The Real World
The real world title card
The Real World logo used for the first 28 seasons
Genre Reality
Created by Mary-Ellis Bunim

Jonathan Murray

Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 29
No. of episodes 564
Gil Goldschein
Jacquelyn French
Jim Johnston
Jonathan Murray
Producer(s) George Verschoor
Matt Kunitz
Rick de Oliveira
Anthony Dominici
Russell Heldt
Ted Kenney
Ken Chien
Running time 30 minutes (1992–2008)

1 hour (2008–present)

Bunim/Murray Productions

Banijay Entertainment

Original channel MTV
Picture format 480i (SDTV) (1992–2008)

1080i (HDTV) (2009–present)

Related shows Road Rules

The Challenge

External links
Official website
Production website
The Real World is a reality television program on MTV originally produced by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray. First broadcast in 1992, the show, which was inspired by the 1973 PBS documentary series An American Family, is the longest-running program in MTV history and one of the longest-running reality series in history, credited with launching the modern reality TV genre. The series was hailed in its early years for depicting issues of contemporary young-adulthood relevant to its core audience, such as sex, prejudice, religion, abortion, illness, sexuality, AIDS, death, politics, and substance abuse, but later garnered a reputation as a showcase for immature and irresponsible behavior. Following Bunim’s death from breast cancer in 2004, Bunim/Murray Productions continues to produce the program. The 29th and most recent season, set in San Francisco, premiered on January 8, 2014, and ended its first run on April 7, 2014. An upcoming 30th season, set in Chicago, is expected to premiere later in 2014 or early-2015. The series has generated two notable spin-offs, both broadcast by MTV: Road Rules, which lasted for 14 seasons (1995–2007), and the ongoing reality game show The Challenge (originally known as Road Rules: All Stars before being renamed Real World/Road Rules Challenge after both its precursors), which has run for over 20 seasons since 1998. The Challenge is mostly cast-contestant dependent on both The Real World and Road Rules, as it combines contestants from various seasons of both shows.


The Real World was inspired by the 1973 PBS documentary series An American Family. It focuses on the lives of a group of strangers who audition to live together in a house for several months, as cameras record their interpersonal relationships. The show moves to a different city each season. The footage shot during the housemates’ time together was edited into 22-minute episodes for the first 19 seasons, and into 44-minute episodes beginning with The Real World: Hollywood, the series' 20th season. The narration given over the opening title sequence by the seven housemates states some variation of the following:

"This is the true story... of seven strangers... picked to live in a together and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real...The Real World."

The Real World was originally inspired by the popularity of youth-oriented shows of the 1990s like Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place. Bunim and Murray initially considered developing a scripted series in a similar vein, but quickly decided that the cost of paying writers, actors, costume designers, and make-up artists was too high. Bunim and Murray decided against this idea, and at the last minute, pulled the concept (and the cast) before it became the first season of the show. Tracy Grandstaff, one of the original seven picked for what has come to be known as "Season 0",[citation needed] went on to minor fame as the voice of the animated Beavis and Butt-head character Daria Morgendorffer, who eventually got her own spinoff, Daria. Dutch TV producer Erik Latour claims that the ideas for The Real World were directly derived from his television show Nummer 28, which aired in 1991 on Dutch television. Bunim/Murray decided upon the cheaper idea of casting a bunch of "regular people" to live in an apartment and taping their day-to-day lives, believing seven diverse people would have enough of a basis upon which to interact without scripts. The production converted a massive, 4000-square-foot duplex in Soho, cast seven cast members from 500 applicants, paid them $2,600 for their time on the show. The cast lived in the loft from February 16 to May 18, 1992. The series premiered three days later, on May 21, 1992.

At the time of its initial airing, reviews of the show were mostly negative. Matt Roush, writing in USA Today, characterized the show as "painfully bogus," and a cynical and exploitative new low in television, commenting, "Watching The Real World, which fails as documentary (too phony) and as entertainment (too dull), it's hard to tell who's using who more." The Washington Post's Tom Shales commented, "Ah to be young, cute, and stupid, and to have too much free time...Such is the lot facing the wayward wastrels of The Real World, something new in excruciating torture from the busy minds at MTV." Shales also remarked upon the cast members’ creative career choices, saying, "You might want to think about getting a real job."

Nonetheless, the series was a hit with viewers. One early sign of the show’s popularity occurred on the October 2, 1993 episode of the sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live, which parodied the second-season Los Angeles cast's recurring arguments over cliquism, prejudice and political differences.

The show also gained widespread attention with its third season, The Real World: San Francisco, which aired in 1994, and depicted the conflict between David "Puck" Rainey, a bicycle messenger criticized for his poor personal hygiene, and his roommates, most notably AIDS activist Pedro Zamora. As the show increased in popularity, Zamora’s life as someone living with AIDS gained considerable notice, garnering widespread media attention. Zamora was one of the first openly gay men with AIDS to be portrayed in popular media, and after his death on November 11, 1994 (mere hours after the final episode of his season aired), he was lauded by then-President Bill Clinton. Zamora’s friend and roommate during the show, Judd Winick, went on to become a successful comic book writer, and wrote the Eisner Award-nominated graphic novel Pedro and Me, about his friendship with Zamora, as well as high-profile and controversial storylines in mainstream superhero comics that featured gay and AIDS-related themes. Zamora's conflicts with Rainey were not only considered emotional high points for that season, but are credited with making The Real World a hit show, and with proving that the infant "reality" television format was one that could bring considerable ratings to a network. By July 1995, the series surpassed Beavis and Butt-head as the network's top-rated show during the fourth season, The Real World: London.


Season # Title City Year(s) Aired Number of Episodes
1 The Real World: New York New York 1992 13
2 The Real World: Los Angeles Los Angeles, California 1993 21
3 The Real World: San Francisco San Francisco, California 1994 20
4 The Real World: London London, England 1995 23
5 The Real World: Miami Miami, Florida 1996 22
6 The Real World: Boston Boston, Massachusetts 1997 23
7 The Real World: Seattle Seattle, Washington 1998 20
8 The Real World: Hawaii Honolulu, Hawaii 1999 23
9 The Real World: New Orleans New Orleans, Louisiana 2000 23
10 The Real World: Back to New York New York City, New York 2001 22
11 The Real World: Chicago Chicago, Illinois 2002 24
12 The Real World: Las Vegas Las Vegas Valley 2002–2003 28
13 The Real World: Paris Paris, France 2003 25
14 The Real World: San Diego San Diego, California 2004 26
15 The Real World: Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2004–2005 26
16 The Real World: Austin Austin, Texas 2005 24
17 The Real World: Key West Key West, Florida 2006 25
18 The Real World: Denver Denver, Colorado 2006–2007 28
19 The Real World: Sydney Sidney, Australia 2007–2008 24
20 The Real World: Hollywood Los Angeles, California 2008 13
21 The Real World: Brooklyn New York City, New York 2009 13
22 The Real World: Cancun Cancún, Mexico 2009 12
23 The Real World: D.C. Washington, D.C. 2009–2010 14
24 The Real World: New Orleans New Orleans, Louisiana 2010 12
25 The Real World: Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nevada 2011 13
26 The Real World: San Diego San Diego, California 2011 12
27 The Real World: St. Thomas Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands 2012 12
28 The Real World: Portland Portland, Oregon 2013 12
29 The Real World: Ex-Plosion San Francisco, California 2014 12
30 The Real World: Skeletons Chicago, Illinois 2014-2015 13
31 Real Word: Go Big or Go Home Las Vegas, Nevada 2016 12
32 Real World Seattle: Bad Blood Seattle, Washington 2017 12
33 TBA TBA 2019 TBA
Note: Seasons 1–19 aired 30-minute episodes, while one-hour episodes began airing with season 20.
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