It's starting to feel like Real World Seattle: Bad Blood might actually be an unbearably shoddy adaptation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, where the cast members slowly get picked off one by one. The previous episode left viewers with a major cliffhanger: Tyara is pregnant (and unknowingly had been the whole time)! Surely this will lead to some tense drama... aaaaaaand she's gone. Well then.
The latest episode began Tyara nearly having an emotional breakdown in the confessional room. She holds back because she doesn’t want to cry on camera for some reason. (She employs a mildly ingenious move where she tilts her head all the way back when she feels tears coming on, keeping the water in her eyes instead of streaming down her cheeks.) It doesn’t take long for her housemates to notice the dodgy, erratic behavior. Robbie and Jordan show their meta reality show seasoning by observing that the cameras begin continually following Tyara around—even when she’s alone in empty rooms. They know that sort of intense cameraperson attention must mean something is going on.
Then, rather suddenly, Tyara gathers the roommates together in the living room to tearfully and cryptically explain that she end her time in Seattle and deal with “personal stuff going on at home.” (Though a fair amount of her peers—Kim, Robbie, Jordan—guess in hushed whispers that she’s pregnant.)
Tyara’s departure delivers a decently emotional scene, but it kind of undercuts the fundamental idea behind the Real World. There’s a lot of issues to explore and drama to be mined from someone having to go from a party lifestyle to an unexpected pregnancy (via an ex-boyfriend, no less) at the drop of the hat. That’s the real world. Seeing someone deal with a situation like that is roughly 10,000 times more interesting than roommates getting in fights because of who they were grinding against at the club on a given night or any of the other trivial crap that often drives the show’s plots. So while it’s completely understandable for Tyara to bolt to get her life in order, her exits ends up being a huge loss for the viewers and a completely hollow and unfulfilled payoff to the prior cliffhanger. (Admittedly, the low-key comedy of MTV slotting a Plan B One-Step ad in the commercial break after Tyara leaves helped soften the blow.)
While Tyara left, a new character appeared: Katrina and Anna’s mom. Unfortunately, this arrival can't a salve the siblings’ problems. It becomes instantly clear that Katrina and her mom have a super buddy-buddy relationship with Anna being the outsider that they team up against. When Anna complains about the air conditioning in the van they mock her. When out at lunch, Katrina notice a drink called the “troublemaker,” jokes that it’s named after Anna, and mom laughs along. It’s hard not to cringe and sympathize with Anna.
The sisters seem totally disconnected from the idea that their own problematic behavior likely is the result of some sketchy parenting. Katrina says, “You guys were awesome parents, but I didn’t have the perfect parental guidance in my life.” Hot take: Parents that don’t provide any parental guidance are not awesome parents. (What you're describing, Katrina, is an awesome babysitter.) When Anna attempts to chat with her mom about her parents’ divorce during a trip to Snoqualmie Falls, ma immediately shuts her down and goes silent. As Katrina even acknowledges, it turns out learning to communicate from the worst communicators is a smidge less than ideal.
Despite all that, Jenn and Peter’s relationship serves as the crux of the episode. And it’s getting hard to watch. Peter showed his obsessive and controlling side in the previous episode by shaming Jenn for dancing “too provocatively” with her friends, and things only grew uglier from there. Early on, it's revealed that the couple plans to move in together in New Jersey once the filming of Real World finishes. This may be cute if things were going blissfully for the pair, but that’s not the case (as Robbie suggests during an interview segment, they “need to pump the breaks).
The turmoil between Jenn and Peter largely can be traced to Anna, who seems to have slipped into Mike’s old role of house instigator. Knowing that Peter can’t stand her after their fling went sour, Anna repeatedly pulls Jenn away from Peter for various reasons (hair braiding, drinking, etc.) just to intentionally get under his skin (or at least that’s how it appears via the edited footage). Jenn should get a modicum blame on this front. While she’s free to fraternize with whom she pleases, if you’re so enamored with a partner that you’re rushing into long term cohabitation, maybe don’t continually hang out with the people—Anna and Katrina—he openly loathes (especially when they’re kind of garbage people).
That said, Peter’s reaction to Jenn hanging with Anna goes so far over the line that said demarcation is no longer viable. After Jenn leaves him to hang out with Anna and Katrina, Peter comes back to the house and snaps. He storms around in a wide-eyed fit—with that psychotic type of tense laugh where someone chuckles even though nothing funny has been said—and gets Jenn out of her bed for a confrontation. He proceeds to yell in her face like a maniac for what feels like an eternity with no let up. His voice booms throughout the house as the rest of the roommates sit in a frozen state of uncomfortableness. (I understanding letting a couple has out their issues, but someone should've intervened. Not cool, guys.) He has zero self-awareness about it, stating in an interview, “I wasn’t even yelling.” When Jenn repeatedly asks him in a measured voice to calm down, Peter bellows, “I’m calm! If you can’t accept me for who I am right now, then I’m not gonna #$%@&!% be with you!” It’s downright disturbing, and it’s impossible not to root for Jenn to coldly say, “Cool. I’m out,” to shut him down. Alas, that’s not the way it goes. Eventually, Anna calls the producers to asks for security to intervene, which only sets him off more. It’s a legitimately scary scene.
Unfortunately, the one who doesn’t seem to have a problem with Peter’s actions is Jenn. The next morning, he makes pancakes, brings her flowers, and all is forgiven. In her words, “We have a few arguments here or there, but he is a good guy.” Incorrect. This isn’t even up for debate, Jenn. The guy just verbally assaulted you for an entire evening in front of cameras with a house full of roommates. That’s how he acts in public. “Good guys” don’t do that.
It’s even more disheartening to realize why Jenn feels this way, which gets sussed out via another Anna incident. The morning after Peter’s ruckus, Anna Google searches “domestic abuse verbal” on the house’s public computer and leaves the window open, clearly trying to stir up more drama (when Katrina finds out, even she is flabbergasted that her sister would intentionally do that). Robbie sees the search and shares the info with the other roommates, causing both Peter and Jenn to flip out. Jenn is especially irate, declaring “Don’t try to #$%@&!% tell me that I’m getting abused when I know what that shit is.”
And that’s the heart of the problem. Jenn has been through abusive relationships before, and doesn’t see Peter’s actions as abusive because they’re less horrific. She even cites that he didn’t call her a piece of shit while he screamed in her face, as a defense for him. Jenn’s relationship compass is broken. Even if what Peter does isn’t technically abuse (p.s. it totally is), at the very least it’s an extremely unhealthy relationship; one that she should bolt from at a sprinter's pace. Again, this is how he acts while recorded in front of a national audience. The flags couldn’t be any redder.
But instead of running from Peter, Jenn amps up for a verbal fight against Anna. Jenn explicitly and repeatedly tells Peter she wants to take care of this herself. So what does he do? He intercepts Anna at the door to talk to her first. This crushes Jenn, leading her to explode into a tearful rage somehow still directed at Anna (who won’t apologize) instead of Peter. Anna may be awful and manipulative as hell, but in the case of this issue she’s also probably the most rationale one in the house.
Is it telling that MTV ended the episode with a PSA notification about dating abuse? It’s telling.
Episode Space Needle Count: 6
Running Space Needle Count: 120
The Real World Seattle: Bad Blood airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on MTV.