I made no secret of the fact that I thought the recently aired Real World Awards Bash was terribly disappointing and only served to remind me of how bad the show has gotten (at least, in terms of how young adults are portrayed) over the last decade. Today I saw that Details Magazine did a feature on the show and it touches on some of the complaints that many people now have with the series that in many ways, started the voyeuristic reality TV craze in this country.
Details Magazine has videos, a slideshow and an article about The Real World up on their site. The article says what many of us have been thinking; that the show isn’t what it once was or that it’s evolved into something else. The writer is of the mindset that MTV isn’t entirely to blame for the series degeneration, stating “It’s easy to accuse MTV of letting the show degenerate into a bed-hopping mating game, but the more complicated fact is that The Real World is just doing what it has always done: taking a snapshot of how it feels to be floating between adolescence and adulthood. If the show is fixated on coupling, the New America is too, from the cover of Us Weekly to the latest political sex scandal to the “most viewed” menu on YouPorn. “When you have Tila Tequila coming on afterward,” says Parisa Montazaran from the Sydney season, “it’s boring to just watch people sit at a table and discuss politics.”
The article goes on to talk about New America and its lack of patience for real (normal/boring/non-TV) people, saying "The New America has no patience for the likes of Becky and Kevin and Andre, with their solemn disquisitions on art and commerce. They’re squares. Obsolete. The opening benediction for The Real World talks about what happens when people “stop being polite,” but the New America, the land that creates a marathon soap opera out of Britney Spears, lost interest in etiquette a long time ago.”.
Details' write-up does occasionally tend to reek of the attitude that lashes out at the damned kids with their youtube and reality TV ruining everything but it also makes a really good point. When comparing the first few seasons of The Real World to the last few seasons, we really are looking at two different versions of young-adult Americans. Or perhaps its more that the types of people who are willing to have their lives taped nowadays are also the ones who are ok with having the world see them hooking up, getting trashed and getting into screaming matches with their fellow housemates. If it means getting famous (for about five minutes) who cares, right? That said, there are still plenty of Becky’s, Kevin’s and Andre’s out there. They’re just not reality TV material (meaning they’re not willing to get naked or have an alcohol-induced fight with someone over something completely stupid on national TV), which is why you probably won’t find those types of people on the latest season of The Real World. Times really have changed and if The Real World were more like it was back in its early years, its dubious that many people would tune in.
Below is one of the videos from Details’ website, which features a number of The Real World housemates from the previous 19 seasons talking about the show, how it affected them and the cultural impact it has (or doesn’t have).
Right now, I’d say the current Real World is what it is. I don’t think the series accurately portrays all of what it’s like to be a young adult in America these days. Instead, the show focuses almost entirely on the drama and seems to intentionally cast people who are going to deliver the goods. So in that respect, the series falls short and has drifted way too far away from the original premise of the show. But in the end, it’s about what sells and people definitely find entertainment in the current format of The Real World, so I think we can expect more of that with the new season and the seasons that follow.