Putting My Master’s Degree To Good Use

I always get a little pissed when MTV features a band that I really like during their commercial breaks. I have liked Rodrigo y Gabriella for a couple of years now, and now everyone is going to think that I learned about them from watching The Hills as opposed to Pig Radio.

Not that I, um, watch The Hills. Nope, not me. Not this girl. I have standards. Um…

Okay, I’m lying. I totally watch it and I have no idea why. It’s so contrived and set-up and every “spontaneous conversation” insults my intelligence. Those kids read the teleprompter like the cast of Dragnet. But Justin-Bobby? Whitney’s nonchalant “WTF”? The return of Lo? Spencer’s “I surprised you with a beautiful mural”? Heeeee.

I used to defend my guilty pleasures with a passion. Like, The Real World used to be a show about different people interacting and learning from each other and growing. I loved it from Season 1 to Season 10. Then they went to Chicago, and even with 9/11 it was still the dumbest, lamest, most boring season I’ve ever seen. Then they went to Vegas and, well, we all know what happened next.

Season 3 was my favorite because the cast was so diverse, not just in terms of race, religion and political beliefs, but their career choices and the way they approached conflicts, conversations, and trying new things. Do they have that season out on DVD? I would totally buy Season 3 on DVD.

Making the kids work together was one of the changes that killed that show. Because what made the show great was the fact that you learned about each individual person, so by the time two roommates got in a fight, you could understand where they were each coming from and what they were misunderstanding about each other. In Season 3, you’d watch Pam at Med school, Mohammed with his band, Judd drawing comics, Pedro teaching people about AIDS, Rachael at a Young Republicans convention, Jo climbing mountains, Puck riding his bike around, and Cory… doing whatever Cory did. It was fun to plop a bunch of people in the same city and watch them run off in different directions, and even more fun to watch those careers affect their lives and interactions at home.

Another thing that killed the show was the night-vision cameras, see-through shower doors and microphones in the headboards. TMI, Real World, TMI. I think the episode that started this was in Season 5 (Miami), when Mike, Melissa and that waitress all ended up in the shower. That was probably the best episode ever, but it had nothing to do with watching people make out or “controversial” threesomes or whatever.

That episode was awesome because Dan, Flora and Sarah (who were all hilarious people in general) were standing outside the shower door the whole time, trying (like the audience) to figure out what was going on in the shower. Sarah was gasping and laughing her ass off. Dan kept making awesome, “omigodomigod” faces. Flora tried to climb through the little shower window and ended up breaking it. It was hilarious and awesome because that’s the real world. In the real world, when your roommate gets drunk and does something insane like that, you’re (hopefully) not in the shower with them. You’re standing outside, laughing at them and throwing out theories and dishing about it the next morning. That’s what makes it funny. There’s nothing funny, sexy or remotely entertaining about watching a blob of sheets moving around while two jerks dry hump underneath it.

Another episode that killed The Real World was in Season 3, when Rachael and Jo bought a bottle of wine and got wasted. They kind of danced around the living room, shrieking and pouncing on their roommates, while everyone else sat around and made fun of them. And that was such a fun episode. You know why? Because it was rare. In real life, hopefully, getting that drunk happens once in a blue moon, and you get all goofy and giggly and everyone teases you because you’re normally responsible and intelligent but for once, you’re “letting loose”. That’s what makes it funny, and that’s what makes it fun to watch.

Everybody liked the drunk episode. That’s what got ratings. That’s why producers started supplying cast members with alcohol. And now, that’s all the kids are putting out there. The Real World has basically become a show about what happens when people stop wearing clothes and start binge drinking. That’s it. It’s disappointing and boring and gross and sad.

However, I actually have high hopes for the latest Real World. First of all, there’s a kid named Cohutta who is from, like, Appalachia or something. He has the most kick-ass accent I’ve ever heard, and he’s totally one-of-a-kind. It’s fun to watch everything he does because his outlook is totally unique. He’s the kind of person that they used to pick all of the time, as opposed to gorgeous nondescript alcoholics.

Then, there is this girl named Parisa. She hates the girly-girls and they hate her. She’s smart and she behaves like a normal person. She has a unique perspective in the house because she’s the only Muslim, a child of immigrants, and basically is not retarded. And every time I roll my eyes at the other roommates, the camera cuts to her rolling her eyes, too. She’s like the embodiment of the home viewing audience and all great roommates of the past, all rolled into one.

On the other hand, there is Kerry-Ann or whatever the eff her name is, who represents the worst aspects of the new Real World (“Why do they hate you?” “Because I’m cute?”). Watching her interact with Parisa is super fun, in an uber-meta “I have no life” kind of way.

So… that’s my defense for watching the latest Real World. But I have no excuse for watching The Hills. You know this. I know this. This does not benefit my life in any way. I’m disappointed in myself and I’m sure this entry has disappointed all of you.

So, um, in other news, there are a bunch of cool events in the next two weeks, but I’ll blog about it tomorrowish. My friends should not be name-dropped in a blog about The Hills; I respect them too much.

Currently Reading: Nothing, obviously

4 Comments

Filed under Pop Goes The Culture

4 responses to “Putting My Master’s Degree To Good Use

  1. The Captain

    As far as guilty pleasures go, Real World is by far one of my guiltiest. I’ve enjoyed it since the beginning, but lately it is getting harder to defend my enjoyment (much like rap music…) Far and away my favorite season was also three. Even though Judd was a total tool, Mohammed was never there, it was still the best season for several reasons. Puck playing to the camera was wildly entertaining, although it started a nasty trend that continues to this day. Season 3 also featured the first sympathetic gay person I had ever seen on TV. Pedro was awesome, and his boyfriend was even cooler. Pedro really helped me get over a death in my family. My uncle’s husband died of AIDS the year before season 3 aired, and watching Pedro’s struggle really helped me to move past that sad event in my life. I’ve been hooked since that season, even though it is often times embarrassingly bad. Season 4 killed the vision of the original few seasons by going overboard with the distinct career aspect. He’s a playwright, she’s a model, he’s a racecar driver, she’s a fencer! It may have looked good on paper but it wasn’t interesting to watch. After that, they started to back away from professional people and started filling the house with younger, more attractive people. I think that packing the house with younger people has really changed the show for the worse. The show used to be full of people in their mid-twenties who had distinct careers and had already learned many of life’s lessons. They always threw in one or two 18-22 year old to contrast the older people, but this is no longer the case. Now the show is mostly 20-23 year olds who often are still in college or have just graduated. The new cast members typically have no idea who they are or where they are headed. People in this age range have consistently produced the most drama on the show, which is the problem. If everyone was a little older, they probably would be so self-conscious and short tempered.

    *

    I totally agree that the alcoholic problem and the job problem have really hurt the show. Making them all work together has produced another unfortunate consequence, all of the cast members now come from families with money. Since they make the cast members work together but don’t give them enough money to live on, the cast members are now mostly funded through their parents. The plus side is that the roommates never really argue about money anymore, but the downside is that most of them act like typical spoiled rich kids. They bitch a lot more when they don’t get their way because they’re used to it at home. In fact, I think that Lacey even called Danny out on this in Austin and caused a big fight. Leah from Paris and Brooke from Denver are the two shining examples of the spoiled rich kid problem.

    As you mentioned, the one saving grace for me is that they almost always cast one relatable person for me. Without this, I probably couldn’t watch anymore. Luckily, Parisa is around for this season. What I find interesting about her is that she gives attitude right back to the other girls in the house. Usually the one person I relate with is forced to bite their tongue 20 times in each episode, but she looks like she’s going to speak her mind. I hope she does. And I’m also looking forward to watching her struggle to win the affection of Dunbar. A smart girl trying to lure a guy away from a dumb, slutty girl has quite an uphill battle, one I’m looking forward to watching. Parisa and Cohutta look like the only interesting people in the house, but that’s 2 more than Denver had. I was ready to give up after Denver, it was like a cheap version of the Vegas season. There wasn’t one redeeming person in the house, just a bunch of really shallow alcoholics trying to get laid. Even though I’ve watched the show for quite some time now, I’ve only recently freely admitted this to anyone who asks. I was embarrassed about watching the Real World until I read the chapter Chuck Klosterman devoted to the subject in Cocco Puffs. As with so many things, his smart defenses of stupid things help me to admit many of the guilty pleasures I enjoy. Big ups to you for admitting you enjoy such a hard to defend show, but you’re on you own with the Hills. That’s show is too much even for me. The reason I can watch the Real World is because the premise of the show is grounded in non-reality. Putting strangers in a strange house in a strange city has nothing to do with real life, it’s real people in a staged world. A show like the Hills pretends that we are watching the real life of these kids, which as you pointed out is total bullshit. That makes it difficult for me to watch. Well, that and the kids on that show are truly despicable. What is it that you find entertaining about the Hills, or perhaps what is it that I’m missing? Also, who is your all time favorite Real Worlder? I used to have a huge crush on Sarah from Miami, until I saw Lacey from Austin. But I’d say my all time favorite is still Frank from Vegas. He was/is the quintessential normal guy in a house full of crazy people.

  2. Sarah and Frank are two awesome ones, that’s for sure. Sarah was probably my favorite girl. I would have to say David from Seattle. He was really intense, funny, dreamy, and there was that whole affair with a staff member. Good heart, good TV and a beautiful face (with one brown eye and one blue eye).

    Oh, and I still read New Orleans Melissa’s blog. princessmelissa.com It’s hysterical. She’s great, too.

    I LOVED the Real World chapter from Cocoa Puffs. Klosterman is fun.

    Honestly, I should have no reason to like the Hills. Maybe I just like to watch Spencer and Heidi suck at life? All the castmembers hate them as much as the audience, which is (shamefully) fun. I think reading Perez brainwashed me. I’m going to stop typing now.

  3. The Captain

    Klosterman is my hero. I started gettiing Esquire every month just to read his column. David was awesome, him hooking up with the production assistant was the realest thing to ever happen on any of the shows. I love when things on the show go so badly that the producers actually have to appear on camera to make things right. I thought Melissa was cool, until I met her in college. I was on the student activites council at SMS (I refuse to call it Missouri State) and we brought in a speaking tour that was full of former real worlders. Most of them were pretty cool, but Melissa was a total bitch. She talked down to everyone, which is a ridiculous thing for a reality tv star to do. Kinda burned me out on her. How fitting her blog is princess melissa. I have to say though that if I’m watching MTV to judge shallow, terrible people I watch the sweet 16 show. If I watch it from the beginning, I usually have to turn it off by about half way because I am either completely disgusted or furious. Watching 15 year olds brag about their parent’s money and throw a lavish party to celebrate a non-impressive accomplishment is about the worst thing I can think of, which makes it riveting. My favorite part is always at the end, when all of the party attendees tell the camera how this was the best party they have ever been to. You’re 15, of course it is. That show is the embodiment of what MTV has become lately: kids born on third base who act like they hit a triple. Yet I still watch, which also point to me using my masters degree. What is your degree in? I went with Public Administration, which is just slightly cooler than my undergrad in political science.

  4. The M.A. is Media Communications and the B.A. is Creative Writing.

    Oh, and good call with the points you made about RW; I didn’t even think about the fact that they’re all rich college kids now.

    Melissa’s blog is still a riot regardless, and she admits to being stank and rude about RW stuff, which is one reason why I like her.

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