The realest thing on reality television this week involved typical boy stupidity, some dish soap, and a dishwasher. All this on “The Real World.” Surprised? Yup, so was I. On a show that has evolved from racial debates, abortion stories, and Democratic rallies to soft core Vegas style porn, I never thought I’d actually like watching the MTV juggernaut again. But then this little gem that lasted under one minute popped up on my screen this week, and I started to remember just what this whole reality tv deal was all about.
I’m never one to wax sentimental. As a matter of fact, I don’t wax anything, not even my car. But I got to thinking about “The Real World” when it was really real. It was also very low budget compared to what it is now. The loft wasn’t a typical New York City loft, but it was very cramped with tiny furniture. The lighting was bad. They had their own real jobs to deal with and not a made-up job for all of them to do together. They were mostly entertainers—Heather B the rapper, Andre the rocker, Julie the dancer, Eric the model, Kevin the poetry slam writer, Norman the artist—and then, Becky the, well, what exactly did Becky do? I can’t remember, but I do know that she looks so much better now than she did on that show. They did what they had to do to make it in their own fields as well as worked out roommate issues, political differences, cultural differences, and they did actually learn from each other.
Now? They get really huge houses, really big furniture, really cool jobs, and, most importantly, they get really drunk. They find people with names like Ibis and Pocahontas, and they all have to be beautiful. They are sexually charged and ready to strip at the drop of a hat. Sure, this too is real because this is what has become of the new generation of 18 to 24 year olds. It’s the Vegas season that really hit the point home, however, that “The Real World” is only as real as the situation MTV puts them in.
And every season, I say I’m not going to watch. And every season, I catch at least four episodes. And every season, I long for a truly real moment. So when the Key West season started, I rolled my eyes and convinced myself to steer clear. When the Casting Special was on, I avoided it in the same way I avoid Laguna Beach (which is a whole other column I’ll have to write one day—that show is the bane of my existence). Somehow, I got caught off guard and couldn’t find the energy to flip the channel on the remote so I started watching some guy talk on the phone to his friend from home and describe all his roommates: typical meathead, Russian mafia girl, Jewish boy from Seattle, the heart of gold Hispanic, and the anorexic girl who might break in half at any minute. And they’re all gorgeous; after all, they’ll be in bathing suits in Key West. And MTV even exploited the hurricane that happened as the cast members waited to go on the show.
Then it happened. The one shining moment I’ve been wishing for. The boys are cooking and cleaning, which is rare. The frat boyish guy decides to put dishes in the dishwasher but can’t find the dishwashing liquid. Instead, he uses dish soap, which is a completely different product. While the gay guy cooks his noodles, suds start dripping out of the dishwasher, unbeknownst to him. The frat guy is laying on the couch, completely unaware as well. Finally, the cooking guy opens the dishwasher to find the can opener (why would the can opener be in the dishwasher and why would you want to use it if it wasn’t yet clean!) and out come the suds!!! All over the place!!! The cooking guy and the Hispanic guy who has just arrived on the scene, start yelling to frat boy on the couch to look at what he’s done. Frat boy? Stays on the couch, allowing them to clean it up because he cleaned the rest of the kitchen. So cooking gay guy and heart of gold Hispanic start breaking out the towels and scooping up the suds in cups. One of them jokes that he learned a lot from the hurricane and is now a levvy.
See? That’s all I want. Now that’s comedy. That says something about the human condition. I don’t need all the Vegas glitter and the Austin night life. I need reality.
[b]And this is why I love reality tv[/b]: Sometimes, for just a shimmering few seconds, reality tv really is real. And in those seconds, we see that many humans are sometimes just plain dumb. And then we realize that sometimes, we are just as dumb, but for the most part, we’re pretty smart and we can feel better about ourselves.