Josh Wolk
June 15, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Robin and Cameran ditch work

Back when Frankie was revealed to be a ”cutter,” I wrote that such emotional problems were horribly out of place at the San Diego house of hedonism: Viewers can’t be suddenly expected to get serious in a time slot they habitually spend giggling at drunk buffoonery. It would be like having an episode of ”The Simple Life” where Paris develops lupus.

I felt the same uncomfortable dissonance over Jacquese’s visit from his mother on the June 15 episode of ”The Real World.” His relationship with his mother was so tender, and his twisted emotions toward the father who deserted him so wrenching, that showcasing them in the superficial ”Real World” seemed insulting to them. This story was far too good for the show: I felt the same way watching it that I do whenever I hear Bill Murray’s voice in an ad for ”Garfield.”

It was all the more incongruous as the show Ping-Ponged between Jacquese’s raw emotions… and Robin and Cameran trying to ditch their job. So we had one story line about a guy who has had to work doubly hard his whole life to overcome a major obstacle, and another about two gals who encounter a tiny obstacle and decide not to work at all. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to extrapolate from that about America’s youth, but I have a feeling it ain’t good.

This group (except for Jacquese and Jamie), have never been known to give 110% at their sailboat job. Their boss Troy is lucky if he gets 10%. But Cameran and Robin hit new heights of low energy. Apparently working on a sailboat is agony. The fresh air, the exercise, the beautiful water — sounds hellish, doesn’t it? Year after year I am stunned at what employment ”Real World”ers can find dull; the easiest way to get them to stop drinking would be to pay them to do it.

They devised an ingenious plan to get out of work: fall in the water, so they’d have to go home and change. However, considering that it seems to take them about 15 minutes to drive to work, I was unclear how this errand would render the whole day lost. But chalk it up the awesome power of lazy-gal logic, strong enough to warp the space/time continuum and turn even the shortest distance into unmanageable miles.

Robin and Cameran were master tricksters: In order to make their tumble into the ocean look convincing, they whispered on the end of the deck for a few minutes, stowed their keys and cigarettes in a dry corner, and then jumped in with arms linked. Gee, why didn’t they just put on bathing caps, life preservers, and shirts that said ”Me and My Friend Jumped Into The Ocean To Get Out of Work and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt”?

They did do a convincing job of screaming for rescue when they fell in, though, yelling at Brad and Troy to hurry up and get them out. Only a ”Real World”er could find a way to combine ditching work with making others feel bad for you. For people who can’t get one simple job done on a boat, they sure can multitask when they put their minds to it.

Later, Jamie figured out their ruse, and ran home to tell the rest of the roommates she had proof. Proof? Here’s the proof: They’re lazy bastards. On to the next case, Encyclopedia Brown.

Actually, I shouldn’t criticize Jamie, considering this was probably the second most amount of screen time she’s had, behind her mother’s visit. Perhaps she got a promotion when Charlie arrived, because the new guy was barely present this week. The producers sure have stretched Frankie’s stay out disproportionately; she departed with two months left, but she got 22 episodes while Charlie will only ride out the last 3 painful shows. He’s the Ted McGinley of reality TV.

The show ended by whiplashing from the girls’ puffy plotline back to Jacquese calling to confront his dad. It seemed like a cathartic conversation, although cynical me wondered how much editing went into making a complicated relationship seem fixed. The ”Real World” producers love to end episodes with closure, regardless how authentic it actually is. How many times have we seen enemy roomies hug and declare that they’ve learned a lot about each other, only to see them resume bickering the next week?

It’s bad enough that a relationship that probably affects Jacquese’s entire worldview was crammed into half an episode at the clearance-sale butt end of the season. But it was also probably oversimplified to make it look like his mother jetted in for a couple of days, solved a lifelong issue, and everyone went to bed happy. Though a couple of princesses ditching work because they don’t feel like exerting themselves is pretty easy to explain, most human behavior isn’t.

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