Is the bed big enough for Irulan, Alton, AND Gabe? Sure, Irulan admires Alton's endowments, but Josh Wolk sees a familiar pattern emerging as her boyfriend Gabe prepares to visit his straying hottie
The Real World
Credit: The Real World: MTV

Is the bed big enough for Irulan, Alton, AND Gabe?

I usually feel dirty after an evening of watching “The Real World.” But after the Nov. 5 episode, I felt just a wee bit dirtier, as if on my regular walk home from mudwrestling, this time I stepped in dog crap. Why? Because it was Election Night, and instead of watching the news slowly disclose which direction the very fate of our country would be headed, at 10 p.m. I switched over to watch “The Real World.”

I suppose I could rationalize it as method viewing. The participants in this show are historically the most self-involved people on the planet: A tidal wave could kill thousands in a neighboring city, and one of them would burst into tears, wailing that it was bringing up horrible memories about a time her father sprayed her with a Super Soaker.

So concentrating on the Vegas Seven’s tiny worries in lieu of our country’s was the ultimate “Real World” viewing experience. It was also, however, a depressing mirror of our country’s low prioritizing of voting, judging by the usual tepid voter turnout. But enough bemoaning the state of our political system, let’s talk about the “Real World” housemates: goodness knows they would want it that way.

Considering how this series has up until now found entirely delightfully fresh freaky adventures for its roommates to embark upon (most involving the groinal regions), it was disappointing to see it now heading down familiar paths tread on by past casts aplenty. Like Irulan’s long-distance relationship with boyfriend Gabe. Yawn. Sure, there was the added twist of her flirtation with Alton, but it’s still just filler compared to a hot-tub threesome. (I hate to keep coming back to that, but not doing so is like talking about “Citizen Kane” and not mentioning Rosebud.)

Her attraction to Alton was sealed when he pranced around the penthouse naked. “Irulan was captivated by his wood,” was the way that hopeless romantic Steven phrased it. We actually saw a slow-motion replay of her putting her fluttering hand to her chest when seeing him swing by; in the old days, true love was depicted by a man and woman running toward each other in a field of tall grass. Now, thanks to MTV, it’s the vision of a girl swooning at a guy’s dangling genitals.

Irulan was clearly struggling over Gabe. Not so much over whether or not to dump him for Alton, but rather how to do so while still making it seem like Gabe’s fault. First she tore into him for never sending her care packages, while her other roommates got flowers. Then she got angry for his not supporting her during her stressful “journey.” So she’s mad at him for not being more sympathetic to the fact that she’s left him to go be on TV and work at a club surrounded by drooling guys? Wherever Gabe is, I’m sure he’s STILL trying to work this all out on graph paper.

Irulan and Alton continued to flirt, using the tried-and-true high school method of testing the waters by telling each other they “used to” have a crush on them. Finally, after a night out sampling the city’s finest male strippers, Irulan came home and jumped Alton. (Perhaps she was spurred on by the aphrodisiacal odors of the classic Chippendale bow tie.) They made out, kicking Frank out of the room (poor guy: he’s like the house nomad, constantly in a quest to find the one bodily fluid-free room in which to catch some shuteye), until finally Alton called it off, leaving us to wonder what will happen next week when Gabe arrives. This gives us seven days of anticipatory sympathy, since there’s no less enviable “Real World” role than that of the oblivious visiting cuckold.

Then we had the story of Trishelle’s purported eating disorder, a retread of Cara’s struggles in Chicago last season: The main difference being that when you pinch Cara’s side, she freaks out; when you pinch Trishelle’s side, she puts out. Irulan and Arissa seemed sure she was bulimic, but when Frank heard, he adamantly disagreed. I think his vehement reaction was more out of disbelief that there could be yet another psychological hiccup in his house left to be disclosed. (Not to mention, if Trishelle’s throwing up in the bathroom, that’s one less room he can sleep in when kicked out of his bedroom.)

Trishelle denied the eating disorder, saying the reason she’d been throwing up is that she has had “a really bad stomach since I was 16 years old.” Yeah, it’s just a pesky bug she’s been trying to kick FOR SIX FRIGGIN’ YEARS. Well, perhaps it’s good some people don’t vote.

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