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Thursday, September 2, 2010

"The Real World" explained: The Life of Ryan

Posted By on Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 10:11 PM

O Brother (and Cousin), Where Art Thou?
  • O Brother (and Cousin), Where Art Thou?

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.
When you’re living in a house occupied by feral creatures with names like “Jemmye” and, somehow, you manage to distinguish yourself as the most insane, uncivilized and flatulent one of them all, the only thing left to do is leave. So like Puck and some other people from other seasons, Ryan joins the list of Real World cast members who were called back to God before their time. Let us remember Ryan, the hairdresser with a heart of gold (and also many mental disorders).
Brother and Cousin. Just when you thought the life of Ryan couldn’t be more of a cartoon, we meet his brother and cousin — who are apparently named Brother and Cousin (this is probably because they didn’t want their names on TV, but I desperately want to believe that “Brother” and “Cousin” are their Christian names so just let me tell myself that, OK? Please let me believe that). Eric, who I guess talks now, described the three as “the Three Stooges meets All-American Rejects,” and that’s kind of perfect. Other fitting descriptions: a group of cavemen that just discovered Fall Out Boy, PacSun employees who send VHS tapes of themselves jumping off buildings to Jackass even though it doesn’t air anymore, or, just Ryan and two brown-haired versions of Ryan. When they’re around each other, they communicate only in grunts and farts.

The “Where’s My Car?” Game. People in New Orleans do this thing where they get drunk and forget about the cars they drove themselves to the bar with. “What, that big metal thing that cost thousands of dollars? Oh. I think I left that somewhere last night. Somewhere in New Orleans. I think the French Quarter.” I mean, of course you shouldn’t be drinking and driving. But it’s funny how people just forget about their cars (I have!) Anyway.

Brother and Cousin were out with Ryan celebrating his birthday and I guess they got too drunk at the strip club where Ryan feigned enjoyment of a lap dance, because the next day they forgot where they left the car. They were too busy throwing poop at each other, so they sent Eric and Preston to find it with the directions that the car is “off Bourbon Street, parallel to The Beach.” And, per the rules of the “Where’s My Car?” Game, you must spend at least two hours looking for the vehicle, only to find it in a place that was not at all where it was said to be located.
Sake Café. The Magazine Street sushi restaurant where Ryan, Brother and Cousin did some sake bombs and made loud noises. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes tidbit: My roommate was working there when they came in, and she says Ryan kept throwing his sushi on the ground. Can’t you totally see Ryan, the person who blow-dries his fully clothed body, doing that, something so unnecessary, just like him?
Speaking of food, Preston and his boyfriend-ish person had an ice cream date at Creole Creamery, and I was happy to see — for once! — a respectable eatery on this show. The kind of-boyfriend, being a good New Orleans boy, ordered red velvet cake ice cream with hot fudge; Preston ordered cookies and cream. Who orders cookies and cream at Creole Creamery? This ain’t Baskin-Robbins.
Ashlee’s purpose. I’ve finally figured it out. I initially thought her role was that of the show’s Greek Chorus. But then I realized her commentary is neither prescient nor intelligent. Then I thought her purpose was to wear gray sweatshirts and sundry men’s basketball apparel. But now I realize her purpose is to say “THAT’S NOT NORMAL” and make an incredulous face.
The House Meeting. This is the sacred tradition of The Real World dating back to its earliest seasons. When the roommates realize their common hatred for one cast member, they all devise ways to get him or her off the show. Knowing this isn’t a democracy, like Survivor, they must figure alternate ways of expelling the cast member from the house. So they set up a “House Meeting,” which has all the pretenses of being egalitarian and you know, for the entire house, but it’s essentially just a way to tell the pariah he can’t sit with the group at lunch anymore.
Before that fateful meeting, the cast had a session with a psychotherapist as a passive attempt to fix Ryan and, actually, that’s not a bad idea. Why not turn the show into a combination of The Real World and Celebrity Rehab, in which cast members confront their mental woes while subsequently partying, fighting and engaging in all the other tawdry shenanigans we’re used to seeing? But I digress. The session did not go as planned, and Jemmye noticed Ryan was “playing Tic Tac Toe with himself — and losing” through the whole thing.
So yeah, they all got back to the house and tried to have the House Meeting, but it just ended with Ryan running around and pretty much saying “I’m not here to make friends”. Then, in a white-blonde flash, Brother and Cousin whisked him away in a Range Rover, never to be seen again (or, at least until the reunion). The last thing they showed was that “Be Nice or Leave” sign. Ryan wasn’t nice, so he had to leave. Because Dr. Bob said so. BYE RYAN.
Alternate ending (it’ll be in the bonus features section on the DVD): Brother and Cousin start killing all the cast members, but it turns out that Brother and Cousin are really just projections of Ryan’s deteriorating psyche — so it was actually Ryan who killed everyone. As he sat there, his hands covered in blood and Mardi Gras beads, he finally realized what he had done. He jumped the fence and he was gone. End scene.
Inexplicable phenomena:
- As much as I couldn’t stand Ryan, I kind of think the show will be completely boring without him. Like when Heidi and Spencer left The Hills and I realized watching that show is like watching a fish tank interspersed with b-roll of Los Angeles for 30 minutes. So does this mean I liked Ryan? I continue to surprise myself.

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