By B-Side|Thursday, March 3, 2005 | 3:28 pm | 12 Comments
We’re getting closer to the end. That’s right. This week’s episode of The Real World saw our plucky team of reality stars cum landscape designers finally complete their long gestating playground. That can only mean one thing: the end is nigh. With any luck, we’ll be done with this season in two or three episodes and then sweet silence will reign supreme on Tuesday nights, at least until Real World Austin starts up. Curiously enough, even though the Philadelphia season has not yet ended, some of the stars (Karamo, Shavonda, and Landon) will be pulling double duty starting this Monday on The Inferno II. What’s that you say? Two nights a week of Landon and Shavonda? Why yes, life DOES suck!I guess I shouldn’t harp too much on the Real World/Road Rules Challenge considering that I’m here to report on only The Real World. So let’s take our mind off it and see what the Philly kids were up to this week. Why, they were dining at Chili’s, home of the $300,000 Chili’s bucks provided on the Real World/Road Rules Battle of the Sexes 2. Aww. Thanks corporate sponsorship! Sadly, no Saturn Ions came crashing through the front door. Dammit, I said I’d stop talking about the Challenge…
Amazingly, the mere mention of Chili’s did not cause the producers to bust out some bungee chords and pig intestines. No, the roommies were simply eating at the fine establishment. Well, almost all the roommates were at least. Sarah was on her no-food diet which consisted of, you guessed it, no food. Yes, it was time to reacquaint ourselves with Sarah’s eating disorder, but something was different this time around. Unlike the beginning of season when Sarah was eager to broadcast all her problems, ailments, and sexual conquests, our favorite law student has mellowed out over the past few months and become, dare I say it, affable and agreeable. As she detailed her history with food and her body, we got a sense that this was a woman who might not be using her eating disorder as a means for screen time. Shavonda, meanwhile, fainted at Sarah’s inability to hoard attention with such a good hook. “I would die to have an eating disorder! Do you know how much more face time I’d get?”
Around this time, the producers decided to punctuate Sarah’s battle with the bulge by providing ample cutaway shots of people waiting in line for Philly Cheesesteaks. It’s the subtle touches that make The Real World so special.
Back at the mansion, Sarah languished in her bed. Shavonda attempted to make Sarah feel better by pledging to eat a cucumber a day with her, but I didn’t really see how that would benefit anyone, save the local cucumber peddler down the street. Way to go Shavonda. There’s no better way to tackle an eating disorder than to impose a strict cucumber-only diet.
In all fairness, Shavonda was just trying to cheer Sarah up (seriously, she had no intention of eating all those cucumbers. Such a gesture would be like… sincere. ewwww). When the cucumber tactic failed, Shavonda resigned to do Sarah’s makeup in bed. Yes, nothing is more helpful to a girl struggling with her self-image than tackling the problem with cosmetics. It’s kind of like saying “You feel ugly? Well, we’ll pretty you up so that you can have an artificial sense of security now, only to feel increasingly more hollow and desperate later!”
Meanwhile, back at the job for the Philly Soul which has nothing to do with Arena Football, the roommates were nearing completion of their playground. This was evidenced by several lingering shots of playground, playground, playground, and… T-Mobile! Hey, when you’ve got to shill, you’ve got to shill.
While everyone toiled on the jungle gym, Karamo meanwhile revealed his stealth plan to… buy a trophy for Landon? Whaaa? A selfless gesture? But he’s supposed to be the angry black man! That’s what the editing has always told us, and the editing always reveals the truth! I don’t understand. This show has jumped the shark!
After some solid playground construction, Sarah hit the gym to work off that Chili’s meal she didn’t have. MJ meanwhile told us that in the giant city of Philadelphia, he happened to find Sarah’s parents. Huh? Were they just begging in the streets or something? Actually, no. They were in town for a planned visit to their daughter, who they saw for about two seconds when she stepped out of her workout to greet them on the street. And then the real shit began.
Later that evening, Sarah’s meddling sister called up to say that Mom says Sarah should start up the South Beach diet again. Suddenly, everything about Sarah made sense. It’s bad enough that a mother would say such a thing, but to think that this girl was raised in such an environment is, dare I say, heartbreaking.
This multi-pronged passive aggressive attack sent Sarah bawling into her bed where Shavonda and Mel conveniently were present to console her. Mel, for one, had an eager look to pass judgment as she entered the room, and sure enough, when Sarah told her what had happened, Mel asserted “Your mom did not say that!” She then added “No good mother would ever say such a harmful thing. Surely such a woman would do a terrible job raising her daughters!”
Well, Mel soon discovered that Sarah’s mom would in fact say such cruel things. When the phone rang sometime later, Mel answered it only to come voice to voice with the Joan Crawford-ish matriarch herself. It was a battle of the PA horns, and as usual, age beat out beauty as Mel tried to cover for Sarah, but eventually galloped away from the phone with her tail between her legs. Seeing that her mother had slain the best PA artist in the house, Sarah quickly called up her parents to set the record straight. There was a little “First of all!” action, followed by “You have no right!” and ending with, well, general sobs.
Sarah’s mother had the chutzpah to tell her she looked like her freshman year of college, which we’ll presume meant she was a hungry hungry hippo. With the cancer and everything, shouldn’t Sarah’s mom be more concerned with valuing things rather than tearing them down? You know, instead of bashing her daughter for her two pound weight increase, maybe she should say something like, I don’t know, “I love you the way you are”? Probably the worst part of all this though was that Sarah didn’t simply say “You are out of line.” Instead she explained her weight gain as an unfortunate result of too many carbs in Fiji. I really wanted to smack her upside the head. You don’t have to explain anything, you silly girl! Okay, it’s official. Sarah gets a free pass the episode. I can’t make fun of this girl. Her mother has completely f-cked her up.
Meanwhile, in Karamo’s little adventure of the day, he sought out MJ to warn him that he was buying a plaque for Landon. MJ thought it was a delightful idea, until he found out the plaque would say “Outstanding Candidate For A Slit Throat.” Actually, it wasn’t going to say that at all, but Karamo wanted to make sure that MJ didn’t perceive the gesture as a competitive nod towards Landon. Wow, Karamo did something mature and friendly AGAIN. Maybe he has the flu. Meanwhile, Mel barged into the room full of anger: “Karamo! You want to actually avoid accidental PA with MJ? That’s it. You’re dead to me!”
The next day, Sarah sought the advice of Donna, the therapist and head of the Northern Home for Children. Man, it’s nice to have an adult around for once. Donna gave Sarah some thoughtful and important advice that for once wasn’t tinged with the idiotic underpinnings commonly found in Shavonda or Landon’s ramblings. So let’s see: we’ve got Karamo being selfless, Sarah approaching her eating disorder maturely, and Donna dispensing some sage wisdom. There’s all too much reason going on here this episode. Can’t anyone be childish??
Enter Willie. Usually Willie tends to be the most mature person in the house, but for whatever reason, he chose this exact moment to swivel his head and become the resident prima dona we always knew he could be. He accused Sarah of “babbling about like these weight issues that are non-existent.” Oh, don’t you front, little man. We got Sarah’s back this episode. You better slow yo’ roll.
Willie’s main beef was that while the group was working, Sarah was talking to Donna – for two hours. He and Sarah quickly devolved into a screaming match with her main line of defense being “How dare you!” Eventually, Sarah noted that at least she doesn’t come to work hung over. Willie whipped around and opened his jaw so widely, I half expected a smaller Willie head to emerge from his mouth, kind of like in Alien. “I am not hung over EVER!” he yelled, adding “Except those times when I’m skipping work, but I’m only doing that because I’M HUNG OVER!”
Click on Willie to see how big his mouth can open…
MTV cut to a commercial, and inexplicably, when we returned, everything was fine. Sarah shrugged the whole thing off in an interview, noting that Willie becomes a diva when he has to do manual labor. Oh. Okay. The two sat down on a bench and talked everything out, ultimately causing Willie to admit that Sarah’s weight problems were real and important.
Later that night, Sarah finally had dinner with her parents. Yeah, this was going to be awkward. Her mom quickly motioned to repress the entire fight, saying “Let’s not make it a big deal.” She then added, “By the way, we ordered you a salad. A SIDE salad.” Believe it or not, a salad did arrive at the table, and in a classic moment, her mom quickly and dismissively pointed the dish to Sarah. It was kind of her way of saying “Don’t you DARE think about putting on any weight.”
The good news, and I say this sincerely, was that by the end of the meal, Sarah’s mom came to realize that what she had done was wrong. Way wrong. She and her daughter kissed and made up while passive poppa sat quietly and wondered where his life had gone wrong. Let’s just hope they’re all in group therapy now.
The show entered its final stretch at the playground which was nearly ready to open. All that was left to do was put the last touches on a gazebo. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Bon Jovi arrived to check out the scene. Yes, ladies and gentleman. It’s official. Bon Jovi will play anywhere, even the opening of a gazebo. Actually, Jon BJ didn’t perform. Instead he climbed onto the roof and hammered the final nail into the structure. Watch out Ty Pennington. We’ve got a new carpenter coming your way!
I was really glad Bon Jovi showed up for this final, symbolic nail. It was really meaningful to me. I mean, could you imagine if he had actually shown up the next day for the official dedication? With all those children and parents around, I would hate for them to get excited to see a real rockstar! They don’t need that. Dreams are for the pathetic.
After a random trip to Ikea, the playground was ready to go. Landon nearly bawled when Karamo presented him with the plaque, and the moment was made even sweeter when the good people of ING Direct took the stage and announced that they’d given all the Real Worlders $1,000 each in savings accounts. We then cut to the poor children just standing there blankly. That’s right. None for you children. You’ll have to beg for your next meal. Maybe next time you should try being middle/upper class and on a reality show which will lead to a career of personal appearance fees and prize money from the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. But I guess you’re too “POOOOOR” for that. The ING people then put on their top hats and monocles and walked away.
What do you think? Does Sarah stand any chance of ever crawling out from under years of her mother’s neurosis?