“The Real World: San Diego” recap: “We Get Bashed Because We Back Down. I’m Not Going to Back Down.” (Ep. 5)

Previously on The Real World, Barbie and metrosexual Ken flirted and no one cared. This week the most boring Real World setup in the history of the series ignites like a Zippo lighter in a rainstorm and, as expected, no one cares.

The episode opens with metrosexual Ken getting his eyebrows waxed at a salon as Barbie burbles at him. “Ooooh!” purrs metrosexual Ken as wax is smeared on his face.

“Me and Zach get along. We hang out all the time,” says Barbie. “We have really similar personalities, and obviously we‘re really attracted to each other and, if you can‘t see it, you‘re pretty blind.”

I’ll give you the first point. Their personalities are alike in that they are about as interesting as Styrofoam.

But point number two? In a previous episode, Zach stated with his trademark blank stare that he and Ashley would be a good match because he is the football player type and she is the cheerleader type. Is this guy actually attracted to Ashley? Does he even understand attraction? He seems to be either asexual or only attracted to himself, which explains the hours spent each day waxing, keeping his gargantuan body hairless, going to the gym, and exfoliating. You know what else is blind, Ashley? Love. And you need a new prescription.

Young Priscilla confides to momma that Ashley has turned into Zach’s parrot and that she finds it irritating. The first day Ashley told the roommates that she likes her meat well done, but as soon as Zach said he likes his steaks rare, suddenly Ashley decided she wants to eat a bleeding cow. It appears that the urge to merge isn’t just a lesbian phenomenon.

Sam gets a phone call from a friend, who tells her that two of her friends got into a car accident and one of them had to have half her leg amputated. Distraught, Sam relays the bad news to Nate, who comforts her. He says that he’s been through tragedies involving friends as well, and that he will try to calm her down and make her laugh. He talks to Sam while they snuggle in bed and, every so often, Nate cuts the gravitas with a bit of stuffed animal theater.

Frank walks into the room and asks Sam if she would feel better if the roommates were to go out and play putt putt to take her mind off of things. Nate suggests bowling instead, and the three agree. A few of the roommates drag their feet, including Zach, who is in a middle of a leisurely ping pong game. Annoyed, Sam tells Zach to get dressed, and Zach responds by telling Sam that if she does not leave him alone, he will beat the gay out of her — and then he resumes his game.

Sam, channeling a superhuman amount of restraint, tells the camera, calmly, that Zach’s comment was not OK, because there are gays and bisexuals actually getting bullied and beaten. I almost wish Zach had said the comment to Frank, who has no restraint whatsoever. While Zach would ultimately win in a brawl, Frank would probably get a couple of jabs in there, chipping one of Zach’s perfect teeth, a fate worse than death to Mr. Vain.

Frank decides to confront Zoolander about the comment, and Zoolander does not show a trace of remorse, because if you are really really ridiculously good looking, you don’t have to abide by the rules of basic human decency. Nate grimaces. While Nate is struggling with coming to terms with Frank and Sam’s sexuality himself, he understands that Zach was out of line. Frank, realizing that one cannot reason with a brick wall, rolls his eyes and goes back into the house. The roommates leave the house without Zoolander, who most likely spent the entire time practicing his trademark “blue steel” look in the mirror.

While the roommates are out having a good time, Zach dispassionately blabs that he probably should not have made the gay beatdown comment, but he won’t apologize to Sam unless she confronts him. Sam returns to the house and says that she doesn’t feel that she should spend the effort to confront Zach because he is who he is.

Zach and Ashley go out to the most boring looking bar in San Diego, and Zach tells Ashley that everyone is annoyed at him for making a gay bashing comment. Ashley responds by having sex with him with her eyes, telling him that he is misunderstood. Like I said before, love is blind, and sometimes there is some Helen Keller s–t going on, but without the IQ points.

The next day, the gang goes to an interview at the House of Blues in the most unprofessional interview clothes ever.

As to what each could offer to the legendary music venue:


  1. Ashey says she can bartend and shake her t–s.
  2. Priscilla says she knows about the House of Blues, because she had her prom there a few years ago.
  3. Nate says that he likes thinking.
  4. Zach stares at the interviewers blankly like a mannequin at Marshall‘s.
  5. Sam says that she played clarinet in high school.
  6. Frank says, “I do rock it a lot.”
  7. Alexandra says that she taught multivariable calculus and started an AIDS organization.

I think the House of Blues may be in trouble and could go the way of CBGB‘s and become converted to a John Varvatos boutique.

Later, Sam tells Ashley that San Diego Pride is coming up, to which Ashley responds that one of her cousins invited her out to Fire Island once. Sam tells her she has no idea what Fire Island is. This is like watching a sixth grader introduce an MIT student to differential equations. Sam, if you are ever in New York, I will take you to Fire Island myself. Bring Frank. We can take him to the meat rack. Google it.

Frank gets on the phone with the San Diego Pride organizer, who tells him to round up his roommates to flier at pride. He tells Frank that this is the first time an active military contingent — 300 strong — will be marching at pride. Frank presents the idea to Ashley and Nate. Ashley flips her hair around uncomfortably and says something incoherent about not wanting to be pushed into a certain lifestyle. She leaves with the six foot plus waste of space in the house soon afterwards, and Nate tells Frank, “She’s not gonna go.”

Zach and Ashley leave in a car to go shoot bullets at paper cutouts. “I didn’t know there were 300 people in the army who were gay,” says Ashley, who has obviously been living in a cultural vacuum. To Ashley: don’t speak, don’t talk. She tells Zach that Frank was hesitant to ask him to join the roommates at pride. “Is he afraid of me?” asks Zach. “Yes,” says Ashley. “Good,” replies Zach.

Open statement to Zach: paper cutouts don’t shoot back. So while your prissy, Sephora-pampered ass is acting all macho at a suburban shooting range, real men — including gay servicemen — are actually putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan and Iraq so you can continue to wax your balls and play toy soldier.

Sam takes Frank to a gay themed tchotchke store to prepare for pride. Sam buys a rainbow flag and plans to hang it up in the room she shares with Zach. Frank says that he appreciates Sam reaching out to him and taking him to gay venues, which is making him more comfortable about his identity. He says he would not have done any of this without Sam’s influence. Whoever cast Sam in this season should get a bottle of champagne — and a toaster.

Sam and Frank discuss Zach’s homophobia. Frank tells Sam that he wishes he could be in a relationship with a guy, so it shows people like Zach and Ashley that being gay isn’t just about sex — it’s two normal people going about their lives just like anyone else. He tells Sam that it upsets him that Zach could tell her that he could make such an insensitive statement towards her.

Sam and Frank return home, and Sam immediately hangs up the rainbow flag and leaves a gift for Zach on his side of the room: a rainbow cowboy boot sticker on one of his shooting range paper cutouts. Neener!

In the confessional, Frank gives a thank you speech to Sam, which is one of the most heartwarming moments of any season of The Real World:

I can promise you that if Sam wasn’t here I wouldn’t be doing any of this stuff. I wouldn’t be going to a gay bar, and I’ve never been to a gay bar, and I wouldn’t have gone if Sam wasn’t here. I would never be sporting a rainbow bracelet on my wrist, and I’m so proud to be wearing it, and I’m so proud to be going to pride with her. I’m just so, so happy to be doing this. So, thanks.

Sam McGinn for Miss America!

Zach comes home, sees the rainbow flag on the wall, and looks like he is going to urinate in his pants. What a tough guy.

The next day at the House of Blues, the roommates’ boss tells them that the venue will be setting up a booth at pride, and they are all expected to show up and work. Zach is not amused.

“He’s going to either have to open his mind and shut is mouth,” notes Sam.

“I’ve never supported this, so I’m absolutely, 100% freaked out,” says Zach.

Zach calls his friend Brock and tells him that the House of Blues expects him to work at gay pride, and his friend tells him that he wouldn’t do it, so Zach, abiding by the law of “monkey see, monkey do,” gets validation to stay home during that day.

Next, Sam invites the roommates to a lesbian party to kick off pride. Zach runs away like a toddler who believes he has seen a monster under his bed.

Nate is perplexed. “I don’t know why any straight guy would opt out of a lesbian highlighter party with free bottle service and VIP,” he says.

Zach calls his friend Carter and admits that he is afraid to go to a gay party, because gay guys may hit on him. “I’ve got long hair, really white teeth, I just got an eyebrow job. I mean, I’m already on the line,” says Zach. “Yeah, you’re pretty metro,” remarks Carter. At this point, I’m hoping Zach re-enacts the gasoline scene in Zoolander, where the male models blow themselves up out of their own narcissism and stupidity.

The night of the party arrives. Sam is excited to show the roommates a good time.

“I’m not going to the highlighter party,” says Debbie Downer Zach. Sam leaves the room in a huff.

“All I asked of Zach and Ashley is to give me one night, one night to show them how awesome the gay community really is, so of course I’m upset,” says Sam. “It sucks. I really wanted them to get with me.”

Ashley tells Zach that Frank and Sam are upset.

“I don’t care,” says Zach. “What are they going to do? Fight me?”

Oh, clever video editing is mightier than the sword, Zach. Your words speak for themselves. Millions of people across the country now know that your only contribution to the world is to exhale carbon dioxide to keep green plants alive.

Frank uncharacteristically decides not to break the remaining plates in the house and tells Sam that one can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. “It is so, so, so important that you and I are the positive ones in this, OK?” he says.

Sam, though, realizes that she hasn’t been vocal enough about confronting homophobia and gives one of the most heartfelt and inspiring speeches in reality television. I know that is a low bar to surpass, but let’s hear her out.

“But that’s why we get bashed so hard. It’s because we back down, and I’m not going to back down. I’ve backed down too many times. I’m here for a reason, and I’m going to show that reason. I’m gay, and I love it. I’m proud to be gay, and I will stand for every f–king right I have.”

Preach! Sam for Miss America? Forget that. Sam McGinn for President.