The thing everyone knows about a new Real World season is that the first episode always starts with the new cast heading to the house for the first time, to meet each other and see their new home. But this is not a regular Real World season. Actually, the most shocking thing a Real World season could do at this point would be to have an absolutely standard season. Ever since the producers unveiled Real World Ex-plosion two years ago, there have been some great twists. But the casts have gotten savvy. Last year’s Skeletons crew could see their ghosts from a mile away. They might not have known what package was being delivered or who it was from, but they knew to check the mail each day if you catch what I’m saying. Cut to this season. Seven strangers. Brought to the middle of the Nevada Desert. No house in sight. Go big or go home.
Once the seven houseguests (who I will introduce you to in mere seconds) are all dropped off, they are notified by Producer Matt that in order to make it into the house they have to first jump out of a hot air balloon floating up in the sky like the ending of Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. If someone doesn’t jump, they don’t make it in. There will be tasks like this all season and if you don’t GO BIG, then you gotta go home. There are people on standby waiting to move into the house so if you can’t go big enough, then they will take your home. This is a very, very solid twist. One, the worst roommates every season are always the people who dramatically pack their stuff and threaten to leave only to get talked into staying. Now, there is a dispenser of new roommates all loaded up and ready to jump in at the drop of a hot air balloon. Two, a very important service that the Real World serves is to pump new blood into the Challenge franchise. If the roommates are basically doing mini-challenges on their Real World season, they’re going to make the jump into the Challenge battle-ready to take down the evil John Bananas.
But the strength of a Real World season relies on more than just a solid twist. So let’s meet the cast:
Kailah 22, Fort Meyers, FL: She is Puerto Rican and has a bad case of FOMO. She went to a musical festival instead of walking in her graduation ceremony. She’s never gotten along with a roommate before.
Dione, 24, Cape Cod, MA: Dione got by far the most screen time in the opening episode. He has very long hair. He wears wild outfits like fur vests and spandex pants and bear slippers. Basically, he dresses like Matador, Mystery’s right-hand pick up artist from the seminal VH1 reality show The Pick Up Artist. He calls himself Jungle Boy and says he lives off the land, which means shrooms or something. He looks like 1/3 Jack Black, 1/3 Joaquin Phoenix, 1/3 Dweezil Zappa.
Sabrina, 21, Topsfield, MA: Sabrina immediately says that she’s a guy’s girl but also too much for guys. She’s sex positive, advocates for young girls and women to love themselves, calls herself “the princess” no less than four times this episode, and drops a “that’s what she said” within the first eight minutes of the episode. She’s a singer / song writer.
Dean, 25, Los Angeles, CA: Dean was raised in Ghana until he was five or six. He has major ex-drama.
Chris, 23, Brooklyn, NY: Chris is an ex-Mormon, current pansexual who moved to Brooklyn. Kailah calls him “Indie Boy” because he dresses like sentient Bushwick.
Ceejai, 23, Atlanta, GA: About to be a lawyer. Is very anti-gun violence. Grew up in East St. Louis. Lost her mom and dad and home. More to come.
Jenna, 22, Easley, SC: Owns many guns, fires them in her bikini. Can fix a car. Also sometimes shoots a bow and arrow in a bikini as well. Is currently Mormon. Cooks in her bikini.
Everybody does jump out of the balloon, but not before Dione gets to explain what a “fear boner” is. But it’s cool because he’s wearing spandex pants so tight that Sabrina can see his package. And yes, she looked because as she says you have to look. I looked. We all looked. Let’s get past that. So everyone makes it into the house. A stretch Hummer limo picks them up and off they go to their new home, the Gold Hotel, to pick rooms. Of course when you find out your new home has a balcony and you’re in Las Vegas, you have to go onto the balcony and yell “We’re in Las Vegas!” That’s a given. As they discover all their new residence has to offer, we’re provided with two beautiful examples of how different houseguests set their priorities. First, a bunch of them find some hover boards in the house and are like “sweet, look what exciting things we have here!” At the same time, another roommate screams out “whipped cream, we got whipped cream!” No judgement, whatever makes you happy. The second contrast is when Dione and Dean are unpacking. Dione gives us a little hint at his upcoming peacock wardrobe choices: a crossing guard reflector vest, a doctor’s lab coat, etc. Dean is pulling out clothes as well. The exchange goes like this with Dione and Dean talking at the same time:
Dean: I brought this suit! Dione: I brought the hammock.
Okay, so Dean brought a suit because he has a court date for the divorce he’s going through after being married for four months, that is his ex-drama. Dione packed a hammock. To go to Las Vegas. And hang somewhere presumably? You only get a few bags to bring with you when you pack for these shows. And my man thought the best use of this space would be to pack a hammock. I will be watching the rest of these episodes like a hawk to see if that hammock comes into play believe that.
First day in Vegas so obviously you have to hit up a pool party. Jenna busts out a gallon of canola oil to tan with, she is absolutely going to fry herself like Kramer did as a human chicken but she doesn’t care because her life goal is to get as tan as possible. At the pool, Kailah let’s it be known to Dione and Dean that she does in fact have a “golden” female sex organ because any time she has had sex with someone, they have fallen in love with her. Dione and Dean head to bathroom and joke about it being at the most copper or possibly aluminum. Kailah overhears them and gets mad. There’s all kinds of tension between Dione and Kailah. Sabrina also may or may not be into him “because he looks like Jesus.” Later on Dione apologizes for it and they make up. Kailah admits that it was hilarious the only part that bothered her was that they said it behind her back.
Part of what I love about Real World is that once in a while it covers an important issue. So when Jenna starts to explain to Dean and CeeJai, the only two black roommates why she supports the Confederate flag—she believes it stands for Southern Pride and not racism—what “colored people” are like where she lives, and drops a couple of “thugs” out of her mouth, you get the sense that this is going to be quite an eye-opening experience for a young person who has never left South Carolina. CeeJai is clearly offended but she stays calm and listens to what her roommate is spitting out there. She doesn’t address it until later on in the evening when she calmly brings it up. No fight, just letting it be known the way she feels. Ceejai then drops a huge surprise on her roommates, that her father shot and killed her mother and then was shot by the police. It’s one of the most intense and incredible moments I’ve ever seen on this show. Ceejai is a more thoughtful roommate then they’ve had in a long time and it’s going to be interesting to watch her go through these Go Big or Go Home challenges because she is so focused on her future outside the house as a person and a lawyer. The roommates are all speechless from her story. They agree to have each others’ backs this season and make sure nobody goes home.
At the end of the episode, they all go to the Rise Festival out in the Mojave Desert and light lanterns sending them floating up into the night sky with inspiring messages written on them. So yeah, this is going to be an interesting one.