Fraternity Life, Episode 1: The Rush is Onby Brent Wolgamott -- 02/28/2003
Right off the bat, I have to admit that when I initially wrote to RealityNewsOnline Editor David Bloomberg about writing for RNO, I was looking more for a Survivor-esque type of column – one where I could play Monday Morning Quarterback to the maneuvering of the various contestants on reality shows these days. You know, the kind of column where I’d get to see all of the confessionals, all of the conversations, all of the footage, and then explain to my loyal readers why mistakes were made, and what I (the all-knowing Bloombergini… er, I mean Brentini) would have done differently. But then I realized, the job’s taken! In fact, it appears every reality show is being covered on RNO, come hell or high water.
Every show, that is, except for MTV’s Fraternity Life. That’s where I (finally) come in. I must say that I had my reservations at first. I mean, please… no Tribal Council, no million bucks, no Diary Room, no Julie Chen, no challenges, no nuthin’. As Bob Barker would say, that’s N-U-T-H-I-N, nuthin’! All I get to do is cover straight fraternity boys, usually walking around half-naked and half-drunk, who usually can be found sitting around and talking about girls and getting laid, progressively getting more horny as the episode goes on… *pondering*… wait, why was this such a bad idea again? On second thought, “Oh please, Mr. Editor, David, sir… PLEASE don’t throw me in the briar patch!” *evil grin*
Yes, readers, this is the recap (with occasional hilarious comments) of the premiere of Fraternity Life, MTV’s season-long look at the fraternity boys at Sigma Chi Omega, who not coincidentally are just down the street from Sorority Life 2’s Delta Xi Omega, the apparent yin to the yang of Fraternity Life. My name is Brent, and I’ll be your server for the rest of the article. Bon Appetit!
The series opens with Will (first names only – this is MTV), our lovely recruitment chair for Sigma Chi Omega, telling us “fraternity life – it really seems like a big mystery.” Really? I thought it was just about boys and booze; what’s the mystery? Next, we are treated to a bevy of visuals: half-naked frat boys dancing, half-naked frat boys drinking beer, half naked frat boys carrying kegs. The Fraternity Life director must be a woman after my own heart. Next we hear from George, the pledgemaster, who tells us that Sigma Chi Omega (SCO) is special because it is the Animal House on campus, but they “still have their sh-t together.” Well, I’ll say this: after looking at their house, they certainly have the sh-t; whether or not they have it together remains to be seen.
Next we meet Jake. Now folks, I know it’s early, but I am already considering giving Jake a nomination as Best Supporting Performance in a Reality TV Series. He’s so cute, so adorable, so quintessentially “frat boy,” that I think I’d be hard pressed to find another guy who fits the stereotype more accurately. Handsome, built, heavy drinker, takes his shirt off a lot, and isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. I’d say he’s about one taco short of a combination plate. However, he makes me smile, and with the latest round of make-me-puke participants on Survivor (JoAnna, can you hear me?), there’s much to be said for someone who seems genuinely sweet. Jake tells us that loyalty is what they are trying to cultivate at their fraternity. Awwwww…
( cue MTV theme song*, which I would just like the panel to note has lyrics that go: “I’m adic-… I’m ADDICTED to you…” Note the sly double entendre. Catchy!)
And we’re back. Now we get to meet Colin, often referred to as “Grandpa,” as he is not only a senior, but the president of SCO. Colin explains to us lay people that “rush” is just an opportunity for new guys to get to know the fraternity and the 33 brothers in it. At this point, I become increasingly suspicious that Colin is indeed The Mole. WHAT??!! It was Frederique?? I still don’t believe it. But I digress.
Next it’s a “getting to know you” party at the house (cue “The King and I’s “Getting to Know You” music). We also get to meet a variety of rushees, most of whom I won’t bother naming, because only two of the 18 or so boys appear to have a story arc at this point. Grant (one of the two rushees in question) is seen talking to Brad, who’s on the rush committee. Brad asks Grant his major, and he says “biopsych.” Brad incredulously asks, “What the hell is biopsych?” Then Brad is shown in a confessional saying that he thinks Grant comes off a little “cocky and conceited,” and he doesn’t like that in a person. I have to agree with Brad’s at-a-glance assessment; Grant appears throughout the episode a little aloof, and I am still trying to figure out what “biopsych” is, although I must admit that I have rather adverse reactions to anything that is ‘bi-‘. I’m like “puh-leaze… enough with the switch hitters already” (unless it’s Jake, who can switch to my team any damn time he pleases). *sigh* Finally, to wrap up this segment, Will (our lovely recruitment chair) tells us that about 16 guys are rushing, but they won’t be handing out that many bids. I hear myself yelling at the screen: “Send the leftovers to me!” My cats look at me quizzically. I ignore them.
The next event is a BBQ with the brothers, and speaking of brothers, we’re introduced to Alex (the other of the two highlighted rushees) and the twin brother of Adam, the current secretary of SCO. Alex informs us that he rushed the fraternity last year and received a bid, but he didn’t accept it because he was falling in love with his girlfriend, Lindsay. His brother Adam tells Alex (and us) not to worry – Alex has his vote. As if that’s not obvious. Gee, I haven’t seen this much of a slam-dunk vote from someone since Clarence Thomas “unbiasedly” listened to oral arguments in Bush vs. Gore. Note the dripping sarcasm, people.
Alex says that now that he is much more comfortable with his sexuality… er… relationship, he’s ready to pledge this year. At this point, I am treated to my first laugh-out-loud line, as Earl (a rushee) tells the camera that he thinks that Alex’s girlfriend is a hands-down bitch, and he’s only met her twice. He continues by saying that Alex’s girlfriend will ruin his pledge experience because she’s already ruined his life, because Alex is WHIPPED! (Come on, Earl, tell us how you really feel.) This provides us with a nice segue, as Alex is now on the phone arguing with Lindsay. I hear myself yelling at Alex: “Drop the bitch and make the switch!” My cats pay me no attention now – they’ve apparently gotten used to my histrionics.
For the next five minutes, Fraternity Life becomes The Grant Show, as our cocky rushee Grant becomes the focus of the episode (ASIDE: this is not to be confused with Grant Show, the make-me-slow-my-VCR-down-when-he-gets-out-of-the-pool actor from Melrose Place. This segment begins with the brothers and rushees at Hooters (frat boys at Hooters? What will they surprise us with next?). Jimmy, a SCO brother, tells us that he also doesn’t care for Grant. He thinks Grant really isn’t interested in being a brother; he thinks he’s only interested in being on TV. WHAT? A reality show participant who’s a media whore? I can’t believe it (insert eyerolling here).
At this point, the editors go out of their way to show Grant in a bad light, airing more confessionals of Grant-bashing. This bashing is heard over images of Grant ignoring the brothers, while he tries to pick up one of the Hooters girls. What’s this? A boy bailing on his pals for a quick lay? Wow, I haven’t seen that since I left my pals stranded at the bar and went home with “Big” Jose last Saturday night. “Big” being the operative word, and folks, I’m not talking about his weight.
More Grant-bashing, you ask? Sure! Adam, the SCO secretary, tells us that he actually met Grant a few days before school started, but that Grant also met his very recent ex-girlfriend Kerri. Notice the “ex-“ part, people; this becomes important later on. Adam explains that Grant took an interest in Kerri, and that made Adam uncomfortable. So, like any possessive, illogical straight boy, he asks Grant not only to not see her, but not to hang out with her. Adam tells us that Grant agreed.
RIIINNNGGGGG! What’s that? Oh it’s the Clue Phone, and it’s for Adam. Adam, sweetie darling, you can’t have it both ways (well you actually can, but that would involve dinner at my place at 9PM on Saturday… I like flowers, not candy). Adam, she’s your EX-girlfriend. As in it’s over, you’re history, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out (unless you like it rough, in which case I can provide many ass-hitting implements, free of charge). No baby, I’m on Grant’s side on this one.
And it appears Kerri (Adam’s ex) is also on Grant’s side. Actually, she’s on his lap on a WaveRunner in the water! It seems Grant decided to see Kerri after all. I smell drama… oh wait, that’s actually the smell of my Pizza Hut pizza; dinner’s here!
Back to our story: my favorite boy Jake finally gets his confessional. He says that although Grant went out with Kerri to the lake and didn’t heed Adam’s warning, he (Jake) thinks that Adam just plain doesn’t like Grant. Cue Brad, from the rush committee, who confides to us that Grant’s on his bad side, and as far as he’s concerned, “Grant’s not getting a bid” to SCO.
After a commercial, we’re treated to more Jake, who is seen talking to some of the brothers and appears to be actively campaigning for Grant. He confesses to us that some brothers say they don’t like Grant, but “that’s bullsh-t, because they don’t know him.” One of the brothers tries to get Jake to play darts. Jake says he doesn’t want to play darts. Get this: he says he’s “too livid.” That’s right. For the first time in my life, I heard a straight boy use the term “livid.” I thought this word was reserved for drag queens, prima donnas, and Nathan Lane, but apparently I was wrong.
I’d like to introduce you all to my weekly award: Honorary Gay Boy of the Week. This award goes to the straight fraternity boy who best exemplifies the characteristics to be an honorary (and I do mean, honorary; please, let’s not ruin the fantasy, people) “friend of Dorothy.” And this week’s winner is: Jake, for his rippling back muscles, his blond hair, and his use of the grandiose word “livid.” Bravo, honey! You’ve set a high standard; next week, hopefully another boy can meet that standard. Or he can just take his shirt off and get my vote. What the hell, I’m a sport.
At long last, we get to see the last hurdle a rushee must cross: the interview. The interviews are apparently very serious (more serious than I expected) and the boys at SCO go out of their way to make the rushees feel uncomfortable. All 33 brothers are in the room, and it’s dark, except for a rather large spotlight in the center of the room. The light is positioned over a chair, the seat of honor for all of the rushees. George, the pledgemaster (and a strong candidate for Honorary Gay Boy next week!), explains that he enjoys making the rushees nervous – he thinks it’s funny. George also tells us that after the interviews are over, the votes are completed by secret ballot. If just three out of the 33 brothers vote “no” on a rushee, the rushee doesn’t get a bid. What’s this? You mean the minority controls the frat house? What is this, the United States Senate?
After a litany of rushees who I can’t bring myself to be interested in file through (I remind you, gentle reader, that many haven’t been blessed with a story line yet), the main events arrive. As you recall, Alex (the “whipped” boy with the bitch girlfriend) de-pledged last year, after feeling pressure to do so from her. He worries that the brothers are going to want to ask him questions specifically directed to this situation.
He has reason to worry. I must say at this point that although Alex is being painted as “whipped,” he seems like nothing but a great guy to me. He’s thoughtful, polite, handsome, well spoken, and frankly should be a shoo-in for a second chance. However, the brothers take aim almost immediately, inquiring about his girlfriend, and her rumored hold over Alex. They also press him on why he de-pledged – many of the brothers found this to be a bit of an insult last year. Alex vehemently denies that his girlfriend controls him, but after he completes his interview and leaves, the brothers chat about his honesty. Some of the brothers apparently feel that Alex is a little too “whipped” to be part of SCO.
Finally, Grant hits the hot seat. After Grant gives the answer of “loyalty” in response to a question about the definition of a “brother,” a few guys turn his response against him. They ask him “hypothetically” if he thinks it’s loyal to date a girl that a brother asked him not to date. Again, I am just livid; wow, there’s that word again. People, the girl in question was an EX-girlfriend of a brother, meaning she’s fair game. Frankly, if I were Grant, I would have been a bit more blunt (shocking, I know). But Grant is more polite, and he tries to wiggle his way out of the questions by qualifying them with guarded responses. After the nightmare is over, Adam (our secretary and doorperson) takes Grant aside and explains that he had nothing to do with the rapid-fire questions, and that the brothers just heard about the situation on their own. Yeah, and Frederique could actually be The Mole. That’ll be the day…
After Grant leaves, the brothers vote by secret ballot. To their astonishment, 13 out of the now 18 rushees were eliminated, meaning they received at least 3 “no” votes. This doesn’t sit well with many of the brothers, who are livid (damn it Brent, stop it) that they just spent 5 hours interviewing guys, and now only have 5 bids to hand out. Adam notes in his confessional that he doesn’t even know if there will be a pledge class now. Um, well, they sort of have to have a pledge class, as this is sort of the point of the whole show. Something tells me that MTV will help them change their minds.
Next week: Pledgemaster George turns into BadAss George, as we’re treated to visions of him putting the new pledge class (apparently they got one) through the wringer: push-ups, screaming, the whole bit. I can’t wait.
Brent Wolgamott is a sophomore at North Carolina State University, majoring in chemistry. He enjoys tennis, running, and reality TV. He was also once a contestant on his favorite show, The Price is Right, and won over $8,000 in prizes. After completing his stint in the U.S. Army, he met the love of his life, McCrae Hardy, and he lives with him and their two cats, Shelby and Frank, in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also a member of the board of the local chapter of the ACLU, working to protect your rights. Brent always loves to hear your thoughts on his writing, and he can be reached at email@example.com.
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