Over the course of 28 seasons — yes, 28 — MTV’s “The Real World” has changed a lot. If you’re old like me, you probably look back on the wonderfulness of the first few seasons (“New York City,” “Los Angeles,” San Francisco”) and sigh about how the cast used to represent a wide array of people who were always smart and thoughtful, if different from each other. Nowadays, it seems the primary requirements for being on “The Real World” are being stereotypically physically attractive and willing to cause drama. But speaking of drama, the one constant on “The Real World” has always been that if a cast member gets physically violent in any way with another cast member, they are immediately pulled aside by producers and, 95 percent of the time, sent home. There have been a few exceptions (for example, Stephen on “The Real World: Seattle” was sent to anger management after he slapped departing cast member Irene), but for the most part, any cast member who physically attacks another is forced to pack their bags and go. This has also been true on “Real World” spinoffs, “Road Rules” and “The Challenge.”
Well, that appears to not be the case anymore.
On last night’s season finale of “The Real World: Portland,” three cast members — Nia, Averey and Johnny — continued an on-camera brawl that began on the previous episode. The fight — which began, I swear, over cleaning up Averey’s dog’s shit — involved Nia punching Johnny in the head with a closed fist no less than 10 times, lying in wait for him outside the bathroom with a blowdryer she intended to use as a weapon, Averey coming to his defense (the two are dating) by wailing on Nia with her fists and pulling her hair, and Nia then going after Averey by sucker-punching her in the back of the head. At no point did producers or camera people step in to stop the violence. And the rest of the cast seems relatively unfazed by even the level of violence going on; faced with the choice between giving Nia the boot or Averey and Johnny voluntarily leaving the house, only one (Jordan) voted in favor of Nia leaving. Later on in the episode, with Johnny and Averey having moved out, Nia focused her attention on another male cast member, Jordan, and discussed — nay, plotted – to have a bunch of her male friends jump him. “My dogs are going to eat tonight.” I mean, really? And again, producers did not step in, at least on camera. (Eventually, Nia’s friend Dom decided not to go forward with the beatdown.)
I have watched the fight and its aftermath — seen above in a series of five clips — a few times and I remain flabbergasted and disturbed that it was allowed to go down. I haven’t seen the rest of the season, so I realize that there is likely some additional context for the level of anger between these three people and that they probably came to blows over much more than just dog shit. But seriously, Nia, who is six-foot tall, punched Johnny 10 times in the head with a closed fist. That’s no fucking joke. And lying in wait for him to come out of the bathroom so she could hit him with a blowdryer? That was straight up psycho. Averey made it clear that she then went after Nia because she knew Johnny “couldn’t” fight back. Would producers have stepped in if Johnny had fought back? Would they have jumped in immediately if he had started the altercation by pushing Nia rather than throwing something at her? Or did they hang back because Nia is female and they knew it would make for “good television” (they’ve been hyping this fight all season, from what I’ve read)? I would venture to say that like everything that happens on reality TV these days, this fight was likely somewhat encouraged by the producers … but when it went as far as it did, did they think to themselves, “Oh shit”? Or did they clap their hands wildly and say, “Keep the cameras going. Fuck the ‘no fighting’ clause”?
Did you watch “The Real World: Portland” finale? What did you think of the fight? Do you think producers should have stepped in? And do you think the rest of the house should have been more upset and outraged?