On ''The Real World,'' a so-called camping trip on a ranch leads the guys to conclude that they need to be lone rangers
The Real World: Austin (Season 16)

”The Real World”: The dudes play cowboy

I’ve never been camping. I like noncanned foods, toilets, and showering too much to have ever considered going. After this week’s show, though, I am so down for camping. I never knew a hot tub was involved! The wilderness rocks.

Flashes of Troop Beverly Hills aside, the group’s trip to Rancho Cortez was pretty draining. On me, I mean. I’d already seen Melinda stand on a saddle (it’s just like a bar top!) about 20 times in commercials, so for me the highlights of their trip included Wes and Danny deciding on horseback that they wanted to rob things and then exchanging a high five, and Lacey saying she doesn’t like horses and cows because they’re so large and she’s so small. Hmm. Does she feel the same way about houses? SUVs? Big Tex? And what about the fish in their aquarium? They’re so small and she’s so large! Frankly, it’s freaking me out.

Watching the kids repeatedly dis the ranch experience got kind of annoying, although I’d take watching them pretend to camp over watching them suck each other’s faces off any day. After introducing himself, Larry, their host, said he enjoyed silence and was ”not into neon,” which made his place the perfect antithesis to the Dizzy Rooster. Poor Larry. Did anyone else notice an unnecessarily priggish quality to Danny’s interactions with him? Granted, Danny was the only one actually speaking up, but ”I’m having a good time already, Larry!” and other snide comments uttered with the sole intention of embarrassing the humble dude seemed a bit mean. At least Larry got to throw some crap — literally — back at him.

Danny wasn’t the only one who seemed less than enthralled. Wes (”This is gonna be the worst day ever”) and Lacey (”I’m in ranchero hell”) did their part to make the mood especially depressing instead of merely boring. Wes even took time out from his busy day of jingling and jangling to offer congratulations to the state of Texas: ”It’s great that you guys have something unique. But it’s not me.” Bummer, because I bet the cowboys were just dying to have Wes on their side. He could drink all the whiskey and then knock the stables down as he stumbled back to his (empty) bunk. But that’s okay, Wes. You just keep being awesome you.

(Note: If you think I was just mean to Wes, this came out of his cake hole later: ”I didn’t bring one dollar out tonight. I’m gonna go up to the first ugly girl I see and say, ‘You wanna buy me a drink?’ ” No further comment.)

There was more trouble in the opposite of paradise than Wes’ inability to relate to Southern culture. I could tell something was up when Mel discreetly insinuated that she and Danny should share some intimacy (”Let’s go have sex!”) and he brushed her off in favor of drinking and pizza, saying, ”I don’t wanna hear that right now.” Not exactly the response you’d expect from a guy just begged into bed by a blond porn-star type constantly in danger of spilling out of her clothes. Then again, drinking and pizza are both extremely worthy alternatives. I’d probably ditch Mel just for some crust.

Sounding like Wes on a drunken rampage, Danny announced that the guys should have more guys-only (plus skanky girls) nights, and he complained throughout the show that he was sick of playing husband to Mel, even though he’s happy with her ”95 percent of the time.” That’s such a weird percentage. If someone said that to me, I’d probably want the number to be lower, so that it’d be easier to believe he was really sick of me. Couldn’t he have thrown her a good old 60/40 ”I love you/You kind of suck” ratio instead? I picture Mel mulling over which five percent of her is so objectionable. I’d go with ”ratty hair,” but that’s just me. He’d probably say ”whines a lot” or ”is clingy in bars.”

Blame it on those spurs that go jingle jangle jingle, the subject of the song Larry sang to them while they were looking bored around the campfire. The lyrics made Wes see the light and decide he needed to be with more girls than just Wren. Later, while camping out for a while in El Hot Tubbo, the three guys talked about what studs they were and how many chicks they could get — provided they weren’t tied down — because they’re on TV. (Neh was funny when he called Melindanny ”married” and then projected a wedding date in June. Interesting timeline there.) Though it was basically the same conversation they’ve been having at home, this time Danny actually took the testosteroney filler to heart and confronted Mel at home with the idea that he wasn’t getting enough out of being in Austin by living in the same room with her.

Well, duh. That’s been obvious from the beginning, but not just for Danny and Mel. They all need to live a little and embrace the city. If Danny ever showed a desire to go anywhere other than the Dizzy Rooster and Chipotle when not sleeping with Mel, I’d understand where he was coming from. I hope he’ll take his own advice to heart and drag the roomies around Austin, possibly during daylight and maybe — though I know it’s a lot to ask — while they’re relatively sober. If not, there’s usually a dive bar with a happy hour starting at noon somewhere in any city. Find it.

Mel handled herself incredibly well after Danny said he had to find out what he’s supposed to be doing in Austin besides be with her. She thanked him for being honest, then when Danny asked, ”So what happens now?” she shot back, ”You’ve got a lot of stuff to do.” Great answer. I can’t really blame Danny for his change of heart — people get freaked out about relationships all the time — but I do feel sorry for the couple. It seems like they both care about each other, but the ”Be a Stud, You’re on TV” bug that continues to plague Wes has snaked its way under Danny’s nasty beige comforter, so Mel is on her own — at least until the next time Danny comes home drunk.

What do you think? Is Wes a bad influence on Danny? Does Lacey just lie for fun? And what could Jo do next week to get herself handcuffed? I’d bet a lifetime’s supply of pizza on ”get belligerently drunk.” Anyone else?

The Real World: Austin
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