Back when MTV mostly still just played music videos, the cable channel also gave life to a new genre of television – reality TV – when it put seven strangers in a New York City apartment and filmed what happened. The new show – THE REAL WORLD – debuted today back in 1992.
With that intro, THE REAL WORLD kicked off a 20 years (and 32 seasons) of increased levels of ridiculousness. While drama between castmates became of paramount importance to the show as it went on (and even as early as the third season, which saw troublemaker Puck get everyone to hate him while AIDS-infected Pedro drew the sympathy), the first season of MTV’s THE REAL WORLD seemed more earnest. The situations didn’t feel as forced as they would become later, and it really felt like these seven strangers were learning how to live with each other in New York City in the early 1990s.
Of the seven people who spent two months in the SoHo loft, a few managed to parlay their time on the show into more than just 15 minutes of fame. Most notably, Eric Nies, the New Jersey print ad model, became the host of MTV’s THE GRIND and managed some bit parts in movies and TV. Writer Kevin Powell wrote a couple of books and unsuccessfully ran for Congress three times. Heather Gardner and Becky Blasband both used the show as springboards to music careers.
Despite the parody of itself that the show would quickly become – and remain that way for most of its time on the air – the first season of the show sparked a definite sea change in the way MTV presented its programming. Without THE REAL WORLD, we never would have had ROAD RULES, TEEN MOM, JERSEY SHORE or, my father’s favorite show, PIMP MY RIDE. We probably would have been better off without some of them. Not PIMP MY RIDE, though. That was fun.
What were your favorite moments from the first season of THE REAL WORLD? Talk about it in the comments!