In the first episode of ''The Real World: Austin,'' we get a two-girl makeout session, lust, exhibitionism, alcohol abuse, and serious bodily harm

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated June 21, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Real World: Austin

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”The Real World”: Sex, drunkenness, and violence

Once upon a time, seven strangers moved into a house. They stared warily at one another and at their surroundings. They carefully explored relationships with the other housemates, keeping in mind their wildly varied backgrounds, beliefs, and interests. They fought over politics, over race, over sexual-harassment charges, over boogers in the peanut butter, and over heartbreak and rejection and life and death and things that mattered. They became, if not friends, then at least mutually accepting cohabitants. And they seemed, if not adults, then at least well on their way.

Don’t those days seem innocent now?

Welcome to The Real World: Austin, the story of five nymphomaniacs, one virgin, and one black guy picked to live in a house, drink to excess, and have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop being real and start being characters they’ve seen before on The Real World.

Let’s meet your cast:

1. Danny. 21. From somewhere near Bah-ston. Works as a roofer. Loves his dad. Hates his mom, who I think I learned in the preview special has or had a substance-abuse problem. Likes ”all-American girls.” Relationship status unclear.

[Oh, real quick: I’m from Texas, okay? And that opening sequence, with the ”yee-haw!” and the hay bales and the cows and the ancient pickup and whatever the hell else, is not insulting per se but somewhat limiting. We do have regular cars in Texas. Also, many of us grew up in, like, cities that are probably bigger than the one you’re sitting in right now. So I’d like to see MTV going a little easier on the cliché. But my hopes aren’t high.]

2. Rachel. 22. From Valencia, Calif. A registered Army nurse who served in Iraq and has absolutely spectacular boobs. Has a boyfriend, Erik, who she’s on a break from, but they promised each other ”no sex, no falling in love, and no baby talk.”

3. Nehemiah. 19. From California. Has a college degree, making him, apparently, the Doogie Howser of media arts. According to Rachel, is ”the picture of black power.” (My favorite T-shirt of his so far is the one that just said, ”Harriet Tubman (1820-1913).”) Bets Rachel $50 that she will cheat on her boyfriend.

4. Johanna. 21. Originally from Lima, Peru. Works with troubled youth, and deferred the master’s degree program in social work at Columbia University to take her teddy bear to Austin for 5 months. Single.

5. Wes. 20. Originally from Kansas City, now attends ”the number-one party school in America, Arizona State.” Formerly had a Mohawk. Thanks to the preview special, I know he also has a fondness for exotic dancing (wherein he is doing the dancing) and believes his six-pack to be exquisite. Single (”and ready to mingle!”).

6. Melinda. 21. Wisconsin. ”Nymph.” Has a boyfriend, Jason, and wears a promise ring. Has a very loose understanding of the concept of ”promise ring.” (”She’s going to probably hook up with every guy here,” says Wes. ”And I don’t mean in the house. I mean in Austin.”)

7. Lacey. 23. Originally from Ohio but currently works in a top hair salon in Tallahassee, Fla. Has a boyfriend, Ryan. Is a virgin. And as I learned in the preview special, she has super-religious parents who wouldn’t let her watch TV or anything. Is, in my professional opinion, the only person in the house even remotely capable of acting ”real,” which will doom her to (a) turning out to be a cutter/bulimic/insert trendy malady here, (b) being despised by everyone in the house for not being ”open” about her ”feelings” because she doesn’t get blackout drunk, (c) spending a lot of time in a secret bar she won’t tell anyone else in the cast the location of, or (d) quitting the show entirely.

The initial love connections:

Melinda loves Danny. (”I feel, like, a connection with you.”)

Danny loves Melinda. (”I’m really taken aback by her.”)

Johanna loves Danny. (”He looks like an Abercrombie model.”)

Rachel loves Melinda. (”If this chick’s half as open-minded as me, we’re gonna end up making out.”)

Nehemiah loves Johanna. (”I would like to get more intimate with her.”)

Wes loves Danny. (”I’m gonna pull more ass than you.”)

Lacey loves, as far as I can tell, her boyfriend, Ryan. And the occasional Guinness.

By the end of this episode, though, so much has changed. Melinda and Rachel make out, sadly leaving Rachel with little to do for the next 4 months and 30 days. Johanna makes out with an uninterested Danny and asks Nehemiah to protect her when she drinks too much. Nehemiah, unsuspecting, says sure. Melinda demonstrates a fairly nonchalant attitude towards wearing clothing and maintaining her self-respect and starts walking around in hot pants. Wes and Danny have apparently, despite all their posturing, never seen a woman in hot pants before and spend the majority of the episode walking around with their jaws dragging on the floor. And then the giant plastic bottles of liquor come out. Johanna (wearing a ”Time Flies When You’re Having Rum” T-shirt) dances on a bar and generally just wigs out on Nehemiah, who’s just trying to help her drink a glass of water like she asked him to. Nehemiah flees the bar, and all anyone around him sees is a black man storming out of a bar and leaving a hysterically sobbing Latino woman behind him. So the roommates head out onto the Austin street to find Nehemiah and make what I believe to be a crucial error (and remember, kids, I’m from Texas) when they start walking amongst the drunk UT frat boys on the sidewalks yelling, ”Where’s the black guy? Where’d the black guy go?”

And then a fight breaks out on the street. And Danny gets punched so hard in the face that he fractures his skull and needs surgery.

Welcome to The Real World, kids. If the scenes from the rest of the season (oh, hello, Johanna! You look lovely being loaded into that paddy wagon!) are any indication, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Yee-haw, indeed. I think I’m gonna be sick.

What do you think? Does this season look intriguing or familiar? Who do you like or hate already? Who’s going to hook up with whom? And does the show need to establish a policy about drinking?

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The Real World: Austin

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