People hoping to get on reality shows have to endure countless rounds of interviews and rigorous testing before they're inevitably whittled down to the lucky seven who will be picked to live in a house and have their lives taped. The premiere episode of each new season of The Real World has become a similar experience for viewers at home. The introductory hour serves as the opportunity for those watching at home to see if this is a season worth investing in or if it will simply deliver a couple serviceable bodies for future 'Challenges.' The show's 27th season sees its strangers taking to the harsh realities of living in a resort on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. God speed.
It Means 'No Worries,' for the Rest of Your Days. Except Those Days You Have a Cartoon Quote Tattoo.
Marie shows up at Robb's house to learn where the show will be taking place and to teach his young sister that swearing gets you on TV. It's during this meeting that the topic "organically" turns to the fact that Robb has a tattoo on his shin that says "Hakuna Matata," from The Lion King. Marie finds this so weird because miraculously she's found someone out there truly her level of dumb enough to have these words etched into skin FOREVER.
Meanwhile, Brandon and Brandon (aka Swift) meet on the streets of St. Thomas, where Brandon tells Swift that he is from a Boston neighborhood known as "Southie." This has become a point of controversy in the Boston media, because some of his friends back home have insinuated that he's not from where he claims and that his upbringing wasn't quite as rough as he makes it seem. Nevertheless, the two are soon joined by Laura, a radioactive redhead who appears to be the castmate whose screen time is most likely to be focused on her channeling whatever artistic inclination she has.
"This Real Life, Dog?"
Swift, Brandon and Laura are the first to get to the house, which is actually their own private island. Naturally, they are all bewildered at the lavish accommodations. How does this still come as a surprise to these people? They have to have a working knowledge of the show and yet they're always stunned that they aren't sharing a studio apartment in downtown Detroit. Bonus -- the pool table serves as a geography lesson for where in the world the U.S. Virgin Islands are.
Brandon wastes no time opening up about his problems with drugs and alcohol. He makes it known that he has a problem handling hard liquor and is six months sober from heroin and cocaine. Another tried and true trope of any Real World season (save the early years) is that it's definitely not the best environment for a guy hoping to steer clear of vices.
The two other roommates are LaToya Jackson (seriously) and a seemingly generic guy named Trey. They're both the last to arrive at the house and they're also two of the slowest to exhibit any inclinations of what personalities they'll have in the house. Marie is the exact opposite. She came in with a suitcase loaded with beer and boxed wine; and along with her penchant for binge drinking, she possesses a very confrontational sense of humor that has been received with excitement from Robb, but could potentially create tension with her other roommates.
With the same breakneck speed he took getting his demons out in the open, Brandon has let it be known that he is going to be mopey and take issue with how he doesn't fit in. Additionally he expresses an attraction to Laura that is instantly discovered to be unrequited, as she only has eyes for Trey. For a guy with substance issues, daddy issues and a desire to hang out with like-minded piercing aficionados, it might be a long three months in the islands.
Every 'Real World' Cast Member is Contractually Obligated to Use the Phrase "Catching Feelings"
There are a lot of feelings getting caught on the first night in the house. Everyone has paired off with their respective, prospective coitus counterpart. Everyone except Brandon, who is left on his own to re-enact any scene from every Cure video you've ever seen. He confides in Robb about all of his animosity towards Trey and eventually stumbles off in search of him while menacing music plays over the scene.
After a commercial break, we learn that the two of them are able to "squash" things (another revolting phrase allegedly used by those in this generation that invariably makes my skin crawl). That is until Trey happens upon Brandon's journal and a particular page where he's maniacally scribbled "Kill me" over and over again.
So ends the first glimpse into Real World: St. Thomas. This season comes on the heels of San Diego, where absolutely no one stood out from the pack and everyone lived in relative harmony. This season has laid the foundation early that it won't be the same story. It remains to be seen if the pendulum might swing too far in the other direction given Brandon's apparent despair. The preview of the season ahead actually takes away a lot of the sizzle implied at the end of tonight's episode, but if this cast was interviewing for my viewership every Wednesday night, then they got the job.