Steven, Trishelle -- the tears and deceit!
The Jan. 14 episode of ''The Real World'' was like a ''Scared Straight'' for viewers who might have been griping about the endless focus on the Irulan/Alton flirtation. ''Oh yeah?'' Bunim and/or Murray seem to be saying. ''You think their dalliance is unhealthy, do you? Well, take a look at Steven and Trishelle's f'ed-up situation!''
Suddenly, everyone who was bored by Alton and Irulan's storyline-hogging love affair will be calling them the J. Lo and Ben of the 10 Spot. ''Please give me more of that delightful pair!'' the stunned ''Real World'' fan might be sobbing after this week. ''Just don't show me any more Trishelle and Steven.... It burns my eyes!''
Trishelle and Steven's relationship is wrong. Oh so wrong. On a scale of wrongness, it falls somewhere between the Barbra Streisand/Don Johnson public smooching of 1988 and the sex on ''Oz.'' Trishelle is convinced that Steven is more into their relationship than he claims, possibly because he drunkenly told her he loved her. Chicks! Always twisting your words around! You say you love them, and then they go thinking that you, uh, love them!
In a nod to ''About Last Night,'' Steven modified his statement to ''I love being with you,'' and later told Frank that he just loved Trishelle the way he loved, well, Frank. Why Frank didn't take that moment to pack his bags and disappear under cover of night, I'll never know. Steven also maintained that Trishelle tricks him into dating. Does she tell him that there is candy in her uterus?
In the midst of this emotional drama, Palms choreographer Jean told the roommates that they would be taking their act on the road...to Australia! Their mission, as Jean saw it, was to share their routine with another nation, and perhaps they would return with new ideas! (That is, assuming those backward Aussies do not burn them as witches for their mystical ski-dance.) And who knows? Perhaps the Sydney natives have an indigenous jig involving tennis rackets that the roomies can later share with the good people of Vegas.
Trishelle continued to unravel, babbling to Frank that she was convinced Steven cared about her deeply. Frank maturely told her the importance of open communication, which once again proves that letting him on ''The Real World'' must have been a clerical error. Steven decided to communicate, albeit passive-aggressively. ''I love having sex with you, but I don't want to date,'' he told her, then followed up with the old ''I love you like a friend'' chestnut, and concluded with the faithful ''I'm recently divorced, I'm no good to anybody'' gambit. The traditional finale is to then pull out her heart and toss it off the Palms roof, but apparently he was in a hurry to pack and didn't have time.
And with that, it was off to Australia! Their dance routine was in as much of a shambles as their personal lives, as Jean had screamed at them for constantly showing up late to rehearsal. I'm with him: If you're not going to give his Dance of the Denim Overalls and Flashlights the dedication it deserves, don't do it at all! (By the way, here's an interesting hemispheric note: If Aussies paid to see this dance, they were flushing their money down the toilet COUNTERclockwise.)
Things remained tense between Steven and Trishelle, and she dealt with it the only way she knew how: by throwing herself at another man. Frank. Sometimes I feel bad for making fun of Trishelle; she clearly has some unhealthy self-esteem issues tied to her father that ideally should not be worked out on TV. But then again, that's more Bunim/Murray's fault for casting her, so by analyzing the characters I'm given, I'm doing nothing wrong. Did you like that rationalization? Thank my new personal Buddha, Corey Feldman, he who on ''The Surreal Life'' explained that though he was a vegetarian for moral reasons, wearing leather shoes was okay because they were a gift.
It is a tribute to the intelligence of Frank that even drunk he did not succumb to Trishelle's come-ons. ''If she never did anything with Steven, I would hook up with her,'' he said. I'm not sure if that's a moral or hygienic decision, but either is valid. Ultimately, Steven confronted Trishelle on the awkwardness between them, and classily tried to pin it on her. Miraculously, Trishelle stood up for herself, and ultimately they hugged (as all ''Real World'' arguers do, even when they're still quietly wishing each other ill), and Steven proclaimed that things would be cool and platonic with them from then on, but added, ''Then again, I'm a dumbass, so I could be wrong.'' Well, at least the wronger he is, the righter Alton and Irulan will seem.