Monday, June 21, 2004

Navel Gazing in Old City

This fall's premiere of MTV's The Real World: Philadelphia will present an enormous dilemma. On one hand, anything that makes my hometown look happening -- and make no mistake, TRW lacquers a hipster shine onto every city in which it tapes -- is okay in my book. On the other hand, my doctor has recommended I limit my daily exposure to self-absorption and angst, and if the staggering amounts being displayed by the twentysomething hotties currently drinking their way through San Diego are any indication, Philadelphia should be off the charts.

Every year, against virtually impossible odds, TRW producers somehow manage to find a more annoying, narcissistic, dysfunctional, whining group than the year before. If you told them Osama was a bisexual, nihilistic, pierced alcoholic who tells everyone within earshot he's just "misunderstood," by God, they'd find him and cast him.

The missus and I got sucked into a Real World: San Diego marathon last night, and I found myself literally shouting in frustration at the television screen. These people spend their days at low-stress, meaningless jobs, then spend their nights drinking wantonly, hooking up with each other, living in a palace stocked with the latest cutting-edge gadgets, and jetting to exotic world locales, all on MTV's dime, then have the audacity to face the camera and tearfully confess that they're thinking of leaving because their housemates won't put down the lid on the toilet when they're done.

I know I'm going to sound old -- like, Frank Fitzpatrick-old -- when I say this, but back when The Real World launched, way back in the early 1990s, the young people who put themselves on display seemed to be, if not genuine, then at least less obviously fake than today's posers. Some of them even approached average-looking, unlike the current genetically engineered freaks. Assholes like Puck were the exception, not the rule, while the kids in San Diego make Puck look like Mother Theresa.

Then again, perhaps a person who chronicles his beer and sandwich choices at baseball games shouldn't throw stones at others for being self-involved. In other words: Who do I think I'm kidding? Of course I'll watch. I'll look for restaurants and bars I've been to, and neighborhoods I've hung out in, and local landmarks, and I'll hope like hell that the show reflects Philadelphia's complex greatness. Yeah, that's it -- I'll be watching for civic reasons. Just don't tell my doctor.


At June 21, 2004 at 3:18 PM, Blogger mark said...

TRW used to be one of my guilty pleasures, but I haven't really watched the past couple seasons (MTV in general disgusts me). I do, however, occasionally get sucked into one of the marathons (how can you not? they're like crack) and I agree that the show has gone way downhill. I may be tempted to watch the Philly season, though. Anyway, the London season was always my favorite. No way it's gonna live up to that.

At June 22, 2004 at 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that the Miami crew was the most sad and disfunctional of the lot. I actually liked the New Orleans people (well, most anyway) because they didn't seem *that* dumb. The Mormon girl was very sweet and intelligent: she actually impressed me.


At June 23, 2004 at 7:19 AM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

Dave Chappelle did a takeoff of TRW on his show (aptly named, "Chappelle's Show") where he had a house full of angry, drug-using, gun-toting african-americans . . . and one white guy from Maine. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen. If MTV's attempt had been nearly as funny or entertaining, I would watch it. Puck rules!


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