Thursday, January 02, 2014

Getting Ready To Ex-Plode

I started watching The Real World on and off back in 1992. I jumped off around 1996, back when the cast was in Miami, and the first twist (the kids trying to make money) was added. At the dawn of the Reality Revolution of 2000 (re: the coming of Survivor), I got sucked into all things Bunim-Murray Productions: The Real World (featuring Melissa, probably the most intentionally funny cast member in the show's history), Road Rules (back when the cast got "clues" from an obnoxious Max Headroom wannabe called "The Roadmaster") and Real World/Road Rules Challenge (starting with Extreme Challenge, where I started to turn on Julie the crazy Mormon chick).

There have been times where I should have jumped off the wagon. Over time, the premise of the shows stopped being about what happens when young people "stop being polite and start getting real," but rather about how drunk and horny these people could get. The novelty over castmates hooking up ended, and it became something to expect. Road Rules ended, forcing The Challenge (rebranded along the way) to seek out "Fresh Meat"; people competing on the show without going to The Real World first. Last season, there were eight people to appear on The Real World: Portland, and the one thing I related to was this . . .

Sure, you can question the wisdom of someone (Averey) bringing a cute Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix to run around and poop with impunity. But she was legitimately cute, and any tangent with her was welcomed by me, even if I had to wonder if knuckleheaded Johnny was trying to use Daisy to get to Averey, or the other way around. Also, I'm not ashamed to admit that I sometimes checked her Twitter account.

 So there I am, making myself watch the trainwrecks that were The Real World and The Challenge, trying to grasp onto good things . . . like Daisy, or CT finally winning his first Challenge. I had heard about BMP going back to San Francisco, where they set up shop back in 1994. It was a bumper crop for memorable personalities: AIDS activist Pedro, who  spent his last days on Earth trying to make sure people didn't make the same mistakes he did; conservative Rachel, whose presence predated the "Republican Revolution" of that year; liberal cartoonist Judd, who made a name of himself as a comic book writer; and a certain scabby troublemaker that shall go nameless here. Seven or more people fighting and fucking in the Bay Area . . . what's the big deal? Then they announced the big twist:

In the event that you're reading this years in the future and the trailer to The Real World: Ex-Plosion no longer works, I'll break it down:

1. Seven strangers are brought into a sweet pad in San Francisco. The usual stuff probably happens . . . fighting, feuding, drinking, etc.

2. The castmates are sent away on vacation . . . and when they come back, they find their exes have moved into the house.

To me, this might be -- to coin a phrase -- the shark-jumpingest move in the history of The Real World. Why would BMP go for this format? I have a few ideas.

1. More Drama

Last season, viewers had to deal with Nia, a complete bitch with zero morals. Her major claim to fame was writing a book on how to gold-dig. She wound up feuding with most of the cast and generally acted like a heinous cunt. I know, it's an ugly word, and I have a feminist friend who would clean my clock if she reads this, but I don't care. I'd take the beating. And I'm ready to call her all sorts of nasty things in the next season of The Challenge, which follows Ex-Plosion. And speaking of The Challenge . . . 

2. More Bodies For The Challenge

If MTV cares for a BMP franchise, it's probably going to be The Challenge. The Real World is no longer the marquee franchise for the network, as it's been replaced with dubious crap like Jersey Shore, Snooki & JWOW, 16 & Pregnant, Teen Mom, the humorless series adaptation of Teen Wolf, etc. Aside from whatever programs skateboarding manchild Rob Dyrdek appears on, MTV's original programming is crap. Without Road Rules, BMP has to screen prospective Challengers seven at a time, with the most "interesting" getting a chance at winning big money. They've had two seasons where "Fresh Meat" players were brought in, and it does work for a while. However, the second generation has never won a season beyond Carley winning Fresh Meat II with Landon back in 2010. Also, two of the more notable of the original "Fresh Meat" -- Evan the doughy Canadian and Kenny the Jersey Shore reject -- have more or less been banished from The Challenge after they were accused of putting a toothbrush in a place where a toothbrush wasn't meant to go. Ex-Plosion gives BMP a dozen people to play with, and they get to rip off the "Battle Of The Exes" format used in a recent season of The Challenge.

3. BMP Wants Somebody To Die

Let's go back to the original San Francisco season for a minute. BMP put in a scabby asshole who oozed more than personality with somebody who had a compromised immune system. Now, I'm not accusing BMP of wanting to show somebody dying on-camera . . . but I really, really, really wouldn't be surprised. A while back, when they were filming in Washington, D.C., a drunken Ty got upset and dropped Andrew off a stoop. Had Andrew died that night, I'm convinced co-creator Jonathan Murray  would've called it a show right there and then. Look at the trailer. Fast-forward to 1:25 . . . there's a blonde chick waving a knife around. I'm sure nothing happens, but that is the kind of shit that BMP wants . . . nay, demands from the new crop of cast members.

So . . . with all the fighting, screaming, knife-waving and a pregnancy scare, I have to ask: why would I wind up watching this trainwreck every week? Here's what I came up with:

1. I Can't Quit Anything

That isn't entirely true . . . after three seasons of The Apprentice, I finally decided that I had enough of the Donald Trump Experience. On the other hand, I watched all ten seasons of Smallville, a show on the CW that would've lasted five seasons on an actual network. That show got worse every year, and I'm convinced Tom Weilling was a worse Superman than Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill.
2. I Want To Stay Until The Bitter End

Here, there's the faint hope that the show would end with the 30th season, which would be the next installment. It would be a nice round number, wouldn't it? There aren't awards to be given out for fans who stick through the series, but there's some sort of mental thing involved that I can't really put into words . .  . where it wouldn't mean as much if you bail out way before the plane hits the mountain. By the way, I apparently suck at metaphors.

3. I Hate Myself

Filing The Real World under "self loathing" would be appropriate for myself, as well as scores of other viewers. If there's nothing else on Wednesday night, why not watch barely identifiable assholes make fools of themselves? I could do something constructive with my time, but I also like turning my brain into sludge for an hour.

The odds are good that I'll give Ex-Plosion a shot for a few episodes, at least before the big twist happens. If I have the willpower, I'd quit right before that happens, even if they bring in a dozen Daisies to frolic and poop. And if I watch the whole season, at least I can claim to be killing time before the next Challenge takes place. That's another show I need to quit, but that's an essay for another day.

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