Open Letter

To Seattleites Who Still Despise ‘The Real World’

Sometimes reality is so boring, guys.

July 18, 2016 Published in the August 2016 issue of Seattle Met

Final suzdmk

Image: James Boyle

Greetings from Los Angeles! I’m in the middle of editing an episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County and wanted to dash off a quick note to say hi (Hi!) and ask why you guys are still doing shots of Haterade like it’s artisanal small-batch whiskey. I’ve moved on from the events at Pier 70—why haven’t you?

Let’s back up. My name is Beardog, and on the off chance that doesn’t ring a bell, I’m one-third of the seminal reality TV kerfuffle that many in the industry call the Slap Heard ’Round the World. Remember when The Real World season seven cast member Irene outed her housemate Stephen on camera, who retaliated by first chucking her favorite stuffed animal (hi again!) into Elliott Bay and then striking her as she drove away? It was definitely shocking, but what’s a little veiled homophobia and assault when it can yield such riveting television. Winnie the Pooh can’t say he has anything remotely that dramatic on his resume.

The moment wasn’t without its complications—specifically the fact that I spent the next several years drifting in open water. My career felt like it was just beginning, and I was already…washed up? I can laugh about it now, but I assure you, getting swept out to sea via the Strait of Juan de Fuca is no joke. I had company, of course. As it turns out, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch hosts no shortage of Cabbage Patch dolls. Still, forced to stare up at the cosmos and contemplate my place in it, I yearned to be a part of the entertainment industry again, to know that millions of eyes were watching me—and not because I looked vaguely like a meal floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

So imagine the sense of glee that washed over me (okay, I’ll stop) when I got snagged in the net of a crabbing boat that turned out to be a part of Deadliest Catch. Not only was Seattle still a player in reality television, but fate—and the North Equatorial Current—had dropped me right back into the middle of it. (I never made it on camera, but I can say that Captain Sig Hansen is a very tender cuddler.) My joy was short lived, though, because when the crew of the Northwestern wasn’t debating the Hobbesian roots of twenty-first-century libertarianism (off camera), they were slagging my former Real World roommates. Apparently the show was “antithetical to the anticonsumerist, emotionally authentic ethos” of Seattle? Jeez, guys, sometimes TV is just TV.

Eventually we made it back to port, and I took a Greyhound to the one place I knew I could find people who shared my well-adjusted view of fame: LA. After a failed audition for Ted (CGI taking jobs away from real actors—now that’s a problem) I hooked up with Seth Aaron Henderson and Blayne Walsh and Logan Neitzel and, like, a dozen other locals who were on Project Runway. And they agreed that The Real World wasn’t “real” Seattle.

So now there’s talk that MTV is going to film a new season in Capitol Hill, and, of course, you people are freaking out all over again. I don’t get it. Your version of the real world has so much filler—I guess you call it context and nuance?—that bogs down the narrative. Take it from a Beardog who was adrift for too long: It’s so much easier when you don’t bother to look beneath the surface.



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