We’re down to the final stretch for this season of The Real World: Austin, and thankfully, this week’s episode had a nice variety of typical Real World staples: drunkenness, fighting, silly deadlines, and of course, dumb outfits. Plus, let’s not forget that new tradition started by San Diego’s Robin (and perpetuated by that season’s Brad, as well as this season’s Johanna and now Nehemiah): jail! Man, if bailing these kids out of prison becomes as old-hat as inter-cast romances (also a one-time rarity), then Bunim/Murray is going to have quite the legal bill mounting up.And speaking of the clink, this episode began with the ominous sight of police flashers coloring the Austin cityscape. Let’s not forget, mind you, that when we left off last week, future Academy Award honoree Nehemiah had been thrown in the clink for some unknown reason. What, prey tell, had the Austin PD caught him doing? Another dreaded floral burglary? Or had Neh simply absconded with a mundane potted plant. Perhaps he’d sheared off a healthy and unlawful portion of a hedge. The possibilities were endless!
Well, Wes tried to accept Nehemiah’s collect-call from prison, but wouldn’t you know it? They got disconnected before they could even talk. Damn phone! Or perhaps I should say, “Damn highly visible Vonage-sponsored phone!” Anyway, Wes was able to find out some info, and explained to us, “I’m thinking that Nehemiah didn’t just steal a rose like Johanna did.” He’s right. It could have been a tulip. Or a daffodil.
Oh but I kid! (Flower comedy is always a sure-thing.) Whatever it was that Nehemiah had done, it was serious, and so Danny headed down to the Travis County Jail to see what he and his short brimmed cap could do. Turns out he couldn’t really do anything, but at least he didn’t show up piss-drunk like the time he went to rescue “Joey” from “the slammah!” The next day, Danny returned from jail (did he get lost?) and announced that it would cost $5,000 to bail Nehemiah out. How will they get him out??? I wonder if there’s some profitable cable network out there with deep pockets. Maybe they could help out. Nah…
As the roommies reeled from this news, Rachel then noted, “I kind of hate to bring it up, but, um, we kind of have a premiere in less than a week.” She then added, “And this may be bad timing too, but, um, I kind of got melted cotton candy ice cream on the Avid. It’s broken now. Sorry.”
Okay, Rachel didn’t actually spill any nasty Priority Mail ice cream on the editing system, but she did raise an important point: Nehemiah was the go-to man for this doc, and with him in jail, the roomies were screwed. Tragedy hits the Austin Film Society!!!
Well, there was only one thing to do: get Nehemiah out of jail. After realizing that rolling doubles wasn’t going to do the trick, Danny came up with the idea of using his Get Out Of Jail Free card — a.k.a. the producers. Yes, he was hoping that “production” would front him some money to save Nehemiah’s ass (literally, his ass), and while we waited to hear whether or not this would happen, our newest detainee called up. Now the moment of truth. What had Neh-Neh done? “Got into a fight, dude. They tried to fight me, but then they took me in,” Nehemiah said. A fight? That’s so… average. C’mon, this is The Real World! It’s got to be either really exciting or really dumb. Were any skulls broken? What about flowers? Was there any sort of improper trellis use?
We didn’t get much more information with this phone call, but the good news for Nehemiah was that production was going to bail him out and deduct the expenses from his paycheck. “It really sucks because this happened to Nehemiah, especially because he’s so broke,” Johanna said. Suddenly, Danny piped up with a surly, “You know what? He has a really hot head, and he knows about it.” Whoa! Impressive use of logic. Granted, Danny would be the first one asking for pity had the same thing happened to him, but nevertheless, his sudden interest in concept of “responsibility” was mildly refreshing.
“He chose the wrong thing, and he’s gonna pay for it,” Danny said, later following up with, “You know what, maybe this is a reality check for Nehemiah. You just can’t go around hitting people and expect to get away with it. To me, it’s kind of irresponsible.” Wow, I don’t know what’s up with this newfangled Danny Logic, but I’m sure it won’t be around for long. You know how people have “brain farts?” Well, I guess with Danny, his brain farts actually make him smarter. Go figure.
Meanwhile, over in the editing suite, Rachel was learning about personal responsibility also. “Just another lesson in life. Do not trust other people to get the job done,” she said as she sidled up to the Avid system. Wow, what’s up with all these vaguely mature comments? Real Worlders aren’t supposed to be thinking like that! I guess Rachel gets a free pass though. It’s not like she’s proven herself to be exceptionally irresponsible with anything (except apparently when it comes to not flinging herself into basketball machines).
While Rachel and Lacey worked tirelessly on Nehemiah’s masterpiece, their “I couldn’t look more like a film student if I tried” advisor David came by to check in on things. He happily reminded the girls that there were only three days left before the big premiere, and furthermore, he wasn’t sure they’d be able to complete the task in time. He then added, “Also, you’ll all lead miserable lives filled with anguish and despair before dying alone and sad and full of regret.”
Well, making matters worse for this Little Documentary That Couldn’t was Danny’s news that Nehemiah wouldn’t be getting out of jail until 5:30 PM and was now facing $4,000 of fines and up to a year in prison. Great. That’s just what this doc needs: more delays. Thanks for being accommodating, AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT. Don’t they realize that a very important short-subject film needs to be filmed? I bet they wouldn’t have treated Spielberg this way.
Nevertheless, Nehemiah did eventually return to the mansion where he was greeted with warm hugs from the girls. “Nobody hugged me when I came home from jail,” Johanna said begrudgingly. That’s because people don’t have sympathy for horticultural theft, bitch.
As Nehemiah shook the prison cobwebs off his brain, he told us that the stress of the documentary was what caused him to fight. So you see, by placing the entire project on his shoulders, it was really the roommates’s fault he got thrown in jail. Actually, it really was Rachel and Lacey’s fault the most. And, well, let’s face it, we all know Lacey calls the shots of that group. So basically, Lacey — thanks a lot for getting Nehemiah thrown in jail. Maybe next time you should think before you speak.
Never one to treat any situation with tact, Wes immediately pushed for all the sordid details, and a smiley yet visibly traumatized Nehemiah (prison butt sex, anyone?) explained that the night before, somebody had pushed him, and so he swung back with a vicious punch. Sounds like a perfectly rational decision. Nehemiah sort of laughed it off uncomfortably, but his smile was soon replaced with a look of dread and fear as Wes bluntly informed him that he was facing up to a year in prison and $4,000 in fees. He then added, “So anyway, Wren has been acting really distant lately, and I think I should make out with Johanna again, but then I was thinking that I could just get any groupie anytime I want. But then Wren really means a lot to me. What do you think?”
With guilt weighing him down (not to mention his gigantic Ethiopia pendant), Nehemiah set out to right what was wrong. Yes, he returned to the scene of the crime, which just so happened to be a bratwurst shack. After a quick hot-dog-laden bit of B-Roll, we found Nehemiah introducing himself to Jonathan, the owner/manager of “Best Wurst Bratwurst” and woeful victim of Neh’s fist. The guy seemed nice and was impressed that Nehemiah returned to apologize, but let’s be honest people. Had Nehemiah’s very presence not included the fringe benefit of nation-wide publicity courtesy of MTV, would Jonathan have been so receptive to the apology? Probably not. Yeah, we see right through this bratwurst sham. Or should I say… bratwurst shame.
Well, with inspirational music playing, Nehemiah sat down to the Avid and got to work. He was turning his life around, man! Rising up from the bratwurst-coated hell of the Austin penal system. Nehemiah was gonna rock this doc, and we were going to be right there with him as he redeemed himself once and for all!!! Actually, never mind. That’s boring. Let’s watching the roommates get drunk instead.
Clearly not learning anything from the saga of Nehemiah’s drunken incarceration, the roommates hit the town and got drunk. One Wes-grinding-on-a-girl montage later, we knew were gonna be in for a real treat when the Bunim/Murray drunken cam came out in full force. You know what I’m talking about: blurry images, wobbly cross-fades. It only means one thing: chaos ensues. Sure enough, a wasted Wes stumbled around the house, barely able to take a step before tumbling over into an American Eagle pile of poseur lameness. “I gotta walk around a little bit,” he told his roommates before ambling into Melinda’s closet. I’m sure there was no intended subtext to it, but seeing Wes retreat into the closet felt oddly appropriate and symbolic. Unfortunately, this poetic image was soon destroyed quite literally as Wes tore down the closet door and began a rampage of unmotivated destruction (well, I shouldn’t say it was unmotivated. I’m sure childhood traumas and parental neglect surely fueled this pseudo-rage). Anyway, Wes moved from the closet door to the “orgy bed room” where he tossed a pillow with reckless abandon, rightfully frightening some random girl who happened to be in there. And honestly, is there anything more scary than an airborne pillow thrown from the hands of a drunken clown? I didn’t think so.
Later, Wes made his way upstairs where he babbled on the phone with some poor soul — probably Wren — and while he chatted away, Rachel decided that it was important for her to call her boyfriend Eric (remember him? Big guy, fairly whipped, the Post Office’s worst nightmare). You know where this is going. Actually, you probably don’t because this wasn’t just a new incarnation of the Tonya vs. Aneesa phone battles. Instead, while Rachel was waiting, Nehemiah sassed off to her that she shouldn’t pressure Wes to get off the phone. In response, she flipped him off jokingly, but LO! No wench besmirches the honor of Lord Nehemiah, Ruler of the Bratwurst Kingdom! And so the drunken and belligerent Wes stumbled out of the phone room and seethed, “If you stick your finger up at my friends again, I’ll slap the f–k out of you, okay?” I don’t know what’s lamer: threatening a girl, or threatening to slap a girl. I’m not condoning physical violence against anyone at all, but if you’re gonna do it, why slap? Isn’t that a bit wussy? Might as well go all the way with a sucker punch or maybe a one-two combo. Or better yet, just pull a rope and have an anvil fall on her head. Truth is that I say all this knowing that at any given moment, Rachel could certainly take down Wes with a mere flick of the wrist. She has been through basic training, let’s not forget.
Anyway, Wes pretended to slap Rachel on the face, but apparently, after the cameras stopped rolling (doh!), Wes slapped Rachel for real. Dunh dunh DUNH! “It was hard enough to make a sound!” Rachel explained. Would this lead to Wes’s banishment from The Real World? Of course not! Instead, we simply caught up with the slap-happy drunkard the next day as he struggled to piece together his bender. “I slapped Rachel?” he asked incredulously. Amazingly, this did not turn into some sappy, half-hearted epiphany about drinking à la Johanna, and I was glad for that. But at the same time, it suddenly occurred to me that we’ve gone nearly an entire season with these kids, and we’ve yet to see anything deep in Wes at all. What motivates him? Why does he care about these groupies so much? What else is there to him? What are his goals and ambitions? What’s his favorite color? ANYTHING. Sadly, this seems to be a growing flaw with the franchise. Cast members simply react to the stimuli around them. They cry when they’re sad. They laugh when they’re happy. They gossip and complain when there’s drama going down. But there’s been a decreasing emphasis on taking these people to the next level — really trying to get inside their brains. Sure, these kids talk about their issues and hang-ups, but we never really understand the motivations or roots of these problems. Danny was a fascinating character in the beginning of the season because with his mother’s death, we were able to delve deeper into his personality and examine different dimensions of his life. But over the course of the summer, Danny simply became just another character on the screen — the irritable, jealous guy — and our interest in him waned. As for Wes, well, like I said, there was never even the faintest attempt to make him more than the 2D person we see on screen. It’s almost as if we’re watching really glossy, really well edited home videos.
On the plus side, these really glossy, really well edited home videos are pretty fun to tear apart, especially when people like Wes get wasted one night and don’t remember anything the next day. “I don’t like the drunken belligerence. It’s really irritating to me because it’s such a ridiculous behavior,” Lacey told us. Look, just because nearly all of your roommates become petulant, surly, violent, uncontrollable, and loud when they’re drunk doesn’t mean that they’re belligerent. Stop being so judgmental, Lacey. This is a time to learn and grow. And by “learn and grow,” I mean get so wasted you wind up in jail for punching out a hot dog vendor. Sheeesh. Just go back to your corner and listen to your Enon.
Anyway, in the cruel light of morning, Wes surveyed the damage he’d done to the house. There was the pillow and the broken closet door, but most offensive of all, he had destroyed Rachel’s bag of coffee beans!!! OH NO HE DI’INT!!! We then zoomed in on a Monopoly box where dozens of coffee beans were scattered helplessly, clearly having suffered the Hurricane Katrina of the coffee bean world.
“I didn’t do– you guys, honestly, just ’cause I’m drunk doesn’t mean I can get blamed for that,” Wes insisted as he surveyed the damage.
“Wes, I was in here. You threw that at us,” Melinda countered.
“Oh, I did?” replied Wes, adding, “Still, just because I did that doesn’t mean I can get blamed for doing that. GOD!”
Wes actually pulled the same defense when it came to the closet door as he said. “I don’t remember doing this.” WELL! Then clearly you didn’t do it! Problem solved! Must have been a ghost. Oooooh. Very scary!!
Eventually Wes came to realize that he had caused a whirlwind of destruction, and finally Melinda was able to return to her Jodi Picoult book. And hey, Wes even apologized to Rachel too. As for learning anything from this experience, don’t get too excited. Wes was dependably vacant with no traces of any self-reflection.
Hey, remember Nehemiah? Well, he was still tooling away on the documentary. It seemed as though things had taken a turn for the better though as David stopped by to check in. The advisor said he was happy, but with only two days left, Neh still had a lot of work ahead of him. “So let’s just keep moving on it, man. No more delays,” David said, euphemistically glossing “jail” and “assault” into the word “delays.” Very smooth, David. Very smooth.
Well, Nehemiah did rise to the occasion and actually finished the doc, which meant it was time to select an outfit for the big screening. Nehemiah decided that he and Wes should go pimp to the premiere, which makes sense because so many people always go pimp for the premieres of, um, short form documentaries. Right? Okay, maybe not. Nevertheless, it was finally — finally — time for the big night, and as Wes and Nehemiah slipped into their outfits, we suddenly realized that they looked less pimp and more Dumb and Dumber. I guess they deserve points for having some sort of personal style, even if Wes’s tux was about a size too large. And at least they didn’t look like Danny who was dressed like he was ready to attend a Varsity dinner.
Really dumb and dumber
At the premiere, David greeted the guys by saying, “You guys look like dumb and dumber.” He then added, “And the movie too!” TVgasm rimshot! Tips in the jar, we’re here all week. Try the veal!
Paul Steckler then emerged from the crowd, and for the first time I noticed that he seemed to have a severe case of scoliosis, or as I like to call it, “Steckliosis.” But enough babbling about Steck and his debilitating back problems. Let’s get to the screening! And by “screening,” I mean sentimental flashbacks about the entire filmmaking experience. Yay! All those memories… that we’ll never remember. Like the time Wes held the camera or that crazy day when Danny picked up a boom mic. Yeah, that’s the stuff legendary docs are made of. I can already smell the Oscar.
And now, without further ado, the screening of “The Real SXSW!”
The lights went dim in the theater, the title screen came up, the audience clapped and suddenly, “To see ‘The Real SXSW’ in its entirety go to www.overdrive.mtv.com” appeared on the screen. And then the show ended. Huh? That’s it? Oh well. All’s well that ends abruptly, right?
And speaking of ending, the preview for next week’s episode announced that the season finale was upon us. Hallelujah! Am I right people? What did you think about this episode?