By Timaya Forehand
Reality television is the guilty pleasure of many Americans, including myself. We are obsessed with watching people like us act barbarically, solve heart-breaking love triangle disputes and do mundane activities like eating and living together.
However, reality television, or good reality television, is supposed to bring attention to controversial issues and allow us to watch people deal with these real world problems. MTV’s “The Real World” was the first of the modern reality TV trend and utilized to achieve this goal.
The formula was pretty simple: “seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.” After much success and 29 seasons, the producers have created a new concept for the classic show. Pick seven strangers to live in a house and then invite their exes to move in as well, much to their surprise.
Much to my pleasant surprise, the exes do not move into the house immediately after the initial roommates do. Instead, they move in a month later allowing time for the current residents to have all the freaky fun that they want to and will. On top of that, the exes don’t even know they’re moving in along with the other exes. In fact, they all believe they’re the only ones moving in as the “new roommate.” I applaud MTV producers for coming up with such a creative concept. The idea is genius to be quite honest, and a sure fire way to get ratings in a society that’s obsessed with these kind of twisted love games. But that’s where I have to stop congratulating and begin criticizing.
Prior to watching this season and while reminiscing about the most influential seasons and cast members, I thought MTV executives were making the wrong decision, by trying to fix something that was not broken. But after watching the first three episodes, I understand that this was the most exciting and depressing thing to happen to reality television in most recent times.
What’s good about the show? Well, it gives us the timeless kinds of characters that we all hope to see each season. There’s Cory, the guy with the hot body and hot temper; Thomas, the cute rich kid we all adore; Jay, the one who will seem to never get into any trouble with anyone and we love him for that; Ashley, the wild, drunk girl; and Jenny, the hot blonde. Oh, and let’s not forget about Arielle, the down-to-earth lesbian that doesn’t want any drama; and Jamie, the rocker chick with a sharp tongue, tattoos and bright red lipstick.
Naturally, I am drawn to the love affairs and cat fights that take place within the first two nights. In true reality television fashion, there’s a flood of sex, screaming matches, nightclub scenes, and a lot of time spent in confessionals. In previous seasons of “The Real World,” these would be television goodies that complimented the real substance of the show, as opposed to being all the show had to offer.
By making “The Real World: Ex-Plosion” centered on the arrival of the roommates’ exes, it changes the entire dynamic of the series and eliminates one of “The Real World’s” biggest attributes: promoting social change and awareness.
In 1994, on the season in San Francisco, the first civil union on reality television was performed and Americans were informed about gay rights.
In 1999, on “The Real World: Hawaii,” America watched as one of the cast members dealt with alcoholism and was admitted into rehab. The cast members of “The Real World: Chicago” dealt with the Sept. 11 attacks, and in more recent years, “The Real World: Brooklyn” showed a cast member dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after coming home from Iraq. These are the moments that America needs to see and it was a pleasure to have “The Real World” give that to us.
I’m not saying that real world things can’t happen on this season of “The Real World,” because, they actually already have. Jay’s mother passed away from cancer that she had been fighting for most of her life, and it was a sad moment to witness. The viewer’s attention was quickly refocused, however, to the idea that “the exes” were arriving in a few days.
The idea of “seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real” is distorted. In fact, the famous line has been replaced in the opening with a catchy pop tune. I guess MTV is marking the beginning of a new era in “The Real World” series, separate from everything that the series used to be. If you’re into brawls, make-ups, break-ups and everything else that trashy reality TV has to offer, then this is the show for you.
There is no doubt that the show is entertaining and again, I applaud the new concept. It’s just depressing to know that MTV has changed such a big part of American television into something so much less than what it should be.