October 16, 2001
Quite a Display
It's not as if Nicole believes she's a ray of sunshine, a happy dumpling dancing on a rainbow, a cuddly bunny in a magic forest. Darlings, her negativity is even driving her crazy, crazy enough for her to ask Coral for some cheesy New Age "Wisdom Cards." Alas, even "Wisdom Cards" are powerless to relieve her of that bitter little burden she carries with her at all times, right next to her gallon drum of mauve eyeshadow. The "Wisdom Cards" would like to tell Nicole that she's already perfect, as is. Well, dearies, that's just not true, not by a long shot.
And we soon see Nicole's imperfection in action. Adam and Devon divide the seven cast members into two teams for a window display contest. Team One (Rachel, Mike, Malik and Nicole) is assigned to create a fetching diorama of Dido's "I'm No Angel." Team Two (Kevin, Coral and Lori) must promote Outkast's latest single. Team Two is soon giggling and applying hot glue with glee and lauding their team spirit. All that discomfort between Kevin and Coral, or between Kevin and Lori, is so much dust in the wind now, gang.
Team One provides the contrast to that sunny picture of harmony. Even early in the planning stages, Nicole is riding roughshod over her teammates, interrupting them, insulting their taste. Now, mes amis, I'm not saying that anyone in that team has good taste, but surely Nicole isn't one to talk, no? Rachel is so annoyed, she begs for someone to shoot her and put her out of her misery.
The kicker comes when the guys have to make more than one trip to haul the props, leaving the girls behind. Nicole becomes, shall we say, rather peeved, and reads the riot act to Mike. Mike, in turn, gets upset, and the two of them start cussing and waving fingers like there's no tomorrow. It's quite a spectacle, even for such a diverse metropolis as New York City. When Mike asks Devon (Adam? They've sort've blended into one person for me.) if he heard about the tiff, Devon replies, "All of 19th Street heard."
Mike and Nicole cool down enough to actually work on the window display, but the situation heats up again pretty quickly. Even though the scene is supposed to remind people on the street that there is a singer named Dido floating around somewhere, Nicole objects in the strongest of terms to actually hanging a poster of Dido. "You can kill me before you do that." And believe me, folks, Mike was probably tempted to do so right then.
So, Mike and Nicole get into it again, this time yelling a variation of the old "I've got spirit, yes I do, I've got spirit, how 'bout you?" cheer. Mostly through this, Malik and Rachel have been silent, but finally, Malik feels compelled to say something. This is when we get to see Nicole argue with two people at the same time. It's quite a feat, not something you see every day! It's only when Nicole is convinced that she's the only person in the world with something against the poster of Dido that she gives in. And then it's with a mean-spirited parting shot: "I hope we lose."
A handful of Arista employees, clad in black, compare the Heaven/Hell scene of Team One, with the Hip-Hop Bathroom scene of Team Two. They say it's a "dead heat," but we know otherwise, dearies. In the Bunim/Murray universe, the team that works together smoothly and cheerily always wins. And that's fine. What seems to bother three-fourths of Team One is how their other fourth keeps telling the victors, "I'm so glad you won!" She sings it, dances it, makes a production worthy of Broadway. The insincere song and dance even gets on Malik's nerves; did you know he had any?
Nicole later sulks alone on the rooftop, and Coral and Lori go up to console her. Nicole acknowledges that the "negative voices have been turned way up." Surprisingly, no one says, "You got that right, sister!" or encourages her to jump. Instead, they all nod profoundly. All of this listening seems to have some sort of effect, though. Nicole calls a house meeting.
The guys see the house meeting notice and assume the worst. Mike and Malik think Nicole is going to harangue them about house cleanliness or noise levels. Kevin hopes that Nicole is announcing her retirement from Chez Real World. But, those of us who are familiar with the institution of the Real World House Meeting, know that something deeper is at work. Nicole apologizes to her housemates for her behavior. Her speech comes out in a nervous blur; maybe she figures that if you apologize fast, it's like not apologizing at all? Anyway, her housemates forgive her and there's a big group hug. And that will have to be good enough for the rest of us, too.
All this time, Mike is trying to assert his own identity. It gets a bit confusing, dears, because Mike's identity includes that of a deep-voiced wrestler called "Ms." Sacre bleu, I had no idea Mike took such an interest in feminism, but there you go! Mostly, though, "Ms." tries to distract Coral while she's on the phone. Coral takes this with a degree of equanimity; she's settled down enough to regard Mike/Ms. with amusement instead of with scorn.
When Mike finds a wrestling belt in the costume store, it becomes his favorite prop. Sure enough, it inspires a house wrestling match between Mike and the team of Lori and Coral (aka Coco Loco). There are all sorts of high kicks and leaps off the furniture before Mike attains victory. It's all very nice for Mike/Ms. to find himself thus, but my mother would not approve of such horseplay in the parlor.
Who's Shirtless: Mike flexes his meaty muscles for the camera.
Who Cries: Nicole bares her soul, but the tears don't disturb her makeup a whit.
Most Annoying: Well, it's sweet that Nicole apologizes and all, but she's pretty much impossible to bear for the first twenty-five minutes of the episode.
Best Quote: Mike reveals his inner geek upon entering the costume store: "They have magic stuff, too! Cool!"
Next Week: Will Nicole land her ideal man? Will he muss her makeup?