MTV's reality show gets back into its diss-and-tell groove, says Josh Wolk
The Real World
Credit: The Real World: MTV

Lori is shown the door(man)

After I was touched by last week’s episode about Malik and Mike’s families, I started to worry about myself. Had recent events so turned my world upside down that I was starting to relate to the self-involved seven? Perhaps it was the fact that they and I both live in New York: Was I subconsciously bonding with them over the fact that our city was attacked? Would I soon be empathizing with Nicole, yelling at my TV, ”That’s right, Mike SHOULDN’T have breathed so loudly!”

Fortunately, the Oct. 9 ”Real World” snapped me out of this dangerous rut, and I was back to snickering at, not with, them. Let’s take the ”Kiss-Ass” incident, where the house girls accused the boys of sucking up to their Arista bosses. (And yes, you should recognize that I use the diminutive ”girls” and ”boys” over ”women” and ”men.”) Yes, Malik, Kevin, and Mike are committing the unforgivable crime of loving their jobs, and the bosses are falling into that age-old trap of rewarding their employees for doing good work. Damn this free market system!

These events unsettlingly brought me back to junior high, when it was uncool to be smart. If you had the audacity to look like you were studying hard or actually enjoying the subject matter, then a scarlet ”Nerd” patch was affixed to your Members Only jacket.

That kind of anti-effort attitude doesn’t have to end at age 15 — not when the ”Real World” girls are around to craft a poster for over Mike’s bed that says ”Arista Kiss-Ass and Proud.” (Time that could have otherwise been spent, doing…I don’t know…their job? Naaaah, too easy.) Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to have cowed the boys any. They’ll probably climb the Arista ladder, going on to bigger and better things, like, say, making a nacho platter for Outkast or scouring stores for the brand of dental floss that Pink can’t live without.

For true symmetry, this week’s episode showed Lori on the offensive (she was the one who drew the poster) and the defensive. After the girls decided they’d all go on one date in New York (Rachel added the rule that it couldn’t be someone from home, leading one to queasily wonder whether cousin-dating was normally a valid backup plan for her), Lori decided to hit on Jerry, the Harry Winston jewelry store doorman. After all, he had it all: good lucks, charm, and complete dominion over a door. (You want to go in? You talk to Jerry! You want out? Jerry’s your man! You just want to stand in the doorway and enjoy a breeze? You’ve got to clear it with the J-man!)

To be fair to Jerry, it must be a little discombobulating when someone starts flirting with you and they’re trailed by a camera crew, as the pressure to appear cool must multiply by about a million. So I’ll give him a little leeway in not telling Lori right away that he was very involved with someone, even though she was clearly flirting. After all, you don’t just want to blurt out, ”I have a girlfriend!” to the camera, for fear of looking whipped: Considering that you’re already being shown on TV opening the door for rich people, your ego might already be a bit defensive.

But after the first meeting, he clearly had been rehearsing what to say when she arrived for her tour, considering his suave welcoming line, ”Brinks showed up and they said they brought a whole lot of cash, and whatever you wanted, they would totally pay for.” (That is SO Jerry: funny as a trapdoor, but as smooth as a revolving one.) So you would think that in that time he would have also come up with a better way to mention the existence of his girlfriend than waiting for Lori to ask him out so he could just shrug, wince, and finally say, ”I’m practically married.”

When his girlfriend sees this, his last-minute honesty probably will not erase the vision of his pre-revelation flirting. Maybe she’ll be so angry that his whole ”practically married” status will change abruptly. Hey, Jerry, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!

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