If people are correct when they theorize that these are the end days for the world, the newest season of the Real World will signal the absolute peak of where reality TV can go, and thus give everyone the epitaph they need.

The show has now hit two decades – that is twenty years of kids who are now old people who never ever decided to do something with their lives in lieu of trying to take that “reality fame gamble” somewhere other than the show. It always confused me that people would want to be on this show, especially these last few seasons when the people were obviously being exploited. After all, maybe four people have ever transitioned it to something else (Kevin from season 1 = writer/possible senator; Jacinda from England = indie actress; The Miz = WWE tag team champion and, if you want to count Eric from season 1, or Tonya who hosted a dance show and did Cinemax porn, respectively) – everyone else who tries, burns out and lets their ashes reside in Real World/Road Rules Challenges.

So, I guess what always bothered me was the fact that while everyone wanted to be on the show for the sole purpose of transitioning to celebrity-status, there was always a presentation to it that made the show seem like some great “coming of age” happening in their lives. But the newest Real World has finally abandoned anything that could be related to normalcy. It has given up on kids just trying to have an “experience” and it has leapt right into the thick of truth by locating the show in Hollywood, where every single one of them wants to be famous.

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This move by the creators is pure genius. We, as the viewers, want to do two things with this show: be entertained and laugh at the people who decided to sign up. Within two episodes, Real World: Hollywood has accomplished this in spades.

There’s Joey, a spiky haired, overtly buff Guido who wants to be an actor. There’s Sarah, freshly 21, out of college and a budding broadcast journalist with a boyfriend whom she cheated on the first night there. Brianna is, I believe, an albino stripper who wants to be a signer and has a boyfriend that ended with a warrant. Kimberly is a hayseed who is unsure of other races and wants to be a reporter on Extra. William is a rapper/dancer/producer who will probably be looked at as a carbon copy if Will I Am if he gets any sort of fame. David is a jock/frat boy and so bland I forgot what his dream is.

But Greg though, is MTV’s masterwork. He is so over the top that he cannot possibly be a real person. Greg is a wannabe male model with a deep voice who was supposedly picked by the internet. His screen name is “pretty boy”. He is at times both insanely over the top in his arrogance and also crippled with low self esteem. It is such an extreme character that it can only be an acted. Greg stirs the drink on the show, and with everyone swirling in stupidity and overacting, he sits in the middle, calling everyone around him “peasants.”

It is what it is, which I guess is a production steeped in imagery, product placement; in short, it is paper thin shallow. For that, it is an exact mirror of how we are now. People who trash the show for casting the lowest common denominator always seem to forget that everyone who has been on that show is someone you know in your own life. At this point, we all have to realize that the concept of “pseudo celebrity” is so powerful that we are swallowed in it. If an uncertain economy, a hopeless war, rising gas prices, no cure yet for cancer/AIDS, the feeling that no matter who we elect we will never win…if none of those factors can sustain our attention for more than two seconds, then the only choice is to stand back, and let people decide to give a shit about who was voted out from Dancing with the Stars/Idol/Survivor. And for that, possibly the Real World should be looked at as both a low point for society and a high water mark for personal escapism and comfort. Because of this, the newest season of the Real World, set in the epicenter of all the unimportant bullshit people care about, can be looked at as the greatest season in its history because, when they removed all the pretense, then there is nothing else to do than let it burn and invite everyone over.

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