Friday, August 26, 2016

When the Real World was the Real World.

Unsolicited foreword: This week was a 9.75 on the scale of writing weeks [Tangent: A 10 is near impossible to achieve.]. I got awesome feedback, virtual high fives and an unreasonable amount of shares from my last post for Ravishly about Body Acceptance with a Disability and I transcended my self-imposed goal of getting 1000 followers on the That Girl in the Wheelchair FB page. I'm not sharing this embarrassment of goodwill to be at all self-congratulatory, but to prove that I am not changing my overall dynamic. You can put lipstick on a sack of garbage, and it's still a sack of garbage, ya know?  I'm about to take all that respect I have acquired and potentially flush it down the shitter like a dead goldfish. Please remember that I can be respected and  real down and dirty on reality TV programming from 20 years ago. See. Same ol me (janky photoshop skills and all,)

 In Tennessee, we had a bit of a rainy swampy Saturday, which meant it gave me the perfect excuse to laze around in an omelette induced fugue state and do absolutely nothing. I was a shut-in and I loved it. As if I had an omnipresent entity reading my yet- to- be- transcribed dream journal, I flipped on my TV and discovered my new happy place, MTV classic. They were airing a Real World Venice Beach marathon from the early 90s and at that moment I checked my pulse to see if I was still among the living. [Tangent: If that Real World season, situated directly between the premiere cast and the Pedro/Puck San Francisco madness, doesn't sound familiar, then maybe you had a hobbies or a social life as a child...or maybe you just weren't alive yet..or maybe you didn't use a TV as a babysitter. (By the way, all of these options depress me terribly). If the mention is not ringing any bells, allow me to engage your synapses: David is accused of rape. Irish Dominic is ridiculous. New roommate Beth tells everyone she is gay with a joke t-shirt from Gadzooks. Tami gets an abortion and her jaw wired shut (not on the same episode). Seriously, this is as real as it gets.]

I immediately called my best friend with a second-coming-of-Christ excitement level (I mean I'm guessing)... and told her to immediately turn it on and fall down the nostalgia vortex with me. She happily obliged. Motherhood hasn't rearranged her priorities so much that she doesn't understand what truly watching strangers from over 20 years ago do everyday things like read paper maps and have fights over who left dishes in the sink. [Tangent: As you can note from this textchange, we were both pretty bummed we had forgotten about Glen, who looks as if he was straight peeled out of an Airwalk ad circa 1994, thus making him a real dreamboat to my middle school sensibilities.]

Shirking all responsibility, I sat there through about 4 hours of delightfully unpolished un-steadicammed action [Tangent: Seriously the LIGHTING was terrible. You saw every blemish and everything looked like your eyes hadn't quite adjusted to light yet and were being viewed through an odd dimness. It was low budget magic and the most true representation of #nofilter.] The crap quality and true looseness was refreshing and stood so apart from anything you would see on reality TV today. It felt authentic.

There were scenes where no one was wearing any semblance of makeup and the people cast were not all stunningly gorgeous, and there were moments on screen when they were doing literally nothing. They didn't have job assignments to give the series direction. They all had their own lives, they just happened to be all living in some random condo in Venice Beach.  [Tangent: I mean one housemate, Irene, was planning a wedding and left the show when she got married and Aaron, the surfer, was studying for his business school finals. This is before people left their day jobs to pursue the then unheard of career path of "reality star".] Regardless, I was riveted, and not just because it was a beloved relic from my past, but also because I found it so otherworldly.

They were actual people, I mean people in velvet chokers and duck head shorts, so 90s people, but regular people nonetheless. The arguments seemed organic and not contrived. The medium was so new that there was no focus on "having a house romance" for a storyline or attempting to have "shock value". Everyone of the house members was fully formed because they weren't trying to achieve predetermined archetypes or go on to get a spin-off series or a place in some sort of Challenge scenario. 

As you know, because I have shamelessly shouted my love and appreciation for trashy reality from the highest mountain [Tangent: Picture me spinning Sound of Music style reveling in the meticulously editted Bachelor and the batshit crazy that is the Duggar family.], I get how it works and I know today's reality is far too self-aware, so it was nice to take a mini stay-cation with my first love, the Real World. [Tangent: Before two timing it with season one of Road Rules the next day. Ahhhh...bliss.]

Have you been watching MTV classic? Seriously, its the best reason to have cable.  If you don't, here is your dose of humor and nostalgia to tide you over until you can scam off a friend's cable or until MTV releases every season on streaming, it's Buzzfeed's rank of the first 10 seasons of the Real World's housemates. It's fantastic. 

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