Just over 20 years ago The Real World landed onto MTV and helped bring the reality TV show into living rooms. While Cops more or less created reality TV, Real World perfected it into something we more readily recognize as a modern genre. Since its origins the show has and hasn't changed much. The format hasn't changed. Seven strangers are chosen to live in a house and agree to have every waking moment recorded no matter the reality. This dynamic originally exposed an early 90's society of young people to lives they never quite imagined before. One of the most impactful early cast members was Pedro. Pedro was openly gay and HIV positive educator who used his time on the Real World to teach viewers about his illness and lifestyle. It was an eye opening experience for many to watch especially once Pedro was killed only hours after the final episode of that second season aired.
Soon though the times caught up to the show and despite a familiar format, much has changed. Seven strangers are still chosen to live in a house but beyond that nothing is really the same. Interesting lives and stories are exchanged for heavy drinkers and party animals. Rumors for years swirl about producers choosing only the wildest and sometimes psychologically unstable of the applicants to be put in the house. And with the increasing ability to turn your reality stint into somewhat of a career more and more cast members may be causing more trouble than reality might dictate.
So here comes the change. After returning lower than expected ratings last season the MTV executives think it's time to change the show's lifelong format. Seven strangers will once again be chosen to live in a house and have their lives taped. This twist will be when seven of their ex girlfriends/boyfriends move in as well. The idea is to raise tensions, put budding relationships in the house on edge, and increase the drama of the show as much as possible. This will be similar to what another MTV show, The Challenge, has done in the past and seemed to work well.
For me, I'm a casual watcher of The Real World. It's still a TV guilty pleasure but it's much easier to explain your love of a show with compelling and interesting people. Dry and atypical drama only serves to lower The Real World into the dredges of reality TV show it helped spark over 20 years ago. Then again this fall has been a long time coming.