Leaving The Real World experience

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Change is in the air this week as I’m about to move from the “up and coming” USC neighborhood of Los Angeles to the hipper Echo Park/Silver Lake area. I apologize in advance for this article may be a little more personal than my others, but hopefully hilarious nonetheless.

Anyone who’s been a part of the moving process knows that it flat out sucks. Everything from lugging furniture up and down the stairs to arranging meetings with the landlord in hopes of persuading them that having a dog in the apartment is a good idea – it’s all a blend an uphill battle and a downward spiral. With all this stress still to come, you’d think I’d be hesitant to change location before the 1st of October, but it’s quite the opposite. As my life on 25th Street comes to an end, it’s appropriate to evaluate the past year of my life in terms of what changes I’d like to make for new apartment and new life chapter. The only way to sum up my time here on 25th Street is through the comparison to MTV’s reality television show, The Real World. Yes, I’m serious. My time here has been that outrageous.

I moved to Los Angeles last August with the pre-notion that I’d have six other roommates, one of which was my bestie from 3rd grade, who took me under her wing and showed me the ropes and essentials to survive in L.A — the tanning salon, the plastic surgery clinic, and the hair salon to amp up my blonde highlights from sun-kissed ombré to platinum Barbie doll.

The Real World Cancun cast (Wikipedia)
The Real World Cancun cast

Like on The Real World, “seven strangers are picked to live in a house,” which brings forth my living nightmare to the seven strangers picked by the gods of Craigslist to live under one roof on 25th Street. The only things that separate The Real World from the real world are a lack of covert and overt cameras, producers on standby, and the confessional booth. As for the drama, oh, that’s real.

There’s been research done, followed by speculation, that TV analysts and cast and crew members alike suggest reality television is anything but, thanks to the mass amounts of editing done in post-production. Sentences can be re-worded, timelines shifted and moaning noises added to dark, grainy bedroom shots to insinuate sex when really, the housemates are asleep — all within a few hours in the editing room.

Or maybe they are having sex; pay no mind to the three other people who share that same room with beds only feet distance apart. Consideration and common sense fly out the window. With the amount of broken furniture, broken hearts and broken fists, all this chaos must be planned. There’s no way seven people under one roof can become so dysfunctional in their own right … Right?

It’s safe to say that while executive producers and screenwriters coordinate a substantial amount of drama on The Real World, as a person who’s lived in a similar scenario, I can confess that people “stop being polite and start getting real” rather quickly.

One tactic The Real World’s creators use to stir up drama is the mixture of classic stereotypes, which show up season after season. The popular recurring stereotypes include: the gay guy, the pitiful one who “needs Jesus,” the party girl, and the bumpkin — all three present on 25th Street as well. You see where I’m going with this?

Danny and Melinda from the Austin season (Flickr)
Danny and Melinda from the Austin season

With a recipe for disaster in place, the seven contestants chosen are not selected entirely at random. They weren’t blindly picked out of a hat. They’re chosen based on an audition tape, which commonly goes into detail about how screwed up their lives are, and thus exposes their stereotype. Take Paula from The Real World: Key West who suffered from an eating disorder, excessive alcohol consumption and recently escaped from an abusive relationship, aka The Party Girl. Or Ayiiia, the pitiful one who needs saving, from The Real World: Cancun who openly cut herself in front of the cameras and left blood stains all over a Cancun five-star hotel’s carpet. Or Dustin, The Bumpkin from The Real World: Las Vegas, a straight man from a small town in Louisiana, who “performed” in homosexual to get out of a sticky financial situation. It’s knowledge and gossip like this that casting directors love to hear.

On 25th Street there were no casting directors, no casting tapes and no pre-determined decision to base roommates on the stereotypical box they fit into best. And yet, even without the Hollywood-esque elements, a girl who fits the gay, proud feminist mold, a girl who fits the crazy, obnoxious heaver drinker persona, and a girl who fits the small town, socially awkward, space case character all found a way to end up under one roof.

In the end, The Real World isn’t as fictitious as it seems, if anything, it teaches society a lesson about how to deal with the stupid and annoying people that surround us on the daily. The lessons to be learned: throw furniture when angry, cry on the phone to long distances lovers and relatives when distraught, and do not hesitate to punch someone in the face because you drank a little too much. That’s a completely valid reason, and something that happened with the 25th Street roommates on “bowling night” at Lucky Strike — but I won’t get into that.

While violence and inexcusable, animalistic behavior makes up 90 percent of all The Real World’s episodes, hookups cover the remaining 10 percent. When it comes to on-screen affection, all types of relationships from love (remember like Danny and Melinda from Austin?), to Jonnay from Cancun and her hookups with, well, everybody (sorry Jamine, none left for you), deserve a yawn, an eye-roll and a scoff. This shit’s not real. The Real World house may reflect real life drama, but not real life long-lasting relationships, even friendships.

Your “best friend in the house” is actually the equivalent to a mutual friend you met at the bar and took a few Fireball shots with in the real world. Same concept applies to 25th Street. Whoever fashioned this myth that being under one roof makes you family deserves to be shot in the face. Quite the opposite; being under one-roof makes you hate each other.

Dustin Zito from The Real World Las Vegas (Flickr)
Dustin Zito from The Real World Las Vegas

As much gaspingly fun it is to watch intoxicated hookups on TV, they’re more of a confusing brain tickler when it’s between two people you know, let alone live with. Take it from The Strokes that everything is simple in the moonlight. After the bar, with everybody five shots deep, it’s easy to think that stroking your roommate’s upper leg in the Lyft ride on the way home goes unnoticed to the other housemates. Wrong. If anything, people become more perceptive when alcohol’s involved.

Although it may sound like I’m some introverted, anti-social, hater biatch who’d prefer to live alone with seven cats, I promise that’s not the case. The reality is that living in a house with six other people feels like a permanent hangover. Everyone’s conversations are too loud, all group activities seem too draining (never hosting Secret Santa or Thanksgiving at my house ever again), and I need to pop at least two Vicodin to get through the day. If you’re not happy with something, change it, and that’s precisely what I have in mind. It’s out of 25th Street and onto — OK, I haven’t exactly pulled the trigger on a new place, but whether I end up homeless on the streets, or in a Motel 6 somewhere in Inglewood for a couple nights, anywhere is better than here. Adios.