September 22, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Real World: Philadelphia

TV Show
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In Season
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Reality TV

”Real World”: Willie’s love life rocks the house

When a Real World episode begins with the proclamation ”You gotta give it up for trannies,” you gotta expect that some taboo-busting lies ahead. And episode three, with its boundary-defying depiction of gay lovers — and the supposedly homophobic straight men who are really, really into spying on them — didn’t disappoint.

The episode kicked off with a rare moment of peace, as Willie, Karamo, Shavonda, Sarah, and even freckled outcast-to-be Melanie bonded over a shared sentiment: Turns out they all ”love boys” (shocker!). But when the topic somehow shifted to Sarah’s beloved surgically enhanced breasts ( ”expensive accessories,” she calls them), the vaguely Peppermint Patty-esque Melanie couldn’t keep her mouth shut. ”I would never — I would never ever, ever, ever,” she pontificated, as the camera rudely panned down to her own jiggling chest. Sarah conceded, ”You shouldn’t get all your confidence from having boobs,” and then quietly began planning Melanie’s murder.

Next, in one of those way-too-perfect Real World coincidences, Willie ran into the well-groomed, emotionally distant Dan, with whom he had a star-crossed five-day relationship two years before in New York. The real fun began when Dan, Willie, and a bunch of friends (one of them a dude with plucked eyebrows known as Diana) encountered twin hicks M.J. and Landon back at the house.

If Landon seemed amused by the visitors, M.J. was downright shaken. ”I wake up from a nap and I have gay pride America walking in the house,” he said, a look of terror replacing the usual blankness in his eyes. Afterward, the traumatized M.J. practically assumed the fetal position, rocking back and forth on the kitchen counter. ”I have a lot to learn,” he said. Lesson one: Find a happy place. . . .

The next day, Melanie further alienated Sarah during a shopping trip. Guess what she said when Sarah shelled out $150 for a pair of jeans? Yup: ”I would never,” Melanie breathed, in her patented ”Sarah is a crazy, slutty moron” tone of voice. Then Melanie told everyone in the house about the purchase — and bragged of her own $9 (!) jeans — plunging Sarah into a mix of depression and fury worthy of Kathy Bates in Misery.

But after Sarah burned off her aggression in a maniacal workout at her gym’s spinning class, her eventual confrontation with Melanie on the issue was disappointingly adult and sane. ”I know that you didn’t have, like, malicious intentions,” Sarah told her. And after 900 more uses of the word ”like” and much passive-aggressive hand-waving, they accepted each other’s apologies. Damn it.

Earlier, Dan and Willie had shared a bed as ”friends” — that all-too-common Real World ploy, which is as ridiculous for gay couples as it is for straights. But they finished off the episode by taking a shower together — a TV first? — and then got into bed, leaving the bedroom door open. As Dan and Willie cavorted, M.J. and Landon played Peeping Tom from the next room — staring at the couple in what can only be described as rapt fascination. ”M.J. and I are trying to find out if what we think is going on is true,” Landon said, nonsensically. ”Would you stop spying on them?” Shavonda yelled. Replied a sheepish M.J., ”I can’t help it.” Hmm.

What did you think of the episode? Do you sympathize with Sarah or Melanie — or just hate them both? And what’s going on with the spy kids?

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