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Something weird happened this week while I was watching The Real World: Brooklyn. There was a Calvin Klein jeans commercial that ran several times. It featured panting models lying half-naked on top of each other. This is normal. What isn’t normal is when you are repeatedly forced to notice that MTV has taken to letting companies buy airtime for advertisements that are smuttier than the smut on your DVR. It feels like they’re putting a face on all of us. The Real World is very different, now. Different how, you ask? “Dilators, Dresses, and Bow Ties” was an hour-long potpourri of storylines, rounded out by a series of Orville Chetenbacher (he’s back like Britney, bitch) asshattery zingers. Perhaps the best yet. In this episode, everyone was a minor player. Each roommate’s star glowed like the numbers on my digital alarm clock, which have counted down the hours and days of my heretofore meaningless life to one very special moment: when Chetubular the Morminator finally got to have his make-up professionally did. My friends, some things are worth waiting for.
Given that Katelynn is all outsie about her transgenderness, Chetubular is constantly engaging in Q&A sessions with her about her surgery. “You can always play ‘Ask the Transexual,'” Katelynn assures him after he relentlessly queries her about why she has to stick things inside of her vagina to make sure it stays a vagina. “Yeah, it’s like my favorite game,” Chet replies, looking smug in his “THUGS NOT DRUGS” cotton T-shirt, which was probably purchased from an online retailer that sells “witty” apparel to morons.
Later, Chet tells Katelynn that he would like to dangle her “medical dildos” (a/k/a stints) from a string of dental floss and delicately place it on someone’s lips. Fun prank! Katelynn, unsurprisingly, is none too keen on this notion. “His interest has gone from general curiosity to…almost maliciousness,” she notes. I guess he doesn’t respect you after all, Katelynn! “You’re back on douchebag status, Chet,” she glowers into the camera. While Katelynn comes to the realization we all had from day one, Chet follows up by making sure she knows he thinks it’s wrong to compare her dilating stints to a necessary-to-life medical device, like an insulin shot. Dr. Cheticular Warts, everybody! Bear in mind this young stud has never been up close and personal with a cervix, but feels perfectly comfortable with judging just how Katelynn keeps hers from disappearing.
Katelynn, luckily, has better things to do. Like have a heart-to-heart with Baya in the bathroom, in which she tells her confidante how she never thought she’d even live this long, and even now, sometimes, she wants to give up. But she can’t, because she wants to discover how to be her own, full person. And help others like her! Baya stares blankly and then lets herself be enveloped into a hug. When Katelynn presents the transgender database website she’s built at a launch party at the gender identity center, Baya gapes at the computer screen and bursts into tears. “I’m just so proud of you!” she says. Why is she on the show again?
I HOPE YOU DAAAAAAAANCE. That’s why Baya’s on the show! Oh, what a treat. If you recall, Lady McBoring declined her invitation to join some kind of military-esque dance conservatory because the teachers were mean and didn’t put sparkly smiley face stickers on her broken toes and yelled instead of stroked her hair like she was a baby rabbit. Baya doesn’t like learning through fear! While Ryan listens to her lame justifications for not joining the conservatory – seriously, what the fug does she do all fracking day long? – he tries to explain that they were just trying to break her down so they could build her back up again. Baya isn’t having any of that. “Someone needs to slap her. To be like, Baya, work! Harder!” Ryan says. She disagrees, choosing instead to dance alone in the Castle studio underneath some kind of inner monologue voiceover about how she’s just trying to figure it all out. She just wants to DAAAAAAAAANCE. Okay? Okay! God. So she goes to some more classes. In one of them, some teacher hangs a gigantic blue ribbon from the ceiling and makes her swing around on it. She giggles and they say Great job! In another class, she looks like she actually knows what she’s doing, and outside Sarah is like, “You were the best one! ZOMG!” Baya likes this because it means she trusted her instincts, and that the classes she’s taking independently are helping her “grow” as a dancer. Yep. We’ll believe it when we see you in a Lil’ Wayne video, Missy!
Devyn is switching career directions constantly, but don’t worry, she’s doing it all on a collegiate level. She meets up with a pageant gown design house called Giovanni Fashions, and basically they’re like oh sure, here, plenty of jobs, you can have one! A nice lady asks her to try on a million gaudy glamazonian pageant dresses, and then Dev meets the co-owner dude and talks about how in five years she sees herself with a successful film career, a designer collection of her own (exclusively available at Wet Seal, I’m guessing), and a dessert restaurant. (WHAT?!) The dude is totally impressed and, naturally, tells her she can be the Director of PR for his company, as well as a house model. “I tried on dresses all day and then I researched some fashion editors at, like, Vogue and stuff,” Devyn trills to Chet at the end of her first day. “That for $20 an hour, it wasn’t hard!” Dev, you’re a loveable wackadoo, but you are SUCH a PR girl. Also, at some point, Dev drags Sarah into the mix and makes her model some mother-of-the-bride dresses and cover up her tattoos. Sarah looks pretty nice, actually, though she says she feels massively insecure. Devyn doesn’t notice this because she’s busy trying to keep her chest from falling out of a horrendous black muumuu covered in mirrored sequins.
Now we have arrived at the swan song of the week. Chetubular the Morminator. Making his dreams come true. Enough is enough already: he wants to be a fucking MTV host and I wish they would just cut the crap and say it: “You’re the next Carson Daly! We heart your guyliner! For your first assignment we’d like you to make-out with Pete Wentz and pretend you’re in love with him before you introduce the new Fall Out Boy video.” But we have to sit through all of the shenanigans first. It begins when Chet interviews a band called Danger Radio at the Atlantic Records studios – he literally refers to it, on camera, as a “Chet-Chat session” – and the girl person who is supervising is all impressed and thinks he’s just the bee’s knees! His questions aren’t bad. He’s just a dingus. Sigh.
The band invites Chet and Ryan to the Highline Ballroom, where they sit like a King and his jester in the fancy VIP section. After the show, Danger Radio go back to the Castle because they’re dying to see what it looks like, and nobody turns down that invitation. Encased in his lilac American Apparel sleeveless hoodie – without anything on it underneath and the zipper wide open and oh Christ I saw his pale Morminator torso and I’m still traumatized – Chet says, “I want Ryan to play guitar for Danger Radio…he has an amazing talent and ability. I think everyone needs to understand that.” Um. It’s happy fun times and some of the boys appear to be flirting with Katelynn and Sarah, but then they go home and nobody says anything about it, which, well, this is the new MTV so whatever.
THEN. Okay. THEN, his confidence boosted by Danger Radio’s compliments, Chet calls up Christina, an MTV Casting Director. He tells her that Pete Wentz gave him her number, and he’d love to audition to be a host so that he can sit in Pete’s lap every day except Sunday. No mention is made of the fact that he is ON THE REAL WORLD which is an MTV SHOW and Christina knows who he is already. The mind boggles. Chetubular gets J. Dingus to take some headshots of his Morminator mug and memorizes some intro things. But really the most important, agonizing choice of this all-important audition is WHAT NOT TO WEAR. Or more specifically: A bowtie with whales on it, a button down, and coke-bottle glasses that open the gaping maw of hell when you push them up the bridge of your nose? Or a V-neck shirt, vest, and lilac scarf that makes him feel prettier than a princess in an Erin Fetherston dress? Decisions! What would Clinton Kelly do?
After much deliberation and a phone call to Mrs. Mominator, who tells him she’ll be mad at him if he doesn’t wear the bo-tie, Chet makes his choice. And golly gee he is utterly delighted because everyone at the studio who was told in advance to say it just effing adores his lovely little bow tie! “I feel like I’m a celebrity in my own mind, and that’s a good feeling,” Chetubular intones. “Time for makeup!” says Christina. “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE,” Chet thinks, and jumps giddily into the makeup chair, trying and failing not to look as if he could die content, right then.
Soon, Chet gets in front of the camera and does okay until he tries to introduce some Lionel Richie video because he’s hoping to show “range.” The smiley casting directors are like wha? He proceeds to go unhinged and completely freaks the fuck out. “I just need to collect myself! I just need to get my thoughts together! I just started laughing because you were smiling and then I started laughing and can I have some more foundation!” Chet wails. They are not amused. “You know what? My lips are really dry. I NEED MY CHAPSTICK. Can I go get it?” At this point the entire galaxy is a cringe of cringing embarrassment for him, but they let him get it and even ask him what flavor to make him feel comfy-cozy again. Hurrah, he is asked to introduce an ultra-contemporary-modern musical video by some strange girl named Britney Spears. The song is called “Womanizer”! In the video, she is nearly nude! Chet makes a funny and flashes a grin and it’s over and we are so very glad. Glad, glad, glad! “Whether it was my bow-tie, or my charisma, they’re going to remember Chet,” he says, darkly, like some Children of the Corn teenager all growed up.
The worst part? One day very soon, I will be watching a Hills marathon and suddenly the promo for Chet Chat Sessions will start up, and Chet will be there in his bow-tie and ball gown, jolly and painted in the face like Mrs. Havisham gone emo. The end is near. —Sharon Steel