"The Real World" explained: Gypsies, tramps and beads


You knew this was going to happen.
  • You knew this was going to happen.

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.

I need to first start off by saying I was wrong. I was mislead by MTV’s promos, and thought this episode would be the Great Toothbrush Showdown of 2010. I think that’s next episode. But anyway, here we go … it’s Fat Tuesday!

The Sims. The life-simulation computer game that was big in the early aughts. While watching last night’s episode, I realized The Real World bares striking similarities to the game: it’s a bunch of cartoon people with no concept of boundaries or privacy, bouncing from room to room in a lavishly decorated house, saying made-up words.

You know when Sims do sexy things, it’s gross and awkward? Like when they make weird animal sounds while doing it in the vibrating heart bed you acquired through cheat codes? That’s what it was like when Jemmye and Knight took a dip in the indoor Jacuzzi (which, by the way, is pretty weak for Real World standards), and then Eric decided to hop in, too. It was truly the most tepid group hot tub scene in MTV history. And that conversation Knight, McKenzie and Ryan had in the living room might as well have been in Simlish (that’s Sims language, duh): the topic somehow jumped from “bohemians” to “Bahamas” to “Czech Republic” to “gypsies” to “Have you ever killed someone?” (McKenzie’s response: “What do you mean by ‘someone’?”) within seconds. McKenzie revealed she was a gypsy once. "There was eight of us and we travelled around for a while stealing stuff." OK, ‘Kenzie, just because you and your girlfriends would occasionally take the bus to the mall and swipe mood rings from Claire’s Accessories, it doesn’t mean you were a gypsy. I wish I could build walls around her with no doors and windows like I did to the Sims who annoyed me.

“Ninety-nine percent of New Orleans never gets to be in a [Mardi Gras] float.” Wrong, McKenzie.

Ravished. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the transitive verb means “to seize and take away by violence,” or “to overcome with emotion (as joy or delight).” So, Knight, you are not “ravished” when you are hungry while riding in the Krewe of Tucks parade (“famished,” maybe?). Other cast members who were “ravished” include Preston, who could be seen shoveling down a Popeye’s fried chicken breast, and Eric, who seemed very excited about the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Tucks Ball. Welcome to New Orleans, kids. Time to get fat.

“Teams.” This whole business of using “teams” to describe one’s allegiance to someone — as in “Team Jacob” or “Team Edward” or “Team Coco” — has really gone overboard. How do I know this? Because in The Real World, where pop culture’s basest objects are consumed and regurgitated in a morass of red food coloring and Subway sandwiches, Jemmye uses it while discussing her two-boy situation: there’s White Knight and Kodi, her “BOYFRIEND” (that’s how MTV wrote it, iffy quotes and all) back in Mississippi. In the parlance of Twitter and Twilight, I’m Team Knight, based on this episode. Jemmye went all the way to LSU to see Kodi in a basketball game, and he was really aloof and cold — but Knight always provides a bed for Jemmye to crawl into. But anyway, I think we should retire this “team” business.

Charlie St. Cloud. OK, so this has nothing to do with The Real World, but I’m getting sick of this trailer for the upcoming Nicholas Sparks-wannabe film they keep showing during all the commercial breaks. The trailer pretty much covers the entire arc of the story — why would I go see it? Besides the fact that it looks stupid. I’ll just catch it when it plays on TBS every Saturday morning.

Blacking out. I discussed this in the last post, but I think it merits some revisiting. Sahar (remember her? Yeah, she’s still a cast member, I think) confronts Jessie Spano about her problem: “I want to talk to you about getting too drunk.” McKenzie is still treating her proclivity to blacking out as something that just “happens,” like having epileptic seizures or panic attacks. McKenzie — you take too many Sex on the Beach shots with only sugar-free Jell-O, or whatever fake weight loss food you eat, in your stomach. Own it! But fortunately, she’s met a guy who is helping her “see the light,” as Preston says. This guy used to black out, but he’s not really into blacking out anymore, or something. I don’t even know, you guys. I think I momentarily black out every time McKenzie comes on screen.

Pet peeves. So the big reveal of the episode alluded to in the promos was that Jemmye was a victim of abuse in a previous relationship. All jokes aside, that’s pretty horrible. I unironically like Jemmye! I would be really happy to run into her at Phillip’s, or something. I think she is a really sympathetic character. But when she reveals this to Knight, he tells us that domestic violence is one of his “big pet peeves.” OK, let’s get this straight: A “pet peeve” is when people confuse “their,” “there” and “they’re.” Or when people don’t RSVP to parties. Or when people talk on their cell phones in restaurants or while in line at the grocery store. Domestic violence is not a “pet peeve,” Knight. It would be like saying, “Hey, you know what really grinds my gears? Rape.” These people are unbelievable.

SDT Waste and Debris. It’s the super-efficient waste management company lead by trashanova Sydney Torres. As they swept away the plastic and the vomit and maybe some small children and animals that got mixed up in there after Mardi Gras, I realized the cleanup job is symbolic of a new beginning for the cast. Jemmye will get over Kodi once and for all. McKenzie will stop blacking out (and move on to making poor decisions while cognizant). Ryan and Preston have forged a temporary truce (can those two just make out already?). Ashlee will maybe learn how to be responsible with her tape recorder (SERIOUSLY, guys, again? Ashlee and Preston succeeded in recording their interviews this time for the fake WWOZ job, but the recorders mysteriously “fell out” of their bags during the Tucks Ball. Oh my God.) Sahar and Eric will … actually, I have no idea what’s going on with them. They are as useless on that show as this pile of antique furniture.

Inexplicable phenomena:

-What's with all the ominous music that plays in the background, like when Ryan and Preston use Voodoo dolls on each other, and when Jemmye talks on the phone with Kodi? I guess the editors saw Inception and were inspired. Or do you think this whole show is a dream (or nightmare)? We can only hope.

-In this episode’s K-Ville editing moment, a montage of blinky signs and Bourbon Street traffic includes the sign from Naughty Knight Lounge, the Westbank bar Gambit managing editor Kandace Power-Graves is really fascinated by. Let’s hope our cast embarks on a Westbank voyage sometime soon. The cultural insensitivity that would ensue during a trip to Tan Dinh would be eminently entertaining.

-And uh, Ryan was naked in one scene. I’ve decided he shares a lot in common with his strange daily habit of blow-drying his body — he, too, is a loud and annoying waste of energy.

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