A love triangle, the death penalty, and more -- Alton is torn between remembering the loss of his brother and his newfound feelings for Irulan, says Josh Wolk
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The Real World

A love triangle, the death penalty, and more

It’s a good thing I stretched out before watching the Nov. 12 episode of ”The Real World.” Otherwise I might have thrown my neck out doing a triple-take when, in the midst of the usual nattering about crushes and fooling around, Alton casually mentioned that his younger brother had been abducted and killed years ago, and his family was about to go to trial to seek the death penalty for the killer.

Why wasn’t this mentioned before? More importantly, why was it mentioned so cursorily? It felt like 82 percent of this episode was devoted to either Alton wondering if Irulan was telling Gabe about their fling, or Irulan saying how great Gabe was (while not telling him about her fling). Wouldn’t Alton’s family trauma be a far more interesting (albeit horrific) and nuanced topic to explore than a love triangle that you could find in any high-school hallway? It was like watching the final moments of a tied championship basketball game on TV, and having all the cameras suddenly cut to some guy in the stands with a funny wig.

Apparently, the producers don’t find Alton’s past as compelling as I do. Near the end of the episode, they showed Alton rock climbing, which he found very meditative. They then intercut him sitting him on a rock with what they assumed he was thinking about: cobbled-together video and voiceover of him saying how he found Irulan cute. No sir, there’s no way he could have been reflecting on, say, THE MURDER OF HIS YOUNGER BROTHER. In their minds, the producers saw no reason why he wouldn’t be thinking only about topics directly related to their insular penthouse world. Which makes these producers as self-involved as Irulan.

Yes, Irulan, who classily made out with Alton the night before her boyfriend arrived. She squealed with excitement when Gabe called from the lobby, running down to smooch him. It would have been a lot more touching if she had actually picked him up at the airport, rather than making him take a cab to her. Well, it is technically a long elevator ride down to the lobby, so she did make some sacrifices.

As I mentioned earlier, Alton unceasingly fretted over whether Gabe would find out about his fling with Irulan. The more he worried, the closer he came to just blurting it out himself. When the two guys sat outside to smoke, Alton said dead giveaway stuff like, ”You know for a fact you can trust her, right?” and ”She’s really beautiful, really hot.” Is this how Alton plays it cool? This was like one of those hack sitcom moments where a man is trying not to stare at a bombshell’s enormous chest and keeps saying things like, ”Well, I wish you the breast…I mean best! Hopefully this will jug your memory…I mean jog! Boob. I mean hello!”

Irulan emphatically told Gabe that while she had kissed a guy, it was innocent, and that he would not be surprised by anything he saw later. (Yet his finding out said kiss was administered by her roommate, and one whom Gabe had befriended, would be the very definition of a surprise.) She explained later in the show that ”I come clean on things, but I have to do it on my own time and little by little, and Gabe understands that.” Basically, this means that in Irulan’s mind lying is just part of the truth-telling process, which makes it okay.

Then she told him that she only made out with Alton because she didn’t realize that Gabe would come to town with feelings for her (although why else would a guy fly in from Boston?). And finally, she tried to make Gabe feel guilty for not being more sensitive to her cheating needs, considering she’s stuck out in ”Sin City” surrounded by roomies who are hooking up all the time. All in all, this was the biggest mindf— since Amy Irving made John Cassavetes’ head blow up in ”The Fury.”

In the end, Gabe was mildly peeved, but was quickly squired back into a cab to the airport, allowing Irulan enough time in the elevator to wipe away her tears, come back into the apartment, and pat Alton on the ass. The producers must have been thrilled to see her leap back into the game and distract Alton from all that boring death-penalty talk. That deep stuff is fine for Kurt Loder, but dammit, ”The Real World” has got a hot tub to fill.

What did you think of the latest episode of ”The Real World”?

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