MTV's 'Real World: Portland' Is an Insult to the Original Reality Show

Real WorldTonight, The Real World: Portland debuts on MTV at 10 p.m. From the promo, it seems to promise beautiful, skinny women, ripped and tan men, and a whole lot of hot tub action. The Real World is virtually indistinguishable from Jersey Shore save for the inflated salaries of the latter cast. Millions may tune in, it's true. But I won't be one of them.

Part of it is age. I just outgrew the show I once loved so much. Now, with two kids and a husband as well as a mortgage and a busy job, I just don't relate to hot 20-somethings who fornicate, fight, and get arrested on TV. But there is more to it than just that.

See, I was 14 when the original Real World: New York debuted. Back in 1992, ALL the cool kids were watching those "seven strangers picked to live in a loft and have their lives taped to see what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real."


And what happened? Was magic. For a 14-year-old girl in Ohio, I learned that NYC was THE place to be. It was the place where people were all liberal (they marched on Washington for choice; they supported Jerry Brown). It was the place where people talked openly about homosexuality and race and still managed to have a blast with roller skating and trips to Jamaica. It was everything my stifling Ohio life wasn't.

It made us think.

After seeing recent iterations of the show, I had started to wonder if I had imagined the magic. But MTV ran a marathon this past week of San Francisco and New York. They also ran Las Vegas. It's easy to see when the tide started to shift. It went from a show discussing real issues to a show that went for ratings based on midriffs and drunk girls' promiscuity.

It hasn't been a change for the better. Honestly, I am not even sure who is watching it anymore. And watching Julie, Kevin, Heather B., Eric, Andre, and Becky this past weekend brought it all back.

There WAS a time this show was worth something. It was clever, new, and it started the whole reality genre (whether that is good or bad depends on your viewpoint). But it has strayed. The show that started the genre got caught up in the genre that gave us Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, Joe Millionaire, and Temptation Island.

For one weekend, I was fully immersed in my 14-year-old self. I remembered everything I loved about the show. And then the commercial breaks would come in with advertisements for Portland. For shame. Truly.

Do you like the new Real Worlds?


Image via MTV

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