20th season of The Real World debuts tonight

The Real World Hollywood, the 20th season of the reality series that kicked off all of the madness that currently occupies our TV sets, debuts tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

This season features six people cast for their entertainment industry career goals and one man who viewers selected online. They’ll work together in an improv group and have uncensored footage of their naked bodies broadcast online. The entertainment industry-inspired house, constructed in an old CBS soundstage, uses the Bates Motel from Psycho as a model for entrances to the bedrooms.

If only those rooms would contain as much drama as the ones in the film did. After watching the first episode, I was, predictably, bored and annoyed by the cast, who spent 30 seconds talking about their ambitions before proceededing to start drinking, stripping, and arguing.

Writing a longer piece about this milestone anniversary, though, I realized that perhaps not much has really changed with the series that first captivated my attention and pulled me into unscripted television forever. That became especially apparent watching the series’ recent awards show and roast, which featured clips of moments from old seasons. There was the same ridiculous behavior, the same trivial concerns, the same drinking and partying.

I’m still convinced that the show is significantly different now than it was in 1992, particularly because of the cast’s composition, but I ended up deciding that it’s a virtue that the show “audaciously refuses to camouflage [its] often ugly core,” unlike shows that have borrowed from it and followed it, from Survivor to Project Runway.

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