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''The Real World'': A roommate grabs a lethal weapon

On ”The Real World,” drunk Landon grabs a lethal weapon while threatening Melanie’s bar buddies, then realizes it might be a good idea to cut down on his alcohol consumption

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”The Real World”: A roommate grabs a lethal weapon

The drama from Christmas week’s Real World episode derived from an argument over who was using the phone too much. This series makes such a point of upping the hysterics and absurdities every season, so how the hell did we backslide to the old ”my roomie makes me so mad the way he hogs the phone” tiff? Dammit, we’ve had three-ways, and now MTV gives us this? How dare they? This was like getting someone hooked on crack and then handing them a whip-it.

But apparently that episode was just meant to lull us all into a false sense of complacency for the holidays, because The Real World came back on Jan. 4 with a brand new milestone in roommate foolishness: Landon drunkenly wielding a knife while wearing a T-shirt that read ”Huggable.” In the midst of your deepest, burbliest bong hit, you couldn’t dream up a visual like that.

But first we should back up. It all started when Landon and M.J. went to Mel’s secret bar and were roundly mocked. They blamed it on a snobby crowd, but let’s be fair: If you saw two look-alikes come into your pub who, judging by their hair, seemed to be a tribute act for Christopher Atkins in The Blue Lagoon, well, you’d probably have a few jokes to make, too. So imagine how angry Landon was when he came home some nights later, drunk, to find out that Melanie had invited said catcallers over to his home. Dammit, he would have to say something. And by ”say” I mean ”incoherently slur.”

What ensued was the kind of shouting match that you sense has been exacerbated by the MTV editing wizards. Melanie was heard from a later interview talking about how frightened she was by Landon’s yelling, although during the incident itself she was smiling. Was it because she couldn’t stay mad at someone so huggable? Either way, her friends weren’t so amused; one said, ”I’ll break your f—ing jaw.” What made this odd was, out of a group of tattoo-bedecked toughs, this threat came from the one guy who looked like an off-duty accountant. You know Philly’s a tough town if the CPAs take deductions . . . out of yer ass.

The situation only quieted long enough to get everyone into the house, where Landon continued to pace, angrily ranting in that drunk way that starts out threatening but gradually becomes kind of sadly revealing. When he got to the point of saying, ”I wish I was Mel right now, I’d be so f—ing cool,” I prayed for him to pass out before he started pointing fingers at her friends saying, ”You think you’re so great just because my daddy said I had soft hands and should play woman’s field hockey.”

And then he tucked the giant knife into his back pocket and started stumbling toward the group. Now, I don’t think he would have actually pulled the knife on anyone, but it did raise the question of what exactly the MTV camera crew was waiting for to intervene. Back in the Hawaii season they didn’t stop Ruthie from driving drunk, so maybe they also don’t like to disturb the reality of someone plunging a steak knife into someone else’s esophagus. Are they worried that meddling might sully their journalistic integrity? Because I have news for you, MTV: The Real World is to journalism what The Biggest Loser is to dignity.

When Melanie confronted Landon the next day about his awful behavior, he defended himself by saying that when he’s sober, he acts very nice, but the things he really feels come out when he’s drunk. That’s a defense you don’t hear all the time: When I’m nice, I’m being a phony; when I’m an ass, that’s the real me, baby! I was waiting to see how the producers would manage to wring one of their usual roommates hug after truly understanding each other moments when the lesson learned is that Landon is, deep down, a contentious jerk.

In the end he vowed to Melanie to change his ways. How? By strictly limiting his drinking . . . to five drinks a night. Because clearly only lushes finish an entire six-pack. Is this seriously what passes for growth in this house? ”The stumbling-drunk Landon is dead! Say hello to the new and improved lovably buzzed Landon! No more total blackouts for me! From now on, I’ll have hazy memories that will last at least three days!” I guess that’s the refreshing thing about The Real World. Even though the casts may get increasingly outrageous over the years, at heart they’re still the same old dummies they’ve been since Eric Nies. Go ahead, you lovable lugs, argue about the phone. I’ll still love ya.

What did you think? Should the producers have stepped in ? And is Landon headed for more trouble?