As any TV connoisseur knows, MTV shows are watched mostly by tweens who don't know any better, regarding the lifestyle of an average teen or twentysomething. Thus, I spent most of my tween/formative years (roughly 1999-2006) watching the MTV reality shows of yore. This included, of course, the repeats. Weekend-long marathons of True Life, and later, Laguna Beach, were the backdrop to my middle and high school studies. (It's no wonder I'm such an idiot.) Often I watched one episode of a “reality” or docu-series so many times that the featured characters became embedded in my memory. Here, a few of the MTV human plot lines that I often wonder about.
The “Rich Girls”
As a young middle-class white girl in the suburbs of New York City, you better believe I ate this shit up. Ally Hilfiger, son of Tommy, and Jaime Gleicher, whose father owned some sort of luggage company (Clearly, her presence was only incidental to her much more likeable friend Ally. Guess who I simultaneously identified with and loathed?) got carted around New York City by a driver, bought Prada bags for fun, and talked very loudly about their virginity in front of the women who gave them pedicures. Like a more reprehensible Ab Fab, they were my first soul animals.
Some things I learned from Rich Girls: the existence of the Island of Mustique, La Mer's use of “baby foreskin” in their products, how to have an elegant rich-lady breakdown in the Hamptons.
No amount of scouring this beautiful Worldwide Web of ours is turning up season 3, episode 9 of True Life, “I'm Getting Plastic Surgery.” Not only were the blonde/brunette BFFs going under the knife together to get breast implants, they were doing so in the hopes of one day getting into Playboy together. At the very end of the episode, we learn that their hours of plastic surgery and preparation only yielded more self-hatred after their Playboy "test shoots" were still unsatisfactory. Perhaps the one thing that stands out in my memory the most is the Blonde, early Britney-esque one's impossibly low-cut, rust-green-brown striped corduroys and matching newsboy cap. I remember thinking that if I had a stomach like that I'd never distract from it in a goddamn corduroy monstrosity. And the blonde girl's reluctant coo of “But Doctor Pometer...” after he pinches her hip skin and says “You might want to lipo this out too,” definitely launched an eating disorder or three thousand.
The Calf Implant guy is also lodged in my brain for deeming a waitress “chunky” after she seemed perplexed that he would get “breast implants... like in his calves?” (I am quoting this entirely from memory but can almost guarantee you it's verbatim.) Unsurprisingly, he has resurfaced as a gay porn star who talked about being “gay for pay” on the Tyra Banks Show, because of course he has.
Both of the installments of MTV's Fat Camp, both the original 1-hour “True Life” episode and the subsequent (when they realized they'd hit a gold mine) two hour special yielded some gems, but none that shined as bright as Dianne. I am Dianne. You are Dianne. We are All Dianne.
Rich Juzwiak documented her amazingness thoroughly and wonderfully on Four Four back in 2006, but I figure one more Internet tip of the hat to Dianne and her legacy only brings me good karma.
The Real World: New Orleans, a.k.a the best season
Any invocation of David's "Come on Be My Baby Tonight" makes me snicker. And that Jamie: come on be my baby tonight. Not to mention Danny, whose beauty + the idea that he was gay was way too much for my ten-year-old brain to handle. But by far my favorite was Melissa, the sassy, whip-smart and hilarious chick from Florida who often had emotional breakdowns in her confessionals. But I don't have to wonder about her. I follow her on Tumblr.
I need to read a book.