This is the true story of seven strangers…

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.