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Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles begins with the Tami and David incident

Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles begins with the Tami and David incident

Tami’s screams echo throughout The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles’s premiere, for two reasons: it’s the dominant event of the second season of MTV’s Real World and thus the first real item of discussion for the Paramount+ reunion, and because the editors cannot stop showing us the footage of David dragging Tami down the hall, trying to pull a comforter off of her.

This event led to David’s expulsion from the house, which the show plays as historic moment in reality TV. It was, but as 2021 Tami says “that experience, for me, was traumatic.”

It’s not a surprise that the incident between Tami and David—with Beth S. and Jon involved, too—is the central focus of the reunion, nor is it unexpected that we’d see it again.

It is a surprise how often the editors show it: again and again and again, and that’s a real misstep, using Tami’s trauma to drive The Real World: Homecoming’s drama.

The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles cast (left to right, top to bottom) David Edwards, Beth Anthony, Jon Brennan, Tami Roman, Glen Naessens, Beth Anthony, and Irene Berrera-Kearns
The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles cast (left to right, top to bottom) David Edwards, Beth Anthony, Jon Brennan, Tami Roman, Glen Naessens, Beth Anthony, and Irene Berrera-Kearns (Photo collage by Adam Rose/MTV)

After one season and one episode of The Real World: Homecoming, what interests me the most about the show is learning who will be Rebecca and who will be Julie: who has changed in the intervening decades, and who is stuck.

They’ve all aged—the cast is now in their 40s and 50s—but only some have grown up. And only some have shown up.

While seven people reunite, there were nine cast members; two of the originals, Dominic and Aaron, did not return. “He just said he didn’t feel comfortable coming back,” Beth tells us of Dom, while Jon says that Aaron told him, “there’s no way” that he’d participate.

On the opposite end are Beth S. and Tami, who both remained reality TV stars in the intervening years.

The two replacement cast members, Beth A. and Glen, return together on day two, revealing they have a “lifelong bond” thanks to being ostracized by other cast members. I did not remember or know that, perhaps because the only major plot point I can recall about season two is the David/Tami incident and its aftermath.

Beth A. showed up in 1993 wearing a t-shirt that said “I’m not gay but my girlfriend is,” and now has a new t-shirt to match, but this time from her husband, though she still identifies as a lesbian.

“I had no idea I was coming in to a group of people that really didn’t like each other and weren’t tolerant of each other,” she tells us. “I hope that everyone’s grown up a little bit. I think we have a real, true opportunity to make some amends.”

It’s an opportunity for sure, but it appears that David is going to take the Rebecca route: staying in 1993, and waiting for everyone to see things exactly like he did back then.

Before the former roommates sit down to talk, we hear from both Tami and David about what happened in interviews. “I really just want the opportunity to just tell him what I was dealing with, what I was going with,” Tami says.

David, meanwhile, says: “It’s been 28 fucking years, and I’ve had lots of fucking therapy. But I feel like I’m owed an apology; thankful for the opportunity for this to come back around again for me to receive it.”

In another interview moment, he does suggest that he knows he was in the wrong, but surrounds it with words about forgiving everyone else and punishing them: “I have a very forgiving heart, and what I did, it was wrong. But there’s a part of me that don’t want to let them off the hook.”

So it’s already clear how this is going to go.

After the group watches the scene, David says, “everybody’s having such a good fucking time,” despite people sitting on couches next to him who are crying. He demands to watch it again, and then laughs in a disturbingly exaggerated way as it plays again.

What Jon said in 1993 is probably the most accurate: “I know it started out as a joke.” Even a well-intentioned joke can go bad and hurt someone, and I don’t doubt David thought he was playing around.

What’s unbelievable is that he still can’t see that what happened was not fun for Tami. Perhaps he should have noticed that as she screamed while he pulled her through the hallway, clinging to her comforter. But to still not understand in 2021?

Tami offers context for understanding why it was especially traumatic for her, as she was dealing with body dysmorphia and terrified that people would see her naked body. David seems to have a moment of understanding, but then doubles back down.

With the first episode ending in the middle of that conversation, it’s too soon to know how this scene ultimately plays out—or how this season goes. But based on the preview that follows the first episode, the answer is: not well.

We see Tami’s husband coming to the house for some reason, implying it’s to confront David, and also other moments like Glen saying, “Is there something wrong with not seeing color?” Oh god.

In the same way that season two was filmed in the shadow of season one, the second season of Homecoming seems like it’s trying too hard to duplicate what worked so beautifully with the first season of Homecoming.

Instead, it’s more clumsy, trying too hard to be clever. The split-screen footage from 1993 and 2021 doesn’t line up as neatly as it did in The Real World Homecoming: New York, and there are so many questionable editing choices.

For example, the editors re-introduce Irene using the Cops “Bad Boys” theme (that song, now, really?), and also don’t seem to be paying attention to what the people on screen are saying. “Every time I see that clip, I cringe,” Irene says of the Tami/David scene, yet the editors show it again and again, Tami’s screams echoing down the hallway. Why do that?

That scene is literally the first reality TV I remember watching, and is what hooked me on The Real World. I was riveted by the conflict, the differing perspectives about the same real-life moment, and how it produced real feelings and accusations.

Now, 28 years later, I’m still fascinated by the differing perspectives, but I don’t see that scene or its aftermath as mere entertainment. But I think The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles might.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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