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

August 18, 1998

This week: Nitpicking in Nepal

The kids are still in Nepal, oohing and aahing and remarking how their lives will be changed FOREVER AND EVER and how they'll NEVER be mean to anyone EVER AGAIN. They're going to spread good will over THE WHOLE WORLD. The thin atmosphere of this mountainous country makes them say silly things like "I'm literally at the top of the world." So, let us just see, my darlings, just exactly how much these guys actually change during this little jaunt.

Rebecca's been "feelin' tortured" lately. All of her roommates have been pointing out her faults, and she's wallowing in her insecurities. Then suddenly she's in Nepal, cooing at swaddled infants, wearing native costumes, petting elephants, receiving blessings. By the end of the trip, she's glowing with confidence and learning to like herself. Who needs to be a model for "Vogue" in order to be beautiful? Not the children and women of Nepal, by gum! Rebecca resolves never to be unhappy again. Remember this moment, folks; it might come back to haunt her.

Stephen has a yak up his ass, evidently. By day, he harangues his cohort about the REI commercials they're supposed to make (didn't they just make one last week?). You see, he has set himself up as "executive director" of these commercials. The pressure must be killing him, though, because at night, he drinks. And when he drinks, he gets pissy. At Minghma's home, he arbitrarily decides to pick on Janet for her choice of makeup. Instead of offering to give her a makeover, however, he accuses her of evading "important" issues. Dave chides this histrionic young man, and tells him to pipe down because "Minghma and his family are cooking us a kick-ass meal!" So, Stephen withholds his venom until he gets back to the hotel, where he drunkenly rants loud enough for Janet to hear him in the next room. Thus begins the blowout for which we've been waiting, a potential feud that just might inject some spirit into this season. Janet, nightie-clad, storms the room and basically tells him to shut up so she can sleep. Unfortunately for our amusement, dear hearts, Stephen never comes back with the witty little rhyme, "I don't shut up, I grow up, and when I look at you, I throw up." They bicker in the hall for a while.

Stephen is hardly chastened by this outburst, however. He had left his backpack on the van and then noticed that 320 rupees (about 4 bucks) were missing. He accuses his roommates, the sherpas, and the driver, but in a passive-aggressive way designed to make everyone feel bad. Of course, the money is still on his seat where he left it, and Stephen feels like an idiot. "Which is not unusual," Janet snipes.

But, this tense state of affairs cannot last more than one episode. Long gone are the days when Real World roomies were allowed to hate each other's guts eternally. The Nepalese people, by methods unknown to us, humble Stephen. He sees himself as "one little dot", and he must learn to "be considerate of all the other little dots" in the world. Janet and Stephen hug and make up, and Stephen promises that he will never hurt anyone on purpose. But accidentally? Sure as shootin'!

He still cries at the drop of a hat, too.

Janet, other than her squabble with Stephen, has settled comfortably into the trekking life, cigarettes and all. She doesn't keel over even once during this episode. She likes head sherpa Minghma a lot, and feels safe enough with him to eat smushed up food and touch wild animals.

Dave is still uttering inanities such as, "I'm Real!" He also marvels at the hailstorm which descends upon the gang as they're riding elephants. "Lookit that!" he cries, with glee. You know what, dears? I don't think this chesty young man has ever seen weather before.

Nathan learns to appreciate Nepalese cuisine; did you know, for instance, that water buffalo "tastes like poo"? It could be this familiarity with poo-eating that causes him to contract a nasty infection. We're not going to dwell on his symptoms, but Rusty, the REI travel guide, happily elaborates for us. Probably his most memorable moment in this episode occurs during the whitewater rafting excursion. He gazes at the cliffs above and solemnly utters, "That's crazy. A monkey just sitting on a rock."

Irene learns that elephants don't really need help bathing.

Lindsay changes not a whit.


Number of times Dave appears shirtless: 0

Souvenirs acquired by the Real World kids: Prayer flags, white Buddhist friendship cloths, red dots on the foreheads, a nasty stomach bug

The most annoying character? Stephen is by turns whiny, more whiny, and extra whiny. The alcohol and altitude just make it worse. I don't buy his conversion at the end, either. But, what I'm learning, honeys, is that the most annoying character is always the one who is in the show for the longest time. So, I have a feeling that everyone will get a chance to be on my little shit list.

Next week: The kids all want to be DJs. The citizens of Seattle turn off their radios en masse.


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