It's known that reality TV shows craft false narratives with the help of writers. Well, I'm beginning to think the writers of Real World Seattle: Bad Blood aren't particularly good at their jobs.
The third episode begins with the cast hanging on Alki Beach and making s’mores. It’s a super chummy environment. Too chummy. Because—news flash—I watched the previous two episodes and things weren't this tight knit. When they head out to grab dinner it becomes even stranger. They’re suddenly all acting like best friends. Any drama established in the past episodes has vanished. Robbie isn’t seething rage at Mike, and—in a stunningly inexplicable turn—Tyara is suddenly nice and cool with everyone. After spending two episodes building her up as an outsider to an almost villainous level, that character arc has been wiped away. At the beach she unifies the group by suggesting throwing notes with their passions written on them into the fire, and at the restaurant after she declares, “I didn’t know what kind of people you’d be, but I love you guys, so it’s cool.” You love these guys? Literally a few days ago, you hated everyone but Theo. The other castmates join in repeating themes of how strong they are as a unit. You’re overacting, y’all.
So either A) amazing bonding happened off camera between episode two and three or B) the writers have a new plot to drive and think the viewers are stupid (I can feel my IQ drop as I watch this show, so maybe they're right). There’s really only one explanation for the sudden mutual lovefest: heavy-handed foreshadowing. Because—as established for the viewers—the alternate Bad Blood cast is on its way to make things hellish. It’s more impactful if they break a cohesive unit than an already fractured one. The writers basically tossed away the core drama of the initial episodes to set up for what’s next and didn't even try to do it with any nuance.
But the clunky writing really comes into focus when Theo and Tyara pull a prank while the other castmates are out the house. The idea itself is fairly excellent: Since everyone in the house is worried about a potential twist of new cast members showing up to ruin everything, Theo and Tyara decide to put suitcases around the apartment and slap tape with various names on them. That way, when the roommates return they’ll think new people are arriving. The prank works perfectly, as the housemates return and predictably freak out. There’s only one problem with this entertaining little plot that speaks to the unreality of reality TV: the suitcases. Tyara and Theo didn't go out and buy them or anything. The reality of the situation relies on viewers believing that there just happened to be empty suitcases—belonging to nobody—laying around near the door of the residence. We're supposed to think the other housemates wouldn’t immediately recognize them and go hey, aren't these just the decorative suitcases that have been sitting near the door for days?
Meanwhile in a realm where suitcases don't magically appear, MTV flies the seven members of the Bad Blood cast to Portland. They briefly meet up at a park, all believing they’re part of a new reality show, before being told they’re actually part of the Real World season and will immediately be heading to Seattle on a tour bus. After the initial shock, the new seven quickly accept their fates and begin discussing their respective tensions on the bus ride.
(SIDE BAR: The Bad Blood crew doesn’t make it to Seattle by the end of the episode. Portland to Seattle is a three-hour drive! Why is this so drawn out? Are they pulling over every 15 minutes? Do they really need to stop in lovely Vancouver, Washington to get food? Why didn’t they get food in Portland? I hear Portland has a few restaurants. They actually stop to camp overnight in Tenino, where the East Coasters naturally bring up how they “feel like [they’re] in Twilight right now.” [*gags*] They make Portland to Seattle into a two-day trip. It’s almost impressive.)
While the falseness is upsetting, the luggage prank segues well into the cast’s paranoia about an oncoming twist. And thus begins their transformation into a minor league NSA. They begin using social media to spy on the people they expect MTV would bring in to shake things up. (Weirdly they all hone in on the right people. It’s almost like they were tipped of by the production crew and writers or something. SO WEIRD.) Honestly, their level of espionage is mildly impressive. When Katrina’s sister Anna posts an Instagram from Atlanta's airport, Katrina instantly becomes suspicious. She backwards engineers that MTV also flew her to that hub before jetting off to Seattle. Robbie gets spooked because his ex-girlfriend Jenn posts to Twitter without turning off the location setting, and it says she’s only two hours away from Seattle (although in story line the Bad Blood cast was still in Portland at the time, so that doesn't check out. Come on, MTV editors!). Remember kids, we don’t want the government to spy on us, but it’d still be cool for us to that power on a personal level. Give me cyber stalking liberty, or give me death!
With the episode mainly focusing on the paranoia of the oncoming Bad Blood roommates, there’s only one way to close out this recap…
BADNESS OF BLOOD POWER RANKINGS
7. Will (Anika’s ex-boyfriend) – The biggest issue between Will and Anika is that Will used to be best friends with Anika's brother. When the two split up, it basically ended Will’s relationship with his closest pal. That’s a bummer, but I dunno... maybe don’t date your best friend’s sister, you dummy. On top of that, Will mentions on the bus that he’d still be down to hook up with Anika. Mild blood at best.
Early judgement: #TeamAnika
6. Jenn (Robbie’s ex-girlfriend) – As an indication that things aren’t horrific between Jenn and Robbie, the Portland producers break the news of the twist to Jenn so that she can deliver it to the other Bad Bloods. She incredulously laughs at the revelation, but doesn’t flip out. She and Robbie were young lovers and he broke things off without giving her a lot of explanation. While she comes off as cool about the situation, it also appears that she hasn’t totally let it go and moved past it in a clingy first real love kind of way. She brings up being upset that Robbie left loving compliments on his rebound girlfriend’s Instagram posts that he’d previously said to her, which come on Jenn, why are you looking at his new girlfriend’s Instagram? (Is this a common thing? Or is it odd that I tend to go the opposite way and Facebook unfollow/Twitter mute certain people for months post-rejection? #kidsthesedays) The worst of the pair's bad blood comes from when Jenn sent Robbie their old stuff, and he responded by sending her a video of him setting it all on fire. While pyscho behavior (you’re better off without him, Jenn!), even that doesn’t seem to faze her much.
Early judgement: #TeamJenn
5. Orlana (Jordan’s former best friend) – Orlana and Jordan were best friend for five years. Then after Jordan set Orlana up with a guy, things got ugly after some extremely convoluted Snapchat drama where Jordan took a picture of her hanging out with another dude (#kidsthesedays). Jordan remains confused why it was such a friendship-ending big deal. Orlana claims that while that was the final tipping point, it only came after years of little nagging issues with Jordan. Friends fight sometimes. Whatever.
Early judgement: #TeamOrlana
4. Peter (Mike’s former roommate) – Like Mike, Peter was on another MTV reality show I never knew existed (Million Dollar Maze Runner). Their beef seems money-based, as Peter claims Mike owed him $2,000 in back bar tab money (cause bros!), but never paid it. When Peter moved to Florida, Mike continued to dodge payment by ignoring his calls. As we established in the first recap, Mike is the worst. (This episode he got in a thong and rubbed Anika’s beloved stuffed bee pillow on his groin while taking pictures. Real salt of the earth dude.) Peter agrees, “[Mike]’s the biggest dirtbag ever. He’s just not a cool kid.” While Peter also totally seems like a douchey alpha bro, for now, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Early judgement: #TeamPeter
3. Kassius (Theo’s cousin) – As established in a previous episode, Theo was a pretty good football player and got a scholarship to play in college. When his cousin Kassius came to visit, he brought some drugs. While Theo was out, authorities found said drugs in Theo’s room. Kassius would not admit that they were his, so Theo got booted from the team and lost his scholarship. By far, this is the most legitimate reason for bad blood on the show. That’s some life-changing (and potentially ruining) crap. The reason it’s not #1 on this list is because both sides seem to have accepted it. Theo’s rage burns quiet and he says he just wants to not engage with Kassius; that they aren’t going to fight. Restraint lessens the blood’s boil.
Early judgement: #TeamTheo
2. Anna (Katrina’s sister) – When the producers inform Anna of the twist, she bursts out in tears and states “I’m not going” and “I don’t want to fight with my sister on national TV.” She eventually agrees to go because she doesn’t want Katrina to be the only cast member who doesn’t have someone there for them (she says this in a sweet in caring way, apparently forgetting the whole Bad Blood angle). This family feud is just unsettling and uncomfortable. Katrina apparently moved out of shared housing with Anna twice… without even telling her (Anna thought she they had been robbed). And while that’s bad, there’s still the whole thing where Anna was raped and then saw Katrina (who had no idea of the crime) kissing her rapist. I didn’t trust MTV to handle this with any delicacy last recap, and (surprise!) I still don't.
Early judgement: #TeamAnna
1. Kimberly (Tyara’s high school classmate) – These two legit hate each other. Kimberly bullied Tyara in high school back in Georgia, and Tyara’s anger still burns hot. Tyara literally says that she’ll murder her if she arrives. BADDEST BLOOD. On the other hand, Kimberly claims it’s a “one-sided problem,” but enthusiastically talks trash about Tyara to her fellow Bad Bloods. One of her main claims is Tyara’s didn’t have her British accent in high school; that it’s a ruse.
Regardless of the validity of the statement, Kimberly is garbage, to the point where I’m pretty sure I have bad blood with her as well. As a defense for her tormenting ways, she claims, “I think people misunderstand me by my sarcasm. I’m very sarcastic, I’m very dry. So I feel they think I’m being a bitch all the time, but I’m really not.” Oh yes. Yes, you are. To quote Louis C.K.’s most recent special, “Self-love is a good thing, but self-awareness is more important. You need to once and a while go, ‘Oh, I’m kind of an asshole.’ You have to have that thought once in a while or you’re a psychopath. You know like when you say to a friend of yours, ‘You’re being an asshole.’ And they’re like, ‘No, I’m not.’ Well it’s not up to you if you’re being an asshole or not, that’s up to everybody else! You don’t get to say no to that.”
Early judgement: #TeamNahTheyBothAreAwful
Episode Space Needle Count (not counting the introductory recap): 10
Running Space Needle Count: 46
The Real World Seattle: Bad Blood airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on MTV.