Where we discuss MTV's Beloved "Real-Life" Soap Opera

August 11, 1998


This week: A 27 minute REI commercial

Well, folks, the people who make The Real World must think they're really sneaky, but I imagine we've all caught on to them by now. In the guise of a joint ad campaign for The End (Seattle "alternative" radio station) and REI (outdoor gear emporium; freeze-dried ice cream is available there 7 days a week!), Irene, Rebecca, and Nathan attend a planning meeting. They wear their best earth-ma and earth-pa couture to make the proper impression. They think this is really a planning meeting! They think that they're actually having something to do with the advertising of the station!

Ha. We know better. We've seen the smirks on the faces of nebbish program director, Phil, and the REI management (REI has many locations around the U.S. of A; there's probably one near you!). Astute viewers understand that it is time for the annual Real World Junket. However, due to the current taste for x-treme outdoor sports, the Real World is not sending its wards to a bikini zone this year. Oh no, those who like that sort of thing must look elsewhere. These kids are going to cleavage-poor Nepal. Or, as Dave puts it in his enthusiasm, "Like legit Nepal!".

As excited as these campers are, however, all is not well in the Real World. Janet is visibly nervous about her inexperience with all things mountainous. This self-proclaimed high-heel wearer and nicotine junkie dreads the thought of getting sick and looking "like a schmuck". Her bestest pal, Lindsay, adds to the ordeal by threatening Janet with altitude sickness and "the worst padoodles". Padoodles? Eek. But, even Janet's bad case of nerves don't prevent the kids from shopping for gear (at REI, home of the world's largest polar fleece lint ball!) and getting oodles and oodles of shots at the hospital. In a blatant attempt at foreshadowing, the doc cautions Janet to quit smoking. Janet says that she knows what a disgusting habit smoking is, but shows no inclination to quit. You see, she has an "awful oral fixation" and is afraid of gaining weight. Faced with those obstacles, mushy black lungs don't seem so bad, I suppose.

So, after packing every bit of Gore-Tex in the house (don't worry! there's lots more at REI!), the gang is on the plane, ready for their grand adventure. Plane rides don't even excite me when I'm on the plane, much less watching one on the teevee. Luckily, we're not faced with a 30 hour Real Air Travel Marathon. Almost instantaneously (after a commercial break, that is), we're in Nepal soaking up all that local color. The head sherpa, Minghma, does his best to show the Real World gang around town; they get to hold giant pythons, and they visit the Monkey Temple. At the Monkey Temple, monkeys hop about, bare their teeth, and conduct intimate relations for the camera- more action than we've seen from the cast of the Real World all season. I, for one, vote for this year's cast to be replaced by those scrappy little monkeys in Nepal!

The next day, these junior trekkers take a helicopter to Mt Everest. Now, why didn't Sir Edmund Hillary think of that? Anyway, this is the moment of truth for Janet, to see whether she'll survive this trip. Evidently, it's also a swell time for a cigarette; Janet has one as soon as she steps off the chopper. Of course, it doesn't take long for her to crumple like a stale saltine cracker. Her colleagues gawk nearby while the guide and the sherpas wrap her in more fluffy warm clothes (obtained at reasonable prices from REI!) and slap her around a little. Janet regains consciousness in a few minutes and the adventure continues. The kids compose Odes to the Super-Great Himalayas right there on the spot, because Nepal is so super-great. Dave feels how small he is. You know what, guys? Just once, I would like to hear someone visit Mt Everest and say how huge and important he feels. But, instead, we're treated to the sensitive, quasi-mystical musings of Lindsay, Rebecca, and Dave.

Since this installment is a bit short in the laugh department, I can only assume that Lindsay's (aka "Big Hair") story is included for comic relief. We see her quiver like a lil' rat dog when she gets her shots. We see her crunchy granola brother, Poull, play some tired crunchy granola riff on his gee-tar. We see her flip her hair and jump around until we wonder just HOW excited can she get? I expect her to pop sometime during the season. Oh, yeah, and she talks about her dead dad at every opportunity.

Number of times Dave appears shirtless: 0

Number of times Dave appears in Polar Fleece: 3

This Episode's Most Annoying Character: I've been waiting all season to see just how grating Lindsay could be. I don't think she's up to full potential yet, but she still overwhelms me with her inane herky-jerky.

Next Week: The kids must face the terrifying Nepalese Padoodles!

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