America’s oldest and longest-running reality TV show starts its first Portland-based season on Wednesday night. “The Real World Portland” airs on MTV at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
In each season of “The Real World,” seven young adults are chosen to live together in high-end housing and to be filmed around the clock for several months.
When “The Real World” first debuted in 1992, the term “reality TV” had not yet entered the popular vernacular, and many critics and viewers saw the show as ground-breaking. In its early years the show tackled the challenges of becoming an adult. Acclaim crew in the third season, when cast member Pedro Zamora became one of the first people with AIDS to be widely featured in popular media.
In recent years, however, the critics have largely soured on the show, which now exists in a television landscape awash with similar programming. Oregonian columnist Kristi Turnquist wrote that the upcoming season reveals more about the exhibitionist nature of reality television than it does about Portland.
MTV’s marketing department offers this take on upcoming episodes: “Living in the trendy Pearl District, filled with cool bars, coffee shops, food trucks, and bicyclists, these roommates quickly immerse themselves in Portland culture, working in two of the city’s hippest local eateries. In a town whose slogan is to stay weird, this cast is truly inspired to be themselves and to get real no matter the cost. With such individuality around them, these roommates blaze their own trail.”