Anyway, after everyone (but Nia) gets to the house, they decide to have a cook out which is actually kind of cool. We see Marlon ask Jordan about his hand and Jordan give a fake answer before telling the truth and explaining that his dad told him when he was a kid to make up a story whenever he saw fit. There’s a lot of subtext there, but I won’t get into it just yet. So there’s eating, Johnny makes a burger for Daisy, the girls talk about the guys, the guys talk about the girls (as far as we know at this point, everyone in the house is straight) and things seem to go pretty well.

They head out to a club the next night which makes me wonder when that became a thing for the casts. They used to usually have at least one person under 21 so they either weren’t interested in going to the club, MTV couldn’t get clearance to shoot at one or the cast decided to skip it so their fellow could hang out with the group. Even though I’m programmed to expect it, nothing bad happens at the club. Johnny makes a bit of an ass of himself in front of Averey, but nothing too severe. At the halfway point of the episode I wondered to myself if they would get along for the whole thing.

The next day, the guys play some basketball and Johnny runs into Jordan (or vice versa) and Johnny comes away with a lump on his face. They decide to play a joke on the girls and tell them that Jordan punched him. The girls are shocked and Anastasia is particularly displeased with the news because it’s an obvious sign of violence and who wants to live with that? It’s interesting to me that the guy who seems like one of the more angry people in the house decided to joke about violence. It’s almost like a precursor to what looks like is coming up this season.

The first cracks in the happy new family start to form when Marlon and Jordan are evaluating and ranking the girls’ hind quarters in front of the girls. Anastasia is really unimpressed by this and thinks the whole thing is just mean, which I can understand. Unperturbed, Marlon and Jordan head to a club and bring some women back to the house for some hot tub action, but once they get them there, they realized these are not the caliber of ladies they hoped to meet. At this point Marlon tries to devise a plan, but he’s pretty drunk, so Jordan just tells them they need to get out which upsets Anastasia and either Joi or Averey (I looked away for a second to take notes and missed the offended parties) who actually invited the girls to hang out with them at some point in the future. The bar girls just left.

But that wasn’t the end of it. The offended roommates went back to the boys and told them they should have manned up and handled the situation better. It basically turns into Jordan and Anastasia yelling at each other and Jordan spilling wine in the general direction of her feet. They did this right before a commercial break and I looked away again, so I thought something a lot more intense happened, but I think that was it. After the break there’s more shouting which devolves into Jordan saying he doesn’t respect Anastasia because he just met her and her saying she doesn’t want to deal with that kind of nonsense. Can’t say I blame her, he’s acting like a child who gets told what to do. Huh, Jordan doesn’t like being told what to do, wonder why…

And that’s that. We end the episode on a bit of a down note followed by the aforementioned “this season on” montage which makes this season look insane. This Nia woman describes herself as a snake in the grass and loves to cause trouble so why not put her on a show that’s ostensibly about people from different places coming together and learning from one another. It actually makes me wonder if there’s an legal recourse for cast members who get put in situations with obviously unstable people like this (she talks like a super villainess and appears to hit at least two people just in this one clip) who cause either physical or emotional harm. From what I’ve heard, those contracts are incredibly tight, so I’m guessing not, but it’s definitely something you’ve got tot think about when deciding if you want to go on The Real World these days. The again, Puck wasn’t exactly the best roommate, so maybe things haven’t changed all that much.

Real World Watcher: New York, Las Vegas & San Francisco

real world logoI’m a big fan of weekends spent without too much on the schedule. I like going out and doing things, of course, but I also very much enjoy just hanging around the house with no responsibilities. As it happened, this past weekend was one of those weekends and it thankfully coincided with a Real World weekend on MTV. Instead of doing what you might think they would leading up to the launch of the 28th season of the reality TV frontrunner, the network decided to feature classic seasons like New York (the very first season), the game changing first Las Vegas (which set many of the precedents not only seen on The Real World to this day, but also at least half of all other reality shows) and the epic, heartbreaking and concept-proving San Francisco. I’ve heard here and there that the network doesn’t actually like this dinosaur of a show (28 seasons?!) so I was surprised when I hear about this.

I caught huge chunks of all three marathons. I didn’t get into the show until about 1996 with the Miami season and was hooked from there, so I only really saw the first four seasons when MTV would run marathons. It was cool sitting down and looking back at what had come before with the series.

real world new york

While watching 1992’s Real World New York I was mostly taken with how driven Heather, Kevin, Eric, Norman and Andre were. Becky and Julie had their moments, but the others really seemed to know what they were going for and doing what they could to do it. A big part of this seems to be the fact that MTV and the production company probably did most of their casting in NYC with just a few other places, hence Julie coming from the south. I’m not one of those people who’s constantly saying that Real World has changed over the years — I mean it has, but is that the show, what they’re now comfortable showing and/or a shift in youth culture? — but it was interesting seeing so many people going out and doing their own thing while still trying to show their roommates what they were all about and reacting to what they thought they were all about.

You know what tickled me the most though? How low rent the house was. I mean, it looks like an apartment in New York. I’m sure it’s even a fairly large one by today’s standards, but look how bland it was. Heck, the ironing board and iron feature prominently in several key scenes! There’s a lot of that kind of charm in this season, but we also get a lot of the stuff that made this show famous: discussions about race, homosexuality, breaking away from parental ideals, politics, education, homelessness and more. I didn’t mention Julie above as being creatively driven, but holy crap, I was incredibly impressed with not only her desire to learn about her roommates, but going even further and trying to experience life as a homeless person. If this season came out today, she would not only be offered all kinds of freelance writing work — she’s a better, more natural interviewer at 19 than I am at 30 — but also probably her own show called Julie’s World where she travels around making connections with people. Yes, she comes off as ignorant at time — something Heather raged against, though I think she was more specifically talking about willful ignorance and plain old stupidity — but she also perfectly encapsulates what I want this show to be about: people coming from different backgrounds to live with and learn about one another. That’s one of the reasons I had such a problem with Zach and Ashley from the second San Diego season, they basically glommed on to one another, shielded themselves off from everyone else and didn’t do or learn anything (or at least that’s how they were presented on the show).

real world las vegas

From the innaugural season of one of the most famous reality shows of all time, Real World decided to jump ahead a decade to the first season of Real World Las Vegas which many claim changed the face of the show permanently. This new batch of kids — Trishelle, Steven, Alton, Arissa, Irulan, Brynn and Frank — seemed a lot less focused on going for their creative or career goals and instead just wanted to party. But, what else do you expect from a bunch of 20-somethings sent to live in freaking Vegas? These kids lived and worked in the Palms and the glossy, partially remembered milestones for the show seem to revolve around Steven and Trishelle hooking up on day one, a three way hot tub hook up between those two and Brynn, Frank getting jealous and grossed out by a lot of this and Brynn almost getting kicked off the show for throwing a fork at Steven.

Those are the bits that I remembered, at least. This cast has also been pretty present on The Challenge, so there’s some added baggage there as well because Alton seems completely crazy these days. But even though this is considered the sex-drenched season that changed the series for the worse, there’s also a lot of emotional stuff going on that gets passed over for the more salacious bits. Cast members talk about dealing with sexual assault, Brynn has a mountain of trust and love issues, so does Trishelle and there’s the so-gross-it-made-me-want-to-punch-him dealings with their boss, a guy named Marc who was clearly using his work-related power over them to try and hook up with Irulan and Arissa. I don’t remember what I thought of all that at the time, but I was outraged this time around and hope that things like this being on TV helped people understand what was over the line and that they didn’t have to take that kind of crap from dorks who get the tiniest bit of power and use it to get what they want from the girls who used to make fun of them in high school.

I missed most of the end of this season because, just like the first New York, it’s actually on DVD. I also realized something while watching this particular marathon: these seasons can be tough to watch in big chunks like this. I’m a lot more attuned to emotional states now than I used to be and watched some really troubled people either struggle to deal with their issues or do their best to ignore them with sex and booze hits me in the gut a lot harder these days. Watching something like 14 hours of that in a row is just too much.

real world san francisco

 

Which both thematically and chronologically brings me to Real World San Francisco from 1994. This might have been one of the first seasons I watched, but I remember it more from latter day marathons. I caught it off and on on Sunday as I had a lot of errands to run both on my own and with my wife and unfortunately/fortunately missed the last episodes. Like with all the other seasons from so long ago, I remembered highlights like Pedro’s battle with AIDS, Puck’s bad behavior and subsequent ousting and Cory really not knowing herself, but there’s so much more going on. I also know, of course, that Judd and Pam get together and are married to this day, but I’m not sure if they actually got together on the season or later. I was actually surprised to see both of them with other people. They’re supposed to be together, how can he kiss that other girl?!

The main thing everyone remembers about this season, though, is Pedro and his heroic and inspirational nature. He’s not only a gay man who finds love on this show, but also one whose health deteriorates significantly. To their credit, MTV didn’t shy too much away from all this and put it out there for the world to see. Would they do that these days? I tend to think not, but who knows? They seem to go for more mental disorders these days (I’m looking specifically at you Ryan from New Orleans 2010). What I think the show lacks these days is people who are truly inspirational like Pedro and like Julie, people who put themselves out in the world as much as possible, take in everything they can and try to make things better. I made a similar point on Twitter to which my wife very pointedly reminded me of Ryan from Real World Brooklyn. Very true, maybe I’m letting myself forget the smaller moments and quieter characters.

It’s so easy to boil these seasons down to just a few headlines, but the reason I keep coming back to the Real World — and will be watching and possibly blogging about tonight’s premiere of Real World Portland — is that, no matter how much you don’t like the people involved, they’re still people with all kinds of quirks, damage and weirdness. The show might not be the place that weird kids try to go to show the world how unique anymore — we’ve got YouTube and podcasts for that now — but it’s still an excellent source of humanity in all its weird and wonderful forms. Let’s see what Portland has to offer!

One more quick thing while I’m on the subject of this show and its long history. I mentioned New York and Las Vegas being on DVD, but they’re the only ones to ever be put out in the format. I’ve heard some of the earlier seasons are on Hulu Plus, but I don’t have that service and I believe you can download some on iTunes, but I have a proposal for MTV: take one half hour or hour out of your daily programming and show an episode of Real World. Start at the beginning and go through chronologically and just see what kind of reaction you get from live viewings, social media and DVRers. I bet people will get into it because no matter how funny the clothes might look and crappy the footage might look (yes, your phone shoots better video than the entire first decade of the show) the real worries of 20-somethings haven’t changed all that much over the years and there’s still plenty to learn from the older episodes. Either that or get these things on Netflix Instant already!