TV Article

Going Down Swinging

In the finale of ''The Real World: Austin,'' the roomies mark the end of their adventure the way they started it: with a drunken brawl

The Real World: Austin (Season 16) | TEX MESS The roomies leave, having learned nothing
TEX MESS The roomies leave, having learned nothing

''The Real World'': Final fights and farewells

You know it's the final episode of a Real World season when right in the middle of a big fight, you're treated to a sudden freeze-frame, complete with agonized faces and a few key wails (for that special ''domestic abuse'' effect) before a commercial break. Yes! In-house drama! It's what we've been waiting for all season, and we finally got it!

Uh, no. Actually, the freeze-out reminded me a lot of the pointless cuts and shoddy workmanship in the finished version of the roommates' film, The Real SXSW, which I somehow endured on MTV Overdrive yesterday. The only thing that kept me going during my online viewing was the supreme sense of technological accomplishment I felt every time I fast-forwarded through the insufferable bits where the roommates provided commentary.

Did anyone else make it through the documentary? Actually, that should be in quotes — the ''documentary''? I think my favorite part, except for ''none of it,'' was the graphic design. Particularly the nameplates smacked onto the screen when different band members were shown. It's like they started out with that lovable Real World-style childlike print, then somehow downgraded a few hundred steps from there. Honestly, the name graphics looked like someone (Lacey) typed out words in huge Times New Roman font, printed it out, took a photo of it, and pasted it onto the screen. Literally. With a glue stick. Maybe this was the roomies' postmodernist statement against progress, professionalism, and things that look good.

Anyway, the big fight! I don’t really get what happened, but I know how it started. Wes told his roommates about having sex with Wren. Someone — likely Rachel — told Wren, who was conveniently at the Dizgusting Rooster on the group's last night in town. Wren got mad at Wes. Wes got mad at everyone. Oh, and during all of this, everyone got mad at a lot of booze and drank it. There was one great thing about this scene: Wren told Nehemiah and America that ''Wes is this big'' while stretching her tiny little bird claws about an inch and a half apart. Oh, snap, Wren! Were you talking about his manhood or his soul? It's anyone's guess! Even though nobody cares!

Back to the house, and that stupid sign on its top. (This show takes place in ''AUSTIN,'' if you guys didn't know.) Wes screamed at Rachel for bringing up something that he did (it was sex) off camera. He has talked about what he did (had sex, because he's a stud) on numerous occasions on camera — and, by the way, just did it again. On camera. Wes had sex.

Suddenly Mel was freaking out, Danny's oversize hat was restraining Rachel on the couch, and Nehemiah was somehow involved. Huh? He must have seen a fight and the chance to terrorize the army girl and just hopped on that hate train. Rachel, being Rachel, possibly provoked both of them even further. Johanna kind of stood there. Those last few sentences could pretty much sum up this whole joke of a season.

Not to mention this: While it all went down — while her roommates attempted to tear each other to shreds — Lacey (future porn-star name: ''Lacey'') sat on that blasted couch of hers and yapped out a play-by-play to her best friend forever, Ryan. She actually sounded like a sportscaster with that low voice and somewhat artificial sense of excitement. Despite the thing about the roommates being about to kill each other — which, come to think of it, would have brought some truly satisfying closure to the season — this was a pretty perfect ''Previously on...'' scene to show right before the teary goodbyes to follow.

Rachel went first. It was supposed to be shocking how she didn't attempt to acknowledge Wes and Neh before she left, but I ended up just feeling relieved. One down. Then a cab pulled up for Nehemiah, who told Wes, ''I never thought I would like a white person as much as I like you.'' Um...ha? I don’t even want to know what would happen if a white person said something like that. But it's kind of fun to imagine Wes trying it. Two down. I was slowly jerking out of the five-month coma I'd been in. This was fun.

Lacey's turn. Johanna turned on the tears. They were friends? I was confused, but that could have been delirium from the coma. Awww, Ryan wheeled in to surprise Lacey, who showed her excitement and undying love by sitting on him. I know she's done this before, but this time it made me squirm uncomfortably. Probably because I just wanted her out of there. Wes complained that Ryan was trying to make him ''look bad.'' Yeah, that was definitely Ryan's agenda. Everyone knows the only person who makes Wes look bad is Wes. Oh, look, it was his turn to torment an Austin cab driver. Farewell, Wes. You're totally incredible. Way to go with all of the sex.

Then there were three. Jo cried and sputtered nice things about her roommates. Since I know them too, I found her behavior insane, but at least it seemed sincere. Cute. Where had she been? Didn't matter — she was gone. Five down. I could breathe again! This was great. Oh wait, it wasn't — because before Melindanny hopped into their convertible cab (what was up with that?), we had to follow the power couple around the entire house while they named all the rooms they made out in. It was every room. We remember it too, guys. ''Later, Tex,'' yelled Danny's hat. And then there were none.

Well, not yet, because of the entirely pointless airport scene involving Melinda crying her eyes out because she wouldn't be seeing Danny for a week. Once again, a simple procedure — Plane. You. Leave. Now. — was so drawn out (hey, at least it provided some good continuity) that I almost fell back into my coma, but then the frame of the Hat in the passageway faded into black and then the MTV fish logo gurgled at me in its life-affirming way. Whew!

Later, Tex. It's been real. Lame.

What do you think? Was the dramatic last episode somewhat redeeming, more of the same, or a total disaster? Will you be like me and act like you hated the whole season but then tape next week's reunion special? And what changes should be made for future casts?

Originally posted Nov 23, 2005
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