As I've mentioned, the tapes I'm using to recap these episodes are from one of the many runs of the pre-New Orleans marathons. Interspersed throughout the commercial breaks, as you may remember, are the results of The Real World online poll, featuring pretty much the same three questions over and over and over again for the duration of this twelve-hour period. One of the poll questions asks who we, the voting audience, believe to be the "Life of the Party" during his/her Real World tenure, and the choices are thus: Teck, Ruthie, Nathan, and Lindsay. And so you may have wondered: Why are there no picks from the Boston season in this category? Why no options for someone who would qualify as having a "life" as seen in the context of a "party"? Were you wondering why? Well, this episode is a pretty accurate depiction of why. Pretend you're watching paint dry. Beige paint. On the freshly painted walls of a funeral home. Then pretend you're color-blind. Half the fun of that, and there you have this episode. Yawn. Yawn. A thousand times yawn.
Sometime several hours before the end of last week's episode (the continuity issues, er, continue), the Stagnant Seven sit in the kitchen of the firehouse, enjoying a hearty pasta dinner. We learn from Sean's and Jason's confessionals that "the whole house is working together at an after-school program for kids," and that they will be doing so "Monday through Thursday, 1:30 to 6:00." Children? They're having them work with CHILDREN? Could this be any more irresponsible? Seven self-obsessed brats so captivated by their own personalities that they believed the best mode of personal expression was to showcase their every move on television are going to subdue their angsty, pointless egos and work with kids? This can't end well. Hell, this can't even start well. If MTV saw fit to try and liven things up by sending them to work, maybe they should have picked a less volatile environment in which there was less of a chance of directly destroying the lives of vulnerable, impressionable people. Like putting them to work in the core room of a nuclear testing facility, for instance. Or maybe on an assembly line, welding commercial airliners. Kameelah hits the nail on the head, accurately recapping their entire experience in advance for our benefit: "It's like a stimulating five hours of everything." Well, except for the "five hours" part. And definitely except for the "stimulating" part.
After a short waking-up-and-getting-ready montage (Hey, thanks! I really needed that gratuitous shot of Syrus putting on deodorant), we're back outside in the frozen tundra. Being outdoors for the first time since moving into the firehouse poses quite the challenge for many of these homebodies, though, and within three or four TV seconds, they are lost. Apparently they forgot to bring the more detailed topological map of the city, the one with all the glaciers and permanent ice floes on it, which would probably provide some assistance in this wintry hell they've done their best to avoid thus far. They are soon to find their way to a building marked, "Women's Educational and Industrial Union," an establishing shot for the children's center that I am convinced changes at least once during the course of this season. Once inside, they meet "Ana," the trainer for the volunteer program. She sequesters them in a room and suggests they begin the training. She tosses out a few introductory questions: "Can you walk in late?" A chorus of "no" responds, and Ana lobs another inquiry: "Can you decide, 'We went out last night, we had a really good time, I'm really tired, I want to stay in bed?'" And though ostensibly rhetorical in nature, Ana's questions are practically drowned out by the deafening roar of incredulous eye rolls the seven of them shoot around the room, while the soundtrack features a wailing blues trumpet suggesting that gainful employment is the scourge of the poverty-stricken, non-televised, destitute, and just downright unlucky. Awwwww. Poor, poor Boston cast, with their ball-busting four-and-a-half-hour work day.
Ana gives large pieces of paper and numerous colored magic markers to the seven of them, telling them to "write down all the things you bring into the program." And so they each embark on making lists of qualities that they believe describe them. Montana likes to "play and laugh." Genesis is "creative, patient, and playful." Syrus preaches the benefits of his "organization" and "drawing skills," though he uses but one blue marker to make his hastily assembled list, a list that contains no noticeable organization or drawings of any kind. Maybe he should have listed one of his strong points as "master of visual irony." Kameelah sketches a self-portrait in which she wears a yarmulke, I think. Unsurprisingly, she too advertises a yen to "laugh, be loud/crazy." I rewound this scene six or seven dozen times to try deciphering even one element from Jason's list, but his writing is so poor, I can only imagine that his list of things that make him special begins and ends with, "Can write almost legibly with my feet. Almost." Annoyingly (someone call me on it if I inadvertently begin every sentence for the rest of this recap with that word, since it would be syntactically uninteresting to read but appropriate to the remainder of the action), the posters that they hang on the wall are readily visible to the viewing audience in the scene BEFORE they are said to be drawn. Oh, continuity. How we hardly knew ye.