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

September 15, 1998

This week: A Very Special Episode

Well, my friends, if I had a hankering for a Disease-of-the-Week TV movie, I watched the right show. This episode is almost as good as the movie about the lady (played by perennial Lifetime Channel favorite Dana Delaney) who had some disease that ate her lips. It was hideous. She had this toothy grin on her face the whole time. She lost her job, her family, her health, her home, all because of the horror of having no lips.

Anyway, our curly-headed gal Irene doesn't seem to be in too good of a shape, either. First hint that things might not be going so well comes when she tells Stephen that she will marry him. Sure, we'd all like a partner who will give us massages and cook us dinner, but STEPHEN? Stephen proudly claims that Irene and he "have connected cosmic energy in the last few weeks"; I couldn't tell if he was trying to make us believe that he did her. He didn't.

Then, Irene squabbles with her colleagues about rehearsing for "Dead Air". She doesn't like to tell the same joke thirty thousand times (I guess I'm the only one who does, dears.), but Lindsay and Janet fully believe in the power of preparation. They don't seem to care whether Irene is funny or not. Janet, with a wee flash of irritation in her eyes, notes that Irene "wants everyone to know that she's funny." Me-OW.

If Janet indulges in a bite-size morsel of cattiness, Lindsay goes whole hog, using every opportunity to paint Irene as some sort of multiple personality freak. Exhibit A: "You never know about Irene...if she's going to blow up...if she's going to be cranky." Exhibit B: "Her personality has been on and off . I don't know where the hell she's coming from." Meow meow.

But, Irene's problem isn't mere testiness. She admits that she needs to be in bed, but she staggers around holding her head. We almost get to see her toss her cookies, but no, my darlings. Instead, the producers of the show get a little creative and put together a montage of how they thought Irene must feel. I don't know about you, sweets, but the last things I want to imagine when I'm under the weather are throbbing strobe lights and the pounding beats of dance music, unless I'm infected with Disco Fever. There are some irrelevant shots of tea heating in the microwave and some craggy ol' statue, as well. So, Janet nurses her through what I can only imagine as some sort of seizure of German Expressionist Cinema.

Irene's headaches continue, and other symptoms, numb arms and feet, bruising, and fatigue, appear. None of her housemates seem to know how to deal with what is obviously a serious health problem, so everyone just gets cranky. Irene doesn't really want to discuss her illness, which distances her housemates even more. So, she just rubs her head a lot. And babbles.

Oh, how she babbles. Expressly for our befuddlement, Madamoiselle Irene launches into a breathless monologue about how she's afraid she's "terminally messy" and "organizationally challenged"; then she cleans the kitchen. This latter action seems to especially freak everybody out. She manically confronts Janet about her Nordstrom purchases, then Nathan about his hermaphroditic Irene dream (refer to the July 28th episode). Irene, a.k.a. "Chatty Cathy", claims that this is how she normally is; she "thinks out loud and thinks rapidly". No one else is buying it. Nathan, in his accustomed misogynistic way, quips, "I have no idea what kind of medication she's on, but it's called 'bitch'." Obviously, a stellar career in pharmaceuticals awaits you, sonny!

But, Irene can't hide it anymore. She finally decides to admit to her housemates that she's been suffering from Lyme disease for 3 years. Janet is contrite because she feels like she hasn't taken Irene's illness seriouly enough. Irene begins to take it seriously, however, and despairs whether she'll ever get well again. Rebecca hugs her all maternal-like, and everyone in the house rushes to the nearest computer to look up a passel of statistics on Lyme disease. Oh, how we express concern in the late 20th century! Indeed, it's touching, my angels. Irene goes to the doctor and is relieved to learn that she isn't going mad; she's just suffering a relapse of the Ticky Ickies.

Oh, and then there's some meaningless complaining from Stephen about producing the REI radio spots, but that held no drama for me, my friends, so I ignored it.

Number of times Dave appears shirtless: 0. In a show of solidarity for Irene, the entire cast swaddles themselves in blankets and lounges listlessly on the sofa.

The most annoying character? That damn techno music annoyed the hell out of me! If I was sick, it would just make me sicker! Put on some Vivaldi, for chrissakes.

Next time: Irene's sick. Let's kick her out of the house!


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