Josh Wolk
June 08, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”The Real World”: The swimming-pool mystery

I knew going into this series that there wouldn’t be too much adventure when the Real World: Las Vegas cast reunited. They were older and slightly savvier, so I figured they’d be more self-aware, therefore less prone to idiotic fits. But I never suspected that they’d do so little that in a six-episode series, one week’s main conflicts would revolve around Steven getting kicked out of the pool.

Really? Is that all you got? I know it would be futile to hope for another threesome or a go-go dance, but come on now: a pool expulsion? What happens next week, the gang argues over how much to tip room service?

There was some residual drama left over from last week’s Arissa-Alton-Irulan arguments. Alton tried to walk away from Arissa, saying, ”I lit the match expecting to get the stink out of the air; I didn’t light the match because I was standing in a tank of propane.” You don’t often hear people mix barbecue and fart metaphors, but Alton’s a wordsmith.

In the old days, the producers tried to stoke drama by dosing the cast with alcohol. Perhaps it’s an acquiescence to the cast’s age that they are now plied with spa treatments and gourmet meals. They are no mere rubes: Now they have refined appetites to sate before they will act like eight-year-olds.

Trishelle was feeling sick, so she couldn’t attend the rubdown, but she didn’t miss much, just Irulan saying she couldn’t imagine handling a baby. I was about to mock her, saying that giving a baby to a Real Worlder is like giving nitroglycerine to an epileptic, but then again, we have proof that even Bunim/Murrayites can change: Brynn has two children, and she seems to be doing fine. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have let her near baby corn.

As the spa didn’t generate much action, the producers shelled out for high-priced dinners, splitting the group up in as controversial pairings as they could get. Alton and Irulan were set up, which led to a teary hissy fit by Irulan, who said she couldn’t do that to her boyfriend. So her beau wouldn’t mind if she went and lived with her ex, but going to dinner in a public place was beyond the pale? I’m not sure why in her mind the apartment was such a safe zone; last time this group was together, people were humping in the hot tub and the confessional, so clearly modesty was not a stumbling block. If Alton and Irulan were tempted, they’d do it on the kitchen table before they’d do it in a restaurant.

After much wailing, Irulan went out with Arissa instead. The producers began with a montage of awkward-silence shots to rack up the tension, but finally Arissa said what we were all thinking last week: Look at Alton’s truth-telling track record, and decide if there’s even the slightest chance he wasn’t lying. Irulan then admitted that to this day, Alton would not admit to having a threesome in their first season. Wait — so that incident was televised, they probably watched it together, he still denied it happened, and then she stayed with him for three years? No wonder her boyfriend doesn’t trust her. It’s quite possible that she could find herself having this conversation with Alton:

Irulan: I just do not feel comfortable being with you.

Alton: Look, Irulan, will you stop stressin’? Nothing’s gonna happen.

I: Really? Because I think we’re in bed.

A: That’s crazy talk. We are not in bed, we’re in the living room.

I: No, look. These are blankets, these are sheets. I think this thing under my head is a pillow.

A: I don’t want to get into arguing about this, Irulan. We are in the living room on the couch.

I: Actually, come to think of it, it feels like you’re having sex with me.

A: What? That’s wack.

I: No, really, you’re naked and you’re on top of me and I’m pretty sure we’re having intercourse.

A: Are you nuts? I’m just looking for a pen, and I think you’re lying on it. Can’t a man look for a pen? Damn, I do not need this drama!

I: Are you sure we’re not having sex?

A: Irulan, girl, I just want to be friends. I got a girlfriend back home. So let’s just hug it out.

I: Okay…

A: Okay, hug harder. And lower…yeah, that’s it. So could you kind of hug, and then not hug, and then hug, and then not hug? C’mon, get in the hug rhythm.

I: Sure. So you’re sure we’re not…

A: Damn! I didn’t come here to get insulted! I lit the match hoping to get some blue flame, but now you’re tossing it in the charcoal chute! And…errrrrrrrrgh. [Pause.] So, speaking of matches, you got a cigarette?

By the end of the show, Alton and Arissa made peace, too. Both decided the bathroom incident wasn’t worth arguing about anymore, and they agreed to disagree about it. Or, rather, they agreed to not dwell on the fact that Alton is a lying bastard. Then they hugged. I wonder if Alton grabbed her ass mid-embrace and she just sighed and said to herself, AltonisnotgrabbingmyassAltonisnotgrabbingmyassAltonisnotgrabbingmyass, trying to get herself through the next two weeks.

Trishelle and Brynn were paired off for dinner, too. I think that Trishelle has done one too many reality shows, because nothing she says sounds sincere. It all sounds like someone acting like a reality-TV participant. When she was lolling around the pool earlier, wearing sunglasses with frames the size of car windshields, she couldn’t have looked more blasé about Brynn’s infant son. I guess Trishelle has a rule about human interaction: ”If you can’t get me either a drink, a VIP pass, or an E! pilot, don’t bother me, kid.” Hey, if baby Nash can make a mojito and bring Trishelle the latest issue of Life & Style, then she’ll be more than happy to coo at him, but until then, he can take his big wet diaper somewhere else.

At dinner, she confessed that she’d been hurt that she wasn’t invited to Brynn’s wedding. It didn’t sound like Trishelle had made much of an effort to stay in touch with Brynn, either, so a dis wasn’t that out of line, but keeping Trishelle away from an open bar is a very big insult indeed. When she heard that Irulan wasn’t invited either and it was a small affair, she forgave Brynn, and offered to throw her a belated wedding shower. First of all, I have no doubt that this was a producer suggestion to add an event that might liven things up. But it doesn’t surprise me that Trishelle gladly took to the idea: Preparing the party will take far more time than the party itself, which means camera time galore! Everybody wins, and by ”everybody,” I mean Trishelle.

And then, of course, there was the Steven pool incident. Don’t you just love when an entire Real World controversy is built around something that the cameramen didn’t catch? Hearing everyone’s differing accounts of the poolside crime (he threw a girl and her chair into the pool, but did he also throw ice?) would be one thing in a dramatized movie like Rashomon. But this is a reality show, where everything’s supposed to be on tape. That’s just Rashomoron.

So we endured endless scenes of Frank appealing to the all-powerful John Gray to give Steven back his pool privileges. I wonder if John Gray is just an actor hired by the Palms to hand out gift certificates and pretend to pay attention to the Real Worlders’ gripes. It seems improbable that a real employee would have that much time to devote to adjudicating the case of Steven v. Pool Bimbo.

After more pleas from Frank, John Gray decreed that Steven would be allowed back in the pool. I turned off my TV and wondered if I had really just spent a half hour watching a drama that hinged on whether or not a drunk guy would be allowed to go swimming again. I think the producers better up the ante: Give them all free cars and Brazilian waxes, and then maybe these circus animals will start performing.

What do you think? Are you disappointed so far with the season? Do you see any chance of inter-roommate action? And will Alton, Arissa, or Irulan light another match?

You May Like