Thursday, January 29, 2009

Real World: Brooklyn: Abuse Edition

So last night's Real World was just as tedious as the previous episodes, while at the same time marginally more exciting than anything we've seen on the show before. Thanks, parental abuse!

Yes, today's episode was brought to you by the letter Sarah and the number Crazy. You see, Sarah has tattoos and bangs but she is truly a tender soul who likes arts and crafts. Her black-and-white Myspace photos (self-taken) don't just stem from a crushingly typical lack of self-esteem; no, see, a camp counselor molested her as a child, and then her parents separated and her dad took her on a camping trip and brought only one sleeping bag, so Sarah freaked out and has spent the last ten years avoiding her father. I felt kind of sleazy getting enthralled by Sarah's personal demons, because you just know the producers gave her dad the house's phone number and then just happened to instruct Chet to argue with Sarah about the nature of parental abuse and the importance of forgiveness, so that we'd be primed for the daddy-drama.

Because here's what bothered me about that whole subplot: I...don't think it was abuse. Yes, Sarah was molested by a camp counselor. Nobody's mocking that, and if she used child psychology and art therapy to get her though her problems, then great for her. But as far as we know, her father didn't actually do anything. Is sharing a sleeping bag with your twelve-year-old daughter strange? A bit, perhaps, but maybe it was a two-person sleeping bag, or maybe he just had to conserve space, or maybe it was a harmless gesture but his daughter was still in a bad mental place, so she overreacted and has been running ever since. But I know people whose parents did abuse them, sexually and physically, and it fucking sucks that they (very understandably) have a hard time trusting older authority figures while having to eschew the relationship with their parents so necessary throughout adolescence, because Dad was fucked up and Mom didn't care. I take parental abuse very seriously. But from what we were told, Sarah's dad didn't abuse her! He didn't, unless she's not telling us something, and the Real World producers exploiting Sarah's horrific past and twisting her story into a Grand Crusade Against Abuse rubbed me the wrong way, like they needed to give someone else an issue, like they were bored of her character and needed to throw her a detour, because I doubt Sarah spoke about her father in her audition video, so I'm assuming the producers did some digging. I'm not saying Sarah doesn't have a right to feel uncomfortable around her father--that's her issue--but I am saying that Sarah shouldn't be the "face of abuse survival" on the show if the problem she's facing--her father calling her repeatedly--may not actually be abuse. (Not to mention that Sarah crying "abuse" when maybe it wasn't abuse would kind of be a slap in the face to me if I were a victim of actual parental sexual molestation.) I will be very surprised if this becomes a theme of the show; I think the producers just wanted to have a Serious Episode, to be honest. On top of all that, it's hard to take Sarah's psychological problems seriously when we keep cutting away to watch Devyn's embarrassing attempts at musical theater.

Oh yeah, that. Devyn is an actress, did you know? She is a singer and performer and someday wants to be on TV or in movies, which she's already doing now, so she wins the game. Also, she was forty minutes late for her audition because she made a wrong turn and ended up in Jersey. (Welcome to my childhood! Ha.) And she got that personal audition after sending in her photo and "resume" (and probably a phone call from a RW producer, natch), and then she was there and the casting director was like "I should be mad about you being so late but I'm on TV so whatever" and then Devyn opened up her mouth and ruined the whole thing. She doesn't exactly sound like a dying cat, but...eh. She's not that great. She performed her monologue--about a woman diagnosed with HIV, or something--with less enthusiasm than when she spoke about her BFF-O-Meter with Scott, and then she sang the Star-Spangled Banner and tried to hit a high note but just sounded like she had inhaled too quickly. She also got into a sing-off with a tranny at a bar. And lost.

The sing-off happened because Devyn wanted to prove to JD that we're all special, or something, because JD is still a belligerent drunk who likes another transgendered person more than Katelynn and decided to tell everyone about it. Chet somehow scored a second date with Scott's model friend Alex (and took her to Little Italy, of course), and then told Ryan that he and Alex aren't dating because she is a non-Mormon who wants to do wicked things like not go back home to Manhattan at one in the morning. We also learned that Chet has never touched a boob. Katelynn is frustrated because she hasn't experienced an orgasm in, like, forever, and I guess she isn't upset about her negligent boyfriend anymore. Baya is still the boring white girl, while Scott still lacks any discernible personality and may or may not be a real person. This show sucks and I hate it.

-Josh

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