Silver Chips Online

Give us something "real"

By Melissa Haniff, Online Managing Editor
June 26, 2010
On June 30, MTV will premiere its twenty-fourth season of "The Real World"; it will be the second season to take place in New Orleans, Louisiana. Over the years, The Real World has addressed many serious and prominent issues, including AIDS, addiction, homosexuality, racism and politics. Similarly to another MTV series, "True Life," the fact that many people can relate to Real World cast members is a huge part in why the show has been so successful over its last 23 seasons.

Real World: Back to New Orleans premieres this Wednesday, June 30th on MTV. Courtesy of MTV Networks
Real World: Back to New Orleans premieres this Wednesday, June 30th on MTV.
In past seasons, The Real World has captivated its viewing audience with cast members such as Pedro Zamora from "Real World: San Francisco," Tonya Cooley from "Real World: Chicago" and Trishelle Cannatella from "Real World: Las Vegas." All of these cast members and the cast members from other seasons have been controversial in their own way. Zamora opened doors for gay men living with AIDS because he was one himself and he used The Real World to promote activism for his cause. Cooley had a reputation for being dramatic and seemingly judgmental on her season, while Cannatella was known for her beauty and relationship with fellow roommate Steven Hill.

But as the series enters its twenty-fourth season, the elements of the show that once captured audiences by storm have slowly lost their shine. The personalities of the cast members have become predictable, and so have the steamy hookups and the drunken arguments that frequently erupt.

In the last few seasons, especially the last one, "Real World: D.C.," the ratings and viewership statistics for the show have dropped. According to NBC Washington, only 1.9 million viewers watched the season premiere of "Real World: D.C.," whereas in previous seasons, including "Real World: Austin," ratings reached 4 million viewers for the season premiere. The Real World entertainment that once stemmed from the craziness of the roommates no longer keeps viewers satisfied especially after D.C., in which drama was limited to a departed roommate and cast members trying to further their careers.

MTV's response to the drop in ratings resulted in a new season in the heart of the Big Easy, with cast members such as the "liberal Muslim" Sahar, who wants to distance herself from her conservative community, and the "boy's boy" Knight, who's had to deal with a battle with prescription painkillers. The New Orleans cast is supposed to make up for the lack of entertainment, i.e. sex, drinking and roommate drama, that was so ungraciously left out of last season. The location of this season is also supposed to provide excitement, considering that the show was filmed during Mardi Gras and during the NFL season in which the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl.

However notorious New Orleans is for its partying, the cast members' wildness has just become another expected element of the show. It's getting old, and the show's predictability could be its downfall. Viewers are looking for some sparkle something to keep us watching every week.

The show itself has provided its viewing audience with everything they want to keep them hooked to their TV screens and wanting more. But unless "Real World: New Orleans" can satisfy audiences to keep them passionate about the show, The Real World and its role as MTV's greatest guilty pleasure may soon need to be retired.