The Real World turns 25 tonight, an unapologetic, drunken shadow of its former self

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 essay.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.