Real World

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Djb: C- | Grade It Now!

It's the who with the what time of year, now? We open this week with a collection of sun-dipped shots of Boston in the springtime, blooming crocuses in leafy fields, frolicking ducks gliding across placid blue lakes, their peanut-sized duck brains negating the memory of the cryogenic hell in which they have been frozen for the season's first sixteen episode-opening montages. And speaking of peanut-sized brains conveniently negating a somewhat rational floe -- er, I mean "flow," I'd like to hear how the continuity editors explained to the cast that the snow had all melted and the trees had all bloomed in the twenty-four hours since a raging blizzard which took place on this show's chronological version of a time long, long ago I like to call "yesterday." The confusion continues as out of the firehouse walk best friends Montana, Genesis, and Elka, who can practically hear the perennial summer sounds of Jamiroquai rage on as they "oooh" and "aaah" about the Firehouse in the Springtime soundstage in L.A. they've clearly wandered onto for the purposes of finally filming an entire scene outside.

Sunbathing in turtlenecks and windbreakers and other asbestos-lined necessities of Boston outdoor leisure time, the girls sit on blankets and direct their hey-isn't-this-topical comments right in the direction of the red blinking light and the guy holding the cue cards with the following words on them. Montana? Well, she'll go first, thanks: "It's upsetting to me. Like, I don't want to have a bad relationship with my mother. Like, I understand, too, like, a lot of how my mom is, considering she had me when she was seventeen and she had to be like, really strong. Like, she had to be so strong to the point of where it made her hard." Like, deep, man. And stuff. Genesis leaps in next and offers that her mother "has never really been a mother figure, but she had problems of her own the didn't enable her to have the typical maternal type of relationship," like the one where her mom didn't name her daughter "Jack Daniels, straight up" and carry her around in a small flask, taking frequent sips of her in order to dull the pain of her everyday existence. Because if that had been the case, they would have gotten along great. Well, I guess that's all the time they could scare up for people with sad mom stories. I guess if anyone has anything else germane they'd like to add to this discussion, they're gonna have to take it to confessional.

And so Elka does: "I was feeling very sad because Mother's Day was the next day" and, as you may remember, Elka's mother passed away two months before she left for Boston. Cut to back inside the firehouse (a show on a budget can only score that verdant "outdoor" set for so long, it seems), where Genesis and Elka share a simply-too-sad-to-make-fun-of scene that includes joyful-to-recap, tear-soaked statements including "I was there when she died, those last few hours I held her hand" and "she looked peaceful" and "I lied in the bed with her and I talked to her for a little while and I asked her to give me the strength to take care of my dad and to take care of my brother because she wasn't going to be able to anymore." She continues that she feels a lot of pressure in acting the mother figure to the rest of her family, and she doesn't want them to know that she worries, which they never possibly could unless she decided to air this dirty laundry to a room full of cameras with "Property of MTV" stickers emblazoned across the side to be broadcast a few months later on a high-rated reality special about what happens when people stop being polite and start being real. And she'd never go out and do something as silly as that, now, would she? Genesis makes it All About Her in thinking she's commiserating but really hogs the pathos all over again in asserting, "I don't know what I would do if I lost my mom, even though we're not totally close." Elka hugs Genesis and thanks her for being there to listen. Which, really, she hasn't so much been. This is too depressing to be on television, and too real to be on The Real World. And since there's really nothing funny to add to a scene containing this level of actual undiluted human misery, I'm just going to add that my own family thinks that it's scenes like this one that would prevent us from ever appearing on The Real World in the first place. Or, as my brother puts it, "I don't want to get a call from you with that arrow pointing at the phone and your name written next to it and find out that there's been a death in the family while a Goo Goo Dolls song plays on the soundtrack to underscore my sadness." Freakin' word.

Genesis sits on the phone in the living room as a voice on the other end hopes that she's calling "to wish [her] a happy Mother's Day." Genesis confirms that that's exactly why she's calling, adding, "I only have, like, a buck, so I haven't, like, gotten to get you a card or anything." I don't mean to be all Earl of Etiquette or anything, but dude, how many moms do you have? Maybe you'd consider switching from the Camel Lights you're chain-smoking right now to the Merit Ultra Lights for, like, one day and splurge for a piece of cardboard with a Far Side cartoon on it and a stamp on the envelope. Scrounge up the pennies, man. Just do it. The lovely and talented Bride of Jim Beam tells her daughter that a call is better anyway, seeing as her blurred vision accounts for numerous untoward paper cuts in attempting to open a greeting card, whereas with the phone she can at least employ another sensory safety net in stumbling blindly toward a shrill, repetitive ringing sound. Actually, maybe you should forget The Far Side. Better make that Beetle Bailey, instead. And so Genesis and Beam's Bitch make with the small talk, Genesis's mother telling her daughter that she's had a headache "for two days." Genesis heaps as much contrived drama on the situation as possible in reacting that she's had a headache for two days, also! And why? "I was just talking about my trials and tribulations growing up." Bride of Beam registers a wary, "Uh-huh," as if to try and communicate, "There's no statute of limitations on the long arm of Child Protective Services, so perhaps we should talk about all this during a non-on-TV time." And yet, Genesis plows on, "You know, how we were broke, and didn't have any food. Like that." Beam of Light counters, "Well, you always had food. I would go without food so you could eat." Genesis registers more shock and snarks at her mother that she was hungry sometimes when she was growing up, and Jacqueline Daniels (at last, a nickname I can stick with) reports, "Genesis, I would have gone out on the street corner and sold my body to get you food," and Genesis actually responds with the wholly non-believable, "You were working hard enough." Tee hee. These are the most heartfelt tidings for a happy Mother's Day I know. I guess we, the audience, are precluded from making a decisive judgement about who's right here. I mean, Genesis doesn't exactly look like she'd been ravaged by the scourge of long-term starvation, but it's possible she looks as healthy and robust as she does due to the pounds and pounds of emotional baggage that cameras tend to add.

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Real World




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