Sunday, August 07, 2005

Too real

"The Real World" aired a fairly shocking episode last week, an episode in which one of the housemates, Danny, finds out his mother died (at 45, of a heart attack, possibly tied to her alcohol abuse).

MTV televises both sides of the phone call in which Danny's dad tells him, as well as his roommates desperately trying to comfort him, his calling his sister after getting the news, and actual confessionals of him just hours after getting the news. They replay his final phone call with his mom, in which she tells him she loves him and he refuses to say it back and can't get off the phone fast enough. It's a tough-to-watch episode, easily topping the previous tough-to-watch "Real World," which may be a tie between Lindsay in Seattle finding out her friend committed suicide and Neil in London getting his tongue half-bit off at a concert.

Danny seems like he's choosing to do the confessionals in this episode, so perhaps they're in some way healing for him, but watching him say "I don't want to have to bury my mom" just reaches through the screen and shatters you. Previews of the next episode show Danny at home grieving with his family.

My friend Kim Reed tackles the topic of whether MTV showed too much in her insightful recap of the episode at TWoP. It can't have been an easy recap for Kim to do, either, since she lost her own mom so recently. She makes some excellent points, especially regarding MTV replaying that final phone call between Danny and his mom. Since it ended abruptly and Danny no doubt wishes he could do it over, it can't be easy for him to know that phone call is out there forever on the sure-to-be-syndicated episode for all to see.

When my friend Ann died at age 28 in 1995 of a pulmonary embolism, it came out of nowhere, and just after Rob and I had returned from a trip. I had used my calling card to call her long-distance from the trip to get someone's mailing address for a postcard, and that ended up being the last time I talked to her, ever. I remember when the phone bill came that month I just stared for a long long time at the listing for our final call, and for some months afterwards, I carried the bill around with me, thinking "I know the exact last minute I spoke to Ann." Our last phone call was friendly and full of laughs, if not a deep heartfelt conversation. It was just one of many calls between two friends who'd called each other thousands of times, and we had no idea it was going to be the last time we'd ever speak. But I'm glad when I look back that it was a call I remember, and not one that was simply lost in the fog of memory. At least I have that.


timbrat said...

Between this and this weeks Six Feet Under, and Queer as Folk ending last night... I've been crying in front of my TV a lot in the past week.

Tantrum said...

I am glad that other people found Danny's quote "I don't want to have to bury my mom" as horrible as I did. I don't know this person, but it was so hard to watch. I found myself tearing up thinking, 'Oh, god, that is the worst thing I have ever heard.' It is what everyone is thinking, but no one can say.