The Real World: Knoxville

“This is the true story of 8 friends who chose to live in a house together…”

haas haus

I started this post several weeks ago and then realized that, besides the fact that I live with 7 roommates, our lives are not at all like The Real World. Luckily, I was able to unearth it from the depths of my “drafts that sucked so bad I couldn’t publish them” because……

This weekend MTV is having a #RetroMTV weekend, showing episodes from old seasons of The Real World including New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. (Currently watching San Francisco, which was the show’s third season.) All of this is to promote the new season that premieres on Wednesday at 10pm.

The three seasons they picked to show are the more “groundbreaking” seasons. New York, which aired in 1992, was the first season, and therefore an entirely unknown experience to the creators, castmates, and viewers.

New York: Home of the Turtleneck

New York: Home of the Turtleneck

There were fights about race, domestic violence, and drug abuse. All of the cast members had goals and dreams that brought them to the city. One was an aspiring dancer, another an up-and-coming hip hop artist, and another still, a(n actual working) model.

San Francisco, airing in 1994, was the first season to experience a roommate eviction. Puck, the bad-boy SanFran native, was gross, un-friendly, and didn’t seem to care if his roommates loved or hated him. After the infamous “peanut butter incident,” the roommates decided that he simply was more trouble than he was worth and kicked him out.


This season was also largely based around roommate Pedro Zamora and his fight with AIDS, which ended the day after the final episode of the season aired. His two best friends on the show, Judd and Pam, later married and continue to spread his message to this day.

Then you’ve got Las Vegas.


Airing in 2002-2003, this was the season that changed the definition of The Real World. No longer was the show about real issues and real 20-somethings trying to figure out careers and relationships, it was now simply about sex and partying. This is the business model that stuck. Since Las Vegas, every season has provided its cast members with a 3-month long party before they have to join the actual real world (oh, the irony).

The new season that MTV is promoting right now is The Real World:Portland and is the franchise’s 28th.


The number of roommates is now eight, but everything else is pretty much interchangeable with the more recent seasons. No longer are cast mates memorable and dynamic. Commercials spots for the new season that I’ve seen in the few minutes I’ve been watching SanFran include: a cast mate who always takes his pants off, another who smashes everything in the kitchen in a drunken stupor, and an entire spot dedicated to a dog that poops in the confessional room. They’re calling it “the realest season you’ve ever seen.” So, needless to say, I’m happy to be a member of this demographic. We’ve really evolved since the days of Umbros, Enya, and beepers (all of which have made an appearance in the episode I’m currently watching…SCORE.)

Maybe someday the show will get back to its slightly deeper roots (yeah, right..) but until then, it’s fun to take a look back at the visual history. With the constant Twitter stream at the bottom of the screen, it’s interesting to see what others think about these older seasons. At least cameras and fashion trends have come a long way since then…?

Anyway, cheers, I’m off to set up a season pass on my DVR and apply for the next season!

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