Coral: MTV
June 28, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

EW.com rates the ”Real World” casting special

Can you feel it in the air? It’s the unmistakable aura of ”keepin’ it real.” Yes, the new seasons of ”Road Rules” and ”The Real World” don’t debut until July 2 and 3, respectively, but MTV fluffed us up with the June 26 two-hour casting special. This year the producers gathered 27 finalists at a Palm Springs resort for five days of hugs, tears, and other emotional catharses jacked up fourfold for the cameras. Basically, we saw a bonding retreat where the competitors had to pretend they didn’t resent each other for standing between them and their slot on the show.

The special was like a compressed version of an entire season of MTV’s charter reality shows, hitting all the beats. It started out with ”getting to know you”s complete with snap judgments, then moved to deep discussions with transparent epiphanies (drawling Jason from Mississippi says his friends would never cotton to an interracial smooch, but, dadblamit, if that’s how they’re gonna be, then he doesn’t want them as friends!), then a screaming match between ”all-that” Ellen and ”holier-than-thou” Coral, which resolved with a conciliatory hug that had all the sincerity of a one-fingered handshake.

Peppered throughout all this were interviews with the shows’ casting directors who nodded hyperempathetically as their subjects wept about their own deepness, all the while probably thinking, ”I can really see this person freaking out to that new Coldplay tune!”

The 13 winners (who will be split between ”The Real World” and ”Road Rules”) were announced at the end of the special. But anyone who has seen 30 seconds of either of these series could tell right away who’d be sticking around all season for his or her close-up. Here are the seven who were the most obvious winners.

RACHEL B. The naïve virgin has a punk look but probably dresses in the dark so as not to see her own naked body. (Think Mormon Julie from New Orleans.) Look for her to end up in the ”Real World”’s Greenwich Village house, a place guaranteed to keep her eyes wide and the ”gosh a’golly”s flowing.

MIKE This frat boy from Ohio — who touchingly said his greatest moment was videotaping himself having sex — was a lock because he’s a homophobe, but one willing to learn. (Think Mike from London.) They didn’t pick North Dakotan Dustin, who glowered through the other guys’ drag beauty contest, because they want their ”closed mind opens wide” moment. Sticking Dustin in Greenwich Village would be a hate crime waiting to happen.

JISELA The perky Latina is bubbly and fun, yet her temper means she could blow up at any second. (Think Melissa from Miami.) Every Winnebago should have it’s own J. Lo!

BLAIR This formerly fat Gavin Rossdale lookalike loves to have deep discussions. (Think Hawaii’s Matt, who made himself wild Ruthie’s unofficial AA sponsor, even though he didn’t know a five-day chip from a Wow! chip.) His soulful gaze and wounded past will give him permission to sound off about everyone else’s lives — especially on a seemingly endless road trip.

SOPHIA As the only lesbian in the finals, she had the gay slot all tied up. They could have gone with Segun, the African American guy who constantly protests that he isn’t a homosexual, even though he sleeps with lotion gloves and says, ”It’s not feminine just because I like to look pretty.” ”The Real World” did the ”is he or isn’t he?” thing already with Seattle’s Stephen, and, well, they don’t need another slap on their hands. (On a side note, Segun made the saddest and most telling comment when he said, ”If I can’t make it on the show ‘The Real World,’ then how will I make it IN the real world?” You may now commence weeping for the future of our camera-whore society.)

MALIK He has an unusual name, always a plus for a potential ”Real World”er. Plus, he’s got a mushroom-cloud Afro that makes MTV look retro-hipper by the minute.

ELLEN Quick to judge and quick to go off when she herself is judged: ”Kiss my baby ass!” she yelled at Coral, instantly spawning a catchphrase that will be sweeping nurseries. (Think Miami’s Flora.) They’ll likely split her and the self-righteous Coral onto different shows, as they’ll want her to find brand-new kissers of her baby ass.

Who did you like, and who do you think SHOULD have made the show?

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