October 13, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

”The Real World”: More bed behavior

The program-guide description of episode 5 reads, ”Shavonda and Sarah use the guys’ beds.” And as that elegantly succinct summary suggests, this episode ditched the heavy racial tensions of the last two weeks in favor of far more ratings-friendly sexual tensions.

This time, Shavonda’s ultra-slow-motion breakup with her wimpy boyfriend, Shaun, continued apace with her Landon fixation, while hookup-prone Sarah and M.J. found themselves respecting each other progressively less in the mornings. And Karamo, Willie, and the apparently chaste Melanie once again watched from the sidelines as their roommates debased themselves.

This week’s exercise in redundancy began with Shavonda wondering for the millionth time if she has a crush on her nightly bed partner, hulking goon Landon, even as M.J. and Sarah skipped wondering and went straight to what M.J. once called ”situations that are sexual.” Along the way, we met Ivana, Sarah’s ”Swedish alter ego,” who loves ”vodka, white bikinis, and furry white hats.” Perhaps Sarah took on this asinine secret identity as an excuse to do things like flash one of her surgically enhanced breasts at a friend of M.J.’s via webcam. Or maybe she did that because M.J. asked so nicely: ”Show him one.”

That degrading moment was followed by Sarah’s out-of-nowhere revelation to Melanie that an ex-boyfriend once raped her — which she blames for her sexual acting-out. As with Sarah’s previous confession of an eating disorder, the show failed to dig even slightly deeper into the disquieting news. Instead, the producers — like the snooty hosts of a dinner party marred by a gauche guest — pushed the subject away within 20 seconds, never to return.

Instead, we were treated to scenes of Landon — whose impressively low body-fat percentage may exactly match his IQ — wooing Shavonda in his own special way: by mooning her and chasing her around the house with a water gun. ”We’re both quick,” said a profoundly deluded Shavonda. ”We make snappy comments.” She got her poor boyfriend, Shaun, on the phone, and treated him to one such comment: ”What if I’m starting to get a crush on someone?”

It’s hard not to pity Shaun, whose doom was preordained from the moment his former Hooters waitress girlfriend joined the hard-bodied cast. ”I don’t understand the rules of taking a break,” he moaned. Well, here are the rules, dude: Your too-hot-for-you girlfriend gets to hook up with a gigantic football player if she wants, and she gets to break your heart in the process. ”I just don’t want it to be Landon,” Shaun whined. Let’s hope he’s not watching.

And even if Shaun of the Dead did muster the courage to tune in, there’s no way he could make it through the part where a gone-wild Shavonda agreed to climb on top of a bar and deep-throat a whip-cream-covered banana in exchange for free drinks. MTV demurely avoided showing the actual act but did feel comfortable presenting a shot of her whip-cream-covered mouth afterwards. Shavonda literally rode home on Landon’s brawny shoulders, shouting, ”I’m on top of the world.” Or down in the gutter. Same difference.

That same night (apparently), M.J. drunk-dialed his ex-girlfriend Ashley and complained that Sarah was ”throwing herself” at him. He then unleashed the following verbal barrage, in an accent identical to Darrell Hammond’s take on Bill Clinton: ”Ashley, I love you. I do. But I don’t. But I do. I still do. But I don’t.” Remarkably, she didn’t hang up. In the end, M.J. must have settled on ”I don’t.” He walked upstairs and promptly jumped on top of Sarah. ”We did not have sex. Trust me — you would know,” Sarah told the camera, which probably would know.

But it soon transpired that M.J. had told busybody Melanie that he found Sarah to be an uncongenial bedfellow. ”She rubs up on him and it’s hot and he can’t get comfortable,” Melanie explained to the camera and then to an understandably perturbed Sarah.

”It’s just a wake-up call for me,” Sarah responded, vowing to stay clear of M.J.’s blankets in the future. And in a karmic touch Karamo would appreciate, the episode ended with M.J. thrashing restlessly in bed, trying to get to sleep — alone. No more of that icky ”rubbing up” for him.

What do you think? Will M.J. and Sarah get back together? Will Shavonda stop torturing Shaun? And when will Bon Jovi return?

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