“I’ve Got to Get Out of Here”: Watching MTV’s The City


Week after week, The City has striven desperately to become some sort of riven TV statue, an unintelligible glyph of notable accessory shots and blank expressions: the 2001 monolith reimagined to awe human idiots. But now, as if God himself had heard my prayers to breathe life into this meaningless, excruciating-to-watch soap opera, we have been given a good episode.

Somehow in the past couple of months, Jay managed to gain some notoriety as Whitney’s sex slave and scored a two-month West Coast tour (perhaps the press junket for The Hills?) — a tour that everyone seems to know about, not including Whitney. Now the pressing matter begins to take shape. Talking things out at the Angelika, best friend Adam, playing the voice of reason (and taking a cue from Tim Gunn), tells Jay he must come clean with Whitney and tell her about the tour. “You’re either in or you’re out,” Adam confidently says, signifying nothing. Even Jay’s bandmate Pottsy (who doesn’t resemble Potsie from Happy Days whatsoever; more like Ralph Malph) tells him during band rehearsal that he must take care of business. Jay’s mind is elsewhere: “I can’t wait to get away.”

At Diane von Furstenberg, before any of that, Whitney–unknowingly near the end of her doomed relationship with Jay–is consumed with work. I guess nobody noticed the little Elle cover shoot fiasco that occurred between Olivia and Whitney last week, because they’ve been assigned to work together once again. The odd couple is assigned to do a DVF handbag presentation in front of 20 people or so. Whitney voices her concerns about the task while Olivia, in a hilarious whimsical manner, claims it’ll be fun and easy. Nevertheless, our plucky heroine perseveres, and sort of even writes a handbag-related speech.

During the “Global Communications” meeting at DVF, Whitney begins the presentation and executes her part articulately, garnering a nod from her boss. Then Olivia began her discourse, which was apparently a promotion for a handbag called “Uh” and “Um,” because that’s mostly what she said in between smiles. Whitney’s robotic eyes light up in a facsimile of revenge: the bosses are not pleased with her minion.

Finally, Jay and Whitney square off at Felix Restaurant. He idiotically brings up the fact that he’s been coming home late and she nonchalantly says, “yeah, I’ve noticed” as he chugs his drink. And so he comes clean, about the tour, about knowing since before Miami, and about their trust issues. “Why didn’t you tell me,” Whitney asks. “I didn’t want to ruin Miami and have two weeks of crap,” he says, as if his slut admirer Dani hadn’t already taken care of that.

And in fact, before dinner is even served, Whitney gets up, tells him to find another place to stay that night, and suggests he call the ever-willing infidelitrix. Whitney mans up! In the aftermath, the jilted lady airs out her agony at yet another tribal meeting of all her friends. “I don’t know if he even likes me,” says Whitney. “I’m drowning in this.” Honey, I’ve been treading water since day one! Erin helpfully chimes in: “That’s really shitty.”

Things conclude at Whitney’s place, where she and Jay have their final moments. Whitney, never the defeatist, says “I don’t want give up.” They’re both crying at this point. Jay’s emotional state, with his watery eyes and quivering chin, is slightly more believable than Whitney’s single teardrop.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” Jay says.

“That’s it you’re just going to walk out?” Whitney asks, without a hint of desperation.

“Sorry Whit,” Jays says, then leaves the apartment, stands in the street corner, and looks up at the sky.

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