Drunken fight leads Davis to call Tyrie the n-word, admit he has “a drinking problem”

The first two episodes have established that The Real World Denver‘s cast members are vapid, empty, drunk assholes who do nothing except drink, hook up, talk about hooking up, drink while talking about hooking up, get ready to drink and hook up, and then pretend to forget about what they said and what they did when they were drunk. More appallingly, they think they have actual problems.

It’s not entirely their fault; the producers keep them confined and edit the shows into an endless drunken, STD-exchanging parade that it is. But it’s pathetic.

This week, however, the show finally moved away from drunken hookups and shifted to drunken fighting. The most horrifying Real World fight to date forced the producers to knock down the fourth wall, this time to act as ineffective bodyguards after Davis and Tyrie both exploded.

Davis and Tyrie’s confrontation was horrifying because Davis called his black roommate the n-word, showing MTV’s audience that gay guys can be confrontational, obnoxious racists, too. But it was also horrifying because the entire thing happened because both of them were drunk out of their minds, and because everything received a neat, clean resolution once they sobered up, as if blind drunkenness is an acceptable excuse for fighting or racism.

To rewind: The cast went out and got plastered. Again. Davis left the bar early to go home and call his boyfriend, while back at the bar, a bartender called Stephen the n-word off-camera. Stephen told us that was “the first time I can ever remember in my whole life” that someone did that, and “he not only says that to me, but says it in such a way that I knew there was no joking involved.”

Back at home, Stephen recounted the story to Tyrie, and explained that he was upset at Davis because “he left,” perhaps even after hearing the bartender say that. This upset a drunk Tyrie, who went out to the hot tub, took off his shirt unnecessarily, and instantly became angry, telling a drunk Davis, “Get out of the fucking tub, I need to talk to you. … I’m asking you if you left him.”

Davis, still drunk, thought all of this was kind of funny, smirked, and dismissed his housemate even as Tyrie became increasingly insistent. “I’m trying to talk to you like a man and you walk away from me like a boy?” Tyrie said, angry and still drunk. They started getting somewhat physical, putting their hands on one another and pushing each other.

After punching a garage door, Tyrie called Davis a “punk-ass, LFO-wannabe, fake-ass, ‘NSync, punk ass Backsteet boy-looking bitch,” and said, “say something.” Davis did: “I want you out of here.” Tyrie replied, “Then you hit me. If you want me out of here, then you hit me.” The women were occasionally able to pull the two guys apart, but Davis kept coming came back to taunt Tyrie. “Tyrie, come hit me. Come hit me, Tyrie. Why don’t you come hit me? I want you to go home.” It’s hard to do the anger of this confrontation justice in words.

Tyrie went outside to smoke and get away, and that’s when Davis, crying hysterically and screaming, charged Tyrie and again asked to be hit. Jim The Real World producer intervened, and Davis’ racism started to trickle out as he told the producer, “I can’t sleep in this house knowing there’s some black dude in there trying to kill me because he doesn’t like me for no reason.” Jim, apparently unused to dealing with drunk people, said, “You understand, you are out of control.”

Moments later–and shortly after Davis told Stephen, “If I heard anyone ever call you that word, I would be right next to you”–Davis went to the phone and screamed to his housemates, “I’m going home everybody. Nice to meet you. I’m going home tomorrow because some nigger wants to kill me for [unintelligible].” (MTV did not bleep the word when Davis said it, but did at other points during the episode.)

That’s when Stephen, incredulous that Davis had just used the racial slur, had to be restrained by Jim, the increasingly ineffective producer. “Stephen, he’s drunk and out of his mind,” Jim said. Stephen told us, “This man is gay, this man says he’s a Christian, but he just called us by the n-word, which is the same trigger word that started this whole night.”

Colie pointed out in interviews interjected into all of this that “there are two drunk Davis’. One drunk Davis kisses every girl. The other drunk Davis is scary and mad at the world.” Later, she said, “If anyone’s going to leave for hitting someone, it’s going to be Davis because he is the one getting in our faces. He is the one who can’t control his alcohol.”

All of that happened in the first 15 minutes of the episode. The truly frightening part came the next day, when Davis returned from staying in a hotel, where he’d asked to be taken the night before. He settled everything with his roommates in about two minutes of TV time. Of course, everyone was sober at this point. First Davis said he was leaving because he was “very embarrassed and upset with myself for being as drunk as I did, creating a scene that I felt like, this is my worst nightmare to have acted like that.”

To his roommates, he admitted, “I can’t keep up with your lifestyle. I have a drinking problem, and I can’t continue to hang out with you all when you drink all the time and the peer pressure’s kind of hard.” (Alex then brilliantly told us that Davis “just needs more experience going out.”) Davis’ confession promoted Tyrie to forgive him nearly instantly. “All the anger that I felt for you earlier, it’s completely gone,” he said. The implicit message was clear: You’re an alcoholic, so you’re not responsible for your behavior.

As the episode ended, there was a moment of extreme, unbelievable irony that the producers intended to wipe out our memories of the previous 25 minutes, or incredible, admirable growth that proves this show still is relevant and not an absolute joke. Two episodes ago, Stephen told Davis, “I think it’s wrong that you’re gay.” Davis replied, “What if I said I think it’s wrong that you’re black?”–which may have been a good rhetorical tactic then but now seems a bit different in light of how quickly his racism surfaced. In any case, Stephen told us, “Davis really might be racist, and I think the best thing for him to do is for him to be around people who are black or from other cultures who maybe can teach him exactly his stereotypes and his bigotry are not okay. … I think Davis is a good man, and I also think Davis and I can learn from each other.”

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.