Why The Real World keeps returning to the same cities

MTV’s The Real World is currently filming its 25th season in Las Vegas. While its cast includes a gay porn star, it’s perhaps more notable that this season represents the franchise’s return to a city it’s been to before. And its executive producer, Jonathan Murray, said that’s basically because they’ve run out of cities.

Of 25 seasons, five have been repeat cities, including both Hollywood and Brooklyn, including the last two seasons, New Orleans and now Las Vegas, so it’s looking increasingly like a trend. MTV doesn’t seem to think its audience will notice, because the names just ignore the previous seasons.

I asked show’s creator Jon Murray about this, and he said that “Vegas, L.A., maybe San Diego, Miami, New York — these are the cities that young people dream about living in. … The show has always had a fantasy appeal to it.”

After I listed a few random cities where the show has never been, he said that other cities aren’t ones people want to move to. “As great a city as Louisville might be, I don’t know whether it meets everybody’s need as a fantasy city. It might be a fantasy city if you live in the 400-mile range around Louisville. And there are great cities that are amazing, but they don’t have that national reputation.” However, he said that producers “certainly tried to buck that” perception by going to cities such as Philadelphia, which he said “certainly wasn’t at that time on people’s lists.”

Murray also told me that the place they choose “has to be a big enough city so we can get lost in it” so that the show won’t become “big news. … When you’re in a large city like New York or Los Angeles or even a city like New Orleans or Las Vegas…people aren’t so focused on you, it’s good not to have people lining up in front of the house to see what’s going on.”

Of course, that didn’t exactly work out in DC. Or Seattle. Or Chicago.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.