Did The Real World beget Facebook? That’s the theory put forth by Details‘ Jeff Gordinier in his think piece on MTV’s ur-reality series which is in its improbable twentieth season.
After explaining how the series created "a New America," Gordinier writes:
In 1995 a paperback titled The Real Real World
was published to capitalize on the success of the first four seasons of the show: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London. A few pages were devoted to the cast members from each season, studded with grainy snapshots and factoids. Flip through the book today and contemplate Kat’s favorite song (“Africa,” by Toto), Puck’s favorite snack (“Nuts, exotic ones”), and Becky’s preferred mode of transportation (“I usually walk”), and it doesn’t take long to realize that you’re looking at an early, analog blueprint for a social-networking site: the beta version of Facebook. “We’re living in an age where everyone has to be famous,” [MTV's Brian] Graden says. “There’s a current belief that every small thing I do is fascinating, so I’m going to share it with all my friends."
In the spirit of sharing, here’s a video posted on Details‘ website that brings together some of the show’s notable former cast members (Puck! Melissa! Jon! "The Miz"! Others you may have heard of!). Highlights include Puck still mocking housemate Pedro Zemora having AIDS fourteen years after his death and one bikini-clad cast-member deadpanning, "I love Jews."
Then there’s the one who sums up the whole Real World experience in one deft sentence: "I wish, I was, like, smarter when I did it."
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