Whoa. Who could’ve seen that coming?!? Real World Seattle’s SHOCKING SURPRISE TWIST finally arrived, y’all. (Remember: Ignore the part where everyone seemingly already knew every detail about it before it happened.) It took three weeks, but the Bad Bloods now live in the same house with the other seven roommates.
When the Originals (as they will hence be called) take a trip to Woodland Park Zoo (highlighted by Robbie acting like a gleeful seven-year-old), a tech crew comes into the apartment and removes a couple false walls, revealing the rooms for the Bad Blood cast. Soon the Bad Bloods roll up to their new TV home, get settled, and anxiously await the return of the Originals.
For all the hype and foreshadowed drama, the episode turned out to be one long and boring tension build that lacked a real payoff. Sisters Katrina and Anna go into sibling bond mode with Katrina saying that while they may despise each other, she’d murder anyone who crossed Anna (aww… aww?). Robbie and Theo ignore their Bad Bloods (Jenn and Kassius), while Anika’s ex Will pretends she’s not around. Mike and Peter talk instantly and don’t seem to be at each other’s throats, and Jordan and Orlana’s relationship still seems utterly meaningless. Unsurprisingly, Tyara’s blood boils with Kimberly’s arrival, but she makes an effort to not be around her old bully at all.
Instead of fireworks, the episode basically devolves into a repeated series of people processing their feelings by saying, “I need tequila,” “I need a shot,” or other variations about how they need to go out and get a drink (healthy coping mechanism, y’all!) without actually doing so. Sure, things get heated in the final minutes when Mike instigates Kassius to talk about his history with Theo, which results in Theo coming to tell his side of the story, and somehow ends with Tyara getting into a physical confrontation with Peter after he calls her out for her “fake” British accent. But even that tussle only results in an utterly uncompelling episode cliffhanger.
So rather than deal with all of that, let’s backtrack to the start of the episode where Tyara once again serves as the overflowing fountain of drama for the Originals. When we last last off, Tyara was openly proclaiming her love for everyone after spending the premiere episodes hating everyone. Well, the people at MTV shaping the storyline are going all-in on this personality polarity, because irrational, hateful Tyara popps up once again when the crew heads to a nightclub.
The Originals seem to be having a typical drunken night out, partying upstairs at a local club. Then Katrina leaves to have a smoke. Then Mike and Jordan descend to the dance floor to continue their odd grinding-when-inebriated relationship. One by one, the Originals head downstairs until only Tyara remains elevated and alone. To put it mildly, she doesn’t dig that everyone moved to different parts of the club without her. She morphs into a vengeful hawk spying on her prey from above (metaphorically speaking, though an Animorphs tie in would really spice up this series).
When they all return home, Tyara flies off the handle. In her mind, they all intentionally ditched her. She expresses this frustration with fittingly elegant prose, “#@$& all of you! All of you are fake as #@$&!” She begins rambling about how everyone at the club was laughing at her (an obviously ludicrous, the-world-revolves-around-me stance), and yells that she's “never” had any friends. In fact, she says, “The whole reason I came here was to have friends.” Which… wow. Your goal when submitting a Real World audition tape wasn’t to be on TV? It wasn’t to be around a bunch of other attractive people? It wasn’t to be put up with lavish housing and accommodations in an unfamiliar city? The whole reason was to make friends? If she’s being 100 percent honest, that’s crushingly sad. Imagine seeing the manipulated reality of MTV programming as your only viable outlet for friendship.
There’s something about Tyara’s psychology during this club-induced tirade that called to mind another recent pop culture icon of neglect. (Oh God… don’t.) So it’s time for a little amateur armchair psychology. (Stop, you’re better than this.) Tyara’s mindset can be explained via people’s reaction to Barb in Stranger Things. (You are officially *the worst.*)
(Look, I hate myself for what’s about to happen too. Stranger Things is one of those pop culture artifacts that’s really, really good and also overrated because it’s been written about and discussed ad nauseam. The only thing the world needs less than another Stranger Things thinkpiece is more “This Real Life Event Is Actually Kinda Like Game of Thrones” stories. But I can’t get this line of thought out of my head, so join me in the decent to darkness. *SPOILERS TO FOLLOW*)
For those unfamiliar with Stranger Things, Barb is the bookish and loyal high school best friend of Nancy. When Nancy goes to her boyfriend Steve’s house and takes Barb, the young couple eventually ditches Barb to go upstairs and hook up. After being left to sit by the pool, Barb gets dragged into the dark parallel universe of the Upside Down by the monstrous Demogorgon, which eventually kills her. Despite being an uninteresting and undeveloped character, Barb became the darling of Stranger Things. I believe there are three reasons for this. All of them have to do with relatability, and two of which apply to directly Tyara's outburt.
1. Look at her clothes and glasses! They’re so tacky in an endearing and lovable way! The 80s, right!?! (Spoiler alert: Not the one that relates to Tyara.)
2. The underdog narrative. Everyone wants an origin story where they were smart, scrappy, and loyal while being marginalized and treated unjustly. This vantage point allows us to easily explain our current troubles dealing with people though the lens of past torment. (That’s not to say this isn’t a valid mindset, but it’s often adopted by those that didn’t actually go through said struggles in their younger days.) Since Barb is a rather two-dimensional character, she allows people to latch onto those empathetic feelings of marginalization in a very straightforward way. It’s not cool to have been the super popular kid in high school, and Barb is the walking embodiment of the “doesn’t fit in with the cool kids” archetype.
This also happens to be a core pillar of Tyara’s identity. Again, she claims that she has “never” had friends. The reason she has Bad Blood is because of Kimberly's cyber bullying. Regardless of the actual severity of the bullying (MTV does a really lousy job expressing the specifics of most of the Bad Blood beefs), it's clear Tyara has locked onto an identity of the underdog being unfairly treated by everyone else. Everything is filtered through this internal narrative, so trivial things can become grave slights. Which leads to…
3. Abandonment. I theorize the core of Barb adoration stems from everyone knowing the pain of being ditched. Regardless of social status, we’ve all had close friends who’ve seemed to fade out of our life for various reason (entering into a romantic relationship—like Nancy does with Steve—being the most common). It’s a uniting universal feeling of crudeness, that makes you feel like you want to die. The fact that Barb actually does die as a result of friendship abandonment casts her in a sympathetic light that has canonized her in pop culture lore (even if her character didn't really do anything to earn it).
Tyara probably loves Barb. Tyara freaks out at the club because she perceives that the Originals abandoned her on purpose. It's a big mental leap, but she sticks the landing. For all she knows, a Demogorgon (or, at the very least, a creepy bro) might be in the balcony waiting to snatch her up. Now, someone who didn’t have a the-world-is-against-me mindset would probably solve this problem by... I dunno... walking downstairs. They’re literally still in the building. You can see them all. It’s not like they bolted the club. If you can see them, they haven’t left you behind. Just go down and maybe say, “Oh, I didn’t know we were headed downstairs. You should grabbed me.” To which they’d probably respond, “Oh sorry, our bad. Anyway, let’s get another drink! Whoooo!” //end scene What happened wasn’t abandonment, and her roommates are rightfully baffled that she goes nuclear over it. But even in a crowded Seattle night spot, Tyara's internal logic made her feel like she was sitting alone on a diving board in the back of her best friend's boos yard.
You know what real abandonment is, Tyara? One time I went to play hide-and-seek in a Costco in Montana with my friends’ youth group. I found a hiding spot behind the floor rugs that was so good that nobody found me... and then everyone left. My friends and the adults running a frickin’ youth group all left together without me. I was stuck alone in a Costco—as it was closing—and had to call my mom to come pick me up. That is being abandoned by your friends. (Also, my rationale for claiming to be hide-and-seek GOAT.) But whatever, it’s an decently amusing story. I got over it by the next day, because I knew then what I still know now—kids are dummies. Guess what, Tyara? Your drunk and horny 20-something roommates aren’t any more emotionally intelligent than my neglectful early-teens pals. Chill out.
Ugh. We're four episodes into Real World Seattle: Bad Blood, and I’m as tired of Tyara as I am of the internet's Barb fandom. In the blessed words of a munching Jordan during Tyara’s tirade (which will serves as my new official motto/plan for dealing with writing about this show), “I’m eating pancakes, I don’t give a #@&$.”
Episode Space Needle Count: 6
Running Space Needle Count: 52
The Real World Seattle: Bad Blood airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on MTV.