What a difference a week makes. For the first time since the season began, The Real World offered up an episode that was completely devoid of drama queen Frankie, who voted herself off the island two weeks ago. Now, with even her beach blanket bingo persona excised from the opening credits, Frankie’s shrill complaints and desperate ploys for attention feel like a distant memory. That’s not to say there’s any dearth of petty drama and silliness, but for once we got a little break from the squabble virus that’s plagued the household since the roomies chomped on spanikopita in Greece. Instead of hellfire and brimstone (and Jack Daniels), we were treated to the awkwardly juxtaposed sagas of both Jacquese confronting very serious emotional issues with his estranged father, and Robin and Cameran confronting the not very serious occupational issues of an estranged buoy. Amazingly, guess which story got more screen time?The episode began with Jacquese chirping about the impending arrival of his mother in San Diego. Every now and then we’ve been lucky enough to hear Mama Jacquese impart some sage wisdom onto her son; so I was a little excited to have a voice of reason mingle amongst our lunkhead roommates. We knew this wasn’t going to be just any visit from home though. Mama was going to be bringing some baggage, and not of the TravelPro variety. Sadly, Jacquese has a strained relationship with his father, and the arrival of his mother only served to resurrect painful emotions that have been heretofore hidden under a mask of chuckles and nookie voyeurism.
We knew Ja was in for a little emotional breakdown when he opted to have dinner alone with Jamie – aka Bunim/Murray’s version of Barbara Walters. No one escapes a personal conversation with her without shedding a tear (she even made herself cry a few weeks ago). Tonight, Ja opened the floodgates in a restaurant as he poured his heart out to sweet Jamie. In a genuinely touching moment, Jacquese detailed the heartache of never having the chance to share his personal triumphs with a dad. This was actually very touching, so I’m glad the show shifted gears instantly to less weighty issues such as Robin and Cameran’s labor strife.
Turns out the kids were late to work – again – and they lost out on their $50 bonuses. Does anyone else get a bonus for showing up on time? Gotta love “The Real World”. With all prospects of pecuniary surplus dashed, Cameran and Robin devised a scheme so they could scam their way into going home early: plopping into the Pacific Ocean. Apparently if you get wet on the sailing job, you get to go home. Sort of a strange stipulation for a maritime venture.
In an attempt to cover up their blatant lapse in work ethic, Cameran and Robin devised a lame little scheme to topple into the water while wrangling in a wayward buoy. The first time around, dilligent Jamie rained on the parade when she used her long squeegee to corale the buoy’s wanderlust. Not ones to be kept down, the gals found another floaty thing to set adrift in the sea. Knowing that the spectre of Jamie and her squeegee could strike at any time, the two girls quickly plunged into the Pacific in an acting tour-de-force.
Poor Jamie came rushing dockside – all aflutter – shouting “Oh my God!” as she extended her squeegee to her waterlogged friends. It was a nice gesture, but Cameran only had to latch onto Robin and her two flotation devices in order to avoid any sort of Baywatch crisis. While everyone else worked, the two scuba impresarios made their way back to the mansion where they gloated in the confessional.
Later, with his mother in town, Jacquese went out to lunch and talked more about his wounded feelings about his father. Once again, his mom shone in a way that made me wish osmosis had an effect on these roommates. She delivered solid, logical, and sound advice to her child without speaking down to him or discounting his feelings. We always knew Ja was a standup guy, and now we know why.
But enough of this namby pamby stuff called “emotional substance”. We have Robin and Cameran to deal with still. That night, detective Jamie donned her pipe and magnifying glass at dinner when she suddenly had the epiphany that the Robin/Cameran splash-out of 2004 was… STAGED! MTV highlighted this moment with the sound of a small bell, but I think next time they should add a lightbulb graphic as well.
Well, not one to be Punk’d by non-Ashton Kutchers, Jamie held a very Detective Poirot meets the Karate Kid meeting out on the porch where she enumerated all the strange activity at the scene of the crime. This was punctuated with occasional karate chops and exaggerated finger pointing. I couldn’t help wondering if we were finally seeing Jamie drunk. The resident logicians – Randy and Brad – absorbed this information in a half bemused, half lethargic way, with the former musing “You never know what Robin and Cameran will do next.”
The next morning, Brad and Randy gave the girls a nice dose of shit. Randy noted that usually, when he’s involved in an accident, he can’t remember the details of what happened (like when he made out with Robin), but the girls seem to remember everything just fine. Happy to have made a light, mildly passive aggressive zinger, Randy’s face broke out into the proudest grin of all time. In the end, the girls stood by their story and regretted nothing.
Oh, wait, no. Jacquese talked to his dad about wanting to open up a dialogue after the show, and his dad was like “Cool” and Ja was like “Wow” and Bunim-Murray was like “Resolution!” and I was like “Awww…” Way to wrap that up, MTV!
With two episodes left to go, it looks like newbie Charlie will get the full treatment next week with Cameran being oh so kind to destroy his guitar. But you know, musicians never have any sort of bond with their instruments, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. Right? Here’s to one last squabble!