On ''The Real World,'' Wes and Neh try and fail to play the field; meanwhile, Rachel can't manage to cheat on her boyfriend
The Real World: Austin (Season 16)

”The Real World”: Wes and Neh’s groupie hunt

My parents called me right after tonight’s ridiculous Real World. ”Annie, we just don’t understand. Are these people for real?” Mom and Dad were on two separate phones, both aflutter with breathless concern. ”How did Rachel know he was ‘packin’ ‘?’ ”Are ‘groupie drawers’ common?” ”Why does Wes think he’s hot?” ”Aren’t there other things to do at that age?”

Keep in mind they’ve never watched the show until this season. They aren’t aware that the only answer to their ”are they for real” question is, simply put, no. None of this can possibly be real! While watching the show, I find myself begging the characters to not have just said the things they just said, but when I think about it, it becomes clear that these seven strangers aren’t being themselves. They are acting how they think characters on a reality TV show should act, and instead of picking apart every little stupid thing they say, we should just kick back, crack open a beer that we can legally drink, and titter away at the underage hotties who will eagerly embarrass themselves for some undeserved attention.

The time that I most needed this defense mechanism was while watching Nehemiah and Wes’ friendly competition to see who can pull more booty by the end of the season. I’m aware that it’s funny in a disgusting, I have to crack open another beer sort of way. But it’s also completely artificial. I can’t help thinking that with the cameras off not only would these two guys have trouble getting any women’s phone numbers, but they might also show interest in people as people. I wonder when they’ll realize it’s possible to be attractive and human at the same time. Trust me, it won’t happen on screen.

Same with Rachel. It’s easy to ridicule her. First she gushed about how great and sweet her boyfriend, Erik, is. He lets her eat dessert! How cute. ”I still consider him my boyfriend,” said Rachel, ”but I still want to go out and have fun.” Which translates roughly as ”I don’t consider him my boyfriend.” Rachel embarrassed herself thoroughly during this episode. There was the drunken confession to Collin (is it just me, or is he nowhere near a 9?) that he was ”too hot” for her. Why would you say that out loud? Then she forced Collin into her bed, shoes off and everything, saying, ”We’re not going to have sex. Just get in here and talk.” Same question. Why? Finally, while walking home with the other girls, she dismissed the entire incident: ”It’s okay, ’cause his penis isn’t that big, and neither is his heart.” (Mom particularly disliked this one.)

This is awful. I mean, what a horrible paragraph. I can’t even read it over without wanting to smash my head into something to relieve the spinning. But if you think about it, all of Rachel’s embarrassing outbursts can be explained by the fact that she’s just an extremely self-conscious girl having her ”life,” or whatever these five months are called, recorded. I personally doubt she really wants to corrupt her long-term relationship (too late for that, huh?), but instead of being content with what she has, like the increasingly likable Lacey, she overplays the sex card again and again. She knows that if she doesn’t act ridiculous, she won’t get on camera. But when she goes out on a limb and forces awkward interactions and oversexed one-liners, she ends up looking like a moron.

Wes and Neh have a similar situation with their ”groupie drawer.” This entire notion is just so pathetic — both for them and for whatever poor females become involved. But Wes and Neh have trapped themselves into trying to top each other’s obnoxiousness. When Nehemiah said, ”We don’t want bright stars,” in reference to the type of girls he and Wes were interested in wooing (with their nonexistent charm), it was a funny line, but it was sad coming from someone who until this episode had seemed the most thoughtful housemate.

It was as if Neh just went with the shallow, chauvinistic current because he knew the producers would love to feature him saying stuff like that on TV. He also said that ”as a man,” he has to ”take advantage” of the free-sex situation. Way to take one for the team, Neh. This might as well be paraphrased, ”I’m on The Real World, and it would probably disappoint you guys at home if I didn’t start hooking up with sluts. So, um…watch me try! Even though I have no game whatsoever. It’s okay — neither does my farm boy Wes. It’s actually funnier that way. Please tune in next week when we tell the cameras we’re going to tag-team the UT cheerleading squad in our house pool.”

What do you think? Do you like any of these kids? Will their camera awareness ever start to fade so that they can ”start getting real”? And why did Danny and Melinda basically get the week off?

The Real World: Austin
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