Real World: Homecoming’s season finale aired this week, and if you’re wondering why I stopped recapping the series after the second week, there’s a good reason: The entire rest of the series was dominated by one conversation between Kevin and Becky.
The conversation took place in the second episode and was prompted by a flashback to a conversation about race between Becky and Kevin from the first season. Instead of acknowledging her blind spots regarding race 29 years ago — as every other white cast member did — Becky doubled down. She turned a conversation about race with a Black man into a conversation about herself. She did refer to her Black friends, and she did say that she couldn’t be racist because she took an Afro-Brazilian dance class, and she did praise herself for not calling Kevin an “emotional Black man.”
The rest of the roommates tried to steer Becky’s foot away from her mouth, and when that didn’t work, they distanced themselves from her, and then finally, Norman lost it and straight-up told Becky to “shut up.” Becky didn’t take kindly to being made the poster lady for white privilege, and she didn’t like feeling sandbagged (the only person who sandbagged Becky was Becky), and so Becky packed up her white feminism and left the loft.
In the next episode, the remaining flatmates spent the day processing Becky’s departure. At one point, Julie — who really has evolved into a spectacular person — met with Becky outside the loft in an effort to smooth things over, but Becky tripled down and by the end of that conversation, Becky’d basically burned her final bridge, torching the only person left in the house who was at least willing to give Becky another opportunity to redeem herself.
Becky did not.
In last week’s penultimate episode, there was more processing, before Kevin called Becky on a video call to really, genuinely, honestly attempt to patch things up and salvage the relationship with Becky.
However, Becky not only refused to listen, she basically stuck her fingers in her ears and went lalalalalala I’m not a racist! while Kevin tried to talk to her. She attacked Kevin for even suggesting that she could be a little bit racist. Kevin brought up White Fragility, and Becky basically acted out White Fragility, as though it had been adapted into a Zoom production. Kevin left the conversation in tears because Kevin had pulled out every stop and was still rebuffed by the awful-ass white lady, and half the final episode was spent processing that conversation.
The final half-hour was mostly a trip down memory lane. The Real World co-creator Jonathan Murray and producer George Verschoor stop by, and they affectionately reminisced about what a groundbreaking series the show was. A lot of the season was about how awesome and groundbreaking The Real World was, and about what trailblazers they all were, which was true, for better or worse, and sometimes obnoxiously self-congratulatory, but bygones. The final 15 minutes basically juxtaposed the final day in the present with their final day in the past, which was a lot of packing up suitcases and saying things like, “I can’t believe this is our last ever day in the loft,” and look at how much we’ve changed, but also, we’re basically the same people we were 29 years ago!
Ultimately, it all felt very much like it was: A reunion special. It was cool to see everyone again, except for Becky. It was heartening to see the people they grew into (except for Becky). Kevin has become an amazing activist; Julie is a great mom and an activist herself; Heather is a tremendous radio personality; Andre is a lovely, Bohemian father; Norman is a good human being who has had some struggles financially and in his career, but who seems to have a great support system that includes some of the cast members. Eric Nies, meanwhile, had to Zoom in remotely because of COVID, and he seems like a decent guy, too, if you’re into tantric, mushroom-ingesting, trim self-help gurus (not for nothing, but whatever Eric is doing works; he looks 10-15 years younger than everyone else in the cast). Becky, alas, has actually regressed, which is saying something considering where she was 29 years ago.
I will say this, however: It was fascinating to see the season’s “villain” evolve from the angry Black man nearly 30 years ago to the privileged white feminist in 2021. If the same reunion special were taped in 1992, I have no doubt that it would have been edited more favorably for Becky, so if there’s anything to say for progress over the last three decades, it is this: MTV, Paramount Plus, and whatever demo is watching this, has clearly lost its patience for Karens, and I will call that a win.
Header Image Source: Paramount+