''Real World''

Mommies Dearest

Shocking! Jamie gets screen time! It was a tale of two moms -- Jamie's and Frankie's, and guess who argued with and screamed at hers? asks Josh Wolk

The Real World: San Diego (Season 14) | LOST IN TRANSLATION Jamie doesn't speak Korean well enough to communicate with her family
LOST IN TRANSLATION Jamie doesn't speak Korean well enough to communicate with her family

Shocking! Jamie gets screen time!

Most seasons of ''The Real World'' have a roommate who antagonizes everybody. But as annoying as they are, fans can't imagine the house without them: wackos are a critical part of the ''Real World'' checks and balances system. Without Puck in San Francisco, Judd's sensitive-guy mooning would have been intolerable. And New Orleans Danny's pining for his blurred-out boyfriend was a goopy, repetitive love story, but worked as a sorbet cleansing the palate from the delt-flapping, flow-going, scat-happy antics of David.

So you would think that the misanthropic Frankie, for all her disgruntlement and bitterness, would prove an integral part of the San Diego foursome. So why, when she loudly proclaimed that she wanted to leave the show, did I want to leap into the screen and help her pack?

Because there's no earnest characters in the house for her to provide the counterpunch, that's why. We've got all the ninny behavior we need, what with Robin's self-centered binging and Brad's paleolithic grunting, At least you can laugh at them: With Frankie you can only cringe and block your ears.

Frankie is convinced that everyone in the house hates her, and reacts to this by acting like a complete jerk, thereby teaching MTV listeners the definition of ''self-fulfilling prophecy.'' To provide evidence for why the roommates might be less than fond of her, she repeatedly demonstrated her patented Frankie method of argument: throw out a random accusation, then storm out of the room with a sarcastic, ''Whatever you say'' when the person tries to defend themselves with logic. (That's right: I just intimated that the ''Real World'' roomies were capable of logic. Granted, I'm not talking about LSAT-test logic. I'm referring more to an ''If I stick my tongue in a toaster and feel pain, perhaps I shouldn't stick my tongue in a toaster'' level of deductive reasoning. But still, one has to give credit where credit is due.)

Frankie's mother, stepfather, and sister arrived to visit in between her crying jags, and she filled them in on just how much she hated her roommates. Frankie stubbornly told her mother, ''I didn't come out here to make friends.'' So why exactly did she come out? For the piercings? For the snakes? For the eye-rolling? It certainly wasn't for the big boats.

One of her main complaints is that the others all make fun of her behind her back, which is odd since most of Frankie's onscreen appearances are marked by her mocking the others to the camera. I'm always torn watching such critiques, since one can't argue with her conclusion that they're all dunderheads… and yet she's just as irritating. It's like Keanu Reeves coming up to you and saying, ''Man, Chuck Norris is one bad actor!'' Yeah, he's right, but…

As much lip service as she pays to hating her roomies, she's not above going to them for comfort. She picked Brad to moan to about her anxieties. Brad carefully thought about her troubles, analyzed them, and replied, ''Anxiety's a real bitch.'' Look out Dr. Phil, there's a new straight-talkin' shrink in town! I wouldn't be surprised if MTV gives him his own advice show: ''Today, on 'Dr. Brad,' why insecurity totally sucks, dude! And tune in tomorrow for 'Bulimia: The only reason to be pukin' is if you had a fifth of Jack.'''

Frankie explained that she wants to leave because her cystic fibrosis has made her want to live life to its fullest -- which she can't do here. But isn't the point of ''living life to its fullest'' that you make every moment count, no matter the circumstances? I believe the philsophy goes, ''Every day is a gift,'' not, ''Every day is a gift… provided there's something good on TV and my boyfriend's around and I'm eating pizza where the crust isn't too crispy.''

As Frankie's sister, the wise Mamie, pointed out, the roommates are not likely the problem: Frankie would be miserable anywhere. Now she was miserable because she couldn't be at Dave's Halloween gig. But if she came home for his show, she'd just end up pissed because he didn't point his amp far enough in her direction.

Meanwhile, some sort of clerical error resulted in Jamie actually getting some screen time. Her mother came to visit, and Jamie was determined to get to know her better. Apparently they can't relate literally AND figuratively: Jamie doesn't speak Korean well enough to talk with her mother. It was kind of shocking to see a 20-year-old asking her mother how old her own father was, and how her folks even met.

Even more shocking was the fact that Jamie took part of the blame for this communication gap, which is hardly the ''Real World'' way. Compare this to how Frankie wailed that she wanted to leave the show, but couldn't because her mother would be disappointed in her. Frankie managed to take her own self-generated misery about a situation that her mother had nothing to do with -- let alone not even being in the same state as -- and made it Mom's fault. I'll bet at that moment Frankie's mom would have killed for a language barrier.

Originally posted May 25, 2004
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