As you may have heard, MTV gave the tried-and-true "This is the story of seven strangers picked to live in a house" format a bit of a facelift: In its 29th season, The Real World is now "the story of seven strangers picked to live in a house whose exes show up after a month of taping." Sure, the move had many of us wondering why MTV would ever reinvent and complicate the wheel (and yes, The Real World is the wheel of reality television. The Wheel World. That's my time, please tip your bartender), and I know I thought that the new format would turn it into an entirely different show. Even so, I would watch The Real World: Ex-Plosion no matter what. The sudden arrival of the roommates exes feels something the Head Gamemaker would drop in the ring when the tracker jackers weren't wreaking enough havoc, not something that'd happen on The Real World, the most "real" reality show. I would stay a loyal viewer, but I would keep my guard up.
But all of this chatter is neither here nor there. The only question that really matters: Was the season premiere of The Real World: Ex-Plosion entertaining? Yes. Oh, The Real World. How could I ever have doubted you? I was a fool. During the Portland season, you gave the world the gift of Johnny ordering a TUNA AND TURKEY SANDWICH. A gift that I continue to cherish. You're so good to me, The Real World. I will never leave you.
This season, Arielle, Ashley, Cory, Jamie, Jay, Jenny, and Thomas were picked to live in a house in San Francisco. All of them are more-or-less single. And all of them seem like they'll make great Real World cast members. Kudos to the casting director.
But roommate Ashley is in a league of her own. Few bring it quite like Ashley. In the first episode, Ashley cried, screamed, flashed her roommates, ran around the apartment in a thong, drunk-dialed her grandpa, and threw hot burgers and grease at her roommate.
Yes. She threw hot burgers and grease at her roommate. She said she didn't mean to throw the burgers and grease at Arielle. Uh, what?! Displaying the utmost patience, Arielle, the grease-and-burgers'd roommate, did not erupt. She did not retaliate. Instead, she acknowledged how drunk Ashley was and said she'd deal with the grease and burgers incident in the morning. IS ARIELLE THE MOST EVEN-TEMPERED PERSON TO EVER BE ON A REALITY SHOW?
Ashley is not a San Francisco native, but she does live in SF. So, for all intents and purposes, Ashley is The Local. And she made it known during the season premiere. While drunkenly toddling down the sidewalk in her bikini, she told everyone to get the fuck out of her city. I might love Ashley?
In the middle of a heated fight with roommate Jamie, Ashley said, "I don't know who her family is, but I promise that my family will buy and sell her family." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHH. I LOVE ASHLEY THE MONSTER.
Yes, Ashley ran away with the entire episode. The other cast members showed serious promise, but it's difficult to talk about anyone other than the unofficial Mayor/Tourism Guide of San Francisco. She's reality television gold. A home run. A slam dunk. A tuna and turkey sandwich.
That being said, I cannot forget about what Jenny did during the premiere. There was a moment when Jenny was sitting in the hot tub, staring at Cory and Ashley while the two made out in the kitchen. Jenny was sitting in the hot tub with a random guy. But Jenny was not interested in the guy she brought home or his boxer briefs. She was interested in Cory.
And rather than let the Cory thing get away from her, Jenny made the Cory thing happen. She wanted Cory, and Hot Tub Boxer Briefs Guy wasn't Cory. Hot Tub Boxer Briefs Guy wasn't going to cut the mustard. So what did Jenny do? She got out of the hot tub and intercepted Cory from Ashley. And then, the two of them went to the bone zone in the Confessional Room. While wearing bear suits. BECAUSE THIS SHOW IS GREAT, MAY WE NEVER FORGET THAT.
Returning to my initial worry: Did the format change turn The Real World into a totally new show? As of episode one, no. No it did not. It's the same beautiful garbage it's been for seasons. I'm so on board right now with everything that's happening on the show that I don't really need the Ex-Plosion. But at some point during the season, the Ex-Plosion will happen. I must accept it. I will have to reassess. I'm sure this season will be fine, Ex-Plosion or no Ex-Plosion. Because at the very least, this season has Ashley. And sex in bear suits.