Mrs Filthy's Real World Review

August 1, 2000

Color Me Embarrassed

When the disclaimer first appeared on my television screen, I thought this week's episode was going to feature some real action. You know, fighting, screaming and name-calling, lots of crying- something to merit such a serious opener. But, my darlings, it turns out that the show didn't even have the substance of an ABC Afternoon Special. Once again, it's all about Melissa.

Everything starts out just peachy for the kids in the Belfort mansion, unless you count having to witness Melissa's and Jamie's horseplay. Melissa performs the touching-the-back-of-the-neck test for girlfriend compatibility, and then she performs the hands-down-the-pants test. Jamie forces Melissa to play catch. Melissa takes Jamie to get his hair cut, all the while criticizing his hair and outfit. I suppose we're supposed to exclaim, "Tres adorable, they're sharing!" But, in reality, we're all just waiting for the inevitable fall. We don't have to wait long.

A bit of foreshadowing occurs in the kitchen, while Julie, Melissa and David discuss racial slurs. Julie admits to her almost prehistoric ignorance of other cultures, but wants to know why certain words are considered offensive, especially when uttered by thin, white pasty lips. I kept thinking to myself, mes amis, was this girl raised in a bread box? But, Julie doesn't want to look like an idiot all the time; it just seems to happen. Julie feels like her lily-white upbringing deprived her, and she's determined to learn as much as she can from her 6 "teachers." "I feel cheated!" she exclaims, "It's not fair!" Melissa relishes the opportunity to "teach" Julie about how clueless she is until she cries.

Indeed, the entire household seems to view this 5 month sojourn as an opportunity to teach our pauvre waif Julie all sorts of things. Julie spends time with Danny, and feels more comfortable with his sexual orientation. To celebrate, they wade in a fountain at Audubon Park and get their pants all wet. S'il vous plait, my little dewdrops, note that Kelley stays out of this, as she did from the big important kitchen conversation earlier in the show. She may just turn out to be really smart.

But life with the "Real 7" can't all be enlightenment and pillow fights. Jamie's doppelganger pals are in town, and they want to do something "local." Such explorers they! They decide on an airboat ride through the bayous (but it's not just any airboat ride like all those brochures you can get at the airport, it's EXTREME!)- and Melissa and Julie tag along. This made me wonder, did the producers make Jamie take some housemates along for our entertainment value? Sacre bleu!

Melissa doesn't exactly feel comfortable as they head to Arthur's Airboats; she envisions scary alligators and Confederate flag-waving crackers at every intersection. (Do they own their whiteness, do you think?) At one point, Melissa states, "I would rather have a pap smear than do this." So, it's no surprise that when Arthur, their guide, uses a racial epithet as part of a bird's common name, that Melissa is deeply provoked and disturbed. I have to admit, though, I was more concerned for the nutria; it gets the roughest treatment of anyone that day, getting yanked by the tail like that, and no one protested.

Melissa recounts the story to anyone who will stand still long enough, and then waits for their shocked expressions. When Jamie fails to provide one for her on cue, Melissa has yet another thing to complain about. But, honestly, I don't think we can expect Jamie to express much, given the rather geological character of his brow and chin. Anyway, there are some vaguely hurt feelings floating around until the housemates gab and jaw some more.

Danny and Melissa both tell Julie that they don't have time for ignorant people, although Melissa does seem to have plenty of time to tell the same story about the airboat operator over and over again. Julie, as a representative of all ignorant people everywhere, begs them to reconsider. Melissa delivers the final verdict of "Ignorance is here to stay," almost happily. But then she decides to give Jamie another chance, because she surmises that he's really "black on the inside." That's the last thing I would've thought, dearies, although he does presume to use the term "shorties" to describe himself and his friends.

Jamie explains to Melissa that he didn't want to see her trip ruined by the infamous bird name, and Melissa is satisfied that Jamie is trying to understand. He summarizes, "I think she showed me that people are sad, people are angry" Suddenly, all is well, and the game of grab-ass may begin once more. So, it turns out that this whole rigmarole was just an excuse for Melissa and Jamie to become even more attached. Now I feel cheated!

Did You Know? Julie has been suspended from BYU for one year, but she says she's not going back anyway. Nyaah, nyaah.

Who's Shirtless: Due to the serious nature of the episode, everyone keeps his shirt on.

Who Cries: Julie sheds remorseful tears over her sheltered and ignorant upbringing.

Most Annoying: Whenever anyone has to resort to demanding a reaction, I suspect that the conflict isn't so much about the issue at hand as about attention for a certain individual. A certain individual named Melissa, that is.

Best Quote: "You have to own your blackness in order to use it," quips Melissa. What, there's no borrowing?

Next Week: David's in charge of the show! Oh my stars, where's my Scat Singing/ English dictionary?

Want to tell Mrs. Filthy something?

This Week, Mrs. Filthy's Reading:

Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places by John Stilgoe

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole