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|The Real World / MTV Real World|
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The Real World is a reality television program on MTV produced by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray. First aired in 1992, it is one of the first reality television shows to gain a national audience, and continues to be the longest running program in MTV history. The show is currently in its sixteenth season.
The show follows the lives of "seven strangers" who audition to live in a house together. The daily happenings of their lives interacting with their housemates are filmed. The camera footage is then edited into half-hour TV shows. The show takes place in a different city every season.
The Real World didn't gain widespread notoriety until The Real World: San Francisco, its third season aired in 1994. That season included two notorious housemates: Pedro Zamora, who became a famous AIDS activist; and Puck, a bicycle messenger with poor hygiene and an offensive attitude. The mainstay of the season included the arguments between these two persons. As the show gained more popularity, the message that Zamora was spreading about AIDS gained considerable notice, garnering media attention. Zamora is one of the first openly gay men with AIDS to be portrayed in popular media. Zamora unfortunately died in November of 1994, after which his housemate Judd Winick went on to critical/commercial acclaim, and an Eisner Award nomination, for his graphic novel's account of time with Zamora called "Pedro and Me".
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.
Since the introduction of The Real World, Bunim and Murray have spun off a number of other reality shows, including most notably Road Rules, in which 5 strangers (6 in later seasons) are put in a Winnebago and asked to complete certain tasks to eventually gain a "handsome reward". Other shows include the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, Making the Band, and The Simple Life. In 2003, Bunim and Murray produced a racy movie spinoff called The Real Cancun, which received copious amounts of negative criticism and did poorly in theaters.
Before the televised version of the show, a much more "scripted" variation was toyed with. Rather than being themselves, a set of strangers (not the NY cast) were given story and character arcs to attempt to recreate (a la a soap opera). Bunim & Murray wisely decided against this, and, at the last minute, yanked the concept from the original season ("season 1") of the show, as well, wisely figuring seven different people would have enough different things to socialize over.
An interesting tidbit of the unrealized "season 0 (zero)" of the show is that one of the actresses present, Tracy Grandstaff, ended up working for MTV in a different way, by being the voice of the animated Beavis and Butt-head spinoff Daria. Daria's voice is commonly thought to be that of actress/comedienne Janeane Garofalo, however this is not the case.
Also, there eventually was a scripted parody of the show, in the form of a TV movie titled The Lost Season, about a season that supposedly took place in Vancouver, BC, and was abandoned because its participants were kidnapped by some person named Roland (played by Bryan Kirkwood).
Similarly to other reality shows, the Real World has received criticism. For example, the show has been criticized for its disregard of 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:
“We know Real World is not the real world. I recently met a woman named Irene McGee who quit this show and said not even the house was real. The fridges were all filled to the brim with Vlasic pickles delivered daily by the crate load along with gallons of Nantucket Nectar. If she drank anything else, the crew took it from her hand and made sure the Nantucket Nectar label was facing the camera instead. When she walked out, another guy in the cast of Real World hit her and the camera guy did nothing . . . When she spoke out, MTV sued her. And entertainment weekly rated Irene getting smash mouthed the 47th most interesting event on TV that whole year . . . Can’t you [MTV] think of a better way to raise audience awareness of domestic violence than to make it look cool?"
Irene McGee has toured colleges to discuss media manipulation and the falsehoods of reality television.
During a reunion of the first three 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.
Show Description Credit: Wikipedia
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