The first season of MTV's The Real World hit the air when I was 15 years old, and was truly unlike anything else on my network of choice. The initial "seven strangers" featured an interesting cast of wannabe musicians, an artist, a writer, a male model, and a southern girl-next-door tossed in to say kooky things about her bohemian roommates. Even though these reality TV guinea pigs were aware of cameras around them, the show managed to produce some actual insight into how twentysomethings fit into the "real world," 1992 style.
In some ways, the show remains the same as it always did. For instance, as last week's premiere of The Real World: Hollywood was coming to a close, two of the young cast members shared a very Real World chat about not letting the bastards grind you down. Following the first argument among the house mates, musclebound Joey looked over at scantily clad Brianna, tossed on his metaphorical (and naturally, sideways) thinking cap and consoled her with seven simple words: "Wrong people put negativeness in your life." Amen, bro.
Call me crazy, but conversations between a personal trainer and a stripper (yes, that's what both of them actually do) just don't have the same cultural significance as an HIV-positive AIDS activist butting heads with an unhygienic bike messenger. Instead, as with recent editions of The Real World, the Hollywood cast is just another example of how this once-insightful program has been reduced to an endless orgy of hot tub make out sessions, roid rage beatdowns, and alcohol-induced arrests.
But if that's what you're looking for, then the Hollywood season won't disappoint. In this same episode, Brianna received an arrest warrant from punching an ex-boyfriend in the face. He apparently called her a "stupid stripper." Life lesson: don't call strippers stupid. As for Joey, he went HULK SMASH ballistic after a roommate labeled him "weird" for wearing a wife beater into the hot tub. Life lesson: don't call bodybuilders weird.
Really, MTV? A stripper and a personal trainer? Isn't that what True Life: The Jersey Shore is for? Good casting is what used to make The Real World stand out from everything else on MTV. Once upon a time the show's seven strangers came from diverse parts of nowhere, and had little in common except for a desire to be on TV.
Now fast forward 20 seasons to the Hollywood cast. Not only has one of the kids already been on American Idol, another one was chosen for the show via internet voting and showed up to the house like his poop don't stink. (This being The Real World, we will likely find out it does in more ways than two). The rest of the cast is rounded out by an aspiring Timbaland, a walking Ken doll, and two giddy co-eds who like, totally want to host Access Hollywood.
On one hand, at least MTV paid homage to the initial New York cast by putting people in Hollywood who actually want to make it in Hollywood. This is an upgrade from recent seasons when they picked seven strangers to live in a stunning chateau in Paris only to have them spend the entire season bitching that they weren't somewhere cool like Vegas.
Unfortunately, this same attitude is prevalent with the Hollywood cast. These are the same party-happy toolbags who've turned the show into little more than a breeding ground for MTV's Real World/Road Rules Challenge -- an endlessly entertaining cross between the WWE, Battle of the Network Stars and softcore porn. Naturally, the only Real World cast members to escape the MTV ghetto in recent years have done so by appearing in actual wrestling or actual sortcore porn.
So if the "ambitious" Hollywood cast thinks there's anything in their future aside from numerous appearances on The Challenge and a one-page spread in Maxim, they're even dumber than the first episode made them look. And I'm not even trying to drop negativeness. I'm just being real.