Efforts to find our black T-shirted attention hound some new clothes and a girl whose first name he might have to commit to memory end in the Palms' Hef suite -- with an unexpected moment of clarity (just not from Frank)

By Josh Wolk
Updated June 28, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
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”The Real World”: All Hef’d up

Any given Real World season has its share of unlucky peripheral characters, by which I mean people who pop up on the show who aren’t the roommates. And my heart goes out to them when I see them, because I know they’d never imagined being on TV could be so humiliating.

For example, ever since the show began giving jobs to the housemates, there’s always a poor boss who futilely employs them and constantly has to explain the most rudimentary rules of being an employee — for example, that you actually have to show up to work. Or, there’s the cuckolded boyfriend, usually heard over the phone receiving assurances that a female roomie is being faithful, while we’ve all been watching her sleeping around.

But one of the saddest cameos is the one-night stand. These folks usually don’t get to say anything, we just see them making out with a roommate, stumbling into his or her room, only to be referred to later as a ”big mistake.” If this were a movie, it’s the kind of appearance that would be identified in the credits as ”Skank #4.”

There have been too many examples fitting this last category in Real World‘s Las Vegas reunion, all thanks to Frank. This week’s episode began with a montage of Frank drunk and making out with random women (with a large red blotch on his face: alcohol rash, or did someone finally haul off and slap him?), falling over couches, and being pawed at by women with no panties. ”If I never see you again, you’ve got a great ass,” he said to one woman after a face-mashing session. Later, in the suite, one poor woman with an even poorer dye job not only was referred to by Steven as an example of Frank’s booze-plummeted standards, but then was accused by Frank of having an STD. Thanks for being part of Real World, ladies! Take some complimentary mortification on the way out!

Trishelle then decided (in that contrived, cruise-ship-director delivery she’s used throughout the season) that she needed to find Frank a good girl. (In Vegas? Good luck on that treasure hunt. After that will she try to find him a slut in Orem, Utah?) So, when they were asked to help out with a Real World casting session, she and the other women tried to find one.

Let’s talk about that casting session. In the montage we saw applicants say the following things: ”I’m addicted to sex”; ”I like to pee in public”; ”I have had a threesome.” The way it was edited, it was made to look pathetic and slutty. And yet, these wannabe roomies were only saying the exact same things we’ve heard on every single season SINCE LAS VEGAS. It’s not shocking anymore, it’s just predictable. In fact, I’ve got a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma: Does The Real World merely reflect a sluttier youth, or did The Real World beget a sluttier youth? My money’s on the latter.

So Frank had a round-robin dinner date, one woman per course. After a foolish makeover montage, in which Trishelle and Steven tried to find Frank an alternative to the black T-shirt he hasn’t taken off since arriving in Vegas, the dates began: First, there was Ariel, the substitute teacher/go-go dancer. Only on reality TV do you have professions like that. On Pirate Master, they found a scientist/Chippendale dancer. Whatever happened to television repairman/television repairman?

Frank wasn’t into Ariel at all. Nor Amy, the girl who tried to appeal to his love of inebriation with Jager Bombs. And though Miss Alaska arrived in slo-mo, signifying true love, Frank got bored and started throwing limes at Steven. That might not seem appropriate behavior for a date, but think about this: Steven says that when Frank gets drunk, his standards drop precipitously. And in what species are females wooed by males throwing food? Monkeys. So by hurling limes, was drunk Frank trying to put his vibe out there to attract a chimp? Now that’s one thick set of beer goggles.

Meanwhile, Alton scored the cast a night in the Palms’ ”Hugh Hefner suite,” and everyone marveled at his sweet-talking abilities. Yes, however did he manage to convince the owner of the Palms to allow his most prized suite to get television exposure? What impossible task will you conquer next, Alton: Get Donald Trump on the phone for an interview with the press?

Everyone went crazy for the Hefner suite. Does Hef really still have that cachet? When I think of a Hefner suite now, I think of a diamond-crusted medicine chest full of Viagra and Maalox. It’s Vegas, baby!…Now be a dear and rub liniment on my goiter.

Nothing much happened at the magical suite, except somehow a bunch of random Vegasians showed up, each slathered in styling gel and belly shirts. It’s like central casting came up with the perfect collection of people to make me never want to visit Las Vegas. Trishelle complained that there were too many women there (being a woman is Trishelle’s job, chickies!), and eventually all the roommates left. I didn’t quite get that, considering how they’d oohed and aahed over their good fortune in landing the suite in the first place. I suppose it was very much in the Hefner spirit: Get a big party going, then vanish to create a sense of mystery. Granted, when Hef vanishes, it’s to drink a gout-medicine smoothie, but the tactic still holds.

But what of Brynn? At the beginning of the episode, she was talking about being a mom and wife with the same disappointed ennui as Paul Rudd speaking of familyhood in Knocked Up. For a moment there I feared she was about to bolt back to her go-go job, leaving Austin and their kids to find their own ride home. But as the episode progressed, while she did concede jealousy over her roomies’ partying, responsibility-free lifestyle, she made it clear she loved her current life and, as she said, she’d never choose Trishelle’s life over her own. Six years ago, would you have ever predicted that Brynn would be the sensible one, and Frank the one most likely to contract gonorrhea? Considering that tonight we learned a new generation of women think it’s cool to brag about threesomes and peeing in the street, it’s nice to know that The Real World has one pleasant surprise left in it.

Want to share a thought for the hapless Real World ”peripherals”? Hapless Frank? Not-so-hapless Hef suite? Post your comments below.

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Reunited: The Real World Vegas

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