But Josh Wolk warns the entire cast to develop a strong work ethic if they hope to survive the coming recession

By Josh Wolk
Updated September 26, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
The Real World: MTV

The Real World

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Lori tries to launch her singing career

Life goes on in New York in the oblivious (and now even more ironically titled) ”Real World,” which was taped before September 11. There is something slightly jarring about seeing the self-involved seven trot carefree around the city, considering that now, about a mile and a half south of where they lived, there is a gaping, smoking rubble heap where more than 6,000 people may have died. While the show has no shots of the World Trade Center (this group would never think to visit the Financial District: too nerdy!), small moments take an eerie tinge that they would never have had a month ago. For example, last night when the group stood in front of Madison Square Garden, waving signs and flags, my first thought was, ”Is that a demonstration? A riot?” No, they were just advertising record label Arista’s bands. But all that yelling just put me on edge.

MTV has stated that although this season was taped before the attacks, it will continue ”unaltered as a tribute to this great city.” I applaud that approach, as I think there is too much overreaction in TV and movies now about excising anything depicting pre-tragedy New York. However, considering the show we’re dealing with, perhaps the wording is a bit grandiose. After all, a series about seven bickering whiners is hardly the tribute this city deserves. Woody Allen’s ”Manhattan,” maybe. ”The Real World,” I think not.

That said, life continued apace in our parallel ”Real World.” Everybody seems to be inexplicably getting along better, which at least makes the show a more palatable escape right now. And that wasn’t the only turnaround. Suddenly, Nicole and Coral emerged as the hardest workers on the Arista street team. This sudden work ethic would be impressive, were the job not so simple that it would be harder work not to get charged up for it.

They’re trying to get kids to like rock music, for goodness sake, not doing heavy filing. The others, on the other hand, could barely muster the ability to get to work on time. Here’s a helpful hint to this bunch as they pursue post-show employment: Considering the looming recession, you might want to learn a little phrase called ”work ethic,” because when a camera crew isn’t following you around, bosses aren’t as willing to let things slide.

And speaking of a misplaced sense of entitlement, this brings us to Lori, who professed complete frustration at the illogic of working at a record label…but not singing there! It’s like a ”Twilight Zone” episode for poor Lori! After all, what does an intern have to do to get a record deal around here? What next? No masseuse?

Later in the show the group was introduced to label chief L.A. Reid. Lori’s roomies subsequently urged her to drop her CD off at his office, and she began wondering whether she should make an appointment to give it to him, or just swing by. Hmmm, let’s see, an intern wants to pester the CEO with her own hopes and dreams of stardom. How best to maximize the horrible inappropriateness of that situation? How about just drop from the ceiling and shove the CD in his mouth? Or better yet, find out where he lives, hide in his closet, and jump out singing at around 3:00 a.m. I kept cringing at the potential moment when she might actually try to hit him up for a record deal. And yet, part of me was secretly hoping to see how Reid would balance the pressure to look good for the MTV cameras with his desire to call security. Alas, Lori never followed through.

She did manage to suck up to a music editor at the record company, and convince him to listen to her demo. I was hoping that someone would finally deliver a realistically harsh blow to her, but he was actually encouraging and said he wanted to work with her. Mind you, it’s not that I wish ill to Lori. It’s just that year after year fame seekers join ”The Real World” assuming it is a shortcut to fame, and nothing about the shooting process dissuades them from thinking that’s a valid leapfrog: Everyone they deal with gives them what they want since they’re trailing a camera crew, and nobody wants to look bad.

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But take a roll call of nine years’ worth of ”Real World” alumni: The only one who currently has a respectable show biz job is London’s Jacinda, now on CBS’ ”Citizen Baines.” Yes, Puck is widely known, but only because his name is shorthand for ”pain in the ass,” not because anybody wants to actually meet or work with him. So for her own sake, Lori should not be given an unrealistic vision of how easy a recording career would be after she leaves the show. Right now, this show has about all the unreality I can take.

The Real World

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