MTV's "The Real World" has always been about sex, young people hanging out, sex, young people fighting, sex and young people getting kicked out of a cool house. But never before has sex taken a high profile so quickly.
In the seventh season premiere (10 p.m. Tuesday), set in Hawaii, the hand-picked kids in this sociology experiment set to pop music get naked within eight minutes. The first two cast members to arrive at the plush, paradise hideaway shuck their clothes to go skinny dipping.
Fine. A little skinny dipping never hurt anyone.
But then several of the women proceed to wander about the house without their tops on. What is this, exhibitionist central? Do they think they're auditioning for "Porky's: The Next Generation?"
MTV covers all exposed private parts by digitally obscuring them, but why would these kids even do that? Perhaps it's because, as Amaya says, "I'm just a big time slut."
Actually, Amaya is the only woman who doesn't take off her clothes, but only because she's insecure about the large size of her breasts.
"It feels kind of like I'm living in a page of National Geographic," a clothed Colin admits with glee.
That's just too much information, even for the first hour of the voyeuristically appealing "Real World." It's like the kids feel they have to do something to top the previous casts, and the more shocking the better. And that's why "The Real World" needs to end, before some fame-seeking nut takes a gun into the house on a future edition and blows away his roommates.
Unlike many critics, I actually enjoyed "The Real World" when it began. But as the seasons roll by, the cast members become less likable, less easy-to-relate to. Or maybe at 27 I'm too old to appreciate the show.
Regardless, this season's premiere of "The Real World" is the most disturbing first episode yet. Aside from the gratuitous nudity, the really sad part is how one housemate, Ruthie, gets so drunk her second night in the house she has to be taken to the hospital. Half the kids seem to care, the other half continue their partying - why should a dying new friend disturb the fun?
Here are thumbnail profiles on this year's cast:
Amaya: A 21-year-old UCLA grad, Amaya suffers from poor body image and resorted to bulimia early in her college years. She likes to party and has her eyes on the straight guys in the house.
Colin: A Bob Costas wannabe, Colin attends UC Berkeley and has trouble with relationships due to his parents' divorce.
Justin: A child prodigy (he's just 21 and already in his second year at Harvard law school), Justin is this year's gay cast member. Teck asks if he's gay within minutes of meeting him, which just goes to show how predictable "The Real World" has become.
Kaia: She used to be called Margaret but changed her name after living in Tanzania. Kaia has strong opinions and doesn't mind debating others who disagree with her point of view.
Matt: Loyal and shy, Matt attends UCLA and works at a radio station. His goal is to write movie scripts.
Ruthie: A new twist! This year the show's producers have added a bisexual foster child, whose girlfriend is in the Army. Ruthie appears to have some trouble controlling her alcohol intake.
Teck: A lady's man, Teck initiates the skinny dipping and seems fearless when it comes to asking inappropriate questions and saying things of dubious taste. "I saw her big breasts and I was like, this is good, we'll get along just fine," Teck says after meeting Ruthie.
So there you have it, this year's batch of "real" MTV stars. It's sure to be a combustible, dramatic season, but aren't you glad you don't have to be near some of these people?
More importantly, aren't you as ready as I am to throw in the towel on this voyeuristic show? Once the people being taped start performing, the voyeuristic thrill is gone.
"The Real World"
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday on MTV.
Starring: Amaya, Colin, Justin, Kaia, Matt, Ruthie and Teck.