This weekend MTV has been showing past Real World seasons. I never watched religiously, but would catch up on marathon weekends. Right now Real World: San Francisco is on. It’s great to see Rachel Campos-Duffy. It’s great to see a conservative on reality TV who isn’t a cliche of what casting directors think conservatives are. Not too long ago I interviewed her and husband, who she met on MTV’s Road Rules.
It’s hard to believe the San Francisco season happened almost 20 years ago. A couple things struck me while watching this season on a lazy Sunday afternoon:
- Almost everyone has a job or goal. Rachel is applying for grad school. Pam is doing residency at a local hospital. Judd is a cartoonist. Pedro is an activist who speaks at high schools and colleges about being HIV positive. Even Puck, the first one to be kicked out of a Real World house, was a bike messenger with dreams to do more.
- There is almost no *bleeping*. That is, no cursing.
- People are dating. Judd has casually dated a few women. I don’t mean the “casually dating” we know from modern Real World seasons, like random hook-ups and no committment. They’re playing pool, going out, meeting one another’s friends, and getting to know one another.
- The ones who are in relationships — Pedro, Pam, Muhammad — aren’t cheating or wrestling with cheating. When Muhammad decides he doesn’t want to be in a relationship, they talk and break-up like adults.
All of these things are stark contrast to the reality shows on MTV now (Buckwild, Jersey Shore, and Real World: Portland, which starts this week). As it turns out, San Francisco in the 90s is a lot more conservative than young people are now. Or at least the young people we now see on MTV.