Intra-house battles continue, but one roommate seems to be backing off, says Josh Wolk
The Real World
Credit: The Real World: MTV

Nicole lashes out, while Coral turns (gasp!) nice

For any of you who were saddened by early predictions that irony was dead, you’ll be relieved to know that it will never rest in peace as long as Nicole is around. It was given healthy vital signs on the Oct. 16 ”The Real World” when she began lashing out at Mike — who was designing a Dido window display with her, Malik, and Rachel — for not being a ”team player.” When Malik gently injected that perhaps she shouldn’t yell at Mike, she told him to butt out, and yelled that she’ll do what she damn well pleases. Now that’s teamwork! Perhaps no one told Rachel that not only is there no ”I” in ”team,” but there is also no ”shut the hell up and don’t tell me what to do!”

Soon after, ”team player” Nicole told her windowmates that even though everybody but her (including professional window adviser Gretchen) wanted a Dido poster in the display, they would have to ”kill her” before putting it up. Why? Because it was ”tacky”: This critique coming from someone slathered in eye shadow that even Wayland Flowers’ Madame would say was over the top. That’s like an irony sundae with a big ol’ irony cherry on top! (With a layer of non-self-awareness hot fudge sauce separating the two, of course. And here endeth the ice cream metaphor.)

While Mike and Nicole’s constant bickering was same old, same old, an interesting change was being hinted at in the background: Coral was slowly turning into a tolerable person while no one was looking. At first you could only spot the difference by what you weren’t seeing. When Mike and Nicole loudly debated the age-old ”Cussing vs. Finger-Waving: Which Is More Hateful?” dilemma out on the street, Coral just giggled about the scene with Kevin. The Coral of a few weeks ago would have rolled up her sleeves and double-teamed with Nicole, jumping on her shoulders to make it easier to look down on Mike as Coral browbeat him. But no, she stayed out of it.

But by the end of the show, she was actually mock-wrestling with Mike as he stomped around the room with a plastic championship belt, calling himself ”The Miz.” (Side note: What was with his choosing a name that sounds like ”Les Miz”? Is he supposed to be a bruiser Jean Valjean? Does he wield a stolen baguette instead of a folding chair? Someone should tell ol’ Mikey that to maximize machismo, wrestling names should not echo Broadway musicals.) But while I mocked Mike in my own head at home, Coral gamely jumped into the ring with him; it was a tender détente, even if it involved her mock-slamming his head into the fridge.

It was such a gradual thaw that you really believed the two could be friends from now on. The behavioral shifts to doubt on ”The Real World” are the ones that come abruptly, usually ending with a big hug, much like Nicole’s house meeting to apologize for being so cruel, and to promise to change. If I’ve learned anything from grand penitent gestures to the house and promises for self-evaluation (like those offered up by New Orleans’ David and Los Angeles’ Tami), it’s that they only last as long as the matchbox twenty song accompanying the closing credits. Then the next week it’s back to antisocial behavior as usual. So see you next week, Nicole! And don’t forget the bitchiness butterscotch for your sundae!

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