Mary-Ellis Bunim had breast cancer for eight years, but told few people.
The New York Times gave The Real World and The Simple Life creator Mary-Ellis Bunim a proper obituary yesterday, recounting her career and its effects. Her funeral was attended by both TV execs and by “a cadre of Bunim-Murray alumni.” She died Jan. 29, but by then, the Times reports she “had been battling breast cancer for eight years. In contrast to the full disclosure she asked of her TV subjects, she had told few of her colleagues that she was ill.” Emily Nussbaum also manages to artfully elevate the often obnoxious and ludicrous content of her shows, writing, “At their best, the Bunim-Murray productions distilled the poignant lunacy of early adulthood: doofus philosophizing, humiliating flirtations, cutlery flung across the room.Throwing disparate young people into a lush loft (or a Winnebago, or a music studio), they triggered some surprisingly raw discussions of race, sexuality and gender. … At its tawdriest, the series could be a cautionary tale of what happens when you mix hot tubs with alcohol — or magnify narcissism with a zoom lens. But it was also reliably watchable: melodramatic, hilarious, phony, raw and tender.”
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