A good season of the Real World is like falling in love. The opening episode is your first date—a fun, flirty introduction that ends in a drunk make out and a story to tell your friends the next day. Anyone can have a good first date. The real test is that all-important second meet up. The one where you feel like you’ve known this near-stranger forever so you can tell them every intimate detail of all your short, damaged life. If you make it to the third episode, you have a good chance at going all the way. Dating analogies are fun!
Nicole, Bruno, and Jason hang out in the house slapping butts. This butt-slapping is important later on so don’t forget about it. I’m bringing it up now for a reason. I’m just going to leave this here for now.
Bruno picks up Sylvia and curls her like she is exercise equipment. Then he calls his muscles, “muskles” because he is New Englander Popeye. Later on in the episode, Jason picks up V in a modified overhead press. It seems like the roommates are having fun with each other because they like everyone’s personalities but also because they make really proper gym equipment. People should have multiple purposes.
The group goes to the beach, which is actually on a lake. Nicole has a hard time understanding the beach is a lake and not an ocean. She gets a pass because she is from Staten Island, so she’s probably never been surrounded by water. V tries to explain to her that there aren’t jelly fish because it is fresh water. What V doesn’t understand is that Nicole is worried about “Staten Island jellyfish,” which are used condoms.
Even though Jason is built like a professional athlete, he takes a volleyball off his face. I’d give him a pass on this but later on at the batting cages he can’t hit one ball. Nicole on the other hand looks like Dave Kingman swinging a bat in his prime. Sometimes there are people that look athletic and are not. It is nice when this happens because there are also people who don’t look athletic but are so it is fair.
Madison wanders off from the roommates and finds some beach guys. We know they are this because they are labeled on-screen as BEACH GUYS. The screen-labeling department has been excelling this season to heights previously unknown. In the meantime, Tony and Nicole find a bachelorette party and dive right in. They’re about to have a three-way kiss when a wannabe kissee jumps in making it a last-minute four-way kiss. A four-way kiss is a great way to smash your nose into three people all at once. But before they can complete the four-way kiss, the rest of the beach also wants to kiss, so they all jump in making it a 1,278-way kiss. This summons Spring Break Cthulhu, who is part man, part dragon, part octopus, wears a lot of neon tank tops and thinks deep dish is the best kind of pizza. But enough fan-fiction, back to the episode. Madison finally turns up at a beach bar with a “pardon my absence.” The other roommates explain that they were worried she could’ve have died. She responds with a “Dead? Never.” Bonus points for not ever dying.
Two couples have started to form. Bruno and Sylvia are the first. Sylvia likes Bruno because he is close with his mom. The way you can tell that he is close with his mom is because he makes a lot of jokes about having to sex and his mom laughs at them. Bruno is an intense kisser. He may be the most intense kisser of all time. His kisses are so intense that I am worried for Sylvia’s neck because part of his intense kissing is a face twisting, spine breaker move that would probably synch over the Mortal Kombat Scorpion “Get Over Here” audio perfectly.
Madison and Tony are the second set of potential lovers. Tony is upset that Madison is there because she is like a Barbie, which is his type, and he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings by being the free bird that he is. Other things that are Tony’s type: a woman who shows any interest in him. But Tony and Madison end up in the hot tub together. This is a special moment because they are making out in a hot tub with a cameraman and a boom mic operator standing directly over them. Tony says, “I never expected to be in this position,” about liking Madison. I like to think that is the same exact idea going through that boom mic guy’s head. “I never expected to be in this position, standing over these kids while they drunk make out in a hot tub…I finished UCLA’s film program.”
The boom mic operator and cameraman getting screen time are part of some changes in Real World edits that started last season. They have pulled back the curtain, showing us a little bit of the production team behind the show. Now we see the cast openly talking about what the show’s twist could be. They’re definitely close, guessing that it will probably be people from their past who hate them. From what we’ve heard about a lot of the cast members, that could mean anyone in the actual real world since it sounds like a lot of people hate them. Not me though, I am the 8th roommate now. Any doubt that they will actually be surprised by the twist is removed when V gets a phone call from a friend at home saying two of her “enemies” are telling everyone that they’re going to be on the show in a few weeks. Skeletons are still coming, people! It could actually be worse knowing who is going to show up and having to wait for it.
I need to stop here to discuss the most fantastic addition to the Real World. In the recap for the first episode, I mentioned that there are golden turntables in the house. What I did not realize at the time, is that this is in fact their phone. The house phone is a DJ setup in which you can video call someone and speak to them publicly on speaker or privately by putting on the DJ headphones. Either way, in order to talk to them you have to talk into the DJ mic. This is the most impractical way to make a phone call aside from having two cans tied to a string. And yet, I would watch a full show of kids taking calls on this. I want this in my home and office. R.I.P. Jersey Shore Duck Telephone, you have been smoked as the best on TV.
Sylvia and Jason bet on a game of ping-pong even though Sylvia is not good at that game. That said, she has at this point seen Jason be totally unathletic a lot and probably thought that this win was guaranteed. She manages to be worse somehow and has to run around with no clothes on.
Madison’s past is quickly catching up to her before anyone from her life can show up. She’s constantly wandering off into what Sylvia calls “Unicornland.” After another incident at a bar, they all confront her. The next day, Madison tells the girls about her dark history with drug addiction. V pegs it perfectly that Madison isn’t acting dumb, she’s faking to be happy. Madison wants to tell Tony herself and he is understanding, having dealt with addiction in his family when he was younger.
Part of what I love about Real World is that for all of the partying and hook-ups, there are real and actual issues being dealt with under the surface. A friend of mine made the argument recently that this is too exploitative for them to enjoy—putting a certain type of damaged personality into a spotlight they are seeking is too hard to watch. And that may be true, especially in a couple instances that ended in tragedy. But my hope is that by going on television and putting all of these issues out there, they become impossible to ignore. Seeing yourself as you are is not an easy experience and my hope is that it leads to self-realization at some point.
The episode gets heavy with talk of bad relationships and drug abuse. Somehow, they named it “Love and Other Drugs,” which seems like an insanely casual thing to do. Sylvia was in a terrible situation with an ex-boyfriend that ended up on Fox 4 Crimestoppers. Bruno knows she’s been through a lot and feels like she needs a real man to show her a good relationship. After Madison and Sylvia’s big revelations, Nicole gets her butt slapped again. Tension breaker. Back to the party. Told you it was coming.
Real World team Chicago goes out to the bar and for some reason Sylvia is only talking to Tony. Bruno is not down with this, he thinks she is trying to make him jealous. He doesn’t want to be the jealous guy so he meets another woman at the bar they’re at. If anyone is going to make someone jealous, it is him. This is not exactly how a real man shows someone who has been hurt what a good relationship is. This is the opposite of that. His flirting in front of Sylvia causes her to go home and go to bed. When Bruno gets home, V tells him he is in trouble. Bruno wants to know what he did to deserve this. What he did was hard-kiss Sylvia the night before and then pick up someone else in front of her because she was making him jealous. He doesn’t understand why this is a problem because he has a special connection with the woman he met that night. He calls her “more than a lady, one classy dame,” because he is New Englander Nathan Detroit. Bruno wakes Sylvia up to yell at her for being mad at him. Here we get a look at Bruno’s anger. He has a brother he hasn’t spoken to in three years. SKELETONS ARE COMING, and they are not the fun kind that walk along the ocean floor in Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s time to make a commitment to this relationship.