On March 27, the classic MTV series, The Real World, returns to the Pacific Northwest after a 15-ear absence. The series will be called Real World: Portland, and this is the show's 28th season. On the surface, it seems that things haven’t changed much since 1998: there are still seven strangers, there is still a house, and there are still plenty of cameras and bottles of alcohol to go around.
But in place of the broody generation Xers, there are now a bunch of bright young millennials, and this could set the show apart from the countless imitators that have spawned over the years.
There is sure to be the same sort of drama that you could find on any documentary-style reality show, with previews of young love and clashing personalities already available on MTV.com. But here are a few of the ways that the influence of millennial culture could transform the show from forgettable to iconic.
1. The internet is now the 8th roommate
In 2011, during The Real World: Las Vegas, Dustin’s secret past as a live webcam porn star was revealed through an email and a quick online search. The reach of the internet into the lives of young adults had been hinted on the show before, with emails sometimes showing up as plot devices, but Dustin’s outing confirmed and cemented its influence. On a trailer for the upcoming season, the male cast members gawk at a nude picture of a roommate on the Playboy website — possibly just the beginning of the internet’s role on the show.
2. The house is decorated ironically
In place of flannel and alt-rock, there are antlers and mason jars. By choosing to film in Portland and fill the house with Etsy trinkets, it’s clear that MTV is hoping to capitalize on the hipster subculture. When the franchise tried out something similar in Seattle and its grunge-influenced scene, the city did not like it. It should be interesting to see how Portland responds to the treatment. Maybe they will play along, you know, ironically.
3. It is now a consequence-free environment
In Seattle, Stephen slapped his roommate Irene and the show ground to a halt as the producers and cast worked through the violent moment and decided on an appropriate punishment for Stephen. During the latest season of The Challenge, there was an altercation nearly every episode, with male and female cast members alike shoving, hitting, screaming, and throwing things. Not a single incident was addressed by the show’s production team. It seems that the newest cast, like many millennials, will not have to worry about silly things like institutional discipline or structure.
Tune in on Wednesday to see for yourself if the show makes the most of its millennial cast or simply tries to relive its previous glory around the younger kids, like the alum that crashes a dorm party. In the meantime, check out MTV.com for more information on the show and the new roommates.