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

Rant 14

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



To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

bills... billsfan1104

This is so ironic, because I watched it too. And thought to myself, how much I missed the originals.

nonmember avatar hf18018

Yes!!!! You totally hit the nail on the head. What a shame.

nonmember avatar Jess

I totally agree! It started out as a show of 7 unique young people starting out on various career paths (model, singer, rapper, political activist) and somehow turned into college kids partying 24/7. It's unwatchable anymore.

amber... amberdotsmom

I haven't watched in years but I still remember the San Francisco season and think it was one of the best, I thought London was really good also.  I agree though, as Sasha said you do outgrow it and they've lost the "real" part of the show, everyone's just playing a part now. 

momof... momof3cuties987

I still love the show but I won't want my kids watching it when they get old enough to be interestedl  It is good entertainment but not good examples for young people.

Felly... FellyScarlett

Sounds like an insult to Portland.

nonmember avatar Christie

To be fair, if you haven't watched any of the new seasons how do you know how much it's changed. Yes, on the older seasons (which I just re-watched this weekend) they seem to "discuss" some hot button topics, more so than the past couple of seasons have, and really to be fair just the last season really didn't have too much of that, I think it's something about being on St. Thomas made it a little more about partying. But I do remember them discussing, self-harm, that two roommates went through and also a few other times they got heated about issues.
I think in the past seasons the cast was given lines for when they run out of things to do and talk about, now they kind of know whats expected so things like that have been phased out. In re-watching the old seasons you can almost tell how the conversations are staged to be at that place and time and to have those specific people in them.

Also, the show itself has changed so much over the years. First off it used to film for 6 months now they film in 3 or 4 months so they have less footage to use. The shows went from being 1/2hr to 1hr. And before they could have TVs and more outside contact, now they are practically cut-off from the world for 4 months at a time.
The show had to change with it's viewers and sadly sex sells, but I still love the show. It will never get old to me.

nonmember avatar Ang

It's just junk and the day it became junk I knew it. I loved it when it was real issues. You wonder why teens this day and age seem so dumb to everyone. It makes me wonder where they go for real ness. I know they must have a place, all generations must. I at 27 am too old to know what it is. I just hope it is a place that shows not all people are drunken sex crazed fighting douche bags like MTV likes to show and so many other tv shows.

RMT1995 RMT1995

@Christie - I have to disagree ... I hadn't watched The Real World in years, but watched St. Thomas ONLY because I'm going there next month and wanted a little glimpse of what it would be like. The show is awful now. All it focused on was the two relationships, and what I'm pretty sure were manufactured "issues" that the producers encouraged for ratings. What did they last, two episodes?

ninag... ninag1980

I cant agree with you more.  I too caught the "retro weekend" on MTV.  It was a real treat! A video library for young adults in 1992.  From the fashions, the issues, politics, it was a real flash back and I enjoyed it.  I liked the way they filmed so much more out of the house than they do these days.  You are really able to see what America were doing that year.  The new seasons hardly film outside of the house unless its a bar, so you dont get much outside insight for the times. 

1-10 of 14 comments 12 Last