January 8, 2002
Bonjour, my little cabbages! Just in time for a brand-new season of "The Real World," I bring you the summation of that lengthy psychological torture session known as "Back to New York." It will probably come as no surprise that the overall tone of your answers was one of disgust, disdain and profound ennui. Bunim/Murray had better hope to high heaven that the multi-person shower livens up the Chicago cast!
So, Season X was a bore, but that doesn't mean that I won't analyze every last little detail if that's what will make my little sweethearts happy. First, some basic facts. This year's survey received 72 responses, half girls and half boys. Respondents ranged in age from 16 to 43, which is a narrower range than in past years. Still, how many activities do teens and fortysomethings usually share? Glue-sniffing? Moping about their looks? The average age of respondents was a mature, reasonable 27, much too mature and reasonable to spend months in the company of Coral and Company!
The highest percentage of respondents watched TRW every week (39%), but large blocks of the viewing audience were more casual watchers. Thirty percent of you categorized yourselves as watching "most of the time," and a quarter of you confessed that you only gazed upon the lovely face of Nicole occasionally. Six percent of you never watch the show, which raises a few questions, darlings. Besides TRW, over half (54%) of you watch those Road Rules hijinks, and 40% of you watch "Survivor." Over a third (35%) of you listed "other" reality television programs as your personal vice. I listed the category as "other," because actually having to admit to watching "Love Cruise" would be just too embarrassing!
Now, in past years, the majority of voters usually admit that they would love to be a Real World cast member. The cushy house, the drama, the attention- what's not to like? Well, after this onerous season, you all faced the cold, hard truth: boring roommates, a meaningless job, puke stains on the stairs. Over half (53%) of respondents would flee any opportunity to be shacked up with six strangers. Of course, the results change with gender. A majority of guys (56%) would actually brave the elements and take their time in front of the cameras. Only 39% of the girls would do the same.
After a few seasons of increase, the viewing audience for TRW is down slightly. According to these results, Hawaii and New Orleans remain the most-watched seasons of "The Real World." "Back to New York," while still commanding higher numbers than, say, London or Los Angeles, just doesn't make the cut. Will Season XI-Chicago continue the slide? If your comments about the Miami shower scene and the rumors of group showers in Chicago are any indication, I think not.
Even though I clearly remember many complaints about the annoying New Orleans cast, Season IX still ranks number one in people's hearts and minds. The order hasn't changed much over the past year, either, since San Francisco and Hawaii are still runners-up. A third of you have seen all ten seasons- that's a decade of whining histrionics, my friends- and those seasoned viewers have declared the New Orleans season the pinnacle of Bunim-Murray's achievement.
Ah, pauvre "Real World-London." It used to be distinguished by its utter horribleness. It was the worst, the pit, the nadir, despite the herculean efforts of googly-eyed Lars. Now, Season IV is only second-worst, de-throned by "Back to New York," the new least-favorite Real World season.
After reading your results, I've decided that everyone has their own quirky reasons for liking somebody, but an unlikable person is unlikable all around. The results for "Favorite Real World Cast Members of All Time" feature some different names than previous years; is there a particular reason for the Norman renaissance? What in heaven's name is Puck doing on this list? As you can see, respondents suggested a wide range of folks as their favorites, including "None."
Favorite Real World Cast Members of All Time
The Hall of Shame rarely changes, however. One of the few changes that occurred from last year is that David from New Orleans has gone from being high on the hate-list to being "David who?" Instead, the ickiest of the icky is our very own Nicole. Let's hope we can forget her as easily!
Least Favorite Real World Cast Members of All Time
Everyone used to be so fond of the Big Apple as a location, but Season X made us all wish for balmier shores. Hawaii ranks as the favorite Real World location this year, closely followed by New Orleans and New York. It's just too bad this next season's locale is another gritty, urban milieu. What I wouldn't give right now for some mindless pleasure beneath the palm trees!
Well, my darlings, with this new two season per year regime, Bunim/Murray is actually going to have to listen to our location suggestions! Before you know it, we'll be watching "Real World: Worms, Nebraska" just because all the cool, glamorous cities will have been done already.
Favorite Prospective Real World Locations
Favorite Real World Moments of All Time
Ah, here we have the old classics. I suppose that's because we don't have any new classics to replace such venerable chestnuts as "The Bitch-Slap that Shook the World" and "Hot 'n Heavy Waterworks, starring Beer Gut!" It's not a surprise that we remember the violence, the sex, the suffering. However, some of you did recall such minor masterpieces such as New Orleans Julie's boxing bout with Squirrel, and the little song Amaya sang when her roommates were mean to her (the person who nominated the latter moment assured me of his sanity). I find that it's those little moments that make the whole enterprise worthwhile.
But what about Season X, you might ask. All this other stuff is old news. Well, to be honest, last season felt like old news to me! But, you all told me what you disliked (just about everything) and what you liked (that it was over), and I'll pass along the information.
He doesn't screech or yell. He has cool hair. What's not to like about Malik? Our gangly, softspoken young man was the hands-on favorite this year, followed by Coral and Mike. Girls liked Coral more than guys did, as guys favored Lori more than the girls did. Both males and females found Mike an amiable, harmless doofus. Nicole received not a single vote in this category.
Instead, Nicole figures large in this category, receiving over half of the votes. She has over five times the number of votes as her nearest competitors for the nation's scorn, Coral and Rachel.
Ok, here's an imaginary situation. You're going to be on television for twenty-five weeks. What do you wear? How do you fix your hair? Television makes such normally piddling everyday concerns into Big Questions. In the following two questions, you assess how successful the kids were at presenting themselves.
The Season X cast wasn't exactly the best-looking bunch of 18 to 24 year olds I've ever seen. We had a woman with noticeably thinning hair, a guy with monumental hair, a plasticized drag queen and a tousled four year old. Not much to choose from, mes amis! But, choose you did, and Lori came out the winner. Despite her problematic hairline and her failure attracting the opposite sex, respondents said that she looked like the proverbial million smackers.
The flip side, of course, was that Nicole was declared this season's "fashion victim." The only surprise was that anyone else received a vote at all! But, Midwestern doughiness is always out of fashion, and Mike and Rachel had that in spades.
Now, voters could have approached this question in two different
ways. They could've taken the emotional route and decided to
mug the person they least liked, hoping to traumatize them forever.
Or, they could've taken the career criminal route and decided
which cast member was the easiest mark. Why go after the bulging
wrestler wanna-be, when you can knock over the ditzy toddler
with ease? And, don't you think Nicole would be a cinch in those
teetering high heels of hers?
Having lunch with someone means spending time with him. You have to watch him chew their food and listen to his opinions on world affairs. If you've ever had lunch with someone you dislike, you can understand why only one person in the whole survey said that he'd like to have lunch with Nicole. Most people, instead, would rather break bread with Malik. He won't yell at you, and he probably has fine table manners. The only downside is that his hair blocks your view of the restaurant.
Nobody wants to kiss Nicole, but that shouldn't surprise anyone who watched Season X. She'll be marked forever as a bad date because of her interminable projectile vomiting. No one wants to get in the way of that! Instead, Lori and Malik come out as the most kissable. Girls voted for Malik, Mike and Kevin in that order, while the boys preferred Lori, Rachel then Coral. If guys were going to kiss another guy, it would be Mike (don't you think he would hate that?). And, if girls were going to kiss another girl, it wouldn't be Lori, who seems to kiss girls as easily as belting out a show tune, it would be sassy Coral. Go figure!
Season X was sparse in the memories department, and for that we should be thankful. Still, respondents were able to scrounge up a few big moments to sum up the futility and despair of "Back to New York." Most people, however, just gave up and wrote in "None." Of course, the biggest event of the season didn't star a Real Worlder at all, but a Road Ruler. An exiled Road Ruler at that! Jisela's sexual voracity made her the most memorable thing about Season X, according to these results.
Most Memorable New York 2 Moments
With unpleasant flashbacks such as these, is it any wonder that I'm drowning my sorrows in bonbons? One thing I remember about this season of "The Real World," and indeed, every season, is that the cast members are always lazy bums. Bunim/Murray lines them up with cushy jobs and a city to explore, and the kids spend their time lounging around on the sofa and getting wicked at yuppie bars. It's a damn shame. Still, if this reality-tv celebrity gig doesn't work out for the Real World cast members, they'll have to look for some sort of work. You all told me what sorts of jobs the whippersnappers would be perfect for; this next section may give hope to the hopeless.
Jobs for Real Worlders
Just about everybody placed Kevin in some sort of sales position. Lord knows, he has the tools: utter insincerity and rabid self-interest. The only difference is that some of you thought he should sell used cars, and others thought he should be pushing some scam on infomercials. If he can't muster the charisma to sell stuff, he can always settle for some middle management "yes man" position. And, if that falls through, he can always find work as a Clinton impersonator according to one respondent.
We all know by now that Lori wants to be a singer, more than anything. But the entertainment world usually chews aspiring artists up and spits them out. What then, is our little nightingale to do? According to our respondents, the music industry holds a few options; she can sing in a Holiday Inn Lounge, or sing back-up for Wayne Newton. She could be a music teacher, or even deliver singing telegrams. But, if her voice fails her, she can always fall back on her hair (or lack of it). Many of you figured that she would take a position as some sort of spokesperson for the gripping issue of female baldness.
Malik as pediatrician? Malik as journalist? Sure, it all seems likely, since he such a quiet fellow, and we didn't ever learn much about his interests. Most viewers assumed he had a certain degree of intelligence and an interest in social issues, however, and assigned him careers such as teaching, diplomacy or activism. If the Peace Corps could be a lifelong calling, many of you think he would do that. And some of you figured he would use his distinct hairstyle to begin a career as a hair stylist or a Sasquatch. Elected office is not out of the question, since one respondent voted him, "President of the Nice Club."
Mike seems more of a blue-collar type of fellow. Most of you imagined him going home to Parma, to those Ohio girls he loves so well and to a place in his father's business. If he does strike out on his own, his career options may be limited by his locale; other jobs for Mike include carnie, gas jockey and pig farmer. Wrestling may play a part in the Miz's future, but according to the responses, a position as "village idiot" seems just as likely.
Most of the suggested careers for Nicole revolve around her use of personal care products. After all, when you spend a great deal of time doing anything, you become an expert, right? And there aren't very many careers in sofa-lounging at this time, especially with the recession and all. So, most of you voted for some sort of make-up artist job for Nicole, whether it be for the circus or for drag queens. Speaking of drag queens, a noticeable percentage of voters claimed that Nicole should perhaps be rightfully called Nicholas, and said that Nicole is already a drag queen!
Rachel seems so young and unformed that it's hard to imagine her holding a job at all. Indeed, many of you claimed that her mother would never let her do something so independent as work. Her interest in indie rock, however, means that there will always be a place for her, whether it's as a groupie, or behind the counter of a record store. The future, however, is in merchandising, and Rachel's best bet might be to portray such diverse, huggable creatures as a Kewpie Doll, Elmo or a Care Bear, according to your responses.
A note to Bunim/Murray: Season X seemed to stir up much resentment among its audience, and to save you more grief in the future, I've compiled my readers' suggestions on ways to make "The Real World" a better program. Some suggestions, such as "More public nudity" and "Punishments for bad behavior" might be difficult to institute, but the top five suggestions seem pretty obvious to me.
1. Fire the current casting department. Find employees who can distinguish between shrill, unlikable people and interesting people.
2. Get rid of the meaningless jobs that are jobs in name only. Either allow the cast members to find and hold their own, real jobs, or promote endless hedonism. If you must give everyone a standard job, make it a job in which failure is funny.
3. Make the kids work for their cushy house, or make the house not so cushy. I get the feeling that folks are tired of the way the "ungrateful little brats" abuse their designer furnishings without paying a cent of rent.
4. Stop the program. Just stop it. That suggestion is from the more bitter members of the viewing audience.
5. Cast older people. This suggestion did not only come from people over the golden age of 24, either, which rather surprised me.
My own personal suggestion, of course, is to ditch the casting
retreat. It set the relationships in stone before the kids even
moved in. Talk about a let-down, dearies! Anyway, I'm glad to
see that there's no such thing for the Chicago season, which
begins next week. I guess you could say that I'm skeptical, but
not without hope. I don't know if I could review another Season
X! Let's just cross our fingers, shall we? A bientot!