Former ‘Real World’ Seattle Mate Calls MTV Show ‘Toxic’

Before the millennium hit, MTV’s The Real World was still a show that stood on its own for being one of the only reality shows on the network. In 1998 one of the most memorable seasons aired, which still has kids and teens of the 90s reminiscing over.

The Real World: Seattle featured one of the most controversial moments between cast mates Irene McGee and Stephen Williams. These days what transpired between the two is just a regular occurrence between any housewife on Bravo. Back then MTV aired the slap heard around the world. It happened due to an ongoing fight between the two cast members, and ended with Stephen running up to Irene’s car and slapping her in the face before she rode off into the sunset — sort of. The slap at the time was a big deal purely because we weren’t used to seeing that behavior portrayed on reality television.

Now cast mate, Irene, who was known for that moment and her threatening lyme disease, is opening up about what she calls a very “toxic” and “cruel” experience on MTV’s Real World. As part of Vulture’s series celebrating the 90s Irene shared her story with the site. Of her experience she said:

“[We had] Mandatory interviews with directors once a week. No talking to each other about what we were asked in them, or what we said; no talking about the process; no talking to the crew; no breaking the “fourth wall” and acknowledging in any way that we were aware we were on a TV show.”

Irene went on to call the show “toxic,” and “unbearable” as she recounted the memories filming the series. Now in 2013 we at least have an idea of how reality shows are put together, seeing as they’re the staple in our entertainment. For Irene, it was a surprise, more than hinting that she was exploited because of her disease:

“It didn’t look, to the average viewer, like I was leaving the show because I hated it, though there were hints. Instead, the narrative was that Lyme disease was making me delusional, which was unfair and cruel.”

Irene has put her past on The Real World behind her, and even though she doesn’t keep in contact with her castmates she does wish them well, “I hope they’re doing great; it’s the crew I have no respect for.”

Do you miss the old Real World?

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