After some union problems were averted, MTV's "The Real World" will now enter its 15th season when it debuts in two weeks, on Sept. 7, in its latest city, Philadelphia.
Earlier in the summer, an MSNBC.com commentary suggested that MTV change the format - or hinted that it should abandon the whole series.
In the first season, which took place in New York, Real World-ers dealt with racism and homeless people. "They cared about each other, and they cared about real issues," said the MSNBC story.
The article suggests more recent casts - such as the one in the series that ended in San Diego last spring -- have been essentially a bunch of slackers, "all with no work ethic or career aspirations except to drink, fool around, and hit the city's clubs."
That sounds good to me. What would you have young 21- to 24-year-olds do? Work for MoveOn.org? And even then, lefties make good drama themselves. This is primetime commercial television, after all, not the The Nation.
Yes, "Real World" cast members seem more like actors these days - or at least trying to become one after leaving the show. Everyone knows the trajectory. Just like with scripted series, reality shows do their own "casting."
Give me some good drama and comedy of young people who can't get along in the same house. Don't give me cause-related story arcs. The article even says the latest bunch of 21- to 24-year olds can't get to work on time - and then trouble ensues. What is more real than that?
I credit MTV's business decision in maintaining the show as a recognizable brand - and one that describes current young adult motivation these days - apathy, anger, and sex. "Real World" has been the harbinger of shows such as "Survivor," "Big Brother," and "The Apprentice" - shows where people get together under one roof and look to backstab each other.
One suggestion: Break the fourth wall and show us the MTV side of the picture. Similar to HBO's "Project Greenlight," where we witnessed Miramax Film executives bickering with each other. Let us observe MTV staff members arguing or having sex or being MTV-cool.
It would be as brave of MTV to do this - as showing us lesbian kissing among major pop female singers during big award shows.
What I really want out of a show such as "Real World," is what I want from my big, bad, fat McDonalds' French fries: consistency, and partially hydrogenated apolitical gratification.