Josh Wolk
June 30, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Real World”: Here’s what the kids learned this season

The beauty of being on ”The Real World” is that you can say anything that you want about yourself, and because it’s on camera, it’s treated as true. So when the San Diego roommates bade farewell on the season finale, they all maintained that this experience had changed them in different ways, and the show ended on the usual finale note of pretending that everyone had matured.

Those lying bastards.

First of all, Jacquese and Jamie didn’t change that much, because they didn’t need to: They were both pretty responsible, savvy people to begin with. Randy did little the whole season but get messed up and sit and agree with whatever anyone was saying — he was the Chong to the house’s collective Cheech. As he headed off to a water taxi, a board game inexplicably tucked under his arm, a blurb told us that he was heading off to Europe for five months. So Randy’s big change will apparently be learning how to say ”No way, dude!” in many different romance languages.

As for Charlie, all we got to know about him during his brief time on the series is that he is kind of lazy, he plays guitar, and he doesn’t like people breaking his guitar. So with that slim info, who would know if he changed? We have no frame of reference. The only thing we could point to is if he eventually fixed his guitar. ”Ahh, that Charlie. Remember when that thing was broken? He’s come a long way.”

Then we get to Robin, who spent the first half of the episode dealing with a court case. It seems that she faced battery charges for hitting that guy at the beginning of the season. Robin got a lawyer who had an office with a neon sign. I thought everyone knew that the really classy lawyers advertise in subway cars! Perhaps Robin liked him because his office door reassuringly reminded her of the beer lights at Coyote Ugly. ”Wait — you passed the bar? Oh my God, I dance on a bar! This is a sign!”

Robin seemed a little unclear on her own case. ”I want to be there to prove I didn’t use battery on someone,” she said. It sounds like she thought she was being accused of hitting someone with a AA Duracell. ”Your honor, if it was not the copper-top, the charges you must drop! If the Energizer bunny did not hop with impunity, then I should only do service for the community!”

In the end, her lawyer got her charges reduced to disturbing the peace. Robin was pleased, but also angry at the guy, a Marine, who first pressed the charges. ”Do Marines stand for putting girls in jail because they get hit?” she proclaimed, calling him a sissy. This is the only show that could get away with calling a Marine a sissy during the Iraq war, so bravo to MTV for having the guts to air such incendiary, unpopular beliefs. Tune in next season when a Philadelphia ”Real World”er calls the Pope a wuss!

More importantly, the whole incident revealed just how little Robin changed. After a season full of drunken incidents, when she was finally called to defend such behavior in front of a U.S. court of law? all she walked away with was a sense of smugness that the charge was deemed B.S. Which it was, mind you, but shouldn’t the take-home lesson have been that the whole situation wouldn’t have arisen in the first place if she didn’t get so nuttily drunk?

And then there was Brad. The bar is pretty low on Brad’s learning curve. If he mastered a touch-tone phone it would qualify as a major step forward. But a season that began with him getting arrested ended with him getting dragged away by cops. The only difference was that this time he talked the cops into releasing him, thereby avoiding the drunk tank. Brad might have a future as a lawyer; although in his case, a neon sign would be a bit ambitious. He’d probably set up shop with ”Me am law guy!” written on his door in crayon.

Brad got arrested because when a bouncer took Cameran’s fake ID, he snatched it back, handed it to Cam and yelled, in the middle of a crowd of people, ”Run, Cammy, run!” I’ve tried to imagine Brad’s imagined best-case-scenario of this plan, but then my brain started to feel like someone was kicking it with a metal boot. Cameran got home and told the other roomies that Brad had topped his previous idiocy highs, but they convinced her that she should thank him because he was only trying to help. Do they think Brad’s a puppy? So perhaps that’s how he changed — he no longer does his business on the carpet.

As for Cameran, she’s always been an amusing member of the house. Sure, she gets into trouble, but no more so than the average 18-year-old. She’s been fun to watch, kind of frisky, but ultimately sensible. And at the end, when reflecting on Jacquese, she announced that from now on, if she heard anybody use the ”N” word, ”I’m gonna stand up now and say I’ve lived with a black person, and they’re cool as hell!”

So that’s how Cameran has changed: She’s now going to start making huge racial generalizations that she thinks are well meaning but are actually really patronizing and weird. Can we get the old Cameran back?

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