On this day in 2008, the final episode of The Real World: Hollywood, a reality television show about seven young adults selected to live together, airs on MTV. Real World: Hollywood marked the 20th season of the pioneering reality program, which debuted in 1992 and went on to become MTV’s longest-running show.
MTV (Music Television) was launched on August 1, 1981, as a channel dedicated to music videos, but by the late 1980s the network had started airing some non-video programming. The Real World, created by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray, premiered in May 1992 with the first season set in New York City. Since that time, subsequent seasons have been filmed in cities around the world, including Boston, Miami, Paris and Sydney. Each season has followed the same basic format: A cast of seven men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 are selected from auditions to have their lives captured on camera while they live together for several months. The housemates are from diverse backgrounds and frequently clash over issues of race, sexuality, politics, love and dirty dishes. Each show opens with cast members reciting the words: “This is the true story… of seven strangers…picked to live in a house…work together and have their lives taped… to find out what happens when people stop being polite…and start getting real.”
Throughout the series, Real World housemates have battled a variety of personal issues, including alcoholism and eating disorders. One of the show’s most notable seasons was the third, Real World: San Francisco, which featured an obnoxious bike messenger named Puck, who frequently clashed with housemate Pedro Zamora, an HIV-positive AIDS educator. At the time, Zamora was one of the first openly gay young people with AIDS to be featured on a mainstream TV program. Zamora died in November 1994, shortly after the show’s season finale aired. He was commended for his activism by then-President Bill Clinton.
After appearing on The Real World, which spawned the spin-off programs Road Rules and Real World/Road Rules Challenge, some cast members have used the show as a springboard to careers in acting, modeling and public speaking.