Josh Wolk says the ''Real World'' babe is growing up -- and the prospect is a little frightening
The Real World
Credit: The Real World: Jason Campbell/MTV

Is Rachel becoming a naughty girl?

What will become of Rachel? The 18-year-old cherub who hasn’t quite lost all her baby fat has skipped around the periphery of her roommates all season, commenting on their arguments and debauchery as their Meek Chorus (and occasionally weeping when someone turns to lash out at her). But the Nov. 6 episode of ”The Real World” turned the spotlight on her as she decided she did not want to be the good little girl anymore. That can’t be good news.

Apparently only-child Rachel is very circumspect in approaching anything remotely approaching contraband activities, for fear of what her mother back home in Chicago will say. This can include smoking, drinking, and general partying, but I suspect she’s also nervous about wearing short pants and saying the word ”jiminy.” So, to get started, she accompanied her male roommates and some visiting Road Rulers to a strip bar — an outing she did not enjoy. Perhaps she should have taken baby steps toward the wild life instead of just lunging for porn and booze right off the bat: Start with a glass of Tequiza and a Lane Bryant catalog, THEN work your way up to Flashdancers.

Even though Rachel didn’t like the club, her mom’s head will still explode when she sees her daughter in this den of flesh. This is the mother who calls to warn Rachel that she might get raped, or, when she’s not home, grills whichever roommate answers the phone on where her daughter is, and tells them they shouldn’t let her out alone. Now if that isn’t an instruction manual on how to build a rebellious teen, I don’t know what is.

And that’s why I cringed when Rachel announced that she was going to stop living in fear of her mother’s opinion and start doing what she wanted. The show’s producers were no help, juxtaposing the sound of Rachel’s ma calling and grilling Kevin on her whereabouts with footage of Rachel going to a concert, visiting backstage, and — gasp! — getting into the band’s limo. Maybe it comes from watching too many Lifetime movies, but I suddenly pictured how this was all going to end: crack pipe, hotpants, turning tricks down by the tunnel yelling, ”Fifty bucks to go around the real world!” Granted, this episode ended with Rachel sitting on the house pool table telling Coral and Nicole how cool the limo was, but for a second there it looked like it could have gone either way. Here’s hoping next week doesn’t have any surprises for us.

While Rachel was out taking bad-girl lessons, Malik was getting lessons in the ways of love from ”Road Rules”’ Gisela, who visited with her own female cast members and ended up in bed with the afro’d one. I don’t like to begrudge Malik his happiness — the two of them make a cute couple — but I was wondering why the Road Rulers came in the first place. Were they suffering camera withdrawal after their show ended? I can see them all sitting at home bored, when Sophia yells, ”Wait a minute! I know where there are cameras! Quick, into the Fame-mobile!” If I ever tune into ”Becoming” and see Gisela pretending to be in a Jennifer Lopez video, I’ll know she needs an intervention.

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