On last week’s episode of The Real World, Mike comes out in earnest to his family and takes them on a tour of the HRC. Meanwhile, Josh snags a gig fronting a band, even though he is tone deaf, and Erika is not amused.
First, the storyline you don’t care about. Josh is a worse singer than that screechy hot drunken mess who insists on caterwauling into the mic at your local karaoke bar, yet he is able to secure the front man position in a local band, because, as he puts it, “You just take one look at me and that’s about it — that’s all you need.”
His nasal and hopelessly out-of-tune wails during practice drive his roommates batty, especially Erika, who can actually sing on tune. Over the course of the episode, she becomes increasingly disgusted with the situation, but come on: She sang in a packed club with The Cab. Josh is hammering away with a bunch of nobodies. Who is the winner in this situation? Perspective, lady.
And now for the real Real World.
The episode begins with Mike meeting his congressman, Jared Polis, the first openly gay man to be elected to the House of Representatives. (Massachusetts rep Barney Frank is also openly gay, but he was not out while he was campaigning.) Meeting Polis gives Mike a shot of confidence, because he realizes that being gay (or, in Mike’s case, bi) is not an automatic bar to becoming a successful politician, even in Colorado. Mike tells Polis, "You are the person I want to be in 10 years."
Afterward, Mike explains that his mother had encouraged him not to come out while on the show, because it could limit professional opportunities, but after meeting Polis, Mike is convinced that he made the right decision to come out.
Mike returns home and excitedly tells Callie and Andrew about his meeting with Polis. Callie asks whether Polis was worried about running for congress as an openly gay man, and Mike replies, even if he were worried, he "was brave about it and went for it and was elected as a gay official."
Then Andrew opens his predictably useless trap and says, "But not bisexual."
"So?" replies Mike.
"Gay," says Andrew, matter-of-factly.
Mike gives Andrew the Stewie Griffin look of disdain. Awkward silence. Callie whistles, looks away and starts typing away at the computer. More awkward silence.
Later, Mike and his sort-of-boyfriend Eric go to the gym and lift weights. Mike admits to the camera that hanging out with Eric only makes him miss his sort-of-ex-boyfriend Tanner back home. And the background music, "Cast Away" by Lady Danville swells with longing: "My heart is yours to have / If I just had it with me / But I don’t because I seem to have left it / With someone else. I wish that I could say / What you deserved to hear / But I can’t because I’ve already given my words away. Cast away from me / Cast away from me / Cast your feelings aside, babe / I’m not worth the fight / For your sake / Cast away from me."
Do you hear that, Eric? Face the music, kid. Run!
Back home, while sitting in the hot tub with Erika, Mike continues waxing poetic about Tanner and realizes that he is in love with him. He decides to call him to reconcile. Mike and Tanner’s mutual friend Meghan answers the phone. Meghan plays mother hen to Tanner and attempts to protect his broken wings from further trauma by telling Mike that Tanner is too heartbroken to speak to him. Mike convinces her to put Tanner on speaker phone. Mike tells Tanner (and Meghan) that after his time of "growing" in D.C. he realizes that what he truly wants is to be with Tanner. Meghan tells Mike that Tanner is too overwhelmed to speak to him.
Mike is dejected and totters around the house looking like a sad penguin in boxers.
Wait. What’s that sound? More swelling heartbreak music. "I can’t believe / That my worst fear is coming true / And I don’t know what to do / And I don’t want to live this life alone." (from "Love Gone Mad" by Joey Avalos) This episode’s music choices are more slit-your-wrist worthy than anything ever heard on Dawson’s Creek, which I didn’t think was possible. Thanks, MTV. Can someone pass the Zoloft?
Mike decides to put all of his feelings into an epic e-mail dump to Tanner, and the next day, Tanner calls. Mike asks Tanner what he thinks of his e-mail.
"It was good," says Tanner.
"I mean, I didn’t want it to be ‘good,’" replies Mike. "I wanted to tell you how I felt."
Mike, don’t push it. You broke his heart. Just be glad that he snapped out of his catatonic state with mother hen Meghan feeding him via a feeding tube and was able to crawl over to the phone to dial your number.
More apologies from Mike. And then more. Then Mike asks if Tanner still plans to visit him. Tanner says he never even tried to cancel the plane ticket that he bought. Mike becomes giddy. "Tanner could probably hit me with a bus and I could still be smiling," says Mike.
Then Mike’s family visits, and the first thing he does is hand everyone HRC T-shirts and then takes his mother to lunch with some of his coworkers at the HRC. Oh, Mike. So sincere. So bright eyed and bushy-tailed. If I were a person who prayed, I’d pray that he would never discover the ever-squabbling gay blogosphere, which throws almost as many darts at the HRC as they do towards the right wing. After all, herding the LGBT community is like herding cats. But since I don’t pray, I’ll just say "Go Mikey! Don’t let the ‘enlightened’ queers get you down! You don’t know what I’m talking about yet, but I hope you never do. Keep fighting the good fight!"
Oh, Mike makes out with Callie at a club, and everyone, including Mike and Callie, are all WTF. We don’t get it either. Let’s hope Tanner doesn’t see this. Oh, too late!
Let’s move along and pretend this never happened.
While at the HRC, Mike tells his mother about his work. Many lawmakers have been attempting to take away rights from the LGBT community, he says, and he has been lobbying lawmakers to prevent this. He tells his mother that Colorado is one of the 28 states where one’s employer can terminate one’s employment on the basis of sexual orientation, and gays who live in Florida cannot adopt children.
His mother then tells her own story of discrimination. When she tried to marry Mike’s dad in a Catholic Church, the priest refused to marry them, because Mike had already been born. The priest told her that she was making a mockery of the church, and she continues, "God forbid if I were trying to marry a woman!" Mike’s mom then apologizes that she ever told him to keep his mouth shut about his sexuality. Then she adds that she wants grandchildren, "so they better change from friggin’ laws."
Later on she adds that she has known about Mike’s sexuality for a long time. "I’ve known for years. I don’t know what you think you were hiding."
Mikes mom is officially awesome.
At the end of the episode, Mike is so elated that he channels Fred Astaire and dances around with an umbrella, albeit clumsily. But we forgive him. After all, he isn’t trying out for America’s Best Dance Crew. He got the boy, he’s working for the HRC, and his mom could be the PFLAG poster woman. He just won the LGBT jackpot, so as they sang in Hair, “Let the sunshine in!”
[Note: check out AfterElton’s interview with Mike, "Mike Manning From Real World D.C. Really is Bisexual. Deal With It.</a>."]