A few of the men I’ve dated have had some flaws. One had severe commitment issues. One’s favorite hobby was telling me complicated lies. One thought it would be totally normal if we eventually had separate bedrooms. And one was a clinical narcissist who should really be studied by a team of very brave experts who do not scare easy. But not one of them ever grabbed a phone out of my hands when a male friend called and blubbered, “Who is this?” in a manner that required both subtitles and a straightjacket.
Listen: I get that they’re young and navigating life as best as they can, but I have no earthly idea what either Candace and Kortni are doing by continuing to entertain relationships with men who are clearly abusive. And not only are GatorJay and Logan fueled by rage that they then level at women they claim to love, but they are exhibiting this psychotic behavior during what is supposed to be the honeymoon phase. In a way, they are actually giving these girls a huge gift; they’re announcing who they are in the beginning, and I only hope these girls see every single horrible sign being waved in their faces and run far far away from these monsters because abuse doesn’t abate over time. Abuse gets worse. Candace, however, is not quite ready to throw in the moldy towel. She wakes up in the morning determined to make the last day she spends with her felon as enjoyable as possible, a mindset that lets him off the hook for his behavior the night before. They sit down for breakfast at a restaurant and Candace tells him his actions were messed up, to which he announces it’s time to set up some “guidelines” she should live under. To her credit, Candace asks why she should have to live under his rules – and I almost high-fived the screen when she said that, but then I remembered that she dated this guy in the first place and, until she walks away from Mr. Gawd forever, I’m not about to high-five fucking anything.
Over at Shore Dogs, a restaurant where nobody is yanking out one of GatorJay’s errant beard hairs, Gus, Codi, and Aimee show up to work. Aimee has a cold and there are tissues shoved clear up her nostrils, which has to be some kind of Board of Health violation, right? She pulls the Kleenex out when it’s time to prepare the food, makes it through her shift, and by the time she arrives back home, Candace has already put GatorJay into a van to send him to the airport. And now that the guy is gone and Candace has the opportunity to reflect on his fully inappropriate levels of anger, the only clarity she sadly walks away with is that she is finally in a relationship. Oy. And speaking of seriously screwed up situations, Kortni’s having some vagina issues and before her OBGYN will see her, she is required to take a pregnancy test. (For the record, my OBGYN has never mandated any such a thing to me, and should Kortni want a referral for a new doctor, I’m happy to give her one.) Luckily, Nilsa has a pregnancy test on hand and she instructs Kortni how to pee on it because Kortni only likes to pee on things you’re not supposed to pee on. Nilsa looks sick as Kortni heads into the bathroom to take the test and why shouldn’t she? There’s a chance Kortni is carrying the spawn of Lucifer in her uterus.
The lines on the stick are hard to decipher and there’s a chance Kortni is pregnant, though she will have to wait a few days until her doctor can see her to know for sure. She is not going to tell Logan anything and Nilsa recommends they just keep this maybe-news between the two of them for now. And since this entire scene is so dark and there’s a possibility Kortni’s future could grow even darker, I think it prudent to announce that something positive happened: until she gets a definitive answer, Kortni is committed to not drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Who else is relieved – and totally surprised?
While Kortni’s mind races, a bunch of the roommates decide to go to the gym. Gus has taken over as Codi’s trainer and this job is intense. It involves instructing Codi that he should not drink beer for breakfast and then wrapping Codi’s tummy in Saran Wrap so he can sweat out all the carbohydrates he ingested the night – and all the years – before. Since he used to be overweight himself, Gus wants Codi to find his best self and to feel proud of working to attain a good body and better health. So as Gus makes Codi rue the day he ever asked for fitness advice in the first place, Kortni takes Aimee to the doctor. When the doctor leaves to go find a swab to test Aimee for the flu, Kortni tells her about the fact that she could be pregnant. Aimee is shocked and she’s scared for Kortni because she knows Kortni is just a kid – and not even a particularly responsible kid – and she is in no way ready for a baby, least of all one who was sired by Logan. The doctor eventually returns with the news that Aimee has the same bronchitis Kortni had and that’s sad and all, but was anyone else wondering why that very doctor couldn’t just do a blood or urine test on Kortni to see if she is pregnant? Are pop-urine tests even allowed by insurance companies anymore? In any event, Aimee leaves the office knowing she’s heading into quarantine and Kortni leaves the office feeling like she’s living in purgatory on the underworld’s most humid day of the year.
Also: The quarantine Aimee is put into while she recovers is not a dirty bedroom in the house encased sloppily with a tarp someone once went slip-n-sliding across while hammered. Instead, Kortni rings up their landlord and manages to land Aimee her very own – and very clean – cottage! This cottage comes equipped with furniture and it blessedly does not have screaming roommates or garbage cans that will soon be filled with the drippings of Codi’s sweat from removing his Saran Wrap belt. If I were Aimee, I’d take one look around and pray for that particular phlegmy strand of bronchitis to never ever leave. Hell, I’d walk outside and lick gutters and lampposts to stay sick just so I could have myself a bit of peace and quiet.
While Aimee sleeps in a bedroom where there are no cups filled with balls of mucus hacked up by one of her housemates, the rest of the group heads out to a bar. On the way, Kortni tells Jeremiah and Codi about how she could be pregnant. Jeremiah’s reaction is to look concerned. Codi’s reaction is to be horrified that Kortni is talking about possibly being pregnant in so nonchalant a manner, but I get that Kortni doesn’t want to fall into hysterics until she knows for sure. She does let them know that she is not saying a word to Logan yet, but we all know he’ll be at that same bar tonight because chances are high he clipped a GPS system onto all of Kortni’s bra straps so he would know where she is at every moment of every day. You know – much like a normal boyfriend would.
Tonight’s venue is the Salty Goat and they’re there for about a minute and a half before Logan shows up. He’s slurring, he’s standing in Kortni’s physical space, he’s threatening to braid her hair, and she is getting tired of his clingy bullshit. In other sick-to-your-stomach news, Kirk takes one shot too many and pukes all over the bathroom floor and Nilsa then steps in it. (And now I’d like to take this brief opportunity to address the editors of this show. You guys? I know you have a very difficult job on your hands. You are tasked with whittling down 24/7 footage of pure insanity into something that makes narrative sense. But if you ever fucking show four close-up shots of the same pile of vomit again, I will arrange to have GatorJay231SouthsideGawd show up at your editing suite and first I will mandate that he recite the entirety of the Gettysburg Address – without subtitles! – while you are forced to listen and I will then make sure he dates every single one of your sisters. These are not idle threats. Do not test me. Xoxo- Nell) Anyhoo, since Kirk puked all over the establishment’s bathroom and didn’t clean it up, the group is asked to vacate the place immediately. Candace, Jeremiah, and Codi work hard to get Kirk into the car, but he is still drunk and he’s stupidly belligerent – and this is getting fucking old already. I get that this is an MTV reality show, but is it maybe possible that these people can have one night out where they don’t cause a total scene? It’s starting to seriously bore me.
They finally shove Kirk into a van and they arrive back at the house without any further incident – which is a fucking miracle – and Kortni picks up the crocodile phone to call her mother. It’s three o’clock in the morning, but she wants to tell her mother about the questionable pregnancy test. Having already suffered a prior miscarriage, Kortni lets her mom know that she’s not smoking or drinking until she knows for sure, but she is extremely – and understandably – emotional. It’s nice to see such a close mother/daughter relationship on a reality show. It would also be nice if Kortni makes the choice going forward to use protection when she has sex, especially if she’s sleeping with a controlling rage creature who spits when he speaks.
The next day it’s beautiful outside so they all – well, not Aimee – head to the beach. Kortni and Gus take a walk and she confides what’s going on and how she’s not sure about Logan. Gus is a good person for Kortni to talk to for a few reasons:
1. He’s sane.
2. He’s kind of wise.
3. He’s not the one in the house Logan is so threatened by, so whichever bluff Logan is currently perched upon with binoculars in his hand for his daily dose of stalking his girlfriend, seeing Gus with Kortni will not enrage Logan as much as it would if he spotted Jeremiah with Kortni.
After the beach, they head to the bar. Kirk chooses to stay in and have a much-needed chill night, but my guess is the rest of them won’t have anything quite as relaxing. See, Logan calls Kortni beforehand and extends the awesome and romantic invite of watching him get fucked up on the beach. Kortni tells him they’re going to Ugly’s and he can join her, but only if he’s sober. And since such a thing will never happen, it’s clear we’re being set up for some, um, sobering footage that will make scores of us consider joining a convent just so we never again have to live in a world where there’s a chance we could bump into a guy like Logan. (And should one of you eventually become my convent roommate, please bring your own flatiron. I do not like to share.) Logan shows up at the bar fully trashed – which means I’m either psychic or he is too predictable for words – and Kortni is over it. We shall get back to that misery in just a moment, but first we should probably talk about how Gus’ hair stylist is in town with her friend and that friend is interested in Jeremiah and the feeling is mutual. It’s so mutual that Jeremiah doesn’t even refer to this girl as a “to-go box,” so he either really likes this one or he finally read an article about how it’s not adorable anymore to be a proud misogynist. Either way, this girl is coming home with them and their coupling makes Nilsa want to find someone, too. She searches high and low around that bar and not one guy piques her interest. Then her eyes land on Gus. She sees his chiseled biceps. She sees his humungous swoop of hair. She sees the reality that he could very much be her sure-thing since they share the same kitchen anyway, so she saunters over to him and makes a deal that the two of them should be cuddle partners for the night – and Gus is wasted just enough that he agrees.
All that about Nilsa and Gus? That is fucking romance compared to what Kortni’s going through. She just wants to be away from Logan and his creepiness, so she grabs her friends and books out of the bar while Logan, eyes blazing, tries to follow her. She manages to maneuver her way home without him where takes another pregnancy test hoping to get a clearer result. Just as she’s about to find out, we hear foreboding studio scoring start to rise. Now, if you thought that all of a sudden Jason Voorhees had emerged from the ocean and was currently heading towards the house with a machete, you would be forgiven because that was the tone this music cue was meant to give off, but it’s not Jason and his hockey mask arriving in Panama City Beach. It’s Logan. You didn’t think he’d respect his girlfriend's wishes and give her some space, did you?
Men like him don’t do that.
After bounding up the stairs, Logan asks if he and Kortni can talk and Jeremiah stands just outside of his field of vision in case he has to jump in. Scarily enough, Jeremiah is not being dramatic here. Even Kortni says that Logan looks like a crackhead sitting in front of her as he blathers on about how he sacrifices everything for her and that’s why he didn’t buy a motorcycle – and that’s probably the prototypical example of the inane kind of sentence you really do not want to hear the possible father of your possible baby say. But still Logan rambles on about the respect he’s owed and finally Kortni tells him that she doesn’t like the way he speaks to her. Backtalk? From a woman, no less? That’s not something this lunatic will tolerate, so he stalks out of the house while Kortni sits calmly. She just lets him leave and she breathes a sigh of relief, but it turns out Logan is more like Jason Voorhees than we’d originally thought. Because just when you think he’s gone, he will pop up again for what I’m guessing will be the scariest fucking sequel any of us will ever see.
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