The Real World has been on the air for 19 years, but it turns 25 tonight with the debut of The Real World Las Vegas, yet another season named as if the previous season set in the same city never existed. (Here’s why it now recycles cities.)
Yes, the show is so old it will soon no longer be able to apply for itself. MTV keeps ordering seasons because while it’s no Jersey Shore ratings monster, it appeals to its demographic, which is perhaps why some of us who grew up with the show now find it repulsive.
Earlier seasons that I’m nostalgic for are far from being free of drama, stupidity, or immaturity–after all, they hosted Tami and David’s fight, Irene’s meltdown, and Montana giving wine to a kid, among other things–but those things came from cast members with actual lives and jobs and careers beyond being aspiring famewhores. (This season, the one person with a career, gay porn star Dustin, may not ever be identified as a porn star; at least, his bio completely ignores it.)
Has the show devolved into a drunken shadow of its former self, or have we just outgrown it? I think it’s both, and explain why in this msnbc.com essay.