When The Real World debuted in 1992 on MTV they were at the start of something revolutionary. At that time MTV was the only network to push forward television programming that documented real people having real conversations, and navigating the ups and downs of relationships in a serialized program.
Following the program’s explosion there was a time when the rite of passage to young adulthood involved applying to college and auditioning for The Real World. Every college freshman or teen entering in college aspired to be on The Real World. Even though now it’s hard to imagine, this was considered a jump off for a career, possibly because back in the 90s and early millennium we weren’t inundated with variety shows like American Idol and The X Factor.
In order to keep up with the times the format has changed from docu-style to high gloss and HD. Instead of documenting real people, reality shows celebrate the excess of the rich and the famous. We now have people who are simply famous for being reality television stars. That said, MTV didn’t suffer from the forward thinking changes of reality television. They rolled with the punches and produced hit reality shows like Laguna Beach and Jersey Shore. Unfortunately the show that started it all, The Real World, got lost in the shuffle.
Perhaps MTV was feeling nostalgic, but the show has ran despite suffering a ratings slump. What was once a show considered to be the holy grail of reality television, and a show that put reality television on the map, was now a casualty of the audience’s need to vicariously live through the ludicrous lives of the rich and the famous. It was a realization that took a while to digest but seemed to happen overnight — society didn’t want to watch television and see people that they related to, they just wanted to indulge in excess.
Finally MTV decided to take action to save their show. While the content now mirrors the sex and brawls of its successors, nothing really felt new about The Real World, that was until now. The Real World has offered a new twist for their loyal viewers in hopes that the next generation catches on.
Last week MTV’s Real World had a ratings surge when their broadcasted Real World: Ex-Plosion, which features exes of the past housemates and seeing how they “get real” with each other in a cozy San Francisco loft. To MTV’s surprise, the new season drew in an estimated 1.5 million viewers, and is being called the highest-rated episode in the last three years.
As of today Real World: Ex-Plosion is the highest rated program of Bunim-Murray productions since 2011. It is expected that if the program continues to do well a renewal will be in its future.