This is what happens when seven cretins stop acting real and start acting strange. This is also the story – or so the producers hope - of young love. From the very first novel written in the first century through Romeo and Juliet and Elizabeth and Mr Darcy to J Lo and Ben, people have been suckers for the same old story. The problem is that when 'The Real World' tries to get in on the act, they select a cast of vacuous, annoying morons - people you'd rather see fall under a bus than fall in love.
And if not even one of these seven people is going to suffer retribution for our collective pain each episode, that makes 'The Real World' a tough show to watch. It's like sitting through a whodunnit where the killer is never caught, or an election where the incompetent, constitution-trampling President is re-elected. The bad guy's got to pay - thems the rules.
Except, unfortunately, when it comes to reality TV (and, to be fair, Batman). Yet it’s not just The Riddler or The Penguin who are escaping scot-free in ‘The Real World’. There are seven bad guys who end each episode unscathed and unpunished. Where's the fun in that?
Anyway, let's see what this latest bunch of feckless fools have in store for us in this second episode of The Real World, Philadelphia...
We start the episode proper with a guy who doesn't have a name - only two letters, M and J - at the gym with another cast member named Sarah. They are both on running machines. MJ is wearing an extreme muscle shirt that doesn't just show his arms and shoulders, but also most of his chest. From this, I realize it is likely that this MJ is rather vain, despite the fact that he looks like a permanently-flushed fat-faced Justin Timberlake with hair as wild and strange-looking as your grandmother's after a bad perm. Strangely, the producers have managed to unearth people who don't seem to believe that he looks weird and scary, and Sarah is apparently one of this group. She is a somewhat round-cheeked but otherwise pleasant-looking brown-haired chick whose first words of the show are to say in confessional: "I like spending time with MJ I feel like there's some sense of - I don't know - comfort with him". They are shown walking from the gym holding hands.
Sarah in real time goes on to tell MJ that she gets depressed if she drinks too much the day before, from which we can surmise - if we missed the previous episode - that she drunk too much the night before, and that she's depressed. But how she's acting-out that depression, we don't know. Maybe when she's not depressed she spends all day dancing and giggling, and when she's a little blue the only thing she feels able to do is drag herself to the gym.
MJ says, "I think Sarah's pretty hot, but I'm still trying to figure her out. ‘Cause I don't know what Sarah wants or what Sarah needs." This counts as foreshadowing, since what Sarah wants and needs is going to be made clearer to MJ than if she gave him a notarized letter itemizing her wants and needs in a timetable, and had it acted out for him by members of the cast of 'Tea Bagger Vance'.
Back at the house, Shavonda, a slim, nice-looking black girl, is saying: "MJ is just so funny.' Her evidence for that theory is never disclosed. Sarah says to her, "I have a crush on him so bad. I think he's really serious with Ashley. He just doesn't want to talk about it". She then goes on to say in confessional: "Ashley has a very unrealistic view of what MJ is ready for, in terms of relationships right now." Who Ashley is, we have to guess. What Sarah knows about Ashley, we don't know. What she knows about what MJ is ready for, we don't know. What we're doing watching this crap, we don't know. There's a lot of mystery about the whole thing at this stage.
Sarah next goes on a rambling discourse on how this girlfriend of MJ's that she's never met and never talked to needs to be more 'understanding', then mumbles even more unintelligible nonsense that includes a bunch of phrases chosen apparently at random - one was "not feeling bad about it in the morning". She ends by saying that she will be aggressive about something, because "that's just the way I am". Although she can't bring herself to make sense, I think it's possible to decipher an intention to go after MJ aggressively, and with no regard for the fabled Ashley - who Sarah is apparently persuaded should pick up Sarah's thought waves and surrender MJ to her gracefully.
'I think Landon's much cuter, though,' Sarah ends, still sticking with the lack-of-sense theme, after her paen of praise to the red-featured MJ. Shavonda emphatically gasps in agreement, joins Sarah in mumbling unintelligibly for a sentence or so, then confessionals that if she may have a crush on Landon, and feels she's being unfaithful to her boyfriend in doing so.
Landon, whom we haven't seen much until now, is shown jumping on Shavonda's bed. Or at least a bed that has Shavonda in it. She squeals and protests - all together - unintelligibly.
(A note about the sound. Maybe it's just my advancing age, but I couldn't understand half of what the youngsters - especially the women - said during the episode. I guess MTV figure it's not really necessary to hear most of what these morons say, but it sure is annoying if you're supposed to summarize what's going on. It's like watching a bunch of younger, better-looking Miltons from 'Office Space'. They could all be mumbling about their plan to set the house on fire - they're all capable of this, I’m sure - and we'd never know it.)
Meanwhile, Landon examines a picture of Shavonda and her boyfriend. He says: "I don't see you with a dude like this," despite the fact that the picture is right in front of his face. As for the rest of us, we don't see Shavonda with the jerry-curled, wide-mouthed twat that is Landon. Shavonda responds, "What do you see me with? And don't say NBA basketball player." She must have gone out with NBA players often, and is fed-up with them.
Shavonda in confessional then says - about her boyfriend named Sean - "Sean is like the perfect boyfriend. I've grown so dependant on him, mainly because he wants to take care of me. I have not been able to let go yet." So he's the perfect boyfriend, but she wants to let go of him. Something is wrong with this picture, but if we insert some idiocy... Viola! It all makes sense!
Landon is continuing to belabor his point about the photograph. "This guy must be like, how did I ever get a chick like this?" he continues, dragging out a dead horse and beginning to finger a whip. In confessional, he says, "I think this process is going to put a lot of strain on Shavondra's relationship." And he's obviously planning to be a large part of this 'process'.
He begins beating on the deceased equine. "He's just like a punk," he says. "A punk rocker," Shavonda responds. "But at the same time, he's like hip-hop." "If you walked into a hip-hop club," Landon says, "It would be like..." he mimes someone looking first at Shavonda, then at someone at her side: "Hot black chick. What are you doing here?"