With all that’s going on the world, it’s kind of comforting that young naïve twentysomethings still want to document their drunken exploits on TV. Years ago I wanted to audition for The Real World (I was convinced I could be the Elka of City/Season To Be Determined Later), but life and discretion got in the way. Even though that desire has passed, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch a bunch of other crazies who actually had the guts to go through with it.
After 23 seasons, it’s still fun to see the excitement on the faces of these young people as they walk into the massive and fabulously decorated house that will be their home for the 3 months (didn’t it used to be 5?). Despite its recent low points, The Real World is the grandfather of all reality shows, and there is definitely a nostalgia factor that continues to draw viewers in (but probably not cast members, as many were just babies when the first season premiered in 1992). Yes, there are aspects of the show that are tired, dated, and boring (stereotyping the cast members from their audition tapes, the season locations, the idea of having “jobs,” or not having them), but last night’s premiere, set in a city MTV has been to before (who could forget David’s sexy ballad “Come on be my baby tonight”?), was actually pretty engaging. These whippersnappers may not know their Real World history, but they’re at least excited to be there. Here are my first impressions of the eight roommates:
Knight – Hockey and girls may be the only things that are important to this 23-year-old from Kenosha, Wiscaaaaaannnsin. Double shoulder injuries left him addicted to painkillers, which led to a trip to rehab and Narcotics Anonymous. He’s been clean for six months, so making the jump to the debauchery of reality television (and New Orleans) may be too soon. He’s a cute small-town boy, who knew when Mardis Gras started because “that’s what someone at the airport told [him].” I just want to hug him.
Jemmye – (Pronounced “Jimmy”) The complete anti-Southern Belle, she has six tattoos (including one “vajayjay”) , is obsessed with stripper heels, and loves partying. I’ll admit I judged her initially (like pretty much everyone else did), but I found myself smiling at her molasses-thick accent and sexy pose to greet incoming roommates. She also… kinda seems drunk all the time? She was very friendly, and methinks she would be a lot of fun to hang out with.
McKenzie – Just a “typical Florida girl;” didn’t you see the starfish in her hair? The 21-year-old student looks like a mermaid and caused a stir amongst the boys as soon as she walked in. She warned her roommates that she “blacks out really easily,” which probably is code for “has a wild side.” That could be a good thing because aside from her looks, there wasn’t much to say about her.
Preston – The 22-year-old has been on his own since he was 16, and says he doesn’t allow himself to get close to many people. He’s got a self-described amazing sense of fashion, tons of clothes, a strong sense of self (“I have pretty good lips”), and got along famously with “stripper” Jemmye…“The bad bitches have arrived!”
Ashley – A former basketball player at Northeastern University, the Angelina Jolie lookalike resides in Boston (performing tool demos?) but is a Jersey girl at heart. She had a serious relationship throughout college, but has been singled “for awhile,” although she seemed to have no intentions of hooking up, with roommates or anyone else, over the next three months. Next!
Eric – An international relations specialist for diplomatic security…is he on the wrong show? I kid, I kid, but the 24-year-old is the old man of the house and could be the most mature of the bunch. He sounds pretty accomplished but doesn’t seem cocky. His shy, nice-guy demeanor could be forgettable until the revelation that he performs stand up comedy. Ah, there’s a bitter, sarcastic side to him yet! He’s got pretty light eyes (a Jesse Williams lookalike?) and admitted interest in Sahar, but…
Sahar – She’s the closest replica to an original Real World: New Orleans cast member Julie, (the BYU student) thanks to her passion for music and small-town roots. At 21, she’s never lived outside of her parents home and she’s eager to get out and explore the world beyond her Midwestern-Muslim upbringing. She’s got a sort-of boyfriend back home (womp womp), but if this mystery man remains a faceless unknown all season, all bets are off.
Ryan – Last but not least (good editing, MTV), this Tempe, AZ native literally rolled in (on skateboard) with an agenda: insult as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Because he’s in the family business of hair, people often assume he’s gay, but that’s not possible because he’s got a strong aversion to both the gays and the bros (more below). He’s wears a purity ring and pretty much spun around the house in a frenzy until he got his way with room selection. So. Many. Questions.
Maybe he’s playing us, and was going for the role of house crazy, or maybe he actually IS crazy. Here are five signs that point to the latter:
1. Upon meeting Sahar en route to the house he blurted out awkward compliments like, “God you’re so pretty,” and “I hope everybody’s as nice as you!” which left her visibly uncomfortable.
2. Ryan asked about everyone’s experience with drugs (Awkward first day question No. 1). Knight revealed his addiction, but Ryan interrupted any sort of breakthrough he might have been having by sharing his own saga of ”popping Xanax” to deal with a painful breakup. And thus began Ryan’s emotional vomit. As Preston put it, this guy is ul-eye roll-tra sensitive.
3. But he’s also an ass! Before going out, he told Jemmye (who was dressed in one of her more conservative ensembles) that she looked like she was asking to get raped. (So completely offended, what does she do? Ask Preston of course, who naturally approves. Besties!)
4. When a group of older potentially skeevy men started talking to the female roommates, particularly McKenzie, Ryan ranted about how “girls are lot more scandalous… than you would like them to be.” I’m sorry? Granted McKenzie revealed that she’s a lush, so maybe he was being protective but he crossed the line into offensive territory by inferring that the girls were promiscuous when they were merely talking to people. Hello, you are followed by a camera crew – people are going to talk to you. Cut to: the group moving on to Oz, a gay bar, where the host bought Ryan drinks and was eager to chat him up. Ryan obliged (everyone likes a free drink) but was disgusted when the gentleman kissed him on the neck. His attention grabbing freak out climaxed with: “You [gay] guys touch me and I feel like killing myself.”
5. Things got worse back at the house after Ryan called Jemmye “trailer trash” (“Aw hell naw!”). He then abruptly apologized and everyone hugged it out. Problem solved…for now.
What do you think of the new housemates, PopWatchers? Was this the first of many Ryan freak outs? Will New Orleans and the house be too much temptation for recovering addict Knight? Sound off below!