Saturday, February 07, 2004

"Welcome to the Real World..."

It's a John Mayer song, but just too appropriate...

First, let me say that I was watching TV tonight and the inevitable Sports Illustrated “USC National Champion Commemorative Edition” ad came on. And everytime in history when this horrible shill comes on (Lakers, Uconn, Avs, whatever) they’ve always offended me, like, “HOW DUMB do they think people are that would order this?”
Yet, when it came on, I full on thought, “hey, it would be cool to ha-“
Then I remembered the identical commercial for LSU I saw two days ago. And then I remembered that SI really sucks.

So I promise I won’t even mention last year. We know where it was, who was on it and what they did. I’ll be fair.

Having said that, Real World San Diego debuted last night. If you didn’t just gasp, we don’t like the same stuff. Gorgeous, dim-witted people living beyond their means, drinking and partying beyond their limits and hooking-up beyond their endurance must bore you. But not me. Guess we’re just different that way.
So what’s with the house? Up against a Marina? What? Who wants a party pad backing up to a parking lot for boats? Maybe there’s a party yacht assigned to the crew, but not so far. When they showed the view from the balcony, I expected the opening credits of Gilligans Island to be rolling over it. It’s WAY too grown-up.

But the cast… man. They’ve got it HONED down at MTV. As I mentioned about something else last week, the formula discipline is GOP-like at this point. Not an achiever, leader, addict, virgin or clubhouse cancer in the lot. Not even a gay dude, foreigner or black guy – OK, there’s a black guy, but he’s not a black guy like the black guys MTV puts into the house in “Making the Band” or anything. He could be on a CBS sitcom.
In fact, they call could. Just a terrific cross-section of suburban America’s Least Motivated, Except for Sex. Fantastic. They are the clichés that never stop working, So here’s the major cliches covered so far, listed by cliché character:

Asshole Frat Guy
- dark, well-gelled hair.
- Loud, obnoxious, northeastern accent (Chicago in this case).
- Shoots a mean game of pool, usually shirtless
- Girlfriend at home he pledges loyalty to.
- Sreaming, cursing, tirade-like fight with Hometown girlfriend on the phone
Bound to happen: He’s the early center of the house, if for no other reason than he’s the loudest and is just spilling slut-appeal all over the floor from the moment he walks in.

Freak Girl
- more than 2 facial piercings
- a dark past (nice touch: she has cystic fibrosis, which we learn when she informs her new roommates, as they sit around smoking – if that’s not funny to you, go find out what cystic fibrosis is)
- boyfriend at home she pledges loyalty to

Do I need to say it? Do I need to tell you they get hammered and hook-up on the FIRST NIGHT?
Let’s see: In the hot tub - Check. In front of the rest of the cast - Check. With all the drunken, hook-up giggle-talk (ie, the nonsense two people babble between kisses) displayed for us in subtitles - Check-plus!

(Personal Favorite moment of entire episode: the moment the next morning when Frat Guy unpacks his suitcase, pulls out the framed picture of Hometown Girl and looks at it longingly – in other words, he CHEATED ON HER before he UNPACKED HER PICTURE!!!!! It’s the greatest TV franchise of all time. Just submit!)

Now, the drunken hot tub hook-up in the debut episode – particularly the drunken hot tub hook up in the debut episode between the two LEAST COMPATIBLE cast members - is basicly the Real World version of the Opening Day No Hitter. How do you POSSIBLY top it?
Well, just like baseball, that’s why you have a bullpen:

Absolutely Scorching Southern Girl
- oozes sluttiness from every fatfree curve
- jams them into impossibly slutty outfits from noon on
- Yet, is hottest in the morning, walking around barefoot in a BCS-conference football tshirt (this one’s Clemson– streetsmarts! irony!).
- Episode 1 Confession that she hates everything Frat Guys is and stands for…
- …And Yet (“I can’t believe I’m saying this!”) is attracted to Frat Guy! At Real World headquarters, that moment – when the hot girl/wrong guy-cliché springs to life – has got to be referred to in development meetings as The Franchise. Or maybe just Conception.
- Inspires the obligatory Frat Guy Confession tape condescendingly referring to her as “sweet” and “innocent.” Maybe it’s the bias I bring, but the Real World boys NEVER see the southern girls coming. It’s like Ben Stiller bending down to ask Fluffy if that’s her in there making all that noise. Or a TCU receiver turning for the ball in Quinton Coryott’s secondary.
- In the VERY NEXT SCENE, she is lobbying Frat Guy – almost pleading – to dump Hometown Girl, using a well-thumbed copy of the “This is our youth! We’re supposed to have fun!”-speech that all Real World kids have to memorize at their first audition. I can’t decide if when she told him to “sample other fish in the sea” she was being more ‘sweet’ or more ‘innocent.’

In the grand picture, she’s hotter than New York’s Julie and right there with Chicago’s Tanya – and 14 miles of bad road behind YouKnowWho.

Black Guy! Gotta say it with the slammer (“!”).
- doesn’t seem to mind white guys calling him “bro” “yo” or “kid,” and doesn’t seem to mind the increasing level of black-speak used by Frat Guy (“That shit is whack, yo” etc)
- spent some time at white-people-placating Black College (Morehouse, if his tshirt is to be believed)
- glasses
- instantly picks-up on Southern Girl/Frat Guy drama
- for some reason, thinks he’s the only one who sees it, and decides he’s going to assume the Sly Narrator role for the entire forthcoming episode, which is a little like play-by-play of heavy rain.
Over/Under until he goes nuts and accuses at least one chick cast member of racism: 3 episodes.

And finally, the Two Who MIGHT Be Sane

Mellow Guy
- decidedly non-frat
- Strokes-lead-singer haircut
- Is the only one who doesn’t stress about roommates or bed assignments.
- Loses to Frat Guy in pool as they discuss the girl cast members’ tits.
- 80-percent chance he’ll achieve something significant in his life during the season (get into med school, band gets signed, excels at job, something) which will never make it onto the show – cuz if there’s one thing that’s a for-sure buzzkill on the Real World, it’s the real world.
- Has about a 45-minute Day 1 window where he could hook-up with Southern Girl, doesn’t go for it, and by the end of the episode we can see (even if he can’t) that his chances are now gone forever.
- Of course, we know what’s coming: as the shadow of the Finale begins to creep across the show, she’ll crawl back to him, but by then he’ll have realized he’d be better off sticking his dick in the hot tub intake valve.
Needless to say, he was almost invisible in this episode.

The Rack
- I’m betting they’re fake, which wouldn’t be a Real World first (Tanya had ‘em, the slutty Columbian on the Boston show I think did and half the Hawaii chicks probably did too), but these would be the biggest.
- Not exactly hiding it with the ear-length bob-haircut and BabyGap Ts.
- The only one with a brain
- Slightly older than freak girl and Southern Hottie.
- Slightly heavier than Freak girl and Southern Hottie, which is not at all a negative comment, just a reflection that the other two MIGHT be 90 lbs each.
- CLEAR winner of the undeclared hot tub bikini contest, yet the boys don’t come calling. Why? Cuz she has a brain and they’re intimidated, that’s why.
- Having passed or been past over – depending on your take – for Night 1 Hook-ups, now is the ‘voice of reason’ (from the Confessional: “I think (Frat Guy) wants to be faithful to his girlfriend. But like a typical frat guy, I don’t think he can be.”)
- The only one on the show we have any chance of liking by the end of February.

Her Debut highlights: on the first night, they all try an early evening toast, and the others try to cheese it up with poignancy they don’t feel and couldn’t convey if they did. She busts out with: “to staying single, seeing double and sleeping triple.” Later, when Freak Girl passes out in her own puke after the hot tub (thanks, MTV!), she arrives, still in bikini, foam cup in hand, and – genius at work – wakes up Freak Girl, throws her in the shower and makes her drink water. Decisive!

What’s REALLY going to be good is in about 2 episodes when the Rack decides she DESPISES Frat Guy and starts a Dean-like-insurgency for the future of Southern Girl’s soul. There’s always one sublimated-sexual conflict between two upper-tier cast members over the loyalty of a lower-tier cast member. In Paris it was the Battle for Ace. This may be the war for Clemson.

So the next episode is slated to be the annual ‘Everybody Goes Out Partying Together’ Episode – and you know what that means: trainwreck. They might as well call the first two episodes of every season “Ground War” and “Occupation.” Its that predictable.