The Real World: Brooklyn, only two episodes into its season, is the twenty-first season of MTV’S hit reality television show, The Real World. Among firsts for the series this season are the first time it is shown in high definition, the first time it has featured a transgender character, and the first time the season has premiered with eight characters (versus seven).
As we have discussed in class, all of the characters are easily “stereotyped”. In the first two episodes, sexual orientation and other LGBTQ issues have played a large role in the plot and in character interaction, as the housemates include a transgender woman, a bisexual woman, and a homosexual man. I would like to focus this blog entry on a specific event from Episode 2: “The Outs and Ins of Brooklyn.” During this episode five members of the house go to a gay bar in Manhattan. Ryan Conklin, a member of the house from Pennsylvania who went to the gay bar, is the “homophobic, racist while-male” character that we have discussed in class. Before joining the gang to go to the gay bar he expresses his nervousness and even asks Chet, another white, heterosexual male in the house, to pretend to be his boyfriend so that he would not get approached by gay men in the bar.
While at the bar JD, a homosexual male from the house, offers to pay Ryan $100 to dance with a drag performer at the club named Peppermint. Ryan reluctantly does it but Peppermint, being the entertainer she is supposed to be, reacts to Ryan’s sheepishness by asking for a kiss on the cheek. When Ryan is about to kiss her, she turns and kisses him on the lips. Ryan is appalled by this (see the image below). He proceeds to make gagging motions and makes a scene out of washing his mouth out when he gets home.
Eventually, though, Ryan ends up laughing it off with his roommates. I would like to point out that even though Ryan is supposed to be the “homophobic, racist while-male character,” he is much more kind and understanding than this particular character type in the past seasons of The Real World. Perhaps the best example of such a homophobic character was David Rainey, better known as “Puck” from The Real World: San Francisco, in 1994. However, in contrast to Puck, Ryan does not act righteous and stubborn in his ways. Puck acts so extremely, through acts such as wearing a swastika, that the other members of the house vote to evict him. But with Ryan, the other members of the house embrace and understand him as being naïve. Ryan is not intently hurtful with his ways but rather just shy and unknowing. So far in the season, it seems that Ryan is not the harsh homophobic character but rather a shy boy who has simply not been exposed to the diversity that is present in a big city such as New York. It will be interesting to see how Ryan’s views develop throughout the season. Will this exposure make him turn into a character like Puck? Or will Ryan “come out” to embrace the diversity of his fellow housemates?
*If you want to catch up on the Real World Brooklyn, episode 3 premiers tonight at 10:00 and is replayed at 11:00. (Episode 2 is re-played at 9:00, also).