Well, it’s the day after Halloween, and what better way to unwind from a night of ghosts and goblins than by revisiting our old friends in The Real World: Austin. I’ve sort of gotten into a bad pattern where I do my posts a week after the show airs (it’s very Television Without Pity, I know) but who can blame me? After writing about Laguna Beach, The Apprentice, and even The Amazing Race: Family Edition, it can be hard to muster the energy to attack our favorite bunch of drunken, hormonally-driven roommates. But then again, how could I not? So with the humble pledge that the next recap will appear sooner than this one, let’s dive into all the hedonistic goodness once again.Did I say hedonistic? Because this latest episode was all about work, not play. Sure, the producers managed to fit in drunken girls dancing atop bars, but hey, when it comes to the Real World, that’s like capturing footage of people breathing: you can’t avoid it. Anyway, the show began with Paul Steckler and his posse coming over to check out the documentary. Wait, what? Documentary? Oh, that’s right! It’s that job the kids have worked on for about five minutes this season. Well, before Steck could even check out the footage, there was some product placement to be had. He conveniently bestowed the roommies with a brand new T-Mobile Sidekick (pause to hold up Sidekick, smile at the camera) with the understanding that they could use it to keep in touch with their advisors. Yeah, okay, whatever. It’s a product placement, Steck. They could have used a land line.
Steckler then gathered ’round the boys and girls and asked them what their favorite moments of the filming were, and guess what? Everyone liked a different band. Wes in particular made an impassioned plea for what may have been the seminal moment in filmmaking as a profession: “I was holding the camera up, and he was singing over me; he sweats all this water, and it falls down onto the camera lens… It’s sick.” Wow, sounds more impressive than the opening shot from Goodfellas.
Well, as ardent followers of this season may remember, the roommates had to put together a rough cut of their doc, otherwise they wouldn’t get to have an STA Travel-sponsored vacation. That meant they had to present their work to none other than the Austin Film Society — something Rachel was fairly eager to do. “This is to show the Austin Film Society what we’ve done and that we deserve a little vacation,” she said. Seriously, they really deserve a vacation. Sometimes, when all you do is party day in and day out, you really need to take a break and party elsewhere. Besides, let’s not forget about the demands of that documentary. I mean, people, they’ve put almost fifty hours of work into their job over three months. That’s like thirty-two minutes a day!
Anyway, because of his alleged expertise in filmmaking and videography, Nehemiah stepped up to oversee the assembly edit of the doc while other roommates sat on the side and occasionally served as Avid cheerleaders. “I like it,” declared Wes after seeing one cut. WELL! If Wes likes it, we might as well hand the Oscar over now! To be fair, Lacey said she liked it too, so hey, looks like we’re heading to the People’s Choice Awards also.
Nevertheless, while Nehemiah toiled on the Avid system, Wes explained his role in the editing process: “For the most part, I’m going to stay out of that editing suite unless I’m taking a girl in there.” So…. basically, you’re staying out.
As Nehemiah neared completion of the rough cut, Wes — the Pauline Kael of The Real World house — weighed in with his official opinion yet again: “Genius!” Consider it Netflixed!
Well, as long as Nehemiah seemed to be on top of this editing mess, it meant there was only one thing for Wes and Danny to do: hit up the Dizzy Rooster! We then cut to the two guys lapping up beer that had trickled off the wet t-shirts of two fairly ugly girls dancing on the bar top. Seriously, these guys really do need a vacation.
But wait! All was not well in documentary land! Lacey, who had previously signed off on the assembly edit, had now changed her mind. “They’re good, but they’re music videos,” she balked. Yes, apparently Nehemiah, in his undying ambition to be the next Spike Jonze, kind of forgot that key element to a strong doc: substance. Instead of editing in all those interviews and soundbytes, he had simply spliced together the three bands singing their songs. And you just know there were three or four star-wipes in there too. Well, Rachel and Lacey were not happy about this, and they spent an entire cab ride bitching and moaning about it. Hey girls, I’ve got an idea. Just step up and make the changes yourself! After all, Rachel has made numerous iMovies. I’m sure her filmmaking skills rival Quentin Tarantino at this point.
The next day, it was time for a pre-screening screening for Paul Steckler, his assistant Jen, and his frumpy writing colleague, Sherry. Once everyone was comfortable, Nehemiah pressed play and let the magic begin. Did I say “magic?” I meant “boredom.” Yes, even though Paul has a general look of ennui about him, he seemed even more bored watching this cut than usual. And oh no, androgynous Cheryl Swoops fan Jen looked bored too. I don’t even want to see what Sherry’s thinking. Oh no! She’s bored too! But I thought this was supposed to be genius! Wes said so!
Well, the screening came to an end, and as a nervous Nehemiah fanned himself down, Steck bombarded the kids with comments. Amusingly enough, we got to see Danny taking down notes in the biggest handwriting ever. It’s like he was still writing double-spaced in Kindergarten. Anyw ay, the big news for the roommates was that they pretty much had to re-edit the whole documentary by the 4 pm screening the next day, which left just under twenty-three hours to get everything done. Not a problem, right? We then cut to bats flying around Austin. Oooh! Because the kids will have to stay up late like bats! Nocturnal parallels!
Not everyone would be attempting a bat-like lifestyle though. With the pressure on, Nehemiah inexplicably ducked out to be an MC at some event in town, leaving Rachel and Melinda to work on the doc instead. Uh oh. That’s gonna lead to some angry gossip. Sure enough, there was Lacey bashing Nehemiah to her boyfriend on the phone. Oh Lace. Always our reliable Greek Chorus. Technically, this was a group project, and Nehemiah had already put in a huge amount of work; so it was understandable that he’d want to take a break and have someone else pick up the slack. But then again, as Lacey pointed out, this was what he wanted to do with his career. Was it wise to walk out in crunch time and not see his vision all the way through? Furthermore, does anyone really care? No, not really.
Anyway, Nehemiah returned at 1:15 AM to the sound of grim music playing on the soundtrack. Sounds like something bad’s gonna happen. We then cut to Johanna reading in her bed. She reads? She stimulates her mind? No wonder why the music was so somber. This was scary BIZARRO Real World! Nevertheless, Nehemiah then told us, “I will stay up as long as it takes to get this project done.” We then saw Neh passed out with Danny and Wes on the round “orgy bed.” I don’t know why they were all there, but I’ll just accept it as one of those weird things that happens when dumb people co-exist in a house.
As the sun rose, we knew the roommies were finding themselves in a prickly situation, mostly because we then saw a bold shot of cacti in the desert. Smooth. Very smooth. Well, it was two hours before the big presentation, and Lacey and Rachel had found themselves with a bit of a technical problem. You see, they couldn’t output their video to VHS. Soon, it was forty-five minutes before the deadline, and they still hadn’t fixed the glitches. Plus, let’s not forget that Lacey had to dub the video twice. Making matters worse, the two girls had no support from their roomies: Wes was asleep, Mel and Danny were making out, and Nehemiah was resting (to his credit, he had woken up early and worked on the project significantly). Oh what would the roommates do? Would their vacation be in peril???
Stop the panic music! David is here to save the day! Yes, one of Steck’s assistants showed up and fixed all the glitches, which meant it was time to get on with the screening. Melinda expressed concern about getting critiqued as she feared that the documentary might not be strong enough to warrant a vacation. First of all, you’ll be going on your trip. We already saw it in the promos, and besides, MTV would never keep the seven roommates from going abroad. Real World vacations are like a cash cow for petty drama.
Well, Rachel and Lacey showed up with the rough cut at the last second, and (fanfare please) it was finally time to screen this epic piece of filmmaking for the much-revered Austin Film Society. We then watched as the audience reacted to the piece. Will they like it? Will they like it? They do! Sort of. Not really.
Basically, anyone capable of reading between the lines could see that the Austin Film Society wasn’t that impressed with the project, but they understood it was essentially a rough cut made by non-filmmakers. The audience gave some constructive criticism and friendly encouragement, and then it was back to the Real World house where the roommates learned they had indeed earned their vacation!
As the plucky people from STA Travel descended on the mansion, Melinda explained how important this was to her: “This is the moment of truth that we kind of just worked our butts off for. I shouldn’t say ‘worked our butts off for,’ but we worked.” Well, maybe not worked, but got drunk and had sex. Same difference.
Well, when it comes Real World vacations, there’s always got to be one person who squeals out the destination as if it were a winning lottery ticket. This time around, it was Rachel who screamed, “I KNOW WHERE WE’RE GOING! TO COSTA RICA!!!” Yay! Hugs, screams, and general happiness abounded. As the show came to a close, Nehemiah gave us a taste of what’s to come: “Costa Rica is beautiful beaches, beautiful women. I don’t know what I’m gonna do when I get there!” Uh, you’ll probably just sit around and talk about all the hot girls you could get… if you wanted to to.
I guess we’ll find out tonight what exciting things are in store for our gang…
(More photos to come. A blackout in the TVgasm offices has sent me scurrying to the WiFi refuge of The Standard Hotel where two topless girls have made the pool area quite the exciting place to be.)