Tonya rages against the housemates. Back-stabbing, breast implants, and a low-budget spook show consume the Chicago cast on their return from New England, says Josh Wolk
The Real World

Tonya rages against the housemates

While everyone else was on the Boston road trip (June 11 episode), Tonya was left alone to do some soul-searching, which is what ”Real World”ers do best. She extrapolated on how her roommates don’t understand her — CAN’T understand her — because she won’t make connections with people since she’s scared of being abandoned, as she was by her family.

This kind of self-awareness is as omnipresent in ”Real World” series as a curvy couch. Housemates are trained to go into a confessional and dissect exactly what is wrong with themselves emotionally and what they need to change… yet no one ever actually does anything about these calm self-analyses. They just say, ”I can be a bitch, and I shouldn’t be,” and then leave the camera and act like a bitch. These penitent, what-you-want-to-hear admisions are like a prisoner’s speech to a parole board.

Meanwhile, her six roomies were off doing such high-minded research as visiting costume shops, attending ”Spooky World,” and going for a Maine boat ride. What, they couldn’t get the extra grant to allow them a fact-finding trip to the Hedonism Resort and an opium den? Cara explained that Spooky World ”is a world of… spooks.” Sure, MTV provides plenty of sex books in the house, but no thesaurus?

Research aside, the real point of the trip was so the roomies could talk about how close they were becoming, and how it was much easier to do so without Tonya. This ”all for one… except her” bonding was juxtaposed with shots of Tonya angrily talking about how she knew they were talking about her behind her back. One scene juxtaposed her ranting with a shot of her driving a car, all with jittery, grinding rock played underneath, which gave the distinct impression that she was motoring to buy a 9mm to put this whole ”roommate” problem to rest once and for all.

The traveling sextet arrived home, and everyone, including Tonya, embraced warmly (does their doormat say, ”Home Hypocritical Home”?), and they all set about preparing their show, which they had five days left to do. Cara was the director, and what followed was like a parody of a self-serious theater troupe, with Cara kicking it off with my new favorite ”Real World” quote: ”Okay, places for ‘Midnight Ghost’!”

She then critiqued Keri’s intonation, told Aneesa to act less flirtatious, and instructed Tonya to speak more ”like you’re a ghost.” I am sure that the eight-year-old audience for ”Midnight Ghost” will appreciate such nuances — in between fervent explorations into their own candy bags and attempts to give the friend sitting next to them a Wet Willie.

Later, Chris pulled Tonya aside to ”make amends,” as the tenets of AA told him to do. Unfortunately for the rest of the roommates, who have no such allegiance to their higher power, this involved hinting to Tonya that everyone else was talking trash about her. Dude: have the courage to own up to things, the serenity to hold back on being a tattletale, and the wisdom to know the difference!

This all led into a big showdown with Cara being accused by Tonya of telling everyone about her fake boobs, which I normally would have enjoyed immensely, but this time something about the way it was edited nagged at me. Ex-”Real World” stars coming off the show complaining about how the editing made them look bad is such a surefire recurring annual act that I change my smoke alarm batteries by it. And usually I shrug it off, thinking that no matter how the show is edited, the roomies did say the stuff in the footage, so it must reflect some kind of truth. But this episode gave me my doubts.

First there was the scene where Cara lay in bed giggling with Keri and Kyle about how Tonya’s fake breasts are ”huge, saline and tan,” intercut with Tonya in the bathroom washing up. It was obviously meant to imply that Tonya could hear them, but we saw no reaction from her to suggest that she actually did.

What followed were a bunch of Tonya confessionals raging about Cara, many taken from different sittings, judging from her hair. I repeatedly played back her damning quote that Cara’s telling everyone about her enhancements was ”brutal, cruel and unfair, and it really stems from the fact that every woman I live with is very jealous of me,” and I noticed about four audio edits in the middle of that sentence, as if it had been assembled from many different conversations. It reminded me of that old spy-movie trope where they take a tape recording of someone’s voice, and extract and rearrange various syllables to get through a voice-activated lock.

As for Tonya’s accusation of Cara telling all about her boobs, who’s to know? We saw archival footage of Tonya telling Cara about her fakeys, all while saying Cara didn’t need enhancements herself, she was already gorgeous. (We then cut to Cara cupping her own breasts, looking so pleased with this compliment. ”Okay, places for ‘Self-Esteem Showcase’!”)

So yes, the editing with Cara joking with Keri and Kyle made it seem like she did blab. Then again, it seemed in that scene like the other two already knew about said boobies, and Cara maintains that Tonya had already told the other women, too. Normally I would sweep aside such mysteries and just enjoy the shouting, but with someone as indefinably nutty as Tonya seems to be, I really need the facts straight in this Spooky World to gauge just what phylum of loon she belongs in.

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