Reality Bites: The Real World: Ex-Plosion

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Partner abuse: abhorrent unless it jacks up our ratings.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

There's a scene in this episode of MTV's The Real World: Ex-Plosion where -- after a Festivus-like airing of grievances -- two of the characters (I'll call them "Mook Skywalker" and "Hootie McBoob") engage in something resembling fisticuffs. MTV, perhaps remembering the lessons of Snooki's beatdown on Jersey Shore, immediately cut in with this gem:

If you or some you know if dealing with dating abuse, chat with someone who can help at www.loveisrespect.org

I hope the first thing the helper on the web site tells anyone contacting them is there's no worse abuse than making a loved one watch the fucking Real World.

The Real World is "credited" with launching the modern reality show. Creators Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray have both been inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame as a result (Bunim posthumously, she passed away in 2004), but after dealing with the show's influence for the last 20+ years, perhaps a more fitting legacy would be firebombing the Bunim/Murray Productions offices into molten slag.

You know the premise of The Real World: "seven strangers picked to live in a house," etc etc. Looking back to earlier seasons, with their housemates possessing actual ambitions and career opportunities, seems almost prosaic when compared to the parade of generic bros and bimbos currently on display.

[Almost forgot, the "twist" in TRW: Ex-Plosion is the surprise arrival of several housemates' exes, leading to hurt feelings and other hilarious emotional damage.]

You get the sense of the difference from the early seasons when Cory describes the show as a "once in a lifetime opportunity." To be sure, he'd make a fine trapezius model, but I wonder whose career he's hoping to emulate; Seattle's David Burns, who won a whopping $8,500 on Road Rules challenges? Puck from San Francisco, who has a DUI and prison sentence to his credit? Perhaps he aspires to the heights scaled by San Diego's Jamie Chung, who played Ed Helms' wife in Hangover III?

Most of the action in The Episode I Watched (back in San Fran this time around) centers on Brian and Jenny (the aforementioned Mook and Hootie). Brian is Jenny's ex, an in a previous episode he apparently "hooked up" (as the kids say) with someone "at the club" (as nobody says). Surely talking about it -- to Cory as well as the audience -- won't come back and bite him on the ass.

On one hand, it's a good thing he's so wracked with guilt over kissing some random chick. On the other hand ... dude, you *kissed* a random chick. Staying home with a phantom tummy ache because of guilt seems a bit much, even for someone clearly suffering from a deficiency in moral fiber. Or maybe all his talk about Jenny "kicking his ass" isn't hyperbole (she looks like she could throw a decent punch). Of course he tells her, and of course she angrily tells him he's "lit the flames of hell." Gee, it's hard to tell why these crazy kids ever broke up in the first place.

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