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Revisiting the True World: When Reality Bites

The series looks very different and not only in the style of grunge and hip-hop or the baby faces of Gen X of the cast. There is a harsh, sincere documentary feel, even when the producers prepare the gambit action as an escape to Jamaica. The roles and the team define the rules of the new genre and the boundaries of the fourth wall.

Certainly there was more skill in the series than in the film-faith documentaries, such as PBS’s “American Family,” which inspired him. It was a built environment; he placed his fish in a bowl, not in the open ocean, and waited for them to fight or mate.

The promise of the original “to become real” titles may have been marketing. But “The Real World” really tried to achieve that, at least in the early years, before the series became a party machine with a hot tub. (In a sense, the “reality” credo also predetermined today’s cultural wars, reflecting both the progressive spirit society needs to stand up to its demons and the conservative complaint that “you can no longer say anything.” “)

This first season set many conventions for reality TV, such as the already required “confessional” interviews. He also found that the Real World cast would cover a variety of backgrounds, races, and sexual orientations (Season 1 Norman Corpy, a gay artist), at a time when television was more diverse in broadcasts than in them. .

Two years later, in 1994, Friends will bring together an all-right, white social group in Manhattan from cafes and idyllic real estate. That same year, Real World: San Francisco introduced AIDS activist Pedro Zamora, who would be the first person some viewers knew died of the disease.

The variety of the show was an evolution for MTV as well. The artificial youth from “The Real World: New York” includes Andre Como, a white rocker, and Heather B. Gardner, a black rapper. But the channel has had a history since it began in 1981 of separating or ignoring black artists, something David Bowie called for in a famous 1983 MTV interview.

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