April 16, 2002
Breadcrumbs in the Meatloaf
To those of you who were looking forward to the next installment of Tanya's renal drama, Bunim/Murray says, "Tough-o bean-o." Well, mes amis, those fancy-pants television people might not say it exactly like my coworker Trudi, but that's the message we're getting with "Hook-ups, Heartbreaks and Happily Ever Afters," a compendium of all the Real World footage we've already seen a hundred times.
Old-timers Becky (New York) and Syrus (Boston) host this melange of oldies but goodies, but they are practically overshadowed by the distracting jump-cuts and the black and white, off kilter camera work. Hmmm, it looks like somebody just got a new tv studio for Christmas! Becky and Syrus do their best to talk sexy for the camera, but, mon dieu, these people are probably in their thirties by now! It's a lost cause, I'm afraid.
So, my dears, we re-visit such chestnuts as the first season's romance between Becky and Eric, which was scuttled by a supermodel, and the fourth season's romance between Neil and Kat, which was scuttled by a severed tongue. We see a long, long parade of passive-aggressive men (Jamie, Kevin, Matt, Colin) pursued by aggressive-aggressive women (Melissa, Lori, Julie, Amaya). We once again hear Seattle Dave's earnest ode to forbidden love and Puck's burping, farting avoidance of the L-word altogether.
All of this nostalgia serves to remind us that there's actually very little romantic action in the "Real World;" as in untelevised life, people tend to dance around the issue until they flee it altogether. It's just so sad, my little bonbons, that the people on television aren't getting any, either. Doesn't that go against what television is all about?
The special ends with a token few "Real World" couples that have remained together (Judd and Pam, Danny and his military man Paul and baby-makers extraordinaire Sean and Rachel). The hosts then promise, about the Chicago season, "You ain't seen nothing yet!" proceeding to show us the already familiar scenes of Keri and Kyle, Cara and everyone, Aneesa and herself. The only new development is that Cara wants to "help Keri get over Kyle" by introducing her to other guys. She's so "helpful" that she'll take Kyle instead, like taking a bullet for one's comrade! So, after all this filler, finally something to look forward to!
Next Week: Well, darlings, I assume that Season XI will continue at some point. How many times can the producers recycle old footage?
April 15, 2002
Those crazy Real World and Road Rules kids seem to spend most of their time in Cabo at the local Internet café. Sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and palm trees just don't hold a candle to overpriced coffee drinks and the latest incarnation of the Dancing Baby, I suppose. It is here that we meet up with Real World Boston castmates Sean and Elka. While Elka coos to her long-time beau Walter, "I luv yooooooo! I miss yoooo," Sean appears less carefree.
The former lumberjack emphasizes that he's just like anyone else, with school expenses, tight funds and a burgeoning family to support. The fact that he's leaping off cliffs for the benefit of the viewing audience means nothing! But his concerns, for all you reality tv veterans out there, means that Sean is going to win, and Sean is going to win big. Darlings, he needs this victory to save his family from the almshouse, to preserve his honor, etc. The story arc just wouldn't be the same if a nobody like Dan or Timmy won, and believe me, the story arc needs all the help it can get!
The night before the mission, each team receives a plastic puzzle, in which tiny cars are moved about on a grid until one car can be moved off the board. The contestants are told that this trinket is a clue to the next challenge. As much as some of the players (as well as members of the viewing audience) hope for a demolition derby, the mission is much more obvious- a life-size version of the automotive puzzle.
Sean spends day and night mastering the mental wizardry of this plastic toy, but most of the other contestants don't take the game as seriously, relying instead on pep talk and hope. However, Theo is proud to note that he went to a "special school" where they did puzzles like this all day, every day. To tell you the truth, mes amis, it is unclear whether he means some sort of upscale Philosopher's Grove or merely a backwoods juvie. Or maybe he was some sort of psychological test subject? That might explain the star-shaped mark that's perennially on his cheek.
On game day, the hosts sound just like the killjoy go-cart attendants at Lakeside Amusement Park with their eternal refrain of "No bumping!" Any cast member who bumps into another car will be disqualified, losing their shot at winning a Saturn vehicle. Of course, any person worth her salt knows that bumping is 90 percent of the fun. In addition, the hosts add with wicked glee, some of the cars are automatic and some of the cars are manual! Oh, the impossibility of it all! Suddenly, this prosaic little puzzle has all the death-defying drama of valet parking.
If any particular team has the mental agility to figure out the puzzle, they invariably lack the driving ability. I begin to think, my chickadees, that a prerequisite to being a reality television star is the inability to drive a stick shift. Sacre bleu, is it really that difficult? And even if a team has the driving ability and the smarts, they might lack the biggest component of a challenge such as this- keeping a cool head.
There's a lot of aimless flailing and yelling out there in the dusty Mexican parking lot. It seems like there's a general lack of good decision-making. For example, Emily already has three fender-benders on her driving record, and yet Timmy allows her to drive the cars. Soon Emily is up to number four, and that Road Rules team is disqualified. Mike and Coral also manage to burn up half a dozen clutches in the course of their trial.
Theo and Holly are the first castmates to put forward a strong performance, and it's not surprising that they get a little cocky. But, in television land, cockiness comes before a fall, and the next team up is Sean and Elka- Sean, of the Dickenesque need for a new Saturn. Theo and Holly might as well despair now.
Elka is another one of these stick-shift virgins, so Sean does all the driving. He also does most of the bellowing. Elka proves to be the more valuable team mate, however; she points and directs with the natural authoritative flair of the Texas debutante at a society tea. Between the two of them, they manage to win the competition. Even Theo, who thought he was a sure thing, cannot disparage the victors, a "class act guy" and a "dream girl" all the way. This, mes amis, is Bunim/Murray's version of Destiny.
Want to tell Mrs. Filthy something?