Monday, August 23, 2010

Who killed The Real World? A Jer.Shore/You've Got Mail story

4 weeks into Jersey Shore 2.0 and by now we know that this isn’t just a fad, but a growing institution, a discrepancy which lies in the quality of viewing attention that we give it. We watch youtube things as whatever, but the experience of watching the Jersey Shore is like clicking through the photo albums of your overly slutty friendgirl on facebook; even though each subsequent picture is the same, and we know that what we are looking at is nothing but bad, we click with an attention-intensity otherwise only achieved in the 18-34 demographic using adderoll. After a year, the Situation is nothing but an icon, same with Snooki, Sammi and Ronnie are this decade’s Ross and Rachel. But for MTV, the rise of the Jersey Shore empire is somewhat bittersweet, as the Jersey Shore era has spelled the fade (not Vinny’s hairstyle) of another MTV long-horse, the Real World.

Because think about why we had been watching the Real World: certainly not out of fascination for the dynamics of seven stranger roommates interacting, hanging out, and hashing out real issues. We were more like the swillin’ NASCAR fans, really just waiting for the crashes, the explosions, the drama. Because the rest is boring as shit. We wanted to see drunk assholes fighting, throwing up, having sex and making decisions that we never would, and the Real World gave this to us, way more often than the real real world did. Then came the Jersey Shore though, Real World: Jersey Shore, bringing with it drinking, fighting, tanning and drama on levels that the Real World never could have even imagined. The Padawan becomes the Master. It was like in You’ve Got Mail (you saw it) when the Border’s books equivalent moves in around the corner from Meg Ryan’s boutique book purveyor: theres no comparison nor competition to be had between the two, Tom Hanks’ chain is a heavyweight. And the same is true here. After the Jersey lot showed up, the “drama” taking place on the Real World seemed like barely some 14-year old shit about which nobody cares. Like a Bachelor spin-off where Justin Bieber dates tweens.

But don’t blame the Situation, or Pauly, or Sammi and Ronnie who in the last ever episode of the series will finally get together for good after Sammi gets off the plane to Paris right before takeoff. Blame MTV for letting the Real World sink to what it is now. Back in the day, the Real World was about real things. In SF, one guy had AIDS, and in a time that was mad different than today.

And so, now that it is clear that the MTV land mass cannot support two simultaneous empires, something has got to change. Because just like Neon Deion did in that Pizza Hut commercial from way back, MTV certainly wants to have “both”. But how? Like this: Let the Jersey Shore be the Jersey Shore (“do you!”), and bring the Real World back to its roots, dealing with whats to be dealt with in “reality”. Do like a boutique bookstore and compete with the heavyweight by focusing on quality.

Or did Meg Ryan’s store close at the end? Who can remember, we all watched on tbs.

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