Grantland Reality Fantasy League: A Genuinely Shocking Moment on Real World: Portland

Courtesy of MTV Marlon

It’s time to add some new shows to the GRTFL. With only Survivor and Real World in the lineup, we had to diversify. I was going to wait it out until Des made her debut as The Bachelorette on May 20 … but then this happened.

With Ready for Love, NBC is straight gunning for that “I like to watch people fall in love in the most preposterous way possible” demographic. They aren’t even being coy about it either. The trailer begins with a voiceover that says, “Hey, Bachelor fans, are you ready for a new show?” So, yeah. NBC is promoting the show as The Bachelor with a couple of twists. First twist: The girls are vetted by matchmakers who assign them to their “team.” Second twist: The bachelors are all quasi-famous, fully handsome bros. Third twist: NO CHRIS HARRISON! I’m skeptical that human beings can find soulmates on national TV without the help of the Love Shepherd, Chris Harrison, but stranger things have happened. Stranger things like Eva Longoria EP’ing this show and Bill and Giuliana Rancic hosting it.

I will include this show in the GRTFL next week, but GRTFL lifers will remember NBC’s last attempt at getting that Bachelor money, Love in the Wild, which cursed this column and my life for three months in June 2011.

(Sidebar: Can you believe that this stupid reality fantasy has been around since 2011? I honestly think that Grantland hasn’t canceled it only because they know it will make me cry. It would make me cry because when performances like Marlon’s from this week’s Real World happen, THEY NEED TO BE DOCUMENTED.)

Top Scorers:

Marlon (Real World, Connor), ALL THE POINTS … ALL OF THEM: What is gay? What does gay look like? What does gay talk like? What does gay dress like? What is straight? What is bi? And what is being young and trying to figure it out?

I’m not intelligent, experienced, or tactful enough to respectfully answer those questions. I know that. However, I also know that Marlon Williams’s confession in this week’s episode of Real World: Portland was the first time in a long time that I really felt like I was watching seven strangers, picked to live in a house, having their lives taped, and getting fucking REAL. There is none realer than Marlon Williams. Allow me to explain.

Marlon Williams is an African American, a son of a preacher, a linebacker, and a rapper. He is an outspoken alpha-male type in the mold of Leroy from the most recent Vegas season. Like Leroy, Marlon goes out at night with intentions of coming home with a young lady on his arm. He is likable, relatable, and seemingly wise beyond his years. He proved the latter during a casual conversation on the balcony with his roommates:

Averey: “I’m a bartender, obviously we know this, we were talking about anal sex, so who’s tried it …?”
Anastasia: “Who has tried it?”
Marlon: “I have tried it”
Anastasia: “Were you wrapped when you did it?”
Marlon: “Yeah. But mine was a guy, though. [Shocked silence] Let it get silent, let it get silent … it was a dude.”

This was unexpected. Unexpected because our lives have conditioned us to categorize men as “gay” or “straight” based on assumptions. One would assume that a rapping, skirt-chasing, linebacking son of a preacher with the aesthetics and mannerisms of Marlon would not have a gay sexual experience. Marlon was not only unashamed, he owned it. Check how casual he is as he redefines modern masculinity:


Marlon is living his life, and Marlon doesn’t give a fuck what you think. Marlon doesn’t have to offer up this information, and when he says, “Let it get silent, let it get silent …” he recognizes that his roommates will be shocked with his revelation and also subtly notes that they are mature enough to handle what he just told them. He breaks their stunned silence by explaining that during a difficult period in his life, when he felt like there was no one to turn to, he was accepted by the gay community. He even goes so far as to note how clichéd it was that the man he slept with was a male cheerleader and he a star linebacker.

Marlon understands who he is, understands how he’ll be perceived, and knows what he was doing. In those three minutes of cable television, Marlon stopped being polite and got real. Aware of the cameras, he opened up and shared something with his roommates and the audience that most people would not have. Marlon doesn’t have an agenda. He isn’t trying to advance a cause or change the world; he’s just unabashedly sharing his experience, and for that, he gets GRTFL points. All of them.

Johnny (Real World, Jacoby), 45 points: If the the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, on reality TV the way to a woman’s heart is through the annoying little dog she’s obsessed with. Johnny knows this. The second that the way-too-attractive-for-him Averey entered the house, he immediately started going straight Caesar the Dog Whisperer on her pooch, Daisy. Next thing you know, he’s making out with her in the club. After a couple of pooper-scooper sessions and some snuggling in the sheets with the dog …


… before long, he was between the sheets with the way-too-attractive-for-him Averey. However, when he climbed into the way-too-attractive-for-him Averey’s bed, she was naked and announced, “Just don’t cuddle me right now.” He did not. Not only does Johnny know that the way into her bed is to go through the dog, he knows that the way into her pants is to act like you don’t want to get into her pants. Clearly, this non-cuddle was some sort of a test because, before long, Johnny the Masshole and Averey the Hooters waitress were both naked and coitusing (20 + 25 = 45 points).

I’m interested in seeing how this relationship progresses. They’re clearly headed for some sort of exclusive thing, but methinks that this one will be more Ace/Mallory than Judd/Pam. There’s something in women that won’t let them stay with the nice guy that will obsess over their stupid dog just to get their attention. It isn’t fair, Johnny; it’s just the way it is. Sorry, buddy, I don’t look forward to the inevitable night when all the roommates go out to the club, and Averey gets a little too close to some dude with a neck tattoo. The chances of this happening are somewhere between 100 and 1,000 percent.

Averey (Real World, Lisanti), 20 points: Johnny is a lucky fella. He got in with the dog, got in the bed and past the “don’t try to snuggle me” test, and eventually, ya know, got in (25 points). Not only that, Averey later confessed, “I am a very sexual person, and if I am feeling someone, I have trouble controlling my urges.” She isn’t kidding. On the “next time on,” it looks like Averey and Johnny sneak into a bar bathroom IN THE MIDDLE OF A JOB INTERVIEW. I’m telling you, this is going to be a good season.

Dawn (Survivor, House), 5 points: On Survivor, Dawn cried for no reason (5 points). Oh, wait, no, sorry, she totally gave a reason: “It’s kinda funny that I cry so much, but it’s impossible not to think what $1 million can do for my family.”

Girl, I don’t know how to tell you this: The village idiot never wins Survivor. The village “Oh yeah, they did stay under the radar and never rock the boat and never had an enemy” wins Survivor every time. It is the best and worst thing about this program. Since Dawn’s tears were very whatever, I’ve decided to make this week’s GRTFL Top Five the GRTFL Top Five Things That Need to Be Addressed From This Week’s Survivor listed from, “Jacoby, c’mon, that’s not a thing” to “How am I not watching this show?”:

5. Phillip’s Obsession with Boston Rob: Twice this week, Phillip referenced the fact that he shapes his life around the hypothetical decisions of what Boston Rob would do in his place. Phillip honestly feels like Boston Rob is Yoda. Check how he describes his strategy to another player: “When you are lying in bed tonight, pretend you are Boston Rob because that is what I do.” Is there really a comment I can add here that is better than “When you are lying in bed tonight, pretend you are Boston Rob because that is what I do”? No, no there is not.

4. The Idol: This season, this immunity idol looks like something Indiana Jones has to steal from a temple:


I love it. Not only is it awesome-looking, they’re using it as a transition between scenes. Shout to whoever designed this shit. I would put the over/under on the budget-line item on this at $1,000. $1,000 well-spent.

3. Cochran’s Love Life: Two equally strange things were said when it was learned that they had to eat things like pig brains for the immunity challenge:


The first was Eddie’s concern: “The worst part is when you go home and you’re about to hook up with a chick and she’s like, ‘Didn’t you eat like a cow’s bleep or something?’”

OK, that alone is worthy of a thousand-word “Dude, why are you so insecure that you think women care what you ate years ago?” breakdown. But my MAN Cochran followed up with this: “Eddie is worried that this might damage his dating prospects, that he is going to be viewed as someone that has partaken in something very gross. And, ah, you know, potentially alienating women. But for me, I need some sort of imagery-habilitation. I think this would add sort of a wild streak to me and might make me seem a little more dangerous. I think this is exactly what my love life needs.”

Anyone who’s aware that he needs “imagery-habilitation” is so smart, he doesn’t need “imagery habilitation.” Just trust me, my dude, the nerdchick of your dreams is a tweet away, once three more episodes air.

2. Brenda: Yeah, um, ah, Brenda:


I’ll let you decide which one Brenda is. (Hint, I have a crush on her.)

1. Corrine Got Punched in the Face: Corrine had been scoring a lot of points on the Jacoby ledger of late. She was aggressive, honest, and dramatic. She had a distaste for Phillip, the self-appointed “Specialist,” from jump. Then, as if I didn’t like her enough already, at tribal she went and quoted Iron Mike: “Mike Tyson once said, ‘Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face.’ As comfortable as it may seem, every one of us is waiting to get punched in the face.”

Guess who got punched in the face at tribal? Corrine. Sorry, girl.

Jordan and Jessica (Real World, Jacoby and Simmons), 5 points: Jordan and Jessica’s dumb fight (5 points) about what constitutes middle class in America was so idiotic that writing about it would only discredit what Marlon Williams achieved. I really hope Marlon spends the rest of the season bedding women and unintentionally sending a message to the nation that there is no answer to the question “What is gay?”

Are you Ready for Love? I’m not sure I am, but we’ll all find out next week when we break down this weird show’s season premiere. Until then …

Filed Under: CBS, Jeff Probst, Mtv, NBC, Ready For Love, Real World, Reality TV, Reality TV Fantasy League, Survivor

David Jacoby is an ESPN producer who somehow became a writer and editor for Grantland.

Archive @ djacoby