Evolution Of Mtv's The Real World

1260 words - 5 pages

Fish in a Fish Bowl
“This is the true story… of seven strangers… picked to live in a house… work together and have their lives taped… to find out what happens… when people stop being polite… and start getting real” (Robinson par. 8). The reality television program, The Real World, by MTV, had its first airing in 1992 and is one of the longest-running shows in MTV history. Initially, the program was designed as an outlet for young individuals to express common issues of adulthood ranging from prejudice, religion, AIDS, sex, and substance abuse, but eventually it evolved into a showcase for immature and reckless behaviors.
Creators of The Real World, Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray, originated the idea of casting regular people to live together and tape their day-to-day lives; thus, eliminating the cost and time of hiring paid actors and writing a script. The first season took place in New York. Seven people were paid $2,600 to appear on the series. Typically the producers receive around 5,000 applicants a season, but as Murray specified“… it ultimately comes down to who are the seven best people. All the story has to come from the cast. If you don’t have people with layers that are going to be peeled off throughout the season you’re not going to get your 24 episodes of series television” (Peyser par. 5). Picking seven people for the first season was relatively easy because no one was aware of the show and they did not go on the program seeking fame and fortune. The original season also referred to as “Season 0,” received harsh and negative reviews, but viewers could not get enough. There was something fresh and powerful that those unique seven members brought to the screen. An example of this raw experience is portrayed through “…Julie Gentry, the naive nineteen-year-old dancer from Alabama who was the star of the New York season, as perhaps the show's touchstone character” (Marsh par. 19). In one episode Gentry stumbles upon a cluster of homeless people living in cardboard boxes. She struck up a conversation with a lady named Darlene. Darlene had been living there for about a year because of the insufficient welfare check she was acquiring. She had the option to return home but was fearful of the temptation of drugs. Gentry then asks if she can stay the night with Darlene to experience what it is like to be homeless. Darlene accepts, and Gentry is granted permission by the producers to stay there for the night. She receives a tour from Darlene of her home which consists of a cardboard box, candles, and Lysol. Gentry walks away with a newfound perspective of homeless people. Later, Gentry invites Darlene to church with her on Easter Sunday but is disappointed with Darlene’s lack of courtesy, because she never showed up. Gentry tries to go back and look for her but is unsuccessful. Her things are gone, and someone notifies Gentry that Darlene was last seen buying crack. Skeptics believe The Real World producers may...

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