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Chasing The American Dream

August 07, 2005


You probably shook your head, laughed, scoffed, or wondered in bewilderment why I listed MTV's Real World in my list of 5 TV Shows I watch. I think it started when I was sick one weekend and MTV was running a Real World marathon of season six (Boston). I began watching it and some 20 or so hours later, I'd seen the whole season and was hooked. Since then I think I've seen eight of the ten seasons. I usually catch weekend marathons and, like Boston, end up watching the entire season in one weekend.

So why am I hooked on this seemingly juvenile reality show? I guess it's similar to why I'm not afraid to admit I listen to singers like Avril Lavigne or Michelle Branch. Sure they're attractive, have an overly 'poppy' sound, but they sing and write songs with meaning and issues I relate to. Real World is the same way. There are some catchy tunes along with pretty girls and hunky guys drinking, partying, blowing off work, fighting, etc. But there are often storylines and issues that are indeed real and close to home for me. And it may surprise you, but some of the cast members are quite intelligent and mature beyond their years.

In the current season (Austin), the cameras capture an emotional moment when Danny learns from his father that his mother has just died. Sure, I cried. If you've never lost a parent, I guess it's hard to describe that feeling when you've been told. I found this episode very reassuring as Danny's housemates tried to console him. One of them, Nehemiah, had something very profound to say, and it made me really think. He said, "A part of life that we have to accept is knowing that tomorrow wasn't promised."


  • Very true. Like you, I am an avid watcher of RW. I believe my infatuation with the show began the season before Boston.... I believe it was Miami? Anyway, I just saw that episode today. I started bawling when they recapped Danny's conversation w/ his mom four days before. We just never know when something like that is going to happen, and as one of the girls said "It could have been any of our parents." It makes you appreciate your loved ones even if your relationship with them isn't as exactly as ideal as you would want it to be.

    By Anonymous Alexis, at 5:28 PM, August 07, 2005  

  • I used to love RW... but have had a lot of trouble getting into the last few seasons. I found myself anxiously waiting for the 30 minutes to be over... so I just removed it from my TIVO season pass. I may catch up on a weekend marathon sometime :)

    By Blogger girl from florida, at 7:51 AM, August 08, 2005  

  • I hate to be the naysayer, but I am going to go ahead and say that MTV's the Real World has made absolutely no positive contribution to society, modulo perhaps a really funny Saturday Night Live spoof about ten years ago featuring Bob Dole speaking in third person during close-up/off centered face, deep feeling interview sessions about ridiculous goings-on.

    I agree about the value of looking into the lives and stories of others and finding fragments of our own personal experience. I think that fact alone is what makes the novel such a powerful form...it's like pieces of the human experience in the made-up lives of everyman characters.

    Reality TV, on the otherhand, is as far from reality as I can possibly imagine, consisting instead of a bunch of would-be celebrity kids carefully screened for their good-but-not-too-good looks, their eccentric-but-not-offensive personalities and the result is a marketing masterpiece. The networks pay relatively nothing for inhibition-free actors and actresses, they can advertise a glimpse into "real life," the same four synthesizer musicians spew forth the "drama music" and people spend perfectly good time talking about the latest spat between Survivor characters.

    In conclusion (sorry this is so long), reality TV might be worthwhile if it the shows were able to somehow capture real life without the participants/subjects knowing about it, but then we have some privacy issues that fourth amendment (search and seizure?) people might not be happy about.

    By Blogger Kelly, at 11:33 AM, August 08, 2005  

  • Blimey, you must be a real fan if you've just dedicated a whole post to it. I got too into Big Brother this year for my own liking, but have weaned myself off it during the last 2 weeks - it just turned into crass porn. There's a line, and they drew, and crossed it.

    I liked what Nehemiah said. Very insightful.

    By Blogger Sarah, at 11:53 AM, August 08, 2005  

  • one time i was watching a real world marathon one weekend in high school and i went to school on monday feeling like i had just spent a weekend with friends, like i had made new friends. scary things that real world feeds us!

    By Blogger Amanda, at 12:16 PM, August 08, 2005  

  • I wonder if, later in life, that guy (Danny) will regret being on a silly reality show instead of being with his mother during her last days.

    I think our obsession with fame in this society - and the price young (and old) kids are willing to pay for it - is disgusting.

    Just my opinion.

    By Blogger catsteevens, at 5:00 PM, August 08, 2005  

  • Did you watch the show? His mother died of a heart attack. You usually just don't see that coming. In the episode where they introduce the cast mates Danny worked with his father in construction. He (in his words) wanted something better for his life- to get out and see a little bit of the world. I don't know if I would have done it in the form of a reality show- but he did. His choice. And from the looks of it, he didn't exactly have the best relationship with his mother. I'm not making excuses for him- but sometimes we don't always have the "whole" story. She seemed very proud of her son for getting out there and having perhaps, an experience of a lifetime.

    By Anonymous Alexis, at 5:21 PM, August 08, 2005  

  • I'm not such a big fan of "argument as drama" style of tv show. Conflict as drama is ok, but I think there is a difference. Most reality shows don't seem to know the difference. The real world was at least novel when it came out. I suppose it's got lots of imitators now.

    By Blogger Gatsby, at 10:10 PM, August 08, 2005  

  • as much as the real world drives me bonkers, i would love to catch the latest one...though i never ran into them (they didn't exactly frequent the best bars), they did create a little ruckus in this wonderful city. fortunately for me, i found a local group that posts a recap every week. obviously i can't really say, but i think it might be better than the real thing.

    By Blogger R3dcurlz, at 11:27 PM, August 09, 2005  

  • Wouldn't you have had a better time
    watching a Three Stooges marathon?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:41 PM, August 11, 2005  

  • Oh God, I just ran into that VERY episode while channel surfing
    (never seen the show before...stopped watching MTV @ the year 1980). I've never seen such exploitative dreck in my life. Many mornings as I inhale my morning cup of joe in the breakroom
    , my coworkers are avidly rehashing the previous evening's viewing of Survivor, American Idol, and the one with Donald Trump in it (?)- ESPECIALLY odious. What a waste.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:17 PM, August 16, 2005  

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