As you may know, Ryan served in Iraq. He spent the first few episodes trying to “hide” this fact so that people wouldn’t think of him as just another army guy. It was an almost perfect plan. The only mistake he made was GOING ON A REALITY TV SHOW WHERE EDITORS WORK DILIGENTLY TO REDUCE YOU TO A TWO-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTER. Otherwise, flawless plan.
So this week we are treated to the Ryan’s battle with PTSD episode. I have been saying from the beginning that Ryan exhibits signs of at the very least having some serious unresolved shit to deal with. Am I a brain scientist? No. Am I a stressologist? No, I am not. Do I feel that killing other people in a war and having your friends and fellow soldiers die around you as you live a life of constant survival and high-alert combat will fuck just about anyone up to some degree or another, because I get stressed out all the time and the toughest thing about my day is figuring out which color t-shirt goes best with my sweatpants (blue? white? FUCK IT, WE’LL DO IT LIVE!)? Yes. I require absolutely no convincing that someone who has just recently returned from the war is struggling with the psychological ramifications of it. But the shaving cream episode that MTV decided to use as the prime example of his psychic agony was, admittedly, stupid weak.
It all starts with Ryan playing his classic “shoelace prank” on everyone in the house, which involves de-lacing shoes and then re-lacing them BACKWARDS. Do you get it? It’s a prank. You can’t put your shoes on now. Got you. He even pulls the prank on his own shoes to confuse people. The guy is basically Sean Connery in Entrapment with how perfect all his crimes are. Somehow, JD figures out that it was Ryan, because he’s pretty much a genius, although he thinks it was Chet and Ryan, because he’s also kind of an idiot, and he gets back at them by spraying shaving cream into their faces while they’re sleeping. Total prankster. Ashton Kutcher was like “write it down, we’re bringing PUNK’D back.” Anyway, Ryan and Chet decide to retaliate, which mostly involves Chet spraying shaving cream in JD’s face, and Ryan screaming a lot. Classic PTSD? Total Private Pyle, that guy. It does seem like Ryan’s inordinately upset, but whatever. This is not the first completely disproportionate blow-up we’ve seen on this show from plenty of civilians. (Although, he does later tell Chet that he wants to cover JD’s eyes with duct tape and put a sock in his mouth, because YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.)
Then Scott tells JD that maybe Ryan was mad because of bombs in Iraq or something. Maybe. It could also just be that he’s kind of a hot head. Besides, the next day he explains that he “loves pranks, pranks are great,” which is not true, and still doesn’t explain the screaming and stuff, but this just seems like a classic adolescent double standard from someone who can dish it but cannot take it. Devyn says that the shaving cream incident could “really be a cry for help.” Devyn’s ability to read people is about as impressive as her ability to read a dramatic monologue.
But Ryan’s shaving cream cry for help fits in really well with the phone call that he gets from his brother explaining that one of his army buddies shot himself in the head. And it also fits really well with the anniversary of 9/11, which Ryan has always wanted to be in New York for? What’s that all about? He explains to one of JD’s friends, who SIDEBAR looks like an extra from the S&M bar in Irreversible, that he was right in the middle of 9/11 because he lived kind of near where the plane went down in Pennsylvania and he was an hour away from Washington, and also he has CNN so he totally saw the whole thing happen. It’s not my place to say what everyone’s reaction to 9/11 should be, or whether or not it kind of sounds melodramatic to internalize something that ultimately remained a Breaking News Headline abstraction, but the highly personalized internalization of a national event that you did not actually experience first-hand in any dramatic way has always confused me. Forget it, Jake, it’s 9/11 town.
In any case, I’m pretty sure by the end of the hour Ryan’s PTSD is totally cured and he can go back to boring flirting with Baya for the rest of the season or whatever.
The other greatness this week was, OF COURSE, Chet. This guy. It’s like he opens his mouth and gold falls out. Ridiculous, hilarious, incredibly confused about himself gold. He came to New York because his goal is to be the next host of TRL, so he walks to the MTV building in Times Square and goes up to a security guard and says “one ticket for TRL please,” at which point the security guard tells him that TRL has been canceled. LOLZ. He actually says, “how am I supposed to host a show that’s been canceled?” Whoa. Chet exists in the space between spaces.
He spends the rest of the episode conducting the most painful, unprofessional interviews with bands I’ve never heard of for what looks like a cable access show. His questions are like, “if two bands could have sex and have a baby, and that baby was your band, how who would the two bands who were adults and fell in love and were fucking be?” Take it easy, Spike Feresten. Eventually he gets to interview Pete Wentz in the kitchen of Angels and Kings, you know, the only bar in all of New York, and Chet is really excited because “Pete is in the line of work I want to be involved with.” Is he? You mean the line of work of being a punchline celebrity with dick pics on the internet? Anyway, the key, of course, to being a charismatic and interesting television host is to simply have a creepy, Wikipedic knowledge of your subject:
He is sure that they are going to be friends and then Chet is going to be in charge of all the television. “Chet, I just got a call from Pete Wentz, how would you like to be President of Interviews?” That is seriously the call he thinks he is going to get, from, I don’t know, Conan O’Brien or something.
And what is it with hosting a TV show? That’s what everyone on the last season of the Real World wanted to do, too. Everyone’s dream was to be on Access Hollywood. Not even Entertainment Tonight, which is too erudite. Access Hollywood is more their speed. Is this a thing? Is that what all the kids want these days? Because if it is, Children of Men just switched from dystopian nightmare to prescriptivist utopianism.
That being said, I want Chet to keep chasing his dream forever, and for someone to be right behind him, taping it.