Remember how shocking it was when twenty-two utter fools actually managed to pair up correctly at the very last minute of the seventh season of Are You the One? Remember the fleeting look of accomplishment smeared across their faces as they sauntered off that island with approximately $40,000 and some very probable invitations to appear on even more reality shows in the way-too-near-to-the-future for my comfort? Remember when this cast acted like they were entirely capable of forgetting all the fighting and the furniture smashing and the sociopathic bullshit they’d inflicted on one another all summer long? Remember how they instead clung to one another super tightly and swore they’d be like family until the very last second of time? Well, it seems time is relative and this little televised family is even more dysfunctional than the Manson Family after a particularly potent acid trip. The sweet goodbye that blasted across our airwaves occurred months ago and the sweetness between these people has faded – much like genital warts eventually do. Now it’s Reunion time, most of these people officially hate one another, and if you’re surprised that the majority of these relationships didn’t work out in the long run, you too are an idiot and such a thing means you should immediately apply to be on this show because you’d be a motherfucking natural.
The Reunion takes place in N.Y.C., Terrence J is the host, and there’s an actual audience of people who sat there and watched this shit go down live. (Please: after you’re done praying for the firefighters out west who truly deserve our prayers, please then pray that the audience members of this trainwreck one day find themselves in positions where they are able to snag tickets to events that do not cause them to question the very notions of humanity.) The cast is introduced in their Perfect Match Pairings and a few are…well, let’s just say they are experimenting with style. Jasmine decided the style she’d play around with for the Reunion would be a hybrid look known to experts (and psychologists) as Generic-Disney-Princess-Meets-Stripper-Ice-Dancer. And Cali? Cali decided to dress as a hooker! Kenya is blonde, I really like Nutsa’s dress, nobody punches anything or anyone on their way out to the stage, and they’re all still loudly proclaiming that they won a million dollars, which okay, they did – but that million was then divided by twenty fucking two. Where is that little proclamation?
To muddle through what I can only see as a last gasp episode, let’s check in with the pairs in the order Terrence J that interrogates them:
Shamoy and Maria are asked about all the time they spent together in the Honeymoon Suite. We didn’t see a single frame of their cohabitation because it was, I suppose, far more essential that we watch Bria giggle deviously eighty-six times about how she could own the heart of a douchebag if she really wanted to. Maria and Shamoy both qualify their time together as “interesting” and they say it with about as much enthusiasm as you might had you just identified a new genus of mold spores thriving in your bedroom closet. As for what made everything so very interesting, it turns out Shamoy announced to Maria that he actually had a girlfriend back home. What?! Someone came on an MTV reality show with nefarious intentions? Next thing you’re going to ask me to believe is that the President of the United States didn’t go to an event honoring fallen veterans because of some drizzle and we all know such a thing is patently preposterous! Shamoy tries to protest and say he didn’t really have a girlfriend – even though pictures of the two of them plastered all over social media tell a vastly different story. What he wants everyone to know is he just wasn’t at all that into Maria and was really only interested in making some money. This guy? He’s fucking garbage. And yet he’s still one of the more moral people appearing on this show which means 1) This Reunion is going to be an absolute travesty and 2) Some casting agents will probably be getting themselves some nice raises for digging into the cesspool of society and fishing these people out of their natural slimy habitats.
Also: Once they were finally sprung free from The Honeymoon Suite of Doom, Shamoy and Bria hooked up – it’s probably because they are both such fine people – and Maria hooked up with Kwasi, but I believe her choice may very well have been like the one Patty Hearst made back in the 1970s, only Maria’s actions did not involve a firearm. See, much like Patty Hearst, Maria had somewhat been held captive by people who harbored some very questionable motives. Once set “free,” she behaved rather questionably by smooching a man who enjoys long walks on the beach and beating the shit out of patio furniture.
Also: Someone should probably make sure no banks in Hawaii were robbed during that last decadent evening because I’m starting to get nervous that I’m maybe onto something with this whole Maria/Patty Hearst analogy.
With the Shamoy and Maria debacle now adequately described for our viewing pleasure, it’s time to jump really far into the emotional muck and see what has become of Samantha and Daniel. These two are done. They are, in fact, the kind of done that causes him to sneer out that she’s “controlling” and for her to spit back that he’s a “horn-dog” and the hatred roiling off both of them is not even simmering – it’s fully fucking cooked. But we have to wait to find out why they now despise one another so entirely because first we must delve into a segment about Cali. Okay, so Cali. She’s now rocking a nose ring and she reveals that she and Tomas are fully dating, a little factoid that means Andrew is now searching far and wide for a brand new submissive. During his search, perhaps he can also locate a new stylist because he wanders onto the stage wearing what some charlatan salesperson who is clearly harboring a grudge must have sworn to him was “Nerd Chic” and then charged Andrew a fortune so he’d look ridiculous. All I’m saying is maybe there’s a stylist out there willing to bleat out random words like “Christmas” to a faux sadist whenever he tugs her hair and, in return, she will hook him up with clothing that doesn’t cause a recapper to stare perplexed at the television screen. I just figure we can wield two whips with one stone here.
So Cali and Tomas are together and they’re happy and Cali’s outfit is so terrible that it almost defies comprehension. But I guess it doesn’t much matter if you look good because Nutsa looks great and she’s still all sorts of unhappy. Brett, to nobody’s surprise, turned out to be an asshole and he and Nutsa are not together anymore. That’s correct: a relationship built out of total reticence and the decision to settle didn’t ultimately pan out, but rather than anyone on that stage taking Brett to task for his role in this mess, everyone just starts screaming at Nutsa about her sheer magnitude of suckage. Kenya tells Nutsa that she’s the worst. Samantha reiterates the validity of Kenya’s claims. Zack – who may have gotten veneers but definitely did not get therapy since we’ve seen him last – informs Nutsa that everyone hates her and the segment ends without any kind of resolution and without Brett even having to break a fucking sweat for acting like such a dick or having to answer any questions about why his hair has been blown out to such epic and unfortunate proportions.
Also: Lauren thinks it’s bullshit that she received no screen time and now that she’s been permitted to say four consecutive sentences on the Reunion, that will be the last we hear from her ever.
Next up for emotional annihilation are Tevin, Kenya, and Jasmine. (I’d like to briefly commend the Producers of this Reunion for the hilarious touch of sticking Perpetual Side Piece Jasmine on her very own loveseat so she can even be a side piece when it comes to furniture. Nicely done.) First we review the very deep and meaningful connection Kenya and Tevin shared. Theirs was the kind of relationship that existed mostly in their nether regions, so it became complicated out in the real world when shit like loyalty came into question. They did try to have a relationship outside the show, but then a human barrier named Deandra (and no, I have zero idea how to spell this chick’s name, so please just go with my phonetic guessing here) got in the way of true love. To be a bit more specific, a girl, some whipped cream, a round of tonguing, and then a social media post that captured the event is the concoction that ruined Kenya and Tevin. I mentioned in my last recap that I would get these two a wedding gift should they ever manage to make it to the altar, so it looks like I’ll be saving on whatever a toaster costs these days. Still, they do seem awfully cozy sitting there together. My guess is they hooked up last night and they’ll hook up again soon and, yes, Jasmine is still just sitting there by herself in the cruelest example of human feng shui I’ve seen perpetrated in a very long while.
Also: Should anyone be in the market for a Personal Affirmations Facilitator who will allow you to confront both the morning and the mirror with a smile and some self-esteem, Terrence J will soon be available for hire. After all, how can one actually be expected to go forth into this cruel world without a man in a red suit telling you to repeat the words, “I’m dope as fuck,” over and over again, even when you’re dressed in the most unfortunate looking ensemble ever assembled by a blind designer?
Also: During the last drunken party, Kenya and Jasmine made out and I can think of nothing less sexy than two women who clearly aren’t attracted to one another in the slightest making out for the pleasure of the men around them. Congratulations on being yet another cliché, ladies! And should that forty grand you each earned not last a lifetime, maybe you can make some extra money by working bachelor parties where suburban guys who dream of fake lesbianism can be wowed by your totally generic displays of affection.
Moving on. Samantha and Daniel? They hate each other. Here are the points that seem to be worth mentioning about this miserable pair:
1. Samantha announces Daniel isn’t all that skilled in bed.
2. Daniel announces Samantha is clinging and controlling, which – fun fact – were the very words used to describe Norman Bates’ mother in Psycho.
3. Samantha is back with her piece of shit ex-boyfriend and is now spouting the vernacular of abused women everywhere in that her sentences begin with variations of “You just don’t see the good in him.”
4. As Samantha was the one woman I believed had a brain on this show, I find her performance and her choices to be rather upsetting.
Let’s move on to Asia! She showed up for the Reunion dressed as Poison Ivy for reasons I cannot begin to fathom or explain and she sits beside Lewis, who is now rocking some pubic hair as a goatee. Lewis explains how proud his mother was when he told Asia to her face that he didn’t find her attractive because mommies love it when their sons tell the truth. Asia tells the audience that men who seek to take away her confidence will never be her match…even though she slept with Lewis later in the summer. Listen, we all backslide sometimes. I’ve definitely been in the backsliding state – and, incidentally, it seems that every guy I backslide with is named Jason, a matter I will explore at another time.
The next group subjected to a bunch of inane questions is made up of Cam, Kayla, Moe, Kwasi, and Lauren. In other words, this will be the boring segment unless Kwasi decides to beat the shit out of the couch he’s sitting on. As for what’s revealed: Kayla and Cam still have love for each other even though they’re not together; Kwasi attempts to convince the world that “to bag” a chick means “to get to know” her; Lauren has new hair and an old boyfriend; and Moe still has nothing of consequence to say. And with that little interlude complete, it’s time to check in with a malignant mass of madness that comes in the human forms of Zack, Bria, and Morgan. Bria begins by swearing that she and Morgan are “great” now and the only issue they ever had was that they liked the same guy. Um, no. The issue was that Bria is insane and Zack is a sociopath, but I suppose those are just pesky details that would get in the way of the bullshit narrative they’re all attempting to spin here. As for how she behaved on the show, well, that was just because Bria “really cared” about Zack – you know, six hours after meeting him. Who wouldn’t attempt to kill someone who got in the way of such deep and meaningful feelings? Oh, and speaking of meaningful feelings, Zack and Nutsa got together after the show and he was so effusive about his devotion (!) to her that he sent pictures of her to his family members and told them to check out the person who would soon be their new sister-in-law. He also asked her to move in with him (!!). Alas, Zack is still a repulsive alleged human being and when asked if he really wanted to be with Nutsa, his response is to smirk in a way one moronic woman must have once sworn was adorable and then say, “That week.” As for the other weeks, it seems Zack hooked up with every girl to ever appear on an MTV reality show – which is shocking being that these shows star absolute geniuses with very high romantic standards – and one of the random girls he deceived for sport shows up Jerry Springer-style to confront this dickhead in a manner that will have no lasting consequences whatsoever. Shanley arrives to discuss the “month and a half really intense relationship” she shared with the Patron Saint of the Garbage People. This relationship included naked pictures they shared with one another over FaceTime and Zack threatened to make those images public because he is a revenge-porn-peddling piece of slimy dogshit. When asked why he threatened to do such a repulsive, invasive, and illegal thing, Zack just shrugs and says HE WANTED TO SCARE HER. And then he smiles.
You know what? It’s time to start being more effective in how you vet the people on your shows, MTV. This is not some garden-variety asshole you hired – and we all know you will surely hire him again. This is a man with no morals, no soul, and no ability to harness any sort of regret for his seriously sick actions. He is both damaged and he is damaging. Do better. Do better as a network. Do not cast someone this emotionally depraved because simply throwing up a phone number at the end of the Reunion to call if you’re being sextorted like Zack attempted to do is not nearly enough. Show the world you can create a series that’s entertaining, even if you don’t choose a malignant narcissist to star on it. And ladies? Men like Zack are too warped to change so please do all of society a favor and let him rot in solitude forever.
With the Reunion and the season now limping to a close, Terrence J wants to know if all the fighting was worth it and the entire group asserts that it was. Why? Because they won! Each person walked away with about $40,000 and that, I suppose, is the cost of their dignity, of their decency, and of their sanity. And nothing – not even Zack proudly announcing that his “brand” is asshole – is sadder than how little these people obviously believe they are worth.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Her Twitter is @nell_kalter