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What I Watched Last Night

The most well-known recent season of MTV's seminal reality show, The Real World, was the season in Las Vegas that made the off-Strip Palms Casino & Resort famous. It was the season the series officially and unapologetically became sponsor to in-your-face spoiled whiny youth indulgence of booze and sex by a cast of boneheads with the exact lack of maturity to gracefully handle the magic but perilous gifts of vice that we have been endowed with by our Creator. Pity.

That was the season, too, that some might say The Real World jumped the shark, though rode the shark might be a more apt phrase. How unlikely, though, that the cast member to emerge with a semblance of celebrity career ahead of her was Trishelle Cannatella, the loose (and that's not a pejorative) airhead on-call to all horny boys camera range.

Er, how very likely in retrospect, I should say (though she wasn't the only cast member who went on to pose for Playboy), now that we know just how ready the church-schooled girl from Cut-Off, La., really was to break out.

That season was so memorable - so much more than, say, last season, which was, where, in Anchorage or something? - that MTV brought the cast back to the Palms for an encore and is now running Reunited: The Real World Las Vegas. And wouldn't'cha know, last night the housemates gathered to see Trishelle in her new film, Ninja Cheerleaders. Trishelle told her pals she didn't really know what the movie's plot was, but from the looks of the clips, she weren't bad!

The post-Real World life has obviously been good to Trishelle. Not so sure about the others. Former go-go dancer Brynn Smith, who had a threesome with Trishelle and hunkmate and condom-refuser Steven three days after they met for the original series, is married with two kids, who, um, she has brought along for the reunion show. Buzzkill, dude. Her marriage actually seems solid, though she is purportedly jealous of the wild, single life Trishelle still lives while Trishelle pretends to be jealous of Brynn's married life.

The promo for the next episode also hints that Brynn isn't getting much action in her marriage, so the cast arranged for her and her husband to spend a romantic night in the Palms' Playboy Suite, designed specifically for Hugh Hefner and even more obnoxiously decadent than the Real World Suite. Don't these people know that nealry 50 million Americans don't have health insurance and that a dollar a day can save hungry children the world over?

Meanwhile, Frank Roessler continues to be the most annoying amiable dunce reality television has produced, complaining last night about his tendency to sleep with ugly chicks while dating - but apparently not sleeping with - pretty ones.

After the cast acts as his pimping agency and lines him up with three dating options, he complains that "they are so not hot."

I've got news for you, Frank: neither are you. You are soft, clueless, naive, and obviously still secretly and massively in love with Trishelle. But the best you can hope for - and this is shooting for the top of your range - is to be Steven's wingman.

Steven Hill, a pretty boy without a brain, and so a perfect fit for Trishelle, is trying to cover up his hair loss with a close crop up top. I wonder if he regrets now letting Trishelle get away. They seemed made for each other, but he wanted to play the field. Now he's the one whose been played, though his dumb bright smile and dopey dumb-guy charm will get him through life just fine. He'll never really know the difference - about anything.

Meanwhile, Irulan Wilson and Arissa Hill have made up after a falling out. Though she has a new boyfriend, Irulan is still not over castmate Alton Williams, whom she dated for three years after dumping her boyfriend back home. Alton is an uncomfortable and odd duck, but not charmingly so. Irulan and Arissa are case studies in emotionally troubled but not entirely stupid women making bad choices though not the most possible worst choices. Just choices enough to keep the drama going.

Up until Vegas, I had seen every episode of every Real World. While the original season in New York didn't really click for me, Los Angeles and San Francisco were the top of the form, even if the show was never as real as purported.

At first I thought the tipping point was Miami, which was pretty much an over-the-top drunken mess, except for the comic book editor skateboarder Cubs fan Sarah chick, who inspired a secret fan club - of which I was one - who lusted and swooned after her, though she was depicted on the show as the unattractive one. So not. (But even she's taken a bad turn.)

We then trudged through, oh , I don't know, some European settings and at some point Denver, and of course the show rampaged thorugh Chicago and Seattle as ham-handedly as possible. Who could forget Stephen's slap of that crazy curly-haired chick?

(He, too, now has a record.)

The Real World, though, is a classic form of TV that we watch despite breaking the informal rule that characters be likable. From my particular corner of the world - not the most populated one, I know - we watch Real World and loathe these people, trying to discern the psychology behind their behavior, and yet, to watch the soap opera unfold as voyeurs unto lives that are different from ours, but perhaps only because they are on TV. And because they seem to have unlimited wardrobe budgets, horrible taste, and no intellectual interests whatsoever.

The Real World is also a sly take, purposefully or not, on the TV form, be it sitcom, soap opera, or drama, and now, folding back on itself, the reality show. In a post-post, meta-meta world, Reunited ups the stakes again, even as the content draws down dangerously to near-zero.

At some point, the physics of a black hole will kick in and no light will escape. A season following The Real World Crew will ensue, and then a special look back at the Reunited Shows, and then The Real World Crew Reunited, and then the season in which the lives of Real World fans picked to live together in a house to watch the show will be chronicled. And don't even get me started about The Real World/Road Rules Challenge.

*

The What I Watched Last Night library is free for your perusal.



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Posted on June 28, 2007


MUSIC - They Flirted With Disaster.
TV - A Quincy Top 10.
POLITICS - The Traitor Who Is A Great Patriot.
SPORTS - Gambling At The Grate.

BOOKS - Scientists Gone Rogue.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A People's History Of Uptown.


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