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These weekly posts are intended as an episode-by-episode guide to the many psychological ailments, drunken gibberish, senseless actions, Bourbon Street mixed drinks and other embarrassments on MTV’s The Real World: New Orleans.
It contains spoilers — and who cares? You stopped watching this show several years ago — but also a lot of information that might help viewers of the series come to terms with their outrage over the cast’s cultural vandalism of New Orleans (and what was once a really lovely Uptown house), and also the bleak, black future of our society.
The emotional trauma caused by the show admittedly makes such coverage an overwhelming task, so posts may be supplemented by information culled from Wikipedia, WebMD and un-scientific polls of nearby Gambit staffers. Readers are also encouraged to submit any comments that may help us make sense of this wreckage.
Let the games begin. This episode shows housemates Eric and Sahar beginning to assume perhaps the most archetypal roles of the Real World series: those in the "uncomplicated," but actually very complicated, relationship-ish thing of the house. Although Sahar identifies as "single," with a heart "that's not completely single" because of a guy named Pablo back home, she and Eric are embarking on a "thing." It seems idyllic now: tickle fights on the Rooms to Go sectional, saying "I love you" to each other in a Bourbon Street bar, giggly piggyback rides around the house Voodoo altars. But at the end of the episode, the two decide to just be "friends" and I can already see exactly where this is going. Eric will bring home some chick he met at The Palms, and Sahar will just happen to go to the kitchen to make some popcorn at the same time, and the whole experience will be fraught with passive-aggressive encounters. Sahar, secretly dejected that Desiree (someone will certainly bring home someone named Desiree) is stealing all of Eric's affection, will retreat to the confessional and say that Eric is "making everyone uncomfortable by bringing home sluts," when she's really just talking about herself. The games will continue all season, and one day they will enter into an ill-advised marriage and appear on the Real World/Road Rules Challenge* together, supporting each other as they are hanging upside down while their heads submerged in water, competing to win lifetime supplies of Subway sandwiches and T-Mobile phones.
The house dinner ware is from the Savannah College of Art and Design's (SCAD) Working Class Studio line of products. The plates used are made of sturdy melamine, which is an appropriate material for objects that will inevitably be thrown across the living room on several occasions.
Pinky and the Brain. The perfectly fine, untarnished animated televisions series from the mid-90s was ruined by Eric, who added his stupid twist to the show's trademark dialogue: "What are you going to do today?" Jemmye asks him. "Same thing I do every day, Pinky — try to take over the booty!" Ugh.
That was just one of the many terrible, canned lines from cast members this episode. For example, "Once you go black, you never go back!" followed by "Once you go white, you always stay tight!" What does that even mean? It reminded me of that game improv comedy troupes play where they have to incorporate audience-suggested phrases into a skit, no matter how out of context or ridiculous they are. It's like the Real World cast is doing that, and their audience is a group of unimaginative college freshmen at the mandatory improv show during new student orientation.
Bruno's, where the guys go for Guys' Night Out, is home to a lot of dudes in polo shirts and the famous Boudreaux Fries, sweet potato fries topped with roast beef debris, blue cheese crumbles, pecans and raisins. Yes, that's all one thing.
The worst words/phrases ever. The cast members managed to say, in just one episode, all of the most loathsome phrases of modern vernacular: "It is what it is," "(He/she) is good people," "I'm not a doctor" (DUH) and the overuse of "literally" and "obviously." Ryan, especially, has issues with "literally," as demonstrated by this travesty of a sentence: "But I'm literally — and I literally mean this — I literally regret each and every one."
Chekov's Gun. The literally device originated from playwright Anton Chekhov, who said any object introduced early in a story must be used later on. The "gun" in this case is a Walgreens bag containing a cornucopia of prescription pain medication. So after a tragic fence accident, Ryan supposedly hurt his shoulder and went to the emergency room (Jemmye was incredulous: "Who hurts their shoulder jumping a fence?" I would believe her. She seems like the kinda girl who jumps a lot of fences.) He came home with prescriptions for $300 worth of medicine, and you know when Preston announced that, the camera zoomed obtrusively close to Knight's face. "300 bones?" he quietly marveled. Then he had that confessional where he was pretty much like "I'm totally NOT gonna steal all that pain medicine just because I'm a pill addict. Psh, whatever ..." This doesn't bode well at all.
This swim suit. In a moment of contrived whimsy that has become expected of the Real World cast members of latter years, Knight materialized in that stupid bathing suit popularized by frat boy icons John Mayer and Borat. See, back in the day, if a cast member wanted to be funny, he or she would just bound out of the house naked and jump in the pool. Now, since casts are so painfully self-aware of their stock character status, they seem to be constantly mugging for the camera, showing how hilarious they can be. Like in the D.C. season — which I didn't really watch because the political discussion went way over my head — there was that guy Andrew who would occasionally wear a silly hat or various cooking paraphernalia on his head for a laugh. But at least him wearing a pasta strainer didn't leave an indelible image of a pale, not-very-physically-fit guy wearing a neon green penis sling in my head forever.
-Knight uttered perhaps the most intelligent thing of the season thus far when he said "The question of the century is 'what is wrong with Ryan?'" This episode, we learned our homophobic, born-again virgin hairstylist has a thing for cuddling with gay men (but he's not gay, OK?) and rubbing people's earlobes because they feel cold. He also should probably get his hairstylist license revoked, since he appeared to be teasing McKenzie's hair, and no one has teased hair in a professional capacity since the 80s.
-In a moment of K-Ville-style editing, the boys on their guys' night stepped out of Bruno's — and appeared in front of the Boot! Little known fact: excessive consumption of Tropical Isle Hand Grenades can result in random teleportation. The more you know.
-Did Ashlee really give Jemmye permission to lose her "white boy virginity" to her 20-year-old brother when he visits the house? That's kind of disturbing, isn't it? But even if that happens, Ashlee-brother will have some competition: Knight is also vying for White Boy Devirginator status, promising Jemmye the encounter will be "the best three pumps of her life."
* I realize those shows aren't actually called that anymore.