Even Stephen

Everyone and their mom has been talking about this season's Real World ratings -- or lack thereof. Rumors abound: MTV is cutting this season short! (No, they're not; we have six left to watch.) The ratings are so low because the cast is immature! (Gossips repeating those words have clearly never watched the show a minute in their lives.)

Here's my theory: MTV changed up its formula a little bit when they were casting this show. As old-school fans know, the show used to be about putting interesting people from different backgrounds in a house together and watching what happens when people stop being polite and -- well, you know the rest. Then, they started casting the hottest hotties they could find. But this season, it looks like they cast purely on the drama factor. There are no ridiculously good-looking people in the Denver season, and who wants to watch a bunch of fuglies have it out with each other? Exactly.

Don't believe me? Check out just the two previous seasons, Key West and Austin. Key West had John, Jose and Zach, who were at about the same cuteness level as Alex, Davis and Tyrie. But then they had Tyler (hottie gay man), Svetlana (hello -- model material!), Janelle (beautiful black woman) and Paula (cute in her own way, kind of like Colie, who is clearly the hottest female in the Denver season). Austin had two fuglies -- Lacey and Rachel -- but Wes and Nehemiah were both cute, and let's not deny that Johanna, Melinda and Danny are all friggin' gorgeous.

So, MTV, if you're going to insist on casting based on the drama factor instead of finding interesting people, the least you could do is make them hotties. Seriously.

And here's the Episode 22 recap.

Most of this episode features the boys from New Orleans accomplishing their Outward Bound tasks, with the help of our favorite roommates. Davis and Alex take them to the Tarn, and several of the kids are having a tough time with the hike, while Alex tries to convince them that it'll be worth it. When they get to the lake, the kids have a contest to see who can stay in the icy water the longest (two-and-a-half minutes is the record).

"I know a lot of times everyone probably thought it was impossible, but we did it," Alex says, being very inspirational indeed.

Back at the camp, the roommates are worried about the next day. Brooke wants to know when Stephen's coming back. Jenn thinks he's out of the loop at this point: "I don't even know who Stephen is in Outward Bound." Jenn, he's the unengaged asshole -- duh!

Brooke is moping that he won't be climbing with them -- probably 'cause he's still the only one she hasn't gotten into it with. And he's the only one who hates Outward Bound almost as much as she does.

Getting ready to climb the mountain the next day, Tyrie is getting the kids pumped. "It's gonna be hard," he tells them, "but it's not going to be impossible." Colie knows they're apprehensive, but she also thinks the peak climb will change their lives. As the cast members ponder, the teenagers wonder aloud what, exactly, is the point of climbing up this mountain. DJ and Tyron are having some trouble.

Commercial break, and an extended trailer for that movie Vacancy airs. I'm fully distracted; this flick looks really, really frightening. Motels are great settings for horror plots.

Back on the mountain, Tyrie isn't letting DJ or Tyron give up. Jenn thinks Tyrie is doing an awesome job motivating them, and Colie feels happy about the entire experience. "This feels right," she says, like she is exactly where she needs to be at that moment in time.

The kids sign the register of people who've climbed the mountain. It is absolutely gorgeous at the top. Everyone is feeling fulfilled and as though they've accomplished something important.

Eating dinner that night, Stephen returns. Tyrie is of the opinion that he's missed out on a lot. "I've been up since five," Stephen complains. Um, so has everybody else -- only they were climbing a mountain, not sitting around in planes and cars.

Colie isn't impressed. "I think it's really immature that Stephen feels that this isn't his forte, it's not his thing. It's totally immature the way Stephen's acting," she says. No argument here.

It's the kids' last night at Outward Bound, so it's time for the pin ceremony. Saint Chris gives a speech about being challenged, having profound strength and discovering that strength exists. "You can go in any direction with your life," he tells the kids.

I love Chris. He's the only person who can say these utterly cheesy things without them sounding utterly cheesy.

Jenn is crying. So is Colie.

Tyron gives a little speech, and it's quite touching: "I, at first I felt real pointless about doing it, and now it's hit me," he says, choking back some tears. "I appreciate everybody's help, and thank y'all for not giving up on me."

It's Day Five, so they're getting ready to head back, taking pictures of the group. Tyrie's roughing up some of the kids; he feels he's had a real relationship with them and has helped them accomplish something.

"I feel like out of all the interns, I had the least connection with the kids, because I wasn't given any kind of leadership role," whines Stephen. I am so. Sick. Of. This. Man. He's such a whiny little douchebag. And he's full of shit -- he had a leadership role and made an executive decision not to exercise it. Oh, and probably a big reason he didn't have a connection with the kids is that he made it clear he didn't really give a shit about them.

Chris meets with everyone for their Outward Bound evaluations. Tyrie did well, he says. "The conversation that you had with Tyron -- where he was when I talked to him on the mountain, and where he ended up in last night's circle was phenomenal." I agree that Ty's doing an awesome job. I just wish he hadn't manhandled Jazalle; then I'd feel happier about liking the guy.

Then it's Stephen's turn. "I'm at medium-level motivation as far as getting the job done," he tells Chris. "It's increased a lot."

"We're looking for people to show up motivated and do the job," Chris tells him. "The students know, and gravitate toward those people. If you ask the students, who would they rather hang out with, they'd say Tyrie." He tells Stephen that Steve was "checked out" during most of the trip, not being supportive of the kids, and he ends by telling Stephen that his behavior is "unacceptable."

I would have used much stronger language, but this IS Saint Chris we're hearing.

Time for Stephen to whine some more: "I feel like I'm getting crapped on, because with Ty and Colie my opinion wasn't really taken into consideration at all." What opinion? Your opinion that being in the mountains is stupid and a waste of time? Poor baby.

Back in Denver, Stephen is bitching to Alex. He was honest with Chris, he complains, and got punished for it. "I try to be there for the kids," he lies -- to himself and to his roommate. "I do feel that I'm being penalized because everybody knows how much I don't like Outward Bound, but brothers of the bride don't usually get to choose when the wedding is."

Boo hoo hoo. I slacked off like a lazy asshole, made it clear I didn't want to be where I was, and now I'm being penalized for it. Why is life so unfair?

Stephen thinks he knows exactly what to do to make Chris love him, and bitches that Colie and Ty got him shut out. (Colie and Ty's opinion, if you will remember, is that Stephen took a back seat during his portion of the trip and was joking around the entire time.) Alex tells Stephen what Colie and Tyrie thought.

Now Stephen goes into little-bitch mode. If they have a problem with him, he thinks, then they need to tell him that instead of talking behind his back.

Colie comes into the bar and starts eating Stephen's fries. He's pissed. He leaves. Davis finds him outside smoking a cigarette. "I can't believe Colie right now," Stephen whines. "Is she afraid of me? Why is she talking about me?"

Why wouldn't she talk about you? You're the most pathetic cast member I've seen in a long time, and that's really saying something.

This is Davis' cue to stir up some shit. "She just talks trash about everyone, she's just a bitch," he says. Then he tells Stephen that Tyrie thinks Steve is "integrated."

"How rude!" Stephen says. He wants people to just tell him what they really think and give him a chance to "explicate" himself. He's really angry. Oooh, scary!

He goes back to the house and corners Tyrie. "I want to know what you really think of me."

"When you was on and you was teaching, you was 100 percent on," Tyrie says. "But when I was in charge or when Colie was in charge, you dropped out from 100 percent to 35."

But Stephen didn't feel "synced in" and didn't feel like they were listening to him (waa, waa, waa). "All you had to do was tell me what you were thinking," Tyrie says. Hmm, didn't Stephen say something like that not too long ago? Could it be that he's acting a wee bit hypocritical? No! Not our fine, upstanding Christian Republican!

"Do you think I'm whitewashed?" Stephen demands.

"Stephen, I have no problem with you at all," Tyrie sighs. "But when it comes down to me and you, you are the more acceptable Negro in this house."

But you said I was "uppity," Stephen cries. Yeah, Tyrie agrees, he does think Stephen is uppity. And Stephen thinks Tyrie is "hood." "You said that, and you admit that," Tyrie tells him. Stephen doesn't know what to say -- being confronted with truth is ugly for someone who lives in a little bubble, I suppose.

Tyrie and Stephen make up and everyone heads to the Tavern Downtown. "I feel like Colie is trying to be a bitch on purpose" Stephen says. He wants to to have a friendship with Tyrie, but doesn't want to waste his time on Colie.

Wasn't he saying something about people talking behind other people's backs and how everyone should just say how they feel to each other's face? I don't know; maybe I hallucinated that part.

"I think that Colie is who she is," says Alex, "and is so inside who she is and inside her world that everything else, she can't see that as well." Was he a philosophy major, I wonder?

Finally, Stephen decides to have The Talk with Colie. "I don't hate you," Colie tells him. (Oh, by the way, they're both drunk by this point. Did I even need to say that? Is it just assumed, if two roommates are having a heart-to-heart, that there's some alcohol involved?)

"It's surprising that Stephen's approaching me with this," Colie says, "because I always thought he didn't care." Um ... newsflash! He doesn't care. He just said that he doesn't care.

Anyway, they appreciate each other, apologize together, hugs and love ensue. "Me and Colie have seen eye to eye, and I guess that's amazing," Stephen ponders. What would really be amazing to me is if Stephen grew another brain cell to rub against the only one he possesses and maybe a spark of logic would result. I guess I can always dream.

Next week looks like some serious drama. If Brooke and Davis are gonna fuck, I think next week is when it's gonna happen. And Brooke appears to have another completely psychotic meltdown, raging through the house, throwing and destroying things like she's four. But that's probably not very complimentary to all the four-year-olds out there. Sorry, kids. -- Amber Taufen

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen