June 26, 2001
I don't know if you've noticed, darlings, but the Real World Casting Special is just a little different each year. Gone are the days of "expert commentators" and embarrassing video clips; Bunim/Murray have now decided to treat the audience to what amounts to a bloated 2-hour beauty pageant. The potential cast members endure three tests: relating their traumatic personal histories through a "Show and Tell" segment, answering puerile sex fantasy questions and performing stripteases in "Truth or Dare" and enduring a final interview with the casting staff. It all has a very Vaseline-on-the-teeth-and-world-peace sort of feel, mes amis.
For the final decision, Bunim/Murray's casting department brought the 27 finalists to a tony resort in Palm Springs. We're treated to a summer camp extravaganza, complete with cast member pranks, flirtations and backbiting aplenty. I almost expected someone to run someone's undies up the flagpole! But, this way of picking the Real World and Road Rules cast members does have some real ramifications for the upcoming season. The 27 finalists have almost a week to form impressions and relationships before the season even begins; the first episode of Season X will certainly not have the frisson of seven complete strangers trying to impress one another with big talk and stupid stunts.
So, what happens when you bring almost thirty young people together in a warm, dry place- thirty young people who are yearning for the world to tell them that they are entertaining? "Entertaining" does not mean kind, or intelligent or even particularly pleasant, but it does get one attention, and that's what "The Real World" is all about. That's what youth is all about, actually. It's a pressure to perform.
Now, mes framboises, I've reached the age when I know my life isn't the least bit entertaining to anyone else, unless you consider organizing racks of buttons a hoot (although, some of those new buttons at Hancock Fabrics are tres adorable!). But, to get chosen for a Bunim/Murray program, you have to have that special entertainment factor, which means 1) you have a traumatic personal history, 2) you are outspoken, or at least loud 3) you are glossy and cute as a button. (There are those darn buttons again! I must have them on the brain.)
These kids, in the course of several days, attempt to demonstrate that they have all of these factors, so the casting special feels more like a "Real World" mini-series than in past years. Lori sings an Aretha Franklin imitation. Nicole and Malik develop a shy crush on one another. Those brassy little hotcakes Ellen (Road Rules) and Coral have a catfight. A beefy Midwesterner takes a tough stance against men dressing as ugly women. Several kids milk their own disfiguring accidents, dead parents, life-threatening diseases for whatever points they can get. There's even a short-lived romantic fling between the grim-faced Angel and the salsa-loving Jisela, which is soon scuttled by a girl-girl kiss with Sophia, who comes out during her "Show and Tell" segment. How soap operatic is that?.
At the end of it all, thirteen of these young people are selected to be on "Road Rules" or "The Real World." Before the announcement, there's a big show of people telling each other, "Oh, I won't make it. You will." Then, the winners cry. The losers cry more. At this point, the Big Thirteen aren't told which show they'll appear on, but this is what we know about the New York cast of "Real World X."
Who's Shirtless: Out of the Real Worlders, Malik and Mike are both shirtless three scenes each.
Who Cries? I think just about everyone, male and female, rich and poor, cries at the announcement of the winners. They water Palm Springs with their salty tears. Also, Lori also cries about her parent's divorce.
Best Quote: "This is a product I'm not endorsing!" huffs North Dakotan Dustin at the sight of several hairy men dressing Uncle Milty style. Well, the aspiring drag queens certainly wouldn't be much of an endorsement of beauty products, but that doesn't mean Dustin has to get all offended.
Runner-up Quote: "That's dog barking, and I don't speak dog," sniffs Coral at Ellen's demand that she vacate the cabin. Me-OW!
Most Annoying: Mike is going to be putting his foot in his mouth aplenty, I predict.
Next Week: The Seven Strangers bite the Big Apple!