Theo battles his housemates and scares the ladies. But Josh Wolk wonders if he's really as angry as he seems or if it's mostly an MTV editing trick
The Real World
Credit: Real World Chicago: MTV

Theo battles his housemates and scares the ladies

Theo has been awfully quiet since the first episode of ”The Real World,” hasn’t he? One minute he was pining for the love of a lesbian, the next he was relegated to background scenery while Kyle and Keri’s endless flirtation (don’t the romantic travails of really attractive people just tear you up inside?) and Tonya’s magical kidney took center stage. But the Feb. 12 episode was a reminder that just because Theo wasn’t able to convert Aneesa into a playa-lova doesn’t mean he’s going to give up the spotlight.

The episode began with the conclusion to last week’s non-issue of a dust-up between Keri and Kyle. Cara protested that she didn’t want to get in the middle of their fight, even though she coincidentally appears in the middle of EVERY controversy, looking at the players with the kind of dramatically furrowed brow usually seen on Jenny Jones’ guest therapists. But the high point was watching a clearly drunk and slurring Kyle try to have a emotional conversation. You could see the effort he was putting into rearranging his facial features into a concerned expression, a difficult feat considering his heavy eyelids were blinking at different times.

But this logorrheic mess was just an excuse to get the couple home to ”Theo After Dark.” Theo had apparently invited 15 of his closest new friends to a hot tub party, where one of his guests thanked him by puking in their shower, apparently on Aneesa’s shampoo. (We never saw the actual puking, but after New York Nicole’s retchfest last season, we know that this was not about restraint, just about MTV not having the footage.) The roommates were understandably annoyed by this, but Theo declined responsibility, saying, ”I didn’t give her the drinks, so I didn’t make her throw up.” It was a brilliant defense worthy of Johnnie Cochran: ”If the drinks I did not make her scarf, then you must ignore the barf.”

At first you thought, okay, it was the stress of being a good host that made him so defensive. Once everyone had a good sleep and woke up to the refreshing odor of Lysol, clearer heads would prevail. But no. Once Theo woke to the sounds of Aneesa complaining of her regurgitation-stained shampoo, it was instant combustion. Theo showed more of his debate skills with his cogent and bulletproof argument that Aneesa should ”Shut the f—up! Shut up!” Well played! Perhaps Clarence Darrow could have won the Scopes Monkey Trial had he used this approach: ”Shut the f— up! I’ll talk about f—ing evolution if I want, William Jennings Bitch!”

Later Chris tried his hand at reasoning with Theo, explaining that perhaps — just perhaps — it was rude for one roommate to start a house party without checking with the others whether or not they were in the mood. Theo stuck to the time-honored delusional ”Real World”er theory that if everybody else wants one thing, but you want another, it is selfish of THEM, not you. ”I ain’t no punk,” he told Chris. ”Don’t treat me that way. If I want, they will be there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…” Well, the least he can do is make sure they vomit different places on different days, just to keep things fresh.

But this was just the beginning of Theo’s troublemaking. Tonya called from Walla Walla to tell Kyle that, ”I have such good news for you guys!” and she only had three kidney stones left and she was coming home! Tonya apparently does not realize that everyone in the house has forgotten she existed, but, well, it’s good news for her, so why shouldn’t it change their lives for the better? However, while she was on the phone, the show kept intercutting to shots of Theo forcefully brushing his teeth like he was mad at them, all meant to be ominously foreshadowing. Not sure how dental hygiene was meant to symbolize brewing rage, but the way they stuck it in it was supposed to have the same effect as if he were sharpening a knife, picking human flesh out from between his teeth, and singing to a haunted doll.

The trouble came when Theo, angry that Tonya was on the phone indefinitely cooing to her boyfriend, screamed at her and disconnected her call. In return, Tonya threw a glass at him because she felt threatened. Unfortunately there was no footage of the fight. Once again, this was not a discretion thing; considering that MTV reruns the Stephen/Irene Seattle slap footage as often as a Pink video, they’d probably insert Tonya’s glass-tossing into the show’s opening credits if they had it. Tonya alluded to this confrontation bringing back bad experiences she’s had with violent men. However, I’m wondering if this doesn’t have more to do with what she said in the first episode, that she was frightened by black people.

Kyle sat Theo down. Theo — after first snapping back into his ”I gotta be me!” defense — eventually conceded that he didn’t want the house women to be frightened of him, and first apologized to Cara, who once again stated vehemently that she hated taking sides, yet radiated the tut-tutting air of a patronizing nun. Tonya would not talk to him, apparently still feeling unsafe, and she quickly brushed him off to return to the company of white people…er, I mean, ”safe people.”

I suspect Theo is getting a bit of a bad rap. Whenever you see ex-”Real World”ers interviewed, their main complaint is that editing made them look more crazy/promiscuous/angry/insert derogatory adjective here than they really were. Normally I chalk that up to bitter people just trying to get in the way of my good time of judging them, but after watching this Theo-is-a-time-bomb episode, I had to concede they might have a point.

Up until this show, we knew little about Theo other than that he has terrible gaydar and he’s not a great swimmer. But suddenly, in just one episode he’s revealed to be a stubborn, selfish, swearing, lunatic. I’m not saying his behavior wasn’t irritating and immature, but did it all really occur in the same two days, as it seemed on the show? By cramming all his misdeeds together, he’s an ”Instant Ass…just add Linkin Park music!” Now will he fade back into the show background until the producers can gather up enough controversy for another damning episode?

What do you think? Is Theo getting a fair shake?

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