Romeo and Juliet. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Holden Caulfield and that metaphorical kid he keeps trying to save over there in the rye. Kim Kardashian and herself. What do all these pairings have in common? I think the main link between them is a level of adoration that borders on the obsessive. What these people feel for one another (and what Kardashian seems to feel for herself) is the kind of adoration that’s so powerful, its very presence causes the world to feel electrically charged. And now it’s time to add another couple to this illustrious list, so let’s all grasp hands and welcome Tevin and Kenya! They are the stars of what I like to call THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TO BE TOLD ON REALITY TELEVISION AS THE APOCALYPSE LOOMS. Tevin, you see, is a modern day Renaissance man. Okay, I actually have no idea what the kid does, but for the sake of argument, let’s just say he’s an artist who happens to look a great deal like one of the greatest lipsynchers of our time so I’ve decided that factor alone makes him Renaissance-adjacent. His for-right-now beloved is Kenya, a woman who enjoys sitting on the lap of her ex-boyfriend probably way more than she should. But ever since that most recent ex left the island, Kenya decided that it might be kind of fun to settle and she declared her love for a very sweet (but a very very dim) Tevin. And guess what?! The MTV-sanctioned “relationship experts” (anyone besides me want to see the degree that officially deems these people experts?) agree with her! The lights of that Truth Booth – the ones that don’t actually do anything integral to the process – pass over their bodies and we learn that this house filled with emotional misfits has finally identified another perfect match! There are cheers and shouts of elation, but if you listen carefully, I’m pretty sure you can also hear the sound of nails and a very busy hammer. That noise? Oh, that’s Shamoy and Maria. They’re barricading the door of their until-now private Honeymoon Suite. Wouldn’t you do the exact same thing?
The last episode ended with a cliffhanger, but I feel compelled to assure you that I managed to sleep soundly all week long, even though I didn’t know with absolute certainty whether or not Cali’s ceremony strategy worked. Sure, the melatonin spray I’ve recently fallen in a deep sort of love with helped, but my restful slumber was really due to the fact that it’s almost impossible to care if beams of light will eventually illuminate the nighttime sky in a dramatic visual that’s meant to make us cheer for the success of these people instead of doing what we should be doing: shaking our heads at their continued idiocy. In any case, the results come back, they get four beams, and this definitively proves that Cam and Kayla and Cali and Tomas are not matches. This result also proves these people still have no earthly idea what they’re doing and Terrence J shakes his head at them like a disappointed parent. His reaction reminds me a lot of that one time I came home from a party in high school with hickies lining my entire neck and I swore to my mother that we’d all just sucked on each other’s necks for fun and of course nothing sexual had gone down, but she didn’t believe me for a single second because the woman has a brain. But instead of my neck, let’s talk about Kayla. Poor Kayla. Now officially one of the dethroned self-described “power couples,” she sits in the confessional wearing a bustier I don’t for one moment believe is actually her own and she bursts into tears because Cam is not the man MTV said she was meant to be with. Don’t despair, Kayla! If you miss the guy after you leave the island, I’m sure you will be able to find him at some Hitler-esque rally. He will be easy to spot; he may very well be the only African American in the crowd cheering about the destruction of our civil liberties.
It’s all come down to this, my friends. An episode MTV has chosen to call the “Summer Finale” of Floribama Shore – a term that seems more than a bit optimistic considering the fact that my tan has long since faded – is upon us, and we all know full well that there’s no way this group would ever enter a mini hiatus without experiencing and inflicting a heap of carnage first.
Lewis made a choice last week and that choice was to consciously blow whatever was left of Asia’s self-esteem to smithereens. And since I am a decent human being, I view Lewis’ choice as unacceptable for one simple reason: it was completely avoidable. As far as I can tell, these people have themselves a ton of free time over there in Hawaii. During every single episode, we are shown bullshit slow-motion footage (not a bit of which enhances the narrative) of guys lifting weights or a few moments of the group gleefully tossing beanbags through holes in the yard, so my assumption is there has got to be at least fifteen minutes one can carve out each day to get in a moment of personal reflection. In all of those fifteen minutes, Lewis never once sat down and came up with a compassionate reason he could offer Asia to explain why they do not belong together romantically? Because he could have told her he believes they are not an intellectual match since he is, at heart, a total fucking idiot. He could have sworn he values her presence in his life as a friend so greatly that he is not willing to risk changing their status.
He did not have to tell Asia that he finds her unattractive. He did not have to say words that now leave her bemoaning why she will never be physically enough for a moron.
I weep for the woman who is Lewis’ actual match. I also really hope that woman is Bria.
So here’s what’s been happening:
Nilsa and Gus are hooking up, but she swears she’s only looking for fun, that not even a dash of her prototypical brand of jealousy will rear its heavily-contoured head the very next time she spots Gus feeling up some girl at a bar.
(The only person on the planet who believes Nilsa about any of this is Nilsa.)
Kortni has a legitimate crush on Jeremiah, incest comparisons be damned.
(The only people who think such a pairing would actually be a wise idea are the always-hammered people who live in that filthy house. Perhaps the fumes of kitchen mold have driven them clinically mad.)
Logan now creeps around the streets of Panama City Beach in the dead of night to drop bouquets of cheap flowers and close-up photographs of Kortni’s face onto her doorstep.
(The only people pleased about Logan’s nocturnal strolls are the producers of Dateline.)
Candace publicly dates a man who made the conscious choice to randomly insert a set of numbers into his name.
(Not even her mother can get behind such a moronic decision.)
Codi insists on wearing a cropped tee to work out. He ends every single set of burpess by chugging a minimum of two cheap beers.
(Not even the founders of Coors view this guy as a role model.)
In other words, everything is going exactly as expected down at the Floribama Shore.
We’ve officially reached the point in Are You the One? where it’s hard to know just who to root for. Several of the contestants have by now proved themselves to be completely loathsome in terms of how they process frustration and anger. Others seem entirely committed to forever being defined by the insulting tags MTV anointed them with that define how they typically behave in relationships. Are we really expected to root for “The Forever Side Piece” even as she continues to vie to be that Side Piece? Is anyone desperately pulling for a man who, by his own admission, morphs into an aggressive beast when he gets angry? As a viewer, I’m starting to feel just as pissed off as some of the people on the show, but I think it’s important for a reality TV watcher to have a stake in the televised proceedings. With that in mind, I have officially decided to root for whichever volcano is nearest to the house where these people are staying because it might be lovely to deal with some actual lava for a change instead of the bubbling fury that emits from the mouths of those pretending to search for love in between fistfights.
I’m a big fan of horror movies. I’ve seen ‘em all. In some perverse sort of way, the stages of my life can almost be catalogued by which movie was scaring the living shit out of me at that particular moment in time. April Fool’s Day, with its Muffy/Buffy twins (trust me; they were terrifying) and that old rickety well filled with dark water and dead bodies tormented me during my elementary-school-sleepover days. Friday the 13th used to slip into my mind constantly back when I was a sleepaway camp counselor and I’d find myself creeping through the woods to my bunk in the dead of night after having sex with my boyfriend on the kickball field. I think about Rosemary’s Baby during every single gynecologist appointment I’ve had since I was seventeen and Goodnight, Mommy – with those creepy little boys who share a penchant for gluing together body parts – entered my life recently, meaning that even my adulthood is defined by having the bejeezus scared out of me. I guess I’ve always succumbed to the notion that there is a joy inherent in the embracing of vicarious fear. Part of that joy involves spotting iconic horror conventions in a piece of entertainment. You just know that the second you see a long narrow hallway or you hear a pronounced creak of a floorboard or a doorway is open just a tiny bit in the back of the frame, it’s time to actively prepare for some onscreen doom. When what you’re watching is fiction, the identification of those terrible elements of horror feels satisfying. When you spot the same tropes in the real world, however, all you are left with is dread. And it turns out that Logan, Kortni’s ex-boyfriend, is a fucking walking horror movie trope.
So the last episode ended with the group only nailing one new measly beam of light and Terrence J telling them their process has been nothing but trash. The episode also ended with Zak rolling his eyes at Bria’s continuing stalker tendencies, which means the two of them will surely hook up tonight because Zak is the only person on the planet who saw Fatal Attraction and walked away thinking that being flattered was the point of the movie.
There have been moments throughout the years when events so questionable transpired on reality television that they caused me to question whether or not there could possibly be a God. Does that sound harsh? Well, you watch someone named Snooki get punched directly in the face on camera and then go ahead and take a gander at the allegedly sane people on Ex and the Beach who cavort like hedonists celebrating successful lobotomy operations and tell me such displays did not prompt you to wonder if 1) You were staring at the literal dismantling of society’s mores or 2) God had grown tired of locusts and instead created a brand new plague that anyone blessed with basic cable was able to watch in high-definition. I’ll admit that there have been a few incidents shown on Floribama Shore that caused the God question to creep menacingly into my head. Those incidents involved Kortni squatting in corners, extreme close-ups of chunky vomit, or Candace referring to her boyfriend as “GatorJay231SouthsideGawd” with a straight face. Still, for all the Gator-pissing-puke moments that propelled me to wonder if crawling into an underground bunker so I could eat canned goods and pray for absolution was maybe a wise idea, there have also been some truly heartwarming moments. Floribama Shore doesn’t cause me to fear the End of Days like many reality shows do on a regular basis. There is an inherent goodness inside the cast members of this show. True, that ingrained goodness tends to dribble out when they are hammered – and they are usually hammered – but as sober people, they often illustrate kindness and empathy and they exhibited both last week when Jeremiah found out his grandfather died.
After the relationship retreat – where exes showed up to berate people they’ve already spent years emotionally abusing – finally ends, it’s time to get back to a more standard episode (complete with the more standard forms of abuse) of Are You the One? It’s morning now on the island and rain is falling in great buckets from the sky. Neon paint is potentially forever tattooed on the dirty feet of our contestants and Samantha is ready to move far beyond the bullshit of her ex and into a relationship where the guy she’s with is more than happy to post her face all over his Instagram. Over in the yoga yurt, Asia and Tevin are doing some deep breathing exercises before he explains that watching Kenya avoid him all last night so she could cuddle with her ex hurt him so deeply that he was forced to suck on Jasmine’s lips in an outdoor shower while cameras filmed them. Tevin’s not sure what all this back and forth hurting of one another means for his future with Kenya, though if he could hear me as I scream at my TV, he would know it means that their relationship is doomed beyond repair and he’s gonna have to learn a far more effective coping mechanism in the coming days besides deep inhalations of breath. By the way, Kenya is thrilled with how last night went because she was able to spoon with her ex-boyfriend all the while knowing Tevin will always take her back, though Jasmine – the Perpetual Side Piece – now thinks she and Tevin will be together forever and she was right to swallow her dignity for a couple of weeks and just wait for the perfect moment when Tevin had to lower himself to his second choice. What word means the exact opposite of “romance”? Because that's the word that perfectly defines this entire situation.