Welcome to MTV’s Ex On the Beach, a social experiment the founders of television could never have expected to transpire, not even on the days they drank straight scotch until they saw only static. This program brings reality stars and “social media stars” – and if you’re not already sighing heavily, we can never be friends – into a gorgeous villa in Hawaii so they can be manipulated while cameras film every second of their inebriated time. Join me from the comfort of your sofa (where, hopefully, there’s nary an ex in sight) as we witness fitness models, a DJ, and former contestants from shows like Big Brother, The Bachelor, and Are You the One as they head to what they pretended to believe would be paradise until the producers revealed the real plot: that their exes would eventually wash upon the shores like debris and subsequently scatter the senses of every single person present.
I suppose I’m entering into these proceedings in a rather cynical manner, but let’s call it like it is, yes? The entire premise of this show is about blindsiding people who, for whatever reason, actually believed MTV simply wanted to pay for them to lounge around a mansion and find love. I cannot possibly be the only person who would be suspicious about such a kind offer from reality show producers, and one would think that since half the cast has already been down that cobbled reality road before and puked along the journey, they really should have had their antennae collectively up and been just a wee bit more prepared for the invariable twists designed to make their lives hell.
But before their existences can morph into the kind of “nightmare” the announcer rather gleefully swears will occur – and you can tell it’ll be a serious kind of nightmare because even the show’s logo involves a graphic of dripping blood – let’s first meet the people who convinced themselves that MTV really just wanted to invest in their bliss:
Angela comes to us from The Bad Girls Club. She hails from New Jersey, proudly rocks fake hair and fake breasts, and seems to enjoy shoving her fingers into the faces of people she disagrees with during verbal altercations. She is positive she will be running the house – and unless someone wants to get stabbed with one of those talons, she probably will get away with calling any and all shots. My guess is that she officially snagged her spot on this show by saying the sentence “I want to get leied and get laid” in the very first seconds of her casting interview.
Tor’i is a fitness model. He claims the ladies love him, and perhaps they do, but my first impression is that the guy has a bigger chest than I do. He takes one look at Angela and his eyes bulge out of his head like he’s a cartoon character and I’m certain we have just witnessed the start of something very deep and lasting. (You all speak sarcasm, right? Just checking.)
Faith is a girl from Vanderpump Rules who apparently enjoys sleeping with men who have both rage disorders and girlfriends in front of elderly people who hire her to be a caretaker. She also once peed in a guy’s car after that guy treated her poorly and she cannot fathom why she’s currently single. And now I shall refrain from saying anything else about Faith because she immediately announces that she was in the military and has been trained to kill and I believe her.
Cory already has experience with an MTV reality show. He’s been on The Challenge and he holds the distinction of being the guy who has hooked up with more contestants on that show than any other being with a pulse. He whips out a roll of condoms and announces he’s “the party starter” and I’m already perplexed that any girl hooked up with him, let alone on camera that provides forever-proof.
Chase was on The Bachelorette. And now he’s done with the romantic shit like fully-clothed dates and roses and has instead taken to using expressions like “How could you not want to fuck me? Even I want to fuck me.” Perhaps it’s because Buffalo Bill uttered something similar while he kept a victim in a hole in the ground in The Silence of the Lambs, but Chase officially wins for creeping me out the most.
Also coming from Bachelor Land is Jasmine. She’s now looking for love – or, you know, screen time – in a world Chris Harrison wouldn’t enter even on a double dare.
Taylor was on Are You the One. She’s a former teacher (at twenty-three years old, I’m wondering if those teaching days occurred when she and her friends used to play School in the basement) and she likes bad boys so this show should be a fucking smorgasbord for her. She arrives at the house, looks around at eliminated contestants from The Bachelor, and decrees she’s living in a “celebrity house,” so I automatically feel badly for her because delusion is a tough thing to overcome.
Paulie was a contestant on Big Brother. He claims he’s single because of his raging vulnerability, but then he explains that his last relationship ended because he slept with someone else and I’m just not quite sure where his vulnerability lies in that equation.
Victoria is a fashion blogger who twerks along the Jersey Shore and, if you get in her way, she will take your man. She’s already into Chase.
Chris is an international DJ who knows people think he’s a douchebag, but he’s not, you guys! No, he is just awesome – which he says three times, so you know it’s true – and he’s here to find the one or to get more famous, whichever comes first.
The group toasts being single and being on camera and in less than five minutes, Angela and Tor’i start hooking up on the couch. It’s a sweet display, as is the naiveté Angela illustrates when she decides that Tor’i – a guy she has just met – is nothing but genuine. She also announces he is now her property, and I’m sure such a statement will cause zero conflict in the future and they will remain madly in love until the very last day of time. But they are not the only soul mates forming like sparkly little stars! According to the guy doing the voiceover for this show, Taylor is well on her way to disrobing for yet another douchebag, who in this case would be Cory. (Yes, we must be specific when we’re talking about douchebags here.) As they stand in a crowded kitchen, Cory utters the sentence “Kiss me in my mouth,” and I’m not going to discuss his odd turn of phrasing because all I can really react to in this second is that Taylor, a legitimately pretty girl, actually goes ahead and kisses this guy in his mouth.
Also: In case anyone is keeping track of my whereabouts, please know that I’m packing for the convent the kiss-me-in-my-mouth scene has caused me to enter. There’s decent closet space in convents, right?
Since everyone else is swapping spit with strangers, Victoria decides it’s time for her to pounce on Chase. Ah, Chase. He seems like he’s a really nice guy – as long as it’s fucking Opposite Day and he is the last mammal with gonads wandering the planet. He proves how ready he is for a real relationship by asking Victoria if she wants to go upstairs and have sex. He says this to her in front of Paulie, and though Victoria says no and proclaims she’s not that easy, what I really wish she’d do is punch the guy in his arrogant mouth so nobody can kiss him in it later. Meanwhile, it’s a good thing Victoria doesn’t take Chase up on his totally romantic offer because the beds are already being stained by Angela and Tor’i. The two jump under the covers while Angela rhapsodizes about how the guy currently undressing her needs to show her it’s not just a sexual thing they share and perhaps they can discuss such matters when they’re done fucking an hour after meeting.
The first night went well. Connections were made and bodily fluids were shared and now it’s the next day and life seems perfect – but perfection is fleeting in these parts because it’s just about time for Romeo, the host of the show, to ruin the lives of all the people who honestly should have known better. “Your exes are crashing the party,” he explains, and then he tells them the title for the show. This would be about the time I would swim to a nearby island and call my agent or maybe that one guy I know who has his own plane and get myself out of there but quick, but this group sits shell-shocked as boyfriends and girlfriends past drift quickly in and out of their minds as they ponder which horrible person could be showing up on the horizon.
The first one to wade out of the sea like one of those hybrid creatures that freak me the fuck out is Derrick, who unironically refers to himself as Mr. Chocolate, and I don’t immediately know whose ex he is, but that person has my approval in ending things with the guy forever. Turns out he’s Angela’s ex and he is more than ready to dive back into the days of their raucous fights as long as those fights can end with good sex. As Derrick walks towards the girl sharing a chair with the guy she slept with the night before – the guy who looks alarmingly like Mr. Chocolate himself – she looks furious. But there’s really no time to focus on Angela’s spiking blood pressure because Skyler, Chase’s ex, floats out of the ocean next and please tell me someone else sat and stared at the screen for a good five minutes while wondering where these people came from. Like, were they kept in an underwater tank and then released to the surface? Were they clutching onto a dingy until someone announced it was their turn to go ruin a life? Anyhoo, Skyler is looking for another chance with Chase, but he’s concerned that she’s all about the party and unable to have a real relationship – you know, like the kind he’s normally looking for during the hours he’s not asking some girl he just met if she wants to go upstairs and have sex. The last ex to swim our way is Lexi. Paulie broke her heart, so really, what better way to get over the pain than by blindsiding the guy on camera?
Romeo tells the group that the exes should go speak to one another and we learn that the reason Lexi is no longer with Paulie is because he slept with someone else and she found out about it over social media. “Could I have maybe handled it better?” he asks rhetorically, and that question alone is why the girl should pull on some floaties and head back into the ocean because whatever amphibious creature she finds there will probably be more of a catch than this guy. Still, she takes what he says as an actual apology and reveals she continues to have feelings for him. As for Angela, she has no desire to speak to Derrick, a guy she deems a liar and a fraud. The two fight immediately and scream so loudly that even the seagulls head for the distance. In other words, getting these two on the show just got some casting agents raises.
Also: Seems Cory used to date the girl Derrick allegedly cheated on Angela with and Angela beat that girl up once in a hotel lobby. Shockingly, there is zero footage of such a thing, but at least we get to see the unsavory connection these four people share with a nifty graphic.
When it comes to Chase and Skyler, he explains that he’s looking for something more serious – and that probably explains why he keeps looking for real love on reality shows. Then he tells Skyler that Victoria has already been “aggressive” with him, which is a lovely way of planting seeds of hatred between two girls who will probably end up battling for the heart of a guy who isn’t worth it in the slightest.
After the confrontations on the beach, the exes come back to the house and it turns out that Jasmine is getting sort of bored because she hasn’t had sex with a stranger yet or had her heart ravaged by the appearance of an ex and there’s no TV for her to watch and she already finished all of Proust’s major work, so to entertain herself she decides to stir up drama between Skyler and Victoria by letting Skyler know that Chase and Victoria kissed the night before. “I forgot,” is Chase’s very believable response – and the guy is so slimy that I want to get a Lysol wipe to disinfect my TV screen. But even watching this guy lie about her to another girl isn’t deterring Victoria; she still wants Chase and I think that sound I hear in the distance must be angels from the heavens weeping for all of humanity’s future.
The next day, Victoria confronts Chase about how he’s all but denying being into her on night one and he continues to pull out his “I don’t recall” answers about anything that could possibly incriminate him. At least Chase’s frustration only comes out in badly told lies. Angela’s frustration manifests in her knocking over lamps while her ex mutters expressions like “She just be trippin’”. And then Derrick realizes he’ll get way more camera time if he speaks about himself entirely in the third person and causes his ex to have an emotional coronary, so he wanders about the house shouting “Derrick is always the bad guy!” and he sort of makes it into an annoying little song, but nobody twerks in response. No, the reaction instead is for Angela to freak out on a patio while a flag rises in the distance and that flag is emblazoned with a face. The rule in this dirty paradise is that when a flag with your face on it waves in the breeze, you’d better run to the beach because someone whose death you probably once plotted is due to arrive, Fantasy Island style. It’s Faith, Chris, and Taylor who are summoned this time to their own island purgatories, but whatever they’re about to be confronted with will be nothing compared to the Shack of Secrets. What is the Shack of Secrets, you ask? It’s a message in a bottle that comes out of an elevator that mandates two exes must descend to, I don’t know, Hell where they will be confronted with the truth. Derrick and Angela are called there first and sitting in that shack is Derrick’s phone and Angela is told to go through that fucker so she can learn every single lie the guy has ever told her. She doesn’t want to look. She knows she’ll experience pain and even though she claims to be done with him, reading the texts he’s sent other girls about the freaky sex he’s been having simply sucks. “I want to go hang out with my man,” Angela screams – and Tor’i, who can hear their bellowing from the living room, looks like he’s contemplating how many miles a fitness model like himself can swim just so he can find a millisecond of peace and quiet.
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