Ahead of the premiere of the twenty-eighth (!) season of The Real World, set somewhat curiously in Portland, MTV has scheduled a weekend marathon of three “classic” seasons of the trailblazing reality show. Starting Friday night at 8pm MTV will air the first entry in the series, the groundbreaking Real World: New York, followed by the booze and sex soaked Las Vegas season Saturday at 2pm, and rounded out by the Puck and Pedro-fronted season three, Real World: San Francisco, beginning 8am Sunday. While we applaud the selection of NY and SF as 66.6% of the marathon, we cannot support the further promulgation of Las Vegas, especially at the expense of more worthy, important, less debaucherous seasons like Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle, or even the underrated Miami.
Choosing New York to lead off the marathon is a no-brainer. It was not just the first season of the long-running series, it defined what the series would be. Like Richard Hatch on the maiden season of Survivor, The Real World: New York set the mold for what this show would be, and, in many ways, set the course for Reality TV for the next twenty years. It’s cultural relevance and impact cannot be understated. Likewise for San Francisco, which was even more captivating and controversial for its inclusion of Pedro, an HIV positive Cuban-American, and Puck, a bellicose bike messenger with questionable hygiene and even more questionable social skills. This season – with its portrayal of a gay man (living, not dying) with AIDS and the caustic, boorish punk who alienated his housemates to the point of eviction – truly launched the show, and as well as awareness of the deadly disease, into the public consciousness, establishing The Real World as an MTV institution and a cultural phenomenon with immense significance. Nearly ten years later, Las Vegas began to undo everything that San Francisco and its peers has established.