Theo starts making sense. Switching jobs sends the roomies into a loop of overreaction. Josh Wolk observes
The Real World
Credit: The Real World Chicago: MTV

Theo starts making sense

On the April 30 episode of ”The Real World,” the summer was over so the housemates’ jobs ended. To every season, turn, turn, turn. And to every job ending, overreact, overreact, overreact. The roomies would be getting a new mystery job, so Kyle repeatedly pontificated that everything — EVERYTHING! — in their lives was about to completely — COMPLETELY! — change. What did he think their next job would be: Astronauts? Pimps? Soldiers in Afghanistan? With all his fretting and dramatizing, it seemed like they were all about to leave for prison. (Now there’s a show I’d pay to see: ”Real World: Joliet State Penitentiary.” It’s about what happens when seven strangers are picked to live in a big house and stop being themselves and start to be traded for cigarettes.)

But before this new job was revealed (and the producers built up the suspense as if it was ”Who Shot J.R.?”), we had to endure 20 minutes of uplifting closure footage. Kyle, Keri, and Chris took pictures with all their fellow lifeguards, and mused about how they’ll miss their beach duties because it gave them lots of thinking time. ”No other job will offer me that kind of peace,” said Kyle. Yeah, it’s peaceful until some rude person decides to make a big scene with all their, ”Wah, wah, wah, I can’t swim. Look at me, I’m drowning!” crap. Honestly, how is Kyle supposed to soul-search about whether or not he should cop a feel off Keri with all that arm-waving and splashing going on?

Over at Project Mural, the foursome of Tonya, Theo, Cara, and Aneesa prepared for the final presentation of the kids’ artwork. Theo’s attempts to get Nelson, the Forest Whitaker lookalike, to stay away from trouble were touching, but Aneesa provided a lovely egotistical antidote to all of his sensitivity. Her closing statement about the mural experience was that she wants to be the person who, in 10 years, the kids will still think about and say, ”She really inspired me.” Forget that these kids might go on to have a better life: The best thing about helping them is that they will then revere her forever. Leave it to Aneesa to put the ”self” in self-sacrifice. If, when she gets older, she ever has a wife who wants kids while Aneesa doesn’t, all her missus will have to say is, ”Think of it this way, Aneesa: instant minions!” and she’ll be signing up for in-vitro before you can say ”Anne Heche.”

By the second commercial break, I was feeling a bit bored with all these touchy-feely moments, especially coming off last week’s adventures of Tonya’s blood clot. Then MTV played another one of those goofy City High ”Real World” tunes: its lyric, ”Will the lies and the lack of trust/eventually cause the house to break up?” was laughably paradoxical considering the last segment ended with Cara and Aneesa happily harmonizing. (A more appropriate lyric would have been, ”Why can’t they do anything dramatic/watching happy Real Worlders is just like watching static.”)

But it turned out City High was providing an apt introduction for the next raucous segment. The roomies’ new job was revealed, and it was to put on plays for children for Halloween. (Boy, Kyle was right: This would completely rock their world! One minute, they’re not in costume, the next…they are! Down is up; up is down!) Everyone was happy about this project except Theo, who felt that Halloween should not be celebrated, what with it being the devil’s holiday and all. Considering he started the episode with an incredibly respectable moment helping Nelson, and then came crashing back down with this kooky comment, I’m beginning to think that the roommates’ behavior is always a zero-sum game on the sanity scale.

I realized then that Kyle’s constant worrying about them all working together was just foreshadowing. On the septet’s ride home, Keri started proposing a story that they could turn into a play, which culminated with a young woman being hanged. Theo, who apparently realized that his anti-Halloween stance was not going to fly, said he liked the story except for the hanging part: His slave ancestors were hanged, so that made him uncomfortable. At first I, like his roommates, thought he was being silly, but this was more because after his Halloween comment it seemed like he was just being contrary about everything. But when Tonya complained that nobody except him thought there was anything racist about it, it occurred to me that that may have been because they were all white. (Aneesa said she saw Theo’s point.) Frankly, I’m guessing that back in the day, none of the slave owners thought slavery was all that racist. Not to say the roommates advocate slavery, but whether Theo is overreacting or not, a bunch of white people might not be the best judge of what a black person should find offensive.

But regardless of what side you’re on, Theo did make a good point. (No, not when he called Kyle a smart-ass bitch. Although that was an interesting debate strategy.) He said that there were lots of other types of execution available, like beheading, so why not use one of those to make him feel better? Keri wasn’t exactly telling a true story, so what’s the harm of a fact change? It’s not like they’re doing a story on the JFK assassination and Theo wanted to change the cause of death from shooting to kidney failure. Could it be that Theo — the man who feared Halloween — could be right? To every episode, surprise, surprise, surprise.

Who’s your favorite (or least favorite) Real Worlder?

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