Getting real

The strangest thing hap- pened while I was watching MTV the other day, I cried.

Regretfully, I will admit that I’m a bit of a fan of that television station. I like MTV’s crazy spin on reality tv.

Oddly enough, it was reality tv that made me cry.

If you aren’t a fan of the Real World – here’s the basic plot as stated in the intro of each episode: “Ten strangers are picked to live in a house and have their lives taped… Watch what happens when people stop being polite and starting get- ting real.”

The “Real World”, like much of today’s “reality” tv, has historically been an escape from what most of us would consider to be reality.

Ten irresponsible youngsters get to live in an expensive house furnished with a game room and hot tub. They are provided with a job they’re not nearly qualified for, and they spend 90 percent of their air time intoxicated. (I guess the lure of it is kind of like a train wreck – you just can’t look away no matter how much you want to.)

Train wreck or bad TV – it still got to me. While watching last week, I cried, as the “Real World” finally got real.

One of the “roommates” sees his world turned upsidedown when his dad calls and tells him his mom has died of a heart condition. Suddenly, finally, reality tv is real.

Maybe it’ll be good for the MTV generation, and others, to realize that “real life” is sometimes about pain and regret and death. Maybe it’s good for us to all be reminded that life gets difficult no matter how lucky you are or where you may be living. Maybe it’ll be tough to feel the tug of heartstrings as you remember a death that turned your own world upside down.

Real life is difficult. It’s sad. But it’s real.

Real life shouldn’t be about getting intoxicated 90 percent of the time. It isn’t about eating bugs or seeing how long you can hold your breath under water. Real life has never been about voting people off the island or winning a dating game or playing practical jokes on celebrities.

Real life is about loving people and holding each other up when life deals you a raw hand. It’s about friendship and celebrations and tri- als. It’s about life and death.

And all I can say is: “It’s about time reality tv gets real.”

What surprised me was that MTV was among the first to finally find some of this “real life” in its reality series.

This week, the plot of the Real World is back to normal, with all the romantic difficulties and drunken twists you’d expect from MTV. But for a short time, the plot got real, and those of us watching felt it too.