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Thursday, September 16, 2010

"The Real World" explained: It's been real, ya'll

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 6:28 PM

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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.

On the shocking finale of the The Real World: New Orleans, Knight decided to finally confront Ryan at the Airline Highway hotel where he staying. It was crazy! Ryan had pretty much beat Knight to a bloody pulp until, suddenly, Jemmye burst in and shot Ryan in the back of his head. Then the rest of the housemates walked in the bloodstained room and they all just stood there and looked at each other — a tacit agreement that they would tell no one else about what happened.

Nah, just kidding. That didn’t happen. But there was lots of tears and broken home furnishings in the finale of the show that has invariably repulsed and amused us for the past three months (and by "us" I mostly mean me). Let us sift through the piles of Mardi Gras beads, de-pin the Voodoo dolls, dispose of the Subway sandwich wrappers, wash our feet of that mysterious Bourbon Street fifth and say goodbye to the roommates that care forgot.

“Done.” No longer are people simply “single” or “in a relationship.” Ever since Facebook injected “it’s complicated” into modern vernacular, one’s relationship status can now take on many fluid forms that all come with their own vague terminology. If reality television is a reflection of what’s going on in the real world — God help us — then “done” has emerged as a new relationship signifier. Sahar proclaims she’s “done” with Pablo/Eli after his Grey Goose bender in New Orleans (she eventually reconsiders, but more on that later!). According to Jersey Shore, being “done” is a natural progression from “doing you” after that doesn’t work out, and when you inevitably are over being “done,” you eventually get to a “good place” and — if that works out — you are now officially someone’s “girl” or "man."

The Tchoupitoulas Challenge. Creole Creamery’s mega-sundae includes eight scoops of ice cream and eight toppings with whipped cream, cherries and wafers. And if you eat the whole thing in one sitting without any help, the ice cream shop rewards you for your time and assault on your digestive system with … a small placard with your name on it. So Knight and Eric attempted the Challenge (perhaps as an audition for The Challenge?) and threw up all over Prytania Street. Dairy, man. It’s a killer.

(Also, can we talk about how when Jemmye walks in to Creole Creamery, all the roommates who are already there start clapping for her? I wonder if they clap any time Jemmye manages to find her way anywhere. Yay, Jemmye!)

Café du Monde. Ashlee and Preston, who had mysteriously retained their pseudo-positions at WWOZ, were working on an assignment that involved asking locals what these two Yankees need to eat before they leave New Orleans. They went around the French Quarter and everyone was like “Skrimp po-boys, beignets, gumbo filee, cher! Aieeeee!” Typical New Orleanians! At the end of this fact-finding mission, they went to Café Du Monde to see what these beignet things were all about. Sahar was with them and seemed a little squeamish about eating one, so they basically had to force-feed her. Which is crazy! I can understand how crawfish or any other stuff we eat might be a bit strange in the eyes of someone hailing from Chain Restaurant Town, USA, but beignets are maybe the most accessible thing ever. It’s fried dough! With sugar on top! You may also know them as "doughnuts."

Edible Arrangements. These are things you send to your calorie-conscious mother for her birthday (you once sent her a Cookie Bouquet, but she admitted she just had a few bites and gave the rest to the accounting department because it was “too much” for her). Something that smells and looks like the breakfast table at a marketing convention is not something you send to your girlfriend as an apology. Sure, Pablo/Eli technically sent Sahar the Edible Arrangement for “the house,” which I guess is nice. I’m sure those kids could use more fruit in their diets. But maybe he could have sent something that involved more than fortuitous channel-flipping at 3 a.m. and a quick dial to a 1-800 number? But what’s even more amazing about this is that this gift, which for an “in the dog house” gift is about as unoriginal and forgettable as Sahar's singing voice (snap!), seemingly causes this girl to rethink the “done” status. “Hm, I broke up with this drunk, but this flower pot of fruit wrapped in plastic has me thinking. He truly does care about me.” Those two deserve each other.

Ugh, and Ryan came back after being gone for one full episode. You see, after he “left,” he expected to go home with Brother and Cousin, but they forgot to buy him a plane ticket, and they all had left their credit cards at The Beach. So until they could wire some money from Mother, Ryan would stay in New Orleans — but he couldn’t go back to the house. He had jumped that fence too many times. He tried to make money by doing skateboard tricks and cutting tourists’ hair in the French Quarter, but then he cut someone’s earlobe off and had no choice but to flee to the New Orleans Mission, where Loretta shook her head and begrudgingly took him in. Fortunately, MTV needed him to come back for that photo shoot, because life on the streets was getting to be pretty tough.

What else happened? The cast had a cute crawfish boil on the fly, they got drunk and pushed each other around in grocery carts outside the Kingpin, then they finally had their revenge on the house decor by throwing it in a full bathtub. Preston sexually violated that topless mannequin. Then they all slept together in one bed as “roomies” and Knight farted.

The next day, taxi cabs whisked them away until only two, Jemmye and Knight, were left. The phone rang. “SEVEN DAYS!” a voice whispered when Jemmye picked up the phone. No, actually it was just a man saying that Knight’s cab had arrived, leaving Jemmye alone in the house. Jemmye is the last one. JEMMMYE IS THE WINNER.

So yeah! Bye Real World. In one scene of the finale, McKenzie decides to give everyone “superlatives.” That gave me the idea to bestow some of my own high school yearbook-style “most likely to …” predictions for the cast. And yes, I’m sure information about their recent whereabouts are easily Google-able, or I could just hang out at the Red Eye one night and hope for an opportunity to drunkenly accost them (my sources, i.e. people I run into in the office kitchen, say some of them are still lurking around town!). But here they are anyway:

Eric is most likely to make a career doing uncomfortable stand-up comedy shows on college campuses. So, basically, he’s Theo.

Ashlee is the most likely to appear on one of those Vh1 shows where D-list celebrities, fledgling comedians (Eric could go here, too) and reality TV alum provide commentary on decades, Crazy TV Moments or Lindsay Lohan. I’m sure she’ll fit in fine among Real Housewives, Carrot Top and people who were forgettable Featured Players on Saturday Night Live for just one season.

Sahar and Preston are most likely to get told very often that they “look familiar” while in public places.

Ryan is most likely to get arrested for something weird (hair dryer assault?) and appear on The Smoking Gun.

McKenzie is most likely to appear on the “notable alumnae” section of her sorority’s Wikipedia page.

And, finally, winning top honors are Jemmye and Knight, who I predict are most likely to appear on Real World-spinoff competition shows. You get an extra life! Play again!

Knight, being both athletic and antagonistic, would be an asset for those shows. Jemmye has yet to demonstrate much athletic prowess (besides in sex and squatting down to take Jell-O shots), but she’s certainly emerged as the prototypical Real World cast member: she’s attractive, drunk most of the time, not afraid to throw a punch, and she’s got tons of issues. So Congratulations to Jemmye, the winner of Real World: New Orleans!

So that’s it! It’s been great. I’ll be praying for God (or Andy Cohen) to grant my wish of blessing us with a New Orleans season of The Real Housewives, but until then …

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