Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League: A ‘Real World: Skeletons’ Premiere for the Ages


We have been gifted two very special holiday treats. First, the trailer for the upcoming The Challenge is out:

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The trailer isn’t particularly interesting or revealing, but it’s always nice to see Nany covered in tear-soaked makeup and people falling off of stuff into water, and to check in on whatever T.J. Lavin’s hair will be up to this season. T.J. Lavin is the best.

The second gift we received was even more of a surprise: It looks like we are in for one hell of a Real World season. Nearly every roommate in the house has a unique brand of crazy that was very much on display early and often. The first night in the house alone played out like a scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but instead of Benicio Del Toro and Johnny Depp, it starred a chick named Violetta with “Thug Life” tattooed on her lip and a dude named Bruno who looks like a cross between Bruno Mars, The Situation, and a Baby Ruth bar. In fact, this first night was so extra that it needs to get the full GRTFL minute-by-minute breakdown. It’s only right.

Real World: Skeletons First Night, Turnt Night

The first night of this season of Real World featured one attempted assault with a coat hanger, four hookups, a dozen arguments, an $800 bar tab, and, shockingly, zero coitus. Before we go through the Day 1 timeline in ridiculous detail, let’s get to know the cast members with a couple of nuggets on each:

Madison looks and sounds like the most innocent, cute, sweet little Texas girl when you first see her. That changes when you see her mug shot.

Jason is pretty much the only one who doesn’t punch you in the face with his insanity.

Violetta was having a panic attack as she came up to the front door, and attacked every booze bottle, person, and inanimate object in the house after she walked through it. Her motto: “Bras are for pussies and Republicans.” This is the tattoo on her lip that says “Thug Life.”


Tony is the handsome, charming Louisiana boy all the girls fight over. And even the dudes can see why.

Bruno has a Jersey Shore vibe, a Bruno Mars vibe, and makes poses like this in front of cars like this:


Nicole was on the football team, is a trained EMT, and lays the Staten Island accent on so thick that you kind of feel like she’s forcing it, but you aren’t sure, because you never really spent time in Staten Island, because there isn’t anything to do there.

Sylvia is the one you know is going to end up catching feelings and crying a lot.

I now present my estimation, based on events portrayed in the episode, of their first day in the house.

10 a.m.–2 p.m.: The Early Settlers

First arrivals Sylvia and Tony do the thing everyone does on this show: tell the first person you see that you’re going to be their best friend in the house. I think even they know that won’t be the case, but it just feels like the right thing to do. They speculate a bit about where to sleep but, breaking tradition, don’t immediately stake claims. This part is boring; let’s move on.

2–4 p.m.: Filling Out the Roster

One after another, they walk through the door with their new outfits, fresh hairstyles, and carefully crafted personas. There is an energy to the house. Everyone is on 10. In the months since being cast, they have spent all of their time wondering about their roommates, getting in shape for the cameras, shopping for clothes, strategizing with their friends, watching The Challenge, and counting the days. All of this anticipation manifests itself in nervous energy. They all bounce around the house like puppies let off their leashes in the park. There is only one thing they all have in common, one thing that can calm them down. There is only one thing to do: drink. Violetta walks in the house and instantly unveils a bottle of tequila she’s smuggled in. From there it begins.

4–6 p.m.: Pre-Gaming

Someone1 has decided the squad will be heading to a bar for a couple of drinks and then to a proper nightclub for some dancing. This means getting ready to leave, which means another outfit change and, of course, more drinking. The mood is light and everyone’s buzz is positive. No one seems drunk, just happy. As they all gather downstairs to leave, it’s hard not to notice what a cohesive, happy, attractive group of young people are on this show. What could possibly go wrong?

6:30 p.m.–Sunset: Heaven on Earth

As they gather on the rooftop bar overlooking the skyline, they’re all having one of “those” moments. One of the moments when you step back and really appreciate how good you have it. They are young, they look great, they have just been cast on a TV show, they are living in Chicago rent-free, and they are surrounded by their new family. Raise a glass:


They are peaking. They’re all plaid shirts, funny jokes, smooth conversations, and big smiles. They’re on some Titanic “I’m the king of the world” shit right now:


It’s hard not to notice Madison in the above photo. She is the blonde on the left. Some people might think she’s wearing a too-revealing dress, but those people are wrong. She is actually wearing a conservative, tasteful, and fashion-forward tube top-onesie. She just has it on upside down.

Sunset–10 p.m.: Violetta Was Named After Violence

Everyone is having a good time, getting to know their roommates and stuff. Getting to know other people, too. “Hey, guy in the khakis and pink button-up, why don’t you join us for a shot?”


It’s after this shot that everything starts to get, you know, loose. Tony and Madison are over in the corner doing that thing where they run their hands all over each other’s bodies but don’t make out, Bruno and Sylvia are slow dancing to fast music, Nicole is slurring and hitting on every female within earshot, and Violetta asks for the check.

What happens next is something that should have happened at least five times in every episode in the history of the Real World franchise: The cast can’t pay the bill. Before this season, didn’t you get the feeling that they drank free everywhere they went? Well, something has changed, because this crew just drank down $800 worth of booze and it’s time to pay the piper. Of course, this is where it all starts to fall apart.

Madison was being judicious with her money and brought only $50 to the bar. Claiming that she had only one drink and two shots, she throws her $50 on the pile and gets an attitude, complaining about paying for other people’s drinks. Sylvia and Violetta are not pleased. On the one hand, they’re mad at her because Madison is guilty of only contributing $50, while each of them are contributing hundreds. On the other hand, they’re mad at her because she’s guilty of being skinnier, prettier, and the target of house hottie Tony. Tony, in a bind, tries to smooth it over by adding some cash of his own.

RW_cashMTVNo dice. Sylvia attempts the first assault of the season:


It’s at this point that Bruno drops one of the best lines of the episode: “I don’t really know these girls too well, but so far they don’t seem too classy.”

10–11 p.m.: The Power Hour

On the walk home from the bar, you can feel the night start to go off the rails. Violetta is hollering about how pissed she is at Madison, and the dudes all have the same “Is this what EVERY night is going to be like?” horrified look on their faces. Upon returning, they splinter off into groups. Madison and Tony are outside smoking cigarettes when they start to make out.


Look how close the cigarette is to their faces! Anyone who has ever kissed someone while they are smoking knows how awful this kiss must taste. While they’re outside alternating between sucking face and Camel Lights, Sylvia and Bruno are carrying Nicole’s dead body upstairs to bed.

RW_upstairs to bedMTV

Nicole isn’t really dead, but both Bruno and Sylvia do that “I am 99 percent sure she is just drunk and will sleep this off, but I’m putting her on her stomach anyway” thing that we’ve all done with an over-served friend before.

Violetta is in the kitchen prying open her tequila bottle, getting Tony’s attention, and declaring, “I find you attractive, but I don’t deal with roadkill, and that is what you got, I’m sorry.” Madison and Tony then retreat to their smoking quarters, and Madison confesses, “This is the story of my life. This is why I had to get homeschooled. Girls have been mean to me my entire life. If you knew my story, you would understand me, but you don’t know me yet.”

It is at this point that Violetta goes berserk. The first thing she does is confront Tony: “Tommy, Tommy, you are going with her?” [Gesturing at Madison.] The fact that she’s fighting for a dude whose name she doesn’t know is beautiful. It’s becoming clear that she doesn’t really want him, she just doesn’t want him to want Madison. Naturally, the next thing she does is attack Tony/Tommy.


She quickly follows that up by attacking Madison with a green coat hanger.


Then she makes out with Bruno.


… and LITERALLY (and I mean literally) turns around and makes out with Sylvia:


To recap: an actual assault, followed by attempted assault with a weapon, followed by back-to-back makeouts. Violetta is on one. The best part is her reaction to her performance the next morning: “Granted, the alcohol got the best of me, but that was nothing compared to the way I can be.”

“THAT WAS NOTHING COMPARED TO THE WAY I CAN BE”? She didn’t even say “the way I used to be” like those days are behind her. This woman is out of control, insane, has no remorse, and is a complete mess. Somehow, she pulls it off. I kind of find her attractive.

11 p.m.–2 a.m.: OK, NOW Let’s Go Out

Only four of the original seven made it to the, you know, “going out” part of “going out.” At the club, Sylvia and Jason were holding down the dance floor doing this weird finger-sucking, grinding, licking-but-not-kissing thing:


Tony and Madison were playing it low-key in a booth just, you know, lying about stuff:



She nearly doubled her number in four seconds. There is a bazillion percent chance that her “honest number” is not her honest number, but that’s just a guess.

This season promises to have a lot in store, with a “skeleton” from each character’s past moving into the house for a bit. But before we focus on that, it’s important to recognize, respect, and appreciate what a phenomenal first episode this was. This was the equivalent of watching a rookie score 55 points in his first regular-season game. I don’t even want to predict what will happen, break down the “This Season On …” clip frame by frame to look for clues, or even Google all of these people to find out what their deals are. I just want to say thanks. Thanks, MTV; thanks, Bunim/Murray; and thank you, cast, for giving us the most promising first episode of a Real World season since Teck and Ruthie were naked in the pool in Hawaii. I look forward to what’s coming next Tuesday and can’t wait until January 6, when The Challenge joins the party.

There won’t be another GRTFL until the new year, so listen to the Right Reasons, enjoy the break, and don’t try to kill anyone with a coat hanger. Just think: The next GRTFL column will be about the first episode of The Challenge. Can’t come soon enough.

Filed Under: Reality TV, TV, Real World: Skeletons, Real World

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

Archive @ djacoby

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