”The Real World”: The ultimate plot twist
Every week I sit down to watch The Real World, confident that I will be given plenty to mock in print and then go to bed with no guilty conscience. I feel my superior attitude is entirely warranted because during every minute of every show, I know better than the roomies do. Ah, to be in your thirties and judging drunken twentysomethings: There is no simpler way to give your ego a little Tuesday-night boost!
But then I cockily sat down to this episode, and I was given two plotlines: Karamo’s struggles as a gay African American and Sarah’s struggles with her feelings about her dying mother. Now how the hell was I supposed to be smugly dismissive of that? I mean, can’t I even get a subplot of, say, Landon having a taboo affair with a Philly Soul giant foam ”We’re No. 1!” glove saleswoman? I’d settle for two minutes on M.J. getting his hair caught in a hamster wheel — anything but these untackleable stories.
The problems were twofold. One, who am I to judge either of these story lines? I’m gonna sit here and evaluate how Karamo is dealing with two identity issues that are completely opposite from my own? And if you’re looking for someone to say, ”Hey, Sarah, so your mom’s dying: Suck it up!” start Googling for someone else. Not only is it insensitive, but judging from the coming attractions, where we saw the perpetual horndog dragging a European boy back to her vacation hut, I may need to save the phrase ”suck it up” to use on Sarah later.
Equally frustrating was the fact that they both were so reasonable about their problems. They actually seemed to be reacting as human beings, rather than reality-TV androids programmed to have the most immature reaction to all issues. Introspection is usually not allowed on The Real World; I thought if the producers caught the housemates calmly thinking out a problem, they threw a sack over their heads and brought them into the control room for sleep-deprivation torture. This would ensure that the next time they felt an emotion, they would instantly start screaming at a roommate. Or sleep with someone. Or at least kick a puppy. Something that’s visual, dammit! We can use a new Hoobastank song to score the puppy hitting the wall, too!
Sure, Karamo’s breakup with Dorian veered into typical Real World behavior. Instead of dealing with his own waning emotions maturely, he played the cowardly ”What? Nothing’s wrong, leave me alone” tactic of slow withdrawal of affection. (And every one of us who has ever been on the receiving end of that roller coaster of a mindf— let out a shiver of empathy for Dorian.) This must have been quite the wake-up call to all the right-wing viewers out there who were whipped up into a fearmongered frenzy by the anti-gay-marriage lobbyists this year. ”What? Some homosexuals have intimacy issues? I thought they all wanted to get married just so they could ruin it for the rest of us!” Although this may well backfire, and the religious right could soon start campaigning for a constitutional amendment banning gay passive-aggressive breakups. God created head games for Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!
And now there is a three-week break until the next episode, but judging from the upcoming scenes, it looks like the holiday season will be good to all of us, giving us plenty of screaming, screwing, and, uh, Scranton (it is Pennsylvania). Apparently Melanie will finally be blossoming into the house-wide enemy we always thought she had the potential to be. I don’t care how she does it, just as long as it involves a lot of hollering and overreaction. Otherwise, what the hell am I going to write about?
What did you think? How well did Sarah and Karamo handle their problems? And was that enlightening or boring?