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The Real World Boston debuts in July

By Jonathan Litt
Staff Reporter

How real-world would The Real World be if The Real World could be real? Such is the type of question I asked myself while waiting in line to catch a glimpse of the the Boston Real World cast at a wrap party at the Avalon last Tuesday. Indeed, how realistic is it to live for free in a lavishly furnished apartment with seven strangers and with MTV camera crews in tow 24 hours a day? Perhaps a more fitting name would be The Reel World.

However, there is one aspect of The Real World that is, unfortunately, a bit too realistic: most of the time nothing all that interesting happens. At no point was this more evident than during the painfully boring fourth season in London, where the most memorable thing that happened was when Neil (the British rock musician) got part of his tongue bitten off by a crazed audience member he tried to kiss.

For the last two seasons the producers have tried to remedy this by introducing a gimmick to inject some life into the show. Last season, filmed in Miami, the cast was given $50,000 to start a business, but failed with full splendor to even agree on what to do. For this season, in Boston, the producers shifted to a somewhat more reliable plan of requiring the cast to volunteer at an after-school program in East Boston. However, as producer Jon Murray told The Boston Globe, "I think our cast found out that volunteering is not the piece of cake they thought it was going to be." One of them even gets fired (quite a feat for a volunteer), although we'll have to wait for the show to come out to find out who it is and for what reason they got fired.

This sort of conflict seems to be what the producers strive the very hardest to achieve, since it usually makes for the most interesting episodes (recall Puck vs. Pedro). This approach is even reflected in the show's oft-repeated mantra, which states that it is, "the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives tapes to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real." Only in the in-your-face land of MTV are "polite" and "real" used as antonyms.

As much as I like to complain, however, I admit that I get a kick out of watching the show. At the very least I always watch the first few episodes of each season, although my interest tends to wane quickly thereafter. The Boston season holds promise if for no other reason than the novelty of seeing recognizable Boston locations scattered throughout the episodes.

Getting back to Tuesday night at the Avalon, it was certainly an event to go down in the footnotes of Real World history, as pathetic as that sounds. The first band to play was the infamous Unilever, a.k.a. Neil's band from the London season, who were introduced by Sharon from the same season. Neil, with full tongue, led an interesting set which started off with a slow, Fugazi-esque ballad and ended with a typical punk shouting-fest including lyrics such as "I want to **** you in the ***hole." I was actually somewhat impressed with Unilever, although I would only recommend them to someone who has at least a minor predilection for punk. Neil mentioned that their CD is available at Newbury Comics.

Next came Midnight Voices, which is Mohammed's band from the San Francisco season. It is safe to say that the crowd absolutely loved Midnight Voices, although Mohammed is not as integral to them as Neil is to Unilever. Most of the energy behind Midnight Voices comes from their charismatic lead singer, whose name I don't know. Their blend of old-school rap and new-school hip-hop was definitely the musical highlight of the evening, and I wouldn't be surprised if this band makes it big over the next few years. (A CD is coming out in September.)

Finally, after the third band (in no way related to The Real World), the Boston cast members came on stage to introduce themselves and to give away several items from The Real World house. (See sidebar)

As a group the Boston cast appears to have good synergy, although in various interviews some of them said that certain members (e.g. Montana and Syrus) did not get along at first. There does not appear to be anyone as extreme as Flora from Miami or Puck from San Francisco this group seems to resemble the mellow London group more than any other.

When asked in one interview if "people had affairs or had sex in the house," Elka responded, "Oh yeah, people had sex all the time, although I won't say whether it was between roommates or their significant others." We will just have to wait and see, of course. The season begins with an hour long opener on Wednesday, July 16th at 10 p.m. on MTV.