If you haven’t been watching the new season of MTV’s Real World you probably think you’re not missing out on much. You probably think it’s the same old thing. Seven strangers picked to live in a house and get drunk and hook up and have occasionally introspective conversations about life and/or politics together, right? You are so wrong. You are so wrong it hurts.
Now, if you’ve seen the commercials for this season you already know that a new twist was put in place. Producers got together a group of good looking young people, all of whom recently got out of long-term relationships. They let those people live together for 6 weeks under the premise that it was the same old Real World, and then BOOM! They moved all of their exes into the house (save for one girl, whose ex is legitimately a rock star and busy on tour). It has been an epic ride in epicry and you need to start tuning in. Here’s a recap of the last episode. You’re not ready:
At first it seems like a cheap trick on the side of the producers to, clearly, stir up drama and get more people watching. And, well, it’s working. But it also seems like the cast members were carefully chosen. Now that the exes have moved in, all hell has not exactly broken loose. As far as reality TV stars go, it has to be said that these are intelligent, emotionally balanced (-ish) folks! They’re not tearing each other to bits (just yet), but they are reacting as anyone with a pulse and a few hang-ups would if they were forced to live with someone about whom they have conflicted feelings.
But here’s the other brilliant move Real World made this season. They are making it totally and completely obvious that we are watching a television show and it’s very exciting. In the past, and on other reality shows, we have seen those precious moments when cameramen get caught in a shot, or (in the case of shows like the Real Housewives) security has to step in and regulate. Real World is taking it a step further and purposefully showing cameramen and producers interacting with the cast. Instead of making the confessionals sound like monologues, we now hear the producers asking questions and prompting cast members to think about what’s happening on the show, and to explain themselves. It’s a small detail, but it actually works to make the show feel more real and more honest.
In a way, this season seeks to redefine reality television by both playing with it in very dramatic way and drawing attention to the innate “fakeness” of it all. There are cameras everywhere, there are producers guiding thought and perhaps even influencing actions, and MTV is now unafraid to blatantly show this. Twenty-nine seasons in and the show is still trying to be innovative, which is definitely a good thing. Oh, and throw in the fact that someone may very well be pregnant (because, as we all know, there’s nothing like a good ol’ fashioned pregnancy plot twist) and you simply must tune in. Now.