March 05, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

The Real World

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
Documentary, Reality TV

Alton’s drunken ramblings cause trouble at home

Each time around, MTV lengthens the seasons of ”The Real World.” ”Chicago” ran for 24 episodes, and before that, ”New York” was 22. On March 4 we hit the 24th episode of ”Las Vegas,” and there seems to be no end in sight. Can anyone remember a time when they weren’t watching this group? Was Nixon president? I seem to remember watching the first couple of episodes on a kinescope.

The sheer length of this season has made me disoriented and dizzy, which, it turns out, was the proper mood to be in to relate to Alton’s drunkenness. While snockered at a bar, Alton had some sort of complicated Rube Goldbergian mishap where, as near as I could tell, he hit a woman named Sarah’s hand — which poked a hamster who chewed through a rope, which dropped a bowling ball, which startled a rooster who pecked at a bell, which knocked over Alton’s drink and made him repeatedly call Sarah a ”piece of dirt.”

Alton’s drunken ramblings should be taped for a special, called ”Scared Sober,” and broadcast at bars all over America to cure alcoholism. Imbibers who had previously not been moved to abstain after losing their jobs, families, and houses would stare with disbelief at Alton, grimace at his ridiculousness, then push their bourbons away in exchange for a club soda.

Sarah’s male friend came over to stand up for her, and Alton picked a fight with his equally hairless foe in a manner that seemed to be a metaphor for Bush’s approach on Iraq: Alton kept saying how he didn’t want to fight, but he would if he had to. I was waiting for Alton to call Sarah an evildoer who spills drinks on her own people.

Alton finally got Sarah’s friend to step outside with his dramatic go-to-commercial cry of ”You know what, let’s dance!” (This sound bite had clearly been edited in from another time, probably from him actually asking Irulan to dance.) I felt a fresh wave of bloodlust: Now we’d finally be seeing something! But of course, when we came back from commercial, all we got was Alton blathering more explanations and veiled threats, and then stumbling back to the bar. It was the Mumble in the Jungle.

Alton was later angry with Frank for not backing him up. I found it ironic that the cameras eagerly taped this accusation, yet in the parking lot they had literally filmed Alton’s altercation while hiding under a car, just capturing Alton’s angry feet. When he later vented his rage at Frank, it was hilarious watching him try to maintain his carefully created image as the sensitive guy while his drunken loss of inhibitions couldn’t stop the actual Alton from busting through.

Take this sentence, for instance: ”The way you turned your back and started rubbing your bitch’s hand — and I’m not even calling her a bitch, I don’t call women bitches — but you were rubbing your bitch’s hand…” If Irulan ever wondered how he could profess his love for her while stumbling off for a threesome, that sentence should explain it all. Alton: instant hypocrite, just add Jack and Coke.

Meanwhile, Trishelle was still swooning over Steven’s admission that he might have feelings for her. (Although he seemed to be vacillating: seems his feelings depend on how tight his pants are that day.) We got a lush, swooning montage of her shopping for just the right birthday card for him. Should she go for the flirtatious whimsy of a Shoebox Greeting, or give in to the raw emotion of an 11-year-old ”Far Side” cartoon? Ultimately, she should have just written ”Happy Birthday” on her bare ass, because that’s what Steven really wanted.

At his birthday party, the two had the most animated make-out session I’ve ever seen. It looked like they had five tongues going between them. With all the anti-French sentiment in America right now, I wonder if this episode will be boycotted because of their kissing. Then they dashed upstairs to bed so fast you would have thought his sperm had a late fee.

In the end, what passes for ”Real World” romance filled the house. While Trishelle and Steven made their sheets beg for a good boiling, Alton told Irulan, who had just broken up with Gabe, that he loved her. (Thankfully, he didn’t serenade her by violin: When he played earlier it sounded like somebody was beating a cat with the Corrs.) Even though she thinks he’s a ”dirty bird,” she gave in to his devotion. The tenderness of their relationship will warm our hearts…until Alton has a tequila shot, or the show ends, whichever comes first. Here’s hoping it’s the latter.

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