Review: ‘The Real World’

MTV, the arbiter of style and music for today's younger generation, has come up with another winning idea in this half-hour reality drama tracking the lives of seven people living together.

MTV, the arbiter of style and music for today’s younger generation, has come up with another winning idea in this half-hour reality drama tracking the lives of seven people living together.

MTV went out and found seven attractive, hip, twentysomething people and thrust them together in a happening Manhattan apartment so the network could film their every move. Result is a compelling, immensely interesting and thoroughly addicting 30 minutes of television.

Admittedly, the seven chosen for this video soap opera experiment are not your typical bunch. But, what has MTV done before that has been typical? Of the four guys and three girls in “The Real World,” one is a rap artist with a gold record, another a seemingly successful male model and another a partner in design business.

However, of this street-smart collection of hipsters, one sticks out: Julie, a 19-year old from Birmingham, who left her parents to move to New York, much against the family’s desire. It’s not until she’s leaving, with MTV’s cameras rolling, that she and her father start talking about their differences.

It’s Julie’s innocence in the big city that sets her apart. Her father doesn’t like blacks, though two of her apartment mates are black. Her somewhat stereotypical outlook stands out from the onset. For example, as the group sits around a table introducing themselves, rapper Heather’s beeper goes off. As Heather goes for the device, Julie asks her if she sells drugs.

Heather, initially offended by the comment, eventually decides to help teach Julie about African Americans. The others also show Julie the ropes in the Big Apple.

Done in the “traditional” MTV style of music-laden quick cuts with head-on interviews, the program is mesmerizing. It’s “Cops” without the police and violence.

Watching these real relationships unfold and develop is enticing. They talk and react together and then comment about each other when alone with MTV. Eric, a model, cares too much about his looks, says one of the others. Standing on the sidelines, Rebecca muses that Eric and Julie seem to have something between them.

Despite MTV’s cameras being along to record their every move as well as their phone calls, this group is surprisingly candid with their feelings and actions. Videographers are with them at all times, while walking, talking and even washing. Thus, the participants deliver a realistic portrait of life in this MTV loft. Using that footage, MTV’s editors and producers put together a very watchable program.

Smartly, MTV is packaging the first two episodes for the program’s first outing, giving viewers a chance to meet the participants and then see how things unfold.

The Real World

(Thurs. (21), 10-10:30 p.m., MTV)


Taped on location in New York City by Bunim-Murray Prods. in association with MTV. Executive producers, Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray; executive in charge of production, Lauren Corrao; co-executive in charge of production, Eileen Katz; producer, George Verschoor; directors, Rob Fox, Bill Richmond.


Editor, Alan Cohn; associate producer, Danielle Faraldo; production manager, Ellen Lewis; director of photography, Russell Fine; camera, Oren Rudavsky, Alan Locke.


Cast: Rebecca, Andre, Norman, Julie, Kevin, Eric, Heather B.
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