The Real World

The Real World

Infobox Television
show_name = The Real World

caption = The Real World Logo deletable image-caption
genre = Reality
creators =Mary-Ellis Bunim
Jonathan Murray
developer =
starring =
country = USA
language = English
num_seasons = 20
num_episodes = 436
producer = George Verschoor
Matt Kunitz
Rick de Oliveira
Anthony Dominici
Russell Heldt
Ted Kenney
executive_producer = Mary-Ellis Bunim
Jonathan Murray
runtime = 30 minutes 1992-2008
1 Hour 2008-
network = MTV
picture_format =
audio_format =
first_aired = May 21, 1992
last_aired =
related = "Road Rules", "Real World/Road Rules Challenge"
website =
imdb_id = 0103520
tv_com_id = 4287

"The Real World" is a reality television program on MTV originally executive produced by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray. First broadcast in 1992, the show is the longest-running program in MTV history. [ "The Real World: Hollywood"; Press Release from] ] Following Bunim’s death from breast cancer in 2004, Bunim/Murray Productions continues to produce the program.

MTV announced on May 13, 2008 that Brooklyn will be the location for the twenty-first season. [ Sicha, Choire; "The Real World: Brooklyn. For Real."; May 13, 2008.] ]


The show focuses on the lives of seven strangers who audition to live together in a house for several months, as cameras record their interpersonal relationships. The show moves to a different city each season. The footage shot during the housemates’ time together is edited into 22-minute episodes. The narration given over the opening title sequence by the seven housemates states some variation of the following:

Before the televised version of the show debuted, a "scripted" version of it was toyed with. Rather than being themselves, a set of strangers (not the New York cast) were given story and character arcs to attempt to recreate (a la soap opera). Bunim & Murray decided against this, and, at the last minute, pulled the concept (and the cast) before it became the first season of the show, believing seven different people would have enough of a basis on which to interact without scripts. Tracy Grandstaff, one of the original seven picked for "season 0" went on to minor fame herself as the voice of the animated "Beavis and Butt-head" character Daria Morgendorffer, who eventually got her own spinoff, "Daria".

One sign of the show’s popularity occurred on the October 2, 1993 episode of the sketch comedy show, "Saturday Night Live", which poked fun at the show's second season Los Angeles cast, whose members were depicted as contentious and bigoted, a parody of the numerous discussions of racism, bigotry and political differences that served as a recurring theme that season. [ Information on the October 2, 1993 episode of "Saturday Night Live" at] ]

The show also gained widespread attention with its third season, "", which aired in 1994, and depicted the conflict between David "Puck" Rainey, a bicycle messenger criticized for his hygiene, and his roommates, most notably AIDS activist Pedro Zamora. As the show gained more popularity, Zamora’s life as someone living with AIDS gained considerable notice, garnering media attention. Zamora was one of the first openly gay men with AIDS to be portrayed in popular media, and after his death on November 11, 1994 (hours after the final episode of his season aired) he was praised by then-President Bill Clinton. Zamora’s roommate and best friend during the show, Judd Winick, went on to become a popular comic book writer, and wrote the Eisner-nominated graphic novel "Pedro and Me", about his friendship with Zamora, as well as high-profile [Winick appeared on Phil Donahue's MSNBC program to discuss his gay-related storylines on August 15, 2002. [ Source] ] and controversial [ [ Bronski, Michael;; August 22-29, 2002] ] storylines in mainstream superhero comics that featured gay and AIDS-related themes. As the San Francisco season continued to grow in popularity, it was clear that the "reality" television format was one that could bring considerable ratings to a network.

Appearing on the program has often served as a springboard into further success, especially in the entertainment and media industries. Eric Nies of the New York cast went on to become a successful model, actor, TV host, and was inducted into the Television and Broadcasters "Hall of Fame" for his pioneering work in reality television. His housemate, Kevin Powell, became a successful author, poet, journalist, and 2006 candidate for United States House of Representatives for New York's 10th district. Their housemate, Heather B., enjoyed a career as a rap music artist. Los Angeles cast member Beth Stolarczyk has produced men's and women's calendars and television programs featuring reality TV personalities, including herself, Las Vegas' Trishelle Cannatella, Chicago's Tonya Cooley, and "Back to New York"'s Coral Smith. [ [ Beth Stolarcyzk at the] Internet Movie Database] Stolarczyk and Cannatella have also appeared in "Playboy" magazine, as have Las Vegas' Arissa Hill and Miami's Flora Alekseyeun. Cooley appeared on London cast member Jacinda Barrett has become a successful film actress, appearing in prominent roles opposite John Travolta, Joaquin Phoenix, Anthony Hopkins and Renée Zellweger. Lindsay Brien of the Seattle cast became a radio and CNN personality. Chicago cast member Kyle Brandt’s acting career includes starring in the soap opera "Days of our Lives". His castmate, Tonya Cooley, also appeared on an MTV special of "True Life: I'm a Reality TV Star". Las Vegas cast members Trishelle Cannatella and Steven Hill appeared in the horror film "Scorned". Cannatella herself has also appeared on other reality shows, such as "The Surreal Life", "Battle of the Network Reality Stars", and "Kill Reality", the latter of which also featured Hill and Cooley. Hill, along with housemate Alton Williams, hosts a radio show. Dozens of former cast members from "The Real World", and its spin-off, "Road Rules", have appeared on the spin-off game show, "Real World/Road Rules Challenge", which pays up to $60,000 to the winners. Various cast members have also earned livings as public speakers, as Bunim-Murray Productions has paid for them to be trained in motivational speaking by the Points of Light Foundation since 2002, allowing them to earn between $1,500 and $2,000 for an appearance on the college lecture circuit. [ Aurthur, Kate; "Reality Stars Keep on Going and Going...." October 10, 2004; Page 2 of 2.] ]

Since the introduction of "The Real World", Bunim/Murray has spun off a number of other reality shows, including most notably "Road Rules", in which five strangers (six in later seasons) are put in a Winnebago and asked to complete certain tasks to eventually gain a "handsome reward". Other shows include the game show "Real World/Road Rules Challenge", which pits teams of alumni from both shows in physical competitions.

Format and structure

Each season consists of seven people, aged 18 – 25 (a reflection of the network’s target demographic), usually selected from thousands of applicants from across the country, with the group chosen typically representing different races, genders, sexual orientations, levels of sexual experiences, and religious and political beliefs. Should a cast member decide to move out, or be asked to do so by his or her roommates, the roommates will usually cast a replacement, dependent on how much filming time is left. Cast members are paid a small stipend for their participation in the show.

Each season begins with the individual members of the house shown leaving home, often for the first time, and/or meeting their fellow housemates while in transit to their new home, or at the house itself. The exception was the Los Angeles season, which premiered with two housemates picking up a third at his Kentucky home and driving in a Winnebago RV to their new home in Los Angeles. Upon arriving at the house, the housemates choose their bedrooms, which is typically the first source of tension, as some roommates fail to acquire the room of their choice, or some choose their rooms before the rest of the cast arrives.

The house is typically elaborate in its décor, and usually includes a pool table, a Jacuzzi, and a fish tank, which serves as a metaphor for the show, in that the roommates, who are being taped at all times in their home, are seen metaphorically as fish in a fishbowl. [ [ Columbia Square Building Fish Tank at] ] This point is punctuated not only by the fact that the MTV logo title card seen after the closing credits of each episode is designed as an aquarium, but also by a poem that Judd Winick wrote during his stay in San Francisco called "Fishbowl".

The housemates are filmed all the time. The house is outfitted with cameras mounted on walls to capture more intimate moments, numerous camera crews consisting of 3 – 6 people follow the cast around the house and out in public. Each member of the cast is instructed to ignore the cameras and the crew, but are required to wear a battery pack and microphone in order to capture their dialogue, though some cast members have been known to turn off or hide them. The only area of the house in which camera access is restricted is the bathroom. [ [ Haberman, Lia; "A 'Real World' Rape?";; November 26, 2003] ]

Despite the initial awkwardness of being surrounded by cameramen, cast members have insisted that they eventually adjust to it, and that their behavior is purely natural, and not influenced by the fact that they are being filmed. [Various castmembers insisted this during "The Real World Reunion", the first multi-season reunion show in 1995.] Winick, an alumnus of the show’s third season, adds that castmembers eventually stop thinking about the cameras because it is too exhausting not to, and that the fact that their lives were being documented made it seem “more real”."" by Judd Winick (Henry Holt; 2000); Pages 62 & 110] Other cast members have related different accounts. Lars Schlichting of the cast related an anecdote in which roommate Mike Johnson asked a question when cameras were not present, and then asked the same question five minutes later when cameras were present, an incident that Schlichting adds was not typical of Johnson. Johnson himself has remarked that roommate Jacinda Barrett "hammed it up a lot", and that roommate Sharon Gitau withheld details of her life out of fear of reaction on her grandmother's part. [,,297971_3,00.html Fretts, Bruce; "The British Invasion The "Real World" returns for fourth season -- The MTV hit invades London";; July 21, 1995; Page 3 of 4] ] Movement of the roommates outside of the residence is restricted to places that are "cleared" by producers for filming. [ [ Video "The Real World: Hollywood Reunion" at (Segment 4 of 8)] ]

The producers made an exception to the filming protocol during the third season, when Pedro Zamora requested that he be allowed to go out on a date without the cameras, because the normal anxieties associated with first dates would be exacerbated by the presence of cameras. [Winick; 2000; Page 104] Filming of "" was also suspended during the onset of the September 11 attacks.

At the end of each week, each housemate is required to sit down and be interviewed about the past week’s events. Unlike the normal day-to-day filming, these interviews, which are referred to as "confessionals", involve the subject looking directly into the camera while providing opinions and reflective accounts of the week’s activities that are used in the final edited episodes. The producers instruct the cast to talk about whatever they wished, and to speak in complete sentences, to reinforce the feeling on the part of the home viewer that the cast is speaking to them. Winick referred to this practice as "like therapy without the help". The confessionals were originally conducted by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jon Murray, but were eventually delegated to production staff members like George Verschoor and Thomas Klein. Beginning with the second season (Los Angeles), a small soundproof room was incorporated into the house for this purpose, and the room has also become known as the "confessional".

The various casts were often creative in their use of the confessional, which Bunim and Murray referred to as “inspired lunacy”, such as a group confessional conducted by all the Los Angeles housemates on their last day, an appearance by San Francisco housemate Judd Winick in a nun’s habit, and Miami roommates Melissa Padrón and Flora Alekseyeun dressing up as prostitutes for a shared confessional in which they discuss why their roommates did not get along with them. During Mardi Gras, New Orleans cast member Danny Roberts used the confessional to engage in a sex act. ["The Real World Diaries"; 1996; Page 5; Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jon Murray detail this in the Introduction.]

Initially, the show would document the housemates as they struggled to find and maintain jobs and careers, with minimal group activities aside from their day-to-day lives in the house and their socializing in the city. The only group activity engineered by the producers during the first season was a trip for the three females to Jamaica. By the second season, sending the entire cast on a vacation would become the norm, and the second season cast was also sent on a day trip to Joshua Tree, California. By the fifth season, the cast would be given an ongoing, season-long activity, with the Miami cast given startup money and a business advisor to begin their own business. This aspect of the show remained in subsequent seasons, and would be obligatory, with casts assigned to work at after-school daycare program, a radio station, public access television station, etc. Beginning with the , a roommate fired from the group job would be evicted from the house and the cast.

Physical violence of any kind was not tolerated by the producers. After an incident during the Seattle season in which Stephen Williams slapped Irene McGee as she moved out, the incident was debated by the housemates, who were not present but were shown a videotape of the incident. The producers, not wanting to be seen condoning violence, gave the housemates the choice of having him leave, but instead the housemates chose to let him stay, and Williams was ordered to attend an anger management class. Sydney housemate Trisha Cummings was ordered out of the house after she shoved Parisa Montazaran to the floor. castmates William Gilbert and David Malinosky were ordered into anger management for incidents that occurred during their season.

Footage taken during filming is then edited into half-hour episodes. The , however, was aired as 13 one-hour episodes, as will the season.

Recurring themes


As their experiences on "The Real World" were often the first time that cast members encountered people of different races or sexual orientations, [Two examples are Los Angeles' Jon Brennan and New Orleans' Julie Stoffer, who indicated that they never interacted with black people prior to their experiences with the show.] many episodes documented conflict over these issues. First season housemate Kevin Powell had such arguments with Eric Nies, Julie Gentry, and Becky Blasband. The premiere episode of the Los Angeles season depicted regional epithets exchanged between Jon Brennan, Dominic Griffin, and Tami Roman. San Francisco housemate David "Puck" Rainey mocked Pedro Zamora's homosexuality and his Cuban accent, even leaving messages with derogatory jokes about homosexuals on the house's answering machine after he was evicted from the house. At one point during his stay in the house, he wore a T-shirt with a swastika design on it, which the Jewish Judd Winick saw as a betrayal. Flora Alekseyeun, during an argument with Miami roommate Cynthia Roberts, dismissed what she referred to as Roberts' "black attitude". Their roommate Melissa Padrón, during a heated exchange with homosexual Dan Renzi, called him a "flamer". Racism was also a subject of argument for New Orleans housemates Julie Stoffer and Melissa Howard, as when Howard took offense to Stoffer mentioning that her stay in New Orleans was her first encounter with "colored" people. Howard also took offense when a boat guide referred to a group of birds as "nigger storks". The stereotypical views about blacks imparted to ""'s Mike Mizanin by his uncle offended Coral Smith and Nicole Jackson when he related them, and they tried to educate him on black culture. They were also offended by the fact that biracial roommate Malik Cooper wore a T-shirt with the image of Marcus Garvey, who was against miscegenation, despite the fact that Cooper was of mixed heritage and by his own admission had never dated a black woman. Philadelphia's Karamo Brown expressed being "borderline racist" towards Caucasians, though had softened in these feelings by the end of the season. In the Denver season, while under the influence of alcohol, Davis Mallory got into a fight with Tyrie Ballard, and said, "I'm going home tomorrow, because some nigger wants to kill me!" During the season, Trisha Cummings related an incident at a McDonald's in which she told an Asian employee who did not understand the word "sample" that she should take English lessons. Her Persian housemate, Parisa Montazaran, was offended by this, as it reminded her of the bigotry she suffered as a schoolchild by teachers who criticized her parents' accent. Trisha later explained on "Escape from Oz: The Real World Sydney Reunion" that she mis-worded her initial explanation of the incident, and that it was not motivated by race. [ [ Video of "Escape from Oz: The Real World Sydney Reunion" at] ] 's Kimberly Alexander got into an argument with Brianna Taylor, who is African American, and said "Let's not get ghetto". When roommate William Gilbert saw this as racist, Kimberly explained that Brianna had previously described herself has sometimes behaving "ghetto", and was merely referencing that.


Jon Brennan disagreed with Tami Roman’s decision to have an abortion, and argued with Aaron Bailey's girlfriend, Erin, who was pro-choice. Rachel Campos, a conservative Republican member of the San Francisco cast, clashed with liberal roommates Mohammed Bilal and Judd Winick. Paris housemate Chris "CT" Tamburello became confrontational during a discussion of the Iraq War, even threatening Adam King. Nehemiah Clark, of the Austin, Texas cast, expressed disapproval of President George W. Bush and the Iraq War, sometimes coming into conflict with Rachel Moyal, who served in Iraq as a combat medic for the US Army.


Philadelphia castmates M.J. Garrett and Sarah Burke argued over the film "The Passion of the Christ". Sarah, who is Jewish, found the film anti-semitic, whereas MJ did not. [ [ Summary page for "The Real World: Philadelphia"; Episode 16 (“MJ’s Having Trouble with The Ladies”) at] ] cast member Julie Stoffer's Mormon faith was a recurring topic of discussion throughout the season. Stoffer, then a student at Brigham Young University, was suspended from school in 2000 due to honor code violations televised on the show.


Many cast members were documented in various stages of their love lives, either attempting to maintain long-distance relationships with loved ones back home, looking for love in their new city of residence, and in some cases, flirting or even developing serious relationships with their roommates. San Francisco roommates Pam Ling and Judd Winick have since married and had a child. Their roommate Rachel Campos married Sean Duffy of the Boston cast, and they have five children. Las Vegas roommates Trishelle Cannatella and Steven Hill consummated a romance during the show, which resulted in a pregnancy scare for Cannatella. Their roommates Irulan Wilson and Alton Williams began a relationship that continued after they moved out of the Las Vegas suite. The Austin cast spawned two relationships, one being Danny Jamieson and Melinda Stolp, who married in August 2008, [ [ Martin, Michael; "Danny & Melinda have a Real World Wedding at Castle Hill near Boston";; August 4, 2008] ] as well as Wes Bergmann and Johanna Botta. As of , Botta stated that she and Bergmann had broken up.

Many cast members had ongoing steady relationships that predated their appearance on the show, but for those whose relationships were of the long-distance variety, remaining faithful was often a challenge. New Orleans’ Danny Roberts cheated on his boyfriend Paul, who was stationed in the military. Seattle’s Nathan Blackburn’s girlfriend worried about their relationship. Miami’s Flora Alekseyeun attempted to maintain relationships with two boyfriends simultaneously. Sydney's Shauvon Torres left the house to reconcile with her ex-fiance, David. Her housemate Trisha Cummings and Dunbar Flinn flirted or had sex with people other than their significant others back home.

Relationships among cast members of the various seasons of "The Real World" and its spin-off, "Road Rules", are frequent on "Real World/Road Rules Challenge", a game show which assembles dozens of alumni from the various seasons together.


The level of sexual experience varies among a given season’s cast members. New York's Julie Gentry, Los Angeles’ Jon Brennan, San Francisco's Cory Murphy, Boston's Elka Walker, Seattle’s Rebecca Lord, New Orleans’ Matt Smith and Julie Stoffer, Paris' Mallory Snyder and Austin’s Lacey Buehler, for example, were virgins during their respective seasons. On the other end of the spectrum was New Orleans’ David Broom, who was highly promiscuous, having had many sexual partners during his season, including more than one during Mardi Gras alone, ["TV Guide"; June 24, 2000] some of whose names he did not even know. New Orleans’ Danny Roberts engaged in a sex act in the confessional room with a man during Mardi Gras. More than once, fellow housemates have been involved in pregnancy scares, notably in the season (between Steven Hill and Trishelle Cannatella) and the season (between Cohutta Grindstaff and Kelly Anne Judd). Some cast members expressed difficulty with relationships, such as London’s Sharon Gitau.

Overt sexual behavior was minimal during the show's early seasons, relegated mostly to discussion. In subsequent seasons, the level of sexual activity greatly increased, beginning with the Miami season, which depicted or touched upon activities such as exhibitionism, frottage, voyeurism, and threesomes. This increasing level of sexuality became a focus of criticism of the show, with the Las Vegas season serving as another prominent example.

Unrequited love

Jon Brennan’s Los Angeles roommates speculated that he had developed a crush, or possibly had fallen in love, with Irene Berrera. New Orleans’ Melissa Howard was attracted to Jamie Murray, who did not reciprocate. Their roommate Julie Stoffer harbored similar feelings for Matt Smith, who also did not reciprocate. "Back to New York"'s Lori Trespicio developed an attraction for Kevin Dunn, but he did not see her as anything other than a friend.

Departed housemates

Many times, housemates have left the "Real World" house (and production) before production was completed, usually due to conflicts with others. David Edwards was asked to leave because his volatile behavior made the three women in the Los Angeles house feel unsafe. Irene Barrera moved out of the Los Angeles house when she got married. David “Puck” Rainey was voted out of the San Francisco house when housemate Pedro Zamora, whose contentious relationship with Rainey was affecting his health, told his housemates that he would move out if Rainey did not. Rainey moved out, but he appeared in some subsequent episodes in which he continued to socialize with former housemates Cory Murphy and Rachel Campos, and in the season finale. Melissa Padrón moved out the Miami house because of conflict with her housemates, but continued to appear on the show and participate in the group's startup business discussions. Irene McGee moved out of the Seattle house because of ethical objections to the show's production, though at the time, she claimed it was because of illness. Justin Deabler moved out of Hawaii house because of family troubles, though his housemates pondered if it was because he felt no rapport with them, while roommate Ruthie Alcaide was ordered out of the house (although not permanently) to seek rehabilitation for her alcoholism. Frankie Abernathy moved out of the San Diego house due to homesickness. Sydney housemate Shauvon Torres left the house mid-season in order to reconcile with her ex-fiancé while roommate Trisha Cummings was ordered out of the house following an altercation between her and Parisa Montazaran. The Hollywood season saw the departure of two housemates: Greg Halsted after being fired from the group work assignment, and Joey Kovar, fearing a drug relapse after spending time in rehab.

On-screen marriage

Irene Barrera-Kearns got married during the Los Angeles season, and moved out. Pedro Zamora exchanged wedding vows with his boyfriend Sean Sasser.

Life-threatening illness

Pedro Zamora struggled with AIDS. He succumbed to the disease hours after the San Francisco season finale aired. Seattle's Irene McGee suffered from Lyme disease, and ostensibly moved out of the house because of it, though she later revealed that this was a cover for her ethical objections to the show’s production. Ruthie Alcaide, Chris Beckman, and Joey Kovar of the , , and seasons, respectively, suffered from addictions to drugs and/or alcohol. Alcaide and Kovar entered treatment programs during those seasons. [Joey Kovar entered rehab in Episode 4 of the Hollywood season. [ Summary page for "The Real World: Hollywood"; Episode 4 ("Joey's Intervention") at] ] [ [ Video of "The Real World: Hollywood"; Episode 4 at] ] San Diego housemate Frankie Abernathy suffered from cystic fibrosis. She passed away on June 9, 2007, though an official cause of death has yet to be determined. [cite web| date = June 12, 2007 | url= | title ='Real World: San Diego' Alum Frankie Abernathy Dead At 25 | publisher =MTV | accessdate = 2007-06-12] Sarah Burke from the Philadelphia season battled an eating disorder and has overcome it. [ [ "The Real World: Philadelphia Sarah Burke Biography" ""] ] Key West's Paula Meronek was battling anorexia and bulimia, and saw a therapist during filming.

"The Real World" seasons

For more detailed information on seasons, cast lists, and DVDs, see: List of The Real World seasons.

In 2002, MTV also produced a made-for-TV movie "", ostensibly about a season of "The Real World" whose cast members are terrorized by a rejected would-be member. [ [ IMDB entry for The Real World Movie: The Lost Season] ]



As with other reality shows, "The Real World" has received criticism for being staged. [ [ Rogers, Steve; "'Real World: Chicago' cast admits their September 11 reactions were staged"] ; August 19, 2002] During a reunion show featuring the first four "Real World" casts, Heather Gardner, of the original New York cast, asked some members of the San Francisco cast if their situations were real. She noted that situations from the original season seemed to repeat themselves in the other incarnations, stopping short of accusing them of acting. On an edition of the "E! True Hollywood Story" that spotlighted the series, cast member Jon Brennan revealed that he was asked by the producers to state on the air that he felt hatred towards housemate Tami Roman for her decision to have an abortion, and that he refused to do so, stating that although he disagreed with her decision, he did not feel hatred towards her. Another accusation is that producers selectively edit material to in order to give the false impression of certain emotional reactions or statements from the castmates.cite web |title=Interview With Coral Jeanne Smith from "Battle Of The Sexes" and "The Real World" |date=2004-12-23 |url= |accessdate=2007-06-21 |work=Reality Reel]

Some critics see the very concept of being in "the real world" as a misnomer, asserting that in the real world, people do not live in luxurious dwellings for free, are not "given" jobs in the media without any effort, and are not taken to exotic locations for free. [San Francisco's Judd Winick related receiving this criticism during the "The Real World Reunion" in 1995.]


The show has been accused of disregarding ethics. On the final track of his "Become the Media" spoken word album, activist Jello Biafra discusses a conversation he had with "Real World Seattle" cast member Irene McGee [Biafra, Jello. "Become the Media"; 2000] :

McGee has toured colleges to discuss media manipulation and the falsehoods of reality television. She recently began a youth-oriented radio show/podcast, "No One's Listening" [ [ Official Site of "No One's Listening"] ] covering a wide range of pop-culture and media-related issues.

exuality and relevance

The show has also been accused of being overly sexualized, most notably with its Las Vegas cast. [ [ Graham, Renee; "MTV's 'Real World' turns into 'The Carnal Camera Show'"; "The Boston Globe"; September 26, 2004] ] There is a larger conception that it has become increasingly unserious. As critic Benjamin Wallace-Wells put it:cquote|No longer an outlet for twentysomethings to brood about their future careers, the show has become a cyclic three-month on-air party for young adults to mingle in hot tubs and obsess about the present. The locales have changed from creative meccas like New York and London to vacation spots like Las Vegas and Hawaii. MTV has rejiggered the show to require characters to engage in artificial, season-long contests or projects -- like putting together a fashion show -- which the characters embrace in the way most American teenagers experience spring break: as a big party. [ [; November 18, 2003] ]

A 2006 comment from "LA Weekly"'s Nikki Finke reflects the same sentiments:cquote|The show that once seriously delved into hot-button issues like homosexuality, AIDS, racism, religion and abortion was now purposely pushing someone’s buttons to have that person implode on air. [ [ Finke, Nikki; "Savage TV: From freak shows to freak accidents to freakin’ mayhem. Reality goes wild";] ; September 6, 2006]

The Parents Television Council, which has frequently criticized MTV, has also frequently criticized "The Real World" for its overtly sexual content. [ [ PTC campaign against MTV] ] In addition, they claim that because MTV routinely reruns "Real World" episodes with a simple "TV-14" rating without the "L" (language) descriptor, parents cannot block out the show with a V-Chip [ [ Content from "The Real World: Philadelphia" episode dated January 4, 2005] ] , although countering reports claim that the V-Chip does not totally rely on content descriptors added to the general ratings to work. [cite press release
title = The Parents Television Council’s Release is Flawed by Faulty Analysis and Biased Methodology
publisher = Television Watch
date = 2007-04-19
url =
accessdate = 2007-08-02
] An episode of "The Real World: San Diego" that was broadcast in January 2004 came under intense criticism from both the PTC [ [ PTC Action Alert: Summary OF "The Real World" Content;] ] and American Family Association [ [ Boycott statement of the AFA from AFA Online; Accessed August 8, 2007] ] for its sexual content.


In December 2005, Aaron Gillego, a columnist for "The Advocate", criticized the series for having never cast an Asian male in the then-13 years of its existence, opining that female Asians have been cast on the show because heterosexual men have been socialized by the media to think of them as exotic beauties or sex objects, but that Asian males have been largely invisible in popular media. [ [ Gillego, Aaron; "Simply invisible";; December 7, 2005.] ]

Parodies, derivatives, and references

* The show was satirized in the October 2, 1993 episode of the sketch comedy show, "Saturday Night Live". The episode, which was hosted by Shannen Doherty, featured a skit depicting a "Real World" cast patterned after the Los Angeles cast, and poked fun at the discussions of racism, bigotry, and political differences that served as a recurring theme that season. Another "SNL" parody of "The Real World" came in a 1996 episode hosted by John Goodman in which Bob Dole (Norm Macdonald) is thrown out of the house.
* The 1994 movie "Reality Bites", starring Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke, focuses around a group of twentysomethings whose video diaries are misappropriated for a "Real World"-style documentary series. This fictional documentary series, as well as the title of the movie itself, closely parodies and satirizes "The Real World" format.
* On "Beverly Hills, 90210", a 5th season episode called "Unreal World" depicted David Silver using a David "Puck" Rainey manque named Tuck as the subject of a class video project. When Tuck refused to participate, the rest of the cast pretended to be Tuck and his roommates for the project. Among other things, Steve's country-boy act and dress is similar to Jon Brennan's from the Los Angeles season, and a character named "Beth", who is described in a negative light, is a reference to Beth Stolarcyzk, one of Brennan's castmates.
* In an episode of the animated TV comedy "Family Guy", Stewie's audition tape for "The Real World" is seen.
* In an episode of the animated comedy "Pinky and the Brain", Pinky and the Brain join the cast of a show called "Real Life" hosted by TV personality Eisenhower for the network "MTTV" in order to broadcast the acapella voice of Rush Limbaugh in order to take over the world.
* A satirical TV movie called "The Lost Season" parodied "The Real World". It depicted a season of the show that supposedly took place in Vancouver, BC, and was abandoned because its participants were kidnapped.
* The reality show "The Surreal Life" is structured similarly to "The Real World", except that the housemates, who live together for ten days, are celebrities. The show's original name was "The Surreal World" but it was changed to avoid a lawsuit for infringing a copyrighted title. [ [ Trivia page for "The Surreal Life" at the] Internet Movie Database]
* "Swept Away - A Very Special Episode", a Season 11 episode of the crime drama "Law & Order" that premiered February 28, 2001, featured a plot involving the investigation into the murder of a housemate on a reality show akin to "The Real World" called "Deal With It". [ [ Episode list for "Law & Order" at the Internet Movie Database] ]
* An episode of the crime drama "Diagnosis Murder" also featured a plot involving a murder committed during the filming of a reality show similar to "The Real World". The main character of the show, Dr. Mark Sloane (played by Dick Van Dyke) was one of the roommates at the time of the murder, and solved the crime, as he did every episode.
* Dave Chappelle lampooned what he perceived as the targeting of minority cast members for criticism or ejection on the show on his Comedy Central sketch comedy show, "Chappelle's Show", with a sketch called "The Mad Real World", portraying, with hyperbole, the results of what would happen if one white person were to cohabitate with a collection of crazy black people. The white man is raped and beaten, his father is stabbed and his girlfriend cheated on him with multiple other housemates. Finally he loses his temper in asking his roommates one night to turn down the music so he can sleep; the next day they all vote him off, saying he's getting out of control and they're afraid of him. They conclude with "If you don't leave, we reserve the right to fuck you up."
* The Comedy Central series "Drawn Together" is an animated reality show parody that borrows much of its format and conventions from "The Real World", but whose cast is populated by animated cartoon archetypes.
* The music video for the Eminem track, "Without Me", contains scenes which parody "The Real World", with appearances by New Orleans castmate Julie Stoffer, Boston castmate Syrus Yarbrough, and San Francisco castmate David "Puck" Rainey.
* In the 1999 romantic comedy film "10 Things I Hate About You" Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) is watching television, on which the opening credits of "The Real World: Seattle" can be seen.
* In "Morality Bites", a second season episode of the television series "Charmed", the sisters travel to 2009, and on the TV you can hear "Coming up, "The Real World: On The Moon!"
* The 1999 romantic comedy film "She's All That" features Matthew Lillard playing Brock Hudson, an ex-"Real World" cast member kicked out of the house for being obnoxious to his fellow castmates.
* In "", a fifth season episode of the television series "Dawson's Creek", Audrey (Busy Philipps) is speaking with Joey (Katie Holmes) about recording her audition tape for the fictional "The Real World: Ibiza" season. In a sixth season episode, "", some college students comment if Joey sent an e-mail to the whole campus (by accident) in an attempt to get attention or because she was on "The Real World".
* In "The Route of All Evil", a third-season episode of the animated television series "Futurama", Fry, Leela, and Bender are watching an episode of "The Real World" set on the Sun. Leela's comment on how much an apartment that big would cost on the Sun is a reference to the criticisms of how people in real life would not be able to afford the upscale houses that the castmembers on "The Real World" live in.
* The WB television series "Mission Hill" based an entire episode around "The Real World", in which the show's protagonist joins the cast and attempts to destroy "The Real World" from the inside by exposing it as an elaborate hoax with microphones and hidden cameras telling each person how to act and behave on camera.
* In the quasi-autobiographical memoir "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", author Dave Eggers recounts his audition for "".
* The TV show "Muppets Tonight" featured a skit called "The Real World: Muppets". Most segments of it were only shown in United Kingdom. It showed Rizzo the Rat, Bobo the Bear, Clifford, Bill the Bubble Guy, and a goth girl named Darci.
* Several television commercials for the U.S. version of the Nintendo video game "Animal Crossing" parodied "The Real World".
* The film "The Real Old Testament" is a film that uses the style of "The Real World" to look at some events in the Old Testament.
* The MTV Canada crew parodied "The Real World" with a trailer for "The Real World: MTV", featuring nine VJ's with different personas. Most were from "".
* The computer game "Afterlife" features a Hell punishment called "The Unreal World", which features the description "This is the true story, of 5000 SOULs, picked to live in a house, and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting damned."
* In "My Hero", a 2001 episode of the TV series "Scrubs", a cutaway gag shows a number of the characters introducing themselves in the style of "The Real World"'s opening sequence.
* In the April 10, 2005 episode of the stop motion animated television series "Robot Chicken" called "The Deep End", Aquaman is one of seven housemates in the fictional parody of "The Real World" called "The Real World: Metropolis". Here, Aquaman is repeatedly insulted and degraded by Superman and the others. He also has effeminate mannerisms, and his own fish do not listen to him. In the end, Superman uses his heat vision to melt his head, killing him.
* A 1999 episode of the WB television drama "Charmed" depicted a newscaster in the year 2009 mentioning "The Real World: The Moon".
* Dutch TV producer Erik Latour claims that the ideas for The Real World were directly derived from his television show "Nummer 28", which aired in 1991 on Dutch television. [ Zeven werklozen samen op zoek naar een baan] by Raymond van den Boogaard, NRC Handelsblad, September 28, 1996 (Dutch) - about Nummer 28 being the inspiration for The Real World.]
* The Nickelodeon children's comedy show, "All That", parodied "The Real World" in its last season with "The Unreal World", in most all of the houseguests were undead beings, such as vampires, zombies, ghosts, and a floating head.
* Video artist Eileen Maxson's short film "Tape 5925: Amy Goodrow" is set-up as an audition tape to "The Real World", a familiar component of the series' casting specials and season openers. Maxson portrays the title character, a sensitive and awkward young woman whose main hobby is paper craft, and reveals a surprising sexual encounter between her teenage self and a teacher. The resulting confession lands on the desk of a jaded MTV employee, who fast-forwards through the details of her dejected story. The video was named one of the "sweet 16" experimental film and video works of 2003 by "Village Voice" media critic Ed Halter. [ [ Halter, Ed; "The Year in Experimental Film and Video"; "Village Voice", 2003] ]

See also

*List of programs broadcast by MTV
*"Road Rules"
*"Real World/Road Rules Challenge"


External links

* [ MTV's official "Real World" Website]
* ['s official Real World website]
* [ "The Real World" at the Internet Movie Database]
* [ Real World News]
* [ MTV's Real World 20 Casting Site]
* [ MTV's social networking site for MTV alumni]

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