The Real World is turning 25-years-old. The long-running MTV reality show about seven strangers picked to live in a loft and have their lives taped, made its debut on May 21, 1992. The show, which has aired for 32 seasons, spawned a franchise for the former all-music network, with spinoffs that include Road Rules, The Challenge, and, more recently The Real World: Bad Blood.
Not only did MTV pave the way for today’s reality TV landscape, but the show pushed boundaries early on. The original season of the show featured cast member Norman Korpi, an openly gay man who was listed as bisexual on the show.
“In the early days, they couldn’t have a gay [cast member] so they made me bisexual,” Korpi revealed to CNN. But two seasons later, reality TV came a long way when the commitment ceremony between openly gay cast member Pedro Zamora and his boyfriend Sean Sasser became the first same-sex couple to exchange vows on primetime TV.
Real World producers Jonathan Murray and Mary-Ellis Bunim originally planned to make a scripted drama titled St. Mark’s Place about a group of young people beginning their lives in the Big Apple, but MTV, which still aired mostly all music videos at the time, didn’t have the budget for to take the scripted TV plunge.
— CNN (@CNN) May 20, 2017
The duo pitched The Real World to MTV execs as an “equally dramatic unscripted series.” They later signed on a diverse cast that included Korpi, Heather B. (Gardner), Becky Blasband, Andre Comeau, Julie Gentry, Eric Nies, and Kevin Powell. Fans of the first Real World season may recall Becky’s affair with one of the show’s producers (it cost him his job) and Julie and Kevin’s heated argument about racism.
The show was an instant hit and by the third season, which was set in San Francisco, viewers saw got a candid, inside look at someone living with AIDS with cast member Pedro, a Cuban-American gay man who talked openly about his battle with the disease. Zamora died just hours after the final episode of The Real World: San Francisco aired.
The Real World also spawned several real-life relationships and marriages. Republican congressman Sean Duffy (The Real World: Boston) married Real World: San Francisco cast member Rachel Campos. Today, the Duffys have eight kids together.
In addition, Zamora’s Real World roommates, Pam Ling and Judd Winnick, started their romance on the show and went on to marry. Pam and Judd are currently the only same-season couple (that didn’t know each other before the show) still together, according to MTV.
Other Real World relationships that didn’t last include Colin and Amaya from Real World: Hawaii, Alton and Irulan from Real World: Las Vegas, Danny and Melinda from Real World: Austin, Wes and Johanna from Real World: Austin, and Madison and Tony from Real World: Skeletons, who managed to have a daughter together before calling it quits on their romance for good. And let’s not forget Trishelle, Steven, and Brynn and that infamous hot tub incident on The Real World: Las Vegas.
Several Real World alums have gone on to professional success thanks to their reality TV fame. WWE wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin was a cast member on the Back to New York season of the show, and he came up with is wrestling alter ego while on The Real World. In addition, actress Jacinda Barrett (Bloodline) was part of the London cast, and Jamie Chung (Once Upon a Time) is an alum from The Real World: San Diego. Kyle Brandt (Real World: Chicago) became a soap star.
Here’s a look at a few of the most memorable former Real World cast members today:
— beth stolarczyk (@MTVBeth) April 26, 2017
— Irene McGee (@springfever) May 14, 2017
— Trishelle (@TrishelleC) December 3, 2016
— Rachel Campos-Duffy (@RCamposDuffy) November 27, 2015
Take a look at the video below for an update on the original Real World cast.
[Featured Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]