December 30, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Reality is hard to capture on screen. When The Real World‘s Pedro Zamora died of AIDS on Nov. 11, there were no cameras. Reality Bites, a movie whose Gen X characters distrust every media message, got at death’s unreality too. When Janeane Garofalo’s Vickie worries she might be HIV-positive, she tells Winona Ryder’s Lelaina, ”It’s like I’m watching it on … Melrose Place … I live in the building, and I teach everybody it’s okay to be near me … And then I die. And there’s everybody at my funeral wearing halter tops and chokers.” Lelaina understands: ”Melrose Place is a really good show.”

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