I know it seems like I started and ended my last recap talking about a blowout fight at a bar that went down after an allegedly human specimen took one heavy-lidded look at a camera crew and decided to snag seven bile-inducing seconds of infamy by tangling with a Floribama Shore cast member – and that’s because I did start and end my last recap that way. Unfortunately, I must start my current recap in exactly the same manner because it turns out there are limited options for what can happen on a series in which rather naïve twenty-somethings navigate a world populated only by drinking establishments and stores that sell really tiny shorts. Though there will undoubtedly be evenings when someone feels up a witch or a house meal collectively ravages colons in a clenching sort of bonding experience, for the most part this is a show where people go out and get provoked and lose their shit entirely until just about everyone in the vicinity swings a fist, shrieks some less poetic version of “Let’s go, bitch!” and tussles to earn respect in an environment that fosters just about none at all.
I will say that despite his ridiculous hair, I like Gus. I appreciate his vulnerability and the notion that he wants something different – better – for his life. I can’t say I agree that being on a reality show is the best route to achieve the stability he appears to long for, but I’m rooting for the guy and I find it deplorable that some person found it acceptable to mutter a gay slur at him and then double and triple down on the comment, but I guess that’s just what deplorable people do. Still, what will fighting this homophobic moron accomplish? Fighting can’t take his comment back. Punching him can’t make him sorry about anything, except getting a little concussion that could alter his brain matter – if he had any in the first place. I understand the loyalty the roommates are exhibiting in order to protect perhaps their most emotional member, but for the love of all that is fucking holy, can’t these episodes end any other way? Is there no footage of Aimee attempting to feed a jellyfish a Nacho Cheese Combo before asking it if she’s the fairest of them all? There can only be one of two answers to such a vital question:
1. The footage does not exist. Just as the cameraman aimed his lens at the adorable jellyfish-snacking-on-an-artificial-cheese-filled-pretzel-nugget moment, the tortilla soup Aimee prepared for him lunch came home to roost and he sneezed out his small intestine and subsequently missed the shot – and then he died.
2. The footage does exist but MTV did a quick poll and found out viewers would rather watch people throwing down on what seems like a loop instead of staring at a charming moment between a mermaid-goddess-princess and a gelatinous sea creature.
While I now want to see Aimee feed a jellyfish so badly I can barely see straight, my longing doesn’t change the fact that this episode begins right back at that bar, right back in that fight, right back where we ended the show the last two times. After Candace screams at the guy and Aimee and Kirk charge him, the roommates are escorted out by security and you can almost see the thoughts dancing cartoon-bubble-style around their heads. Candace is thinking about how she hopes Matt doesn’t think she’s crazy. Nilsa is thinking about how she has no idea what happened in the first place because if she’s not the one at the center of the proceedings, she enters into a fugue state. And Jeremiah is thinking that he can’t believe there’s been another fight and reminds himself to call his parents and thank them for home schooling him and therefore keeping him away from such a batshit society, especially during his formative years.
Speaking of batshit, back at the house Kirk climbs atop a coffee table and proceeds to give a slurred speech announcing that he will fight anyone for any reason whatsoever when it comes to his roommates because blind loyalty is the very best kind of loyalty. Everyone else smiles approvingly, but Jeremiah appears shell-shocked. He bursts in to say he doesn’t want bad situations to escalate, especially if they go down for no real reason. He also doesn’t want to pay severe consequences for fighting needlessly at a bar. This is logic and it stuns the rest of the house and also serves to explain why Jeremiah should peel away from the Floribama Shore at breakneck speed and go settle in a quiet house somewhere so he can appear on Love It Or List It or some other reality show far more tailored to people who aren’t willfully deranged. Though most of the house continues to be befuddled by Jeremiah’s refusal to whip out his muscles for purely nonsensical purposes, Candace is rational enough to understand him. She’s my favorite, hands down – and I swear it’s not just because I still feel badly that her bed got pissed on.
It seems like the powers that be at MTV want to help viewers understand Jeremiah by giving the guy his very own origin story. And really...how better to understand him than by meeting his brother? Besides, now Nilsa will get to hook up with something that has a few strands of Jeremiah’s DNA! What could possibly go awry? But before Josh arrives, Kirk takes it upon himself to plan a great day for everyone. He rents a boat. He packs drinks and sandwiches. He is ready to show his friends a great time, but a few of them have concerns. Take Aimee, for instance. What will she do if she has to take a shit on Shell Island? (Since nobody has packed a thermos of her famous Tortilla-Laxative Puree, I’m thinking maybe she’ll be able to control her bowels for a few hours. Maybe.) Candace is legitimately petrified of being on a boat, especially because she recently heard that sharks eat black people. Codi does not fear the water or the creatures living in it, but he and his pasty skin are terrified of the sun so Aimee kindly sprays an entire bottle of sunscreen across his whiter than white body because nobody likes a roommate who’s crispy. Finally – well, after Nilsa does her little “tits up!” announcement that she’s so desperately trying to make a thing – they sail off on their day of adventure.
As per most things on this show, everything starts off great. Aimee enjoys scuba diving and checking out all the crabs who are kind enough to give her directions as to where she can take a shit. Candace pretends to overcome her phobia of the water by sitting on a raft so she can participate in the fun. Codi finds an enormous parasol that keeps the sun from sizzling him from the inside out. And Kirk? He’s thrilled the outing he put together is such a success in spite of the moment Candace mistakenly spots the fin of a dolphin, believes it’s a shark, and has a minor coronary. But still, it’s a great day!
Moving back onto dry land, we learn Jeremiah is pretty much over Kayla Jo because he’s looking for fun, not commitment. Candace, however, cannot fathom how it is that Jeremiah has had time to begin and end a relationship with a witch and she hasn’t even succeeded in getting that guy Matthew to ask her out! She’s concerned that watching her leap into a melee the other night maybe turned him off and she rues the day she got drunk enough to knock a trucker hat off the head of a homophobe in front of an audience. Kirk, who understands Candace’s concerns on a soul level, eloquently responds, “It’s weird what alcohol does to your, like, mind.” Profound, buddy – also fucking true. Turns out Matthew did not find himself turned off by Candace’s violent behavior so he agrees to come over to hang out. There’s a piece of me that’s a bit concerned as to why he’s not scared, but let’s face it: who amongst us hasn’t allowed a little psychotic behavior to slide when the person brandishing it is all kinds of cute? (Please tell me I’m not alone here. Please also tell me my that my psycho is the cutest of them all.)
I’m thinking a good person to discuss psychopaths with over several (hundred) rounds of drinks would be Aimee. This poor girl. She has to use a phone shaped like a crocodile to call her ex to ask about her mail and the scene breaks whatever is left of my corroded heart. She does everything right here. She’s calm. She’s collected. She’s concise in what she says to him. She refrains from reaching through the phone and pulling his vocal cords out through his nasal cavity even when he calls her “dude” for the fourth time. And on top of all of that, she’s still dealing with the aftermath of a ten-year relationship ending and the guy cheated on her and got another woman pregnant and left her with nothing but humiliation, betrayal, and several trash bags full of her clothing. I’m declaring this here and now: I don’t care where the girl takes a shit from this point forward. I’m proud enough of her behavior in this sad little scene that she can shit on that jellyfish as far as I’m concerned.
“Aimee’s the whole package,” raves Candace, House Cheerleader. “She’s got the looks, the personality…the vulgarity.” Aimee, sweetheart? Call me. I know a ton of guys who crave vulgarity the way other people crave money or Twinkies. I’ll hook you up. As for Candace, she’s pretty into Matthew. The guy is thirty-one (nobody tell Nilsa!) and he has a job and she rarely meets a guy who’s actually employed, so that part’s nice. The two go for a walk on the beach and she finds out he’s never been married, has no children, and is disease-free. In short, the guy is the Floribama Shore version of the fucking Holy Grail and Candace knows it so she realizes she needs to take things slow, refrain from “giving him a cookie” – which I’m devastated to report is Aimee’s euphemism for having sex – and try not to beat the shit out of strangers in his presence for the foreseeable future. Except there’s a caveat to the whole Holy Grail thing and thou caveat’s name is “Stripper.” Seems Perfect Matthew enjoys watching scantily clad ladies writhe across stages for singles on a regular basis and such a revelation turns Candace right off. It’s really too bad a shark who prefers eating black men didn’t swim hungrily up to the shore just then so Candace could toss the stripper loving guy right into the beast’s mouth.
Candace ditches the guy and maybe her female roommates will benefit from watching someone refuse to settle just so she can temporarily feel better about herself. Both Aimee and Nilsa are craving dick so badly that Aimee’s been having dreams about someone cramming a toe into her nether regions. While I’m concerned for Aimee’s vacant vagina and all of the toes in her immediate vicinity, at least things are looking up for Nilsa. Josh, Jeremiah’s brother, gym partner and very best friend, finally arrives and we all know Nilsa hankers for the following things, all of which Josh can provide:
1. He’s in the military.
2. He has a chest shaped like a barrel.
3. He has a penis.
4. He will shower her with attention.
And who says it’s so hard to locate a soul mate?
Okay…Josh. Josh looks like Jeremiah in that they’re both Hulk-like, they both wear terrible clothing cut tightly across the bicep, and they both have bright smiles that being thrust into the world of Floribama Shore will surely end up darkening. As everyone welcomes him to the jungle, Nilsa waits upstairs in a nude colored dress so she can both make an entrance and cause him think about her being naked all at the same time. These are life skills, you guys! She walks in, pretends to ignore him while salivating quietly, and single-handedly makes me appreciate how just a teeny bit of game can work to manipulate the hell out of men who have lived very sheltered lives. Her plan officially in motion – and Josh’s hair officially hideous – the day begins. Jeremiah does his part as big brother to make sure Josh understands Nilsa’s the worst and I want Jeremiah to protect his brother from the evildoers – I do – but watching the two sit in a confessional and wag their tongues and dab in unison brings my meanness to the forefront and I can’t help laughing at them and looking forward to seeing just how much damage Nilsa can inflict in less than forty-eight hours. Should she end up making them question humanity in general, I’ll buy her a fucking car.
Nilsa makes her move at the bar by telling Josh he’s beautiful, to which he suavely questions where he’ll be sleeping tonight. “You’re sleeping in my bed,” she blurts out, and the guy who shall forever be crowned Worst Hair of Them All (in an environment that includes Gus) reaches in and grabs her face and kisses her for real. And now her post-divorce kissing hymen has been ripped to shreds, just like Jeremiah’s heart is when he looks over and sees his brother’s tongue buried deep in the mouth of his worst enemy. While they smooch in the back of the taxi and then straddle one another in bed, Aimee is dealing with even more garbage. Codi, drunk and sweaty as can be, tells her in the car ride home that he can ride her until her toes curl. Please give me a moment to saw off all my toes and heave them out the window in revulsion and then I can muster up the strength to tell you that Aimee explains rather kindly in return that she looks at all the guys in the house as brothers so she’s not interested in any kind of sex with them. Her explanation results in Kirk announcing from the backseat that he wouldn’t so much as fuck her with someone else’s dick. It’s such an unwarranted thing to say and Aimee is just sick of it all. She’s sick of being picked on. She’s sick of having dreams about pinky toes shoving their way inside of her. She’s sick of living with the memory that her ex knocked up someone else. She’s sick of feeling unworthy and less than, and it’s because of that pain she openly carts around that Jeremiah decides to stand up for her while his brother is busy nailing Nilsa upstairs. Aimee is outside quietly venting to Kortni as Codi and Kirk sit in the living room and once again proclaim that they’d never look twice at Aimee and Jeremiah has had it. He knows the very last thing the girl needs is to feel even worse about herself, so he tells those guys that they are simply being rude and it’s not okay.
“Jeremiah is so high and mighty,” Codi blubbers stupidly, and I really hope the next time he spends a day in the blistering sun, Aimee only pretends to cover the guy with UVA protection but really coats the guy in hairspray. Such dickishness deserves to motherfucking burn.
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