Mrs Filthy's Real World Review

July 25, 2000

It's Only Television!

Every season, the "Real World" producers assign their seven wards an onerous task. This year, the kids must create their own public access show, and they can barely contain their ennui. Mais oui, putting together an appealing and informative program requires much work and eats into valuable partying and flirting time. But, think about it, mes amis, why worry about some little public access show, when you're already on MTV? I'm sure these youngsters feel completely inundated by television's inner machinations, and creating their own show seems completely superfluous.

Not for Kelley, though. Producer Kelley takes the assignment completely seriously, not only as a "resume-booster," but also as an opportunity to dress in her finest business-chic wardrobe. It's awfully frustrating to be the boss, though. When she attempts to dole out tasks to her housemates, her only response is oppressive silence while everyone tries to sink into the sofa cushions. Kelley hates nagging, but nagging may be the only thing these louts respond to. They're just as happy to skateboard off into the sunset if they can.

"The Real 7" is supposed to be a serious discussion of issues important to residents of New Orleans. Apparently, locals are concerned mostly with getting a copy of themselves on video, but that doesn't make for good teevee. Melissa questions whether a bunch of self-involved, 20 year old brats even could have an interest in local issues. The very mission of the show seems pointless. Now, darlings, the best public access television show I've ever seen featured plush toys dancing to obscure music. This doesn't bode well for "The Real 7," which has neither stuffed animals nor obscure music. Unless, of course, you count David's infamous scat singing.

Which brings us to the many trials and tribulations the cast faces before "The Real 7" is aired. The opening segment of "The Real 7" introduces each cast member with a series of descriptive statements inspired by five questions. Six housemates answer the questions; one housemate skip-biddley-doo-bops his way through them. Guess who's the little jazz monster, darlings? David calls himself "a creative-type person," and apparently, he's so creative that he's actually formulated his own language. When Kelley confronts him about his introduction, he contends that he DID answer all five questions, but just in a way that stressed-out skinny white girl producers cannot understand. He's absolutely sure the people of New Orleans will understand his enigmatic lyrics. It's like Esperanto, but funkier! In the face of such block-headed, confused confidence, there's not much Kelley can do other than throw her hands up in the air and say, "Screw it!"

Another stressful moment occurs when Matt, who we've previously learned is "all about design," builds a set for the show, assisted by NOAtv's resident set designer Lionel. After hours of labor, what a shock it is to learn that the whole thing must be disassembled, and fast, to make way for the next program. And Matt and Lionel had built this set to last until the Apocalypse. It could even double as a bomb shelter, if necessary. Sacre bleu! Big boss man Elton recommends using an easily-collapsible foam core structure for Matt's next try, but Matt laments the time and effort he's wasted.

And that's not all! During rehearsal, which Elton exhorts the housemates to "treat it as if it's the real thing," Kelley's outline for the show dissolves into a mucky ol' mess, Danny ignores the outline altogether and David says, "woo woo" on the air. And there is not a single dancing teddy bear to save the day. Even after Elton gives the kids the standard "good try" speech, they're pessimistic and down-hearted. Kelley feels a little better after Elton resolves to back up any of her decisions, but everyone else is just waiting for the whirling tornado of failure to destroy the trailer park of their ambitions.

When the actual showtime approaches, Kelley is still frantically gathering factoids and furbelows about alcoholism from the Internet. The others decide to run as far away from responsibility as they can; Jamie complains one moment about being given no direction, then immediately whines about "too much micro-management." Then he tells Julie not to worry at all about the show, "In the end, it means nothing." Well, that's certainly true, my skateboard-toting stripling, but methinks I hear someone trying to justify his slacking.

Finally, finally, "The Real 7" is on the air. Melissa is hoping fruitlessly for a miracle, Kelley bares her teeth nervously and Danny looks like he's going to pee his pants. Not exactly the behavior you'd want to see from "your seven new best friends," is it? But, once the show gets going, the minutes fly by, and there are more important issues discussed than you could shake a stick at- poverty, crime, bad schools, drunkenness. Why, it's a regular Festival of Profound Concern! Whee! I just had to wonder who was watching at that point.

After the ordeal is over, the kids celebrate from sheer relief. Once the hugs and applause fade, however, the dark televised clouds quickly return. Julie thinks that their first effort sucked and wonders why everyone else is so happy. Kelley passes her producing baton to David and awaits a spectacular failure. (She doesn't say as much, but you know she's thinking it, mes petites fleurs!) Melissa hears the local response to "The Real 7," and it's not at all complimentary- just imagine if a bunch of callow out-of-towners came to your town and started telling you everything that was wrong with it! Anyway, the relief and elation dissolve into icky embarrassment and uncertainty, just how I like to see an episode end, dearies! Now, if they could only get a dancing stuffed bear

Did You Know? An episode of "Real World Hawaii" is nominated for an Emmy. Interestingly, Ruthie's intervention is in the same award category as shows about dinosaurs and woolly mammoths.

Who's Shirtless: Good gracious, I always figured Danny as the shirtless-on-the-job type, but David gives all of New Orleans a look-see at his bare torso in the introduction to
"The Real 7." "Real World" viewers also see Kelley in a towel, but I don't think that counts.

Most Annoying: David wins this title yet again for being clueless and as stubborn as a big blue ox. Plus, his scat-singing is utterly irritating in its irrelevance.

Best Quote: "This is all just coming out of my ass," seethes Kelley. I don't know about you people, but that's a little too much reality television for moi!

Next Week: Julie says "colored."

Want to tell Mrs. Filthy something?

This Week, Mrs. Filthy's Reading:

Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality by Neal Gabler

The Sex Revolts: Gender, Revolution and Rock 'n' Roll by Simon Reynolds and Joy Press