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Real World’ returns to town to embarrass us all

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Illustration: Wes Gatbonton

In 2002, the first Las Vegas edition of MTV’s pioneering reality show The Real World had a significant impact on both the series and the city: It cemented the Palms as the cool place in Vegas for young people to party (and served as an important catalyst for the “What happens here, stays here” era) while completing the show’s transition from a sometimes thoughtful look at the lives of early-20-somethings into a full-on celebration of drunken hookups and shouting matches. Those dubious accomplishments loom large over the new season of The Real World, as the show returns to Vegas for its 25th edition, this time housing its cast at the Hard Rock Hotel.

The Details

The Real World: Las Vegas
One star
Wednesdays, 10 p.m., MTV

Long gone are any pretensions to seriousness or introspection; the first episode wastes little time in getting the cast members out to nightclubs to drink too much and pick up loose local ladies, who are then lured back to the group’s luxuriously tacky hotel suite for hot-tubbing and other salacious activities. It also takes barely any time at all for two of the roommates to jump into bed together, while the rest of the cast (including the token sheltered, small-town guy) engages in incessant crude innuendo.

Years of selecting only the most vapid, emotionally unstable people has turned The Real World into a cesspool of vile hypocrisy, and the new season makes the original Vegas cast look like a bunch of saints and scholars. Instead of showing the vibrancy of Vegas, the show merely reinforces every gross stereotype—there’s no indication of any existence outside of hotel rooms, nightclubs and casinos, nor even a sense of the complexities of those environments. The producers aren’t interested in anything that doesn’t come in a shot glass or a miniskirt.

The previews for the rest of the season show a parade of sloppy sexcapades and angry showdowns, although presumably somewhere in there the cast members will get around to their job in the Hard Rock’s marketing department. There’s no reason to expect any redeeming qualities to emerge from these people, whose goals seem limited to shedding as many inhibitions as possible. The emotional manipulation and arrogance on display (especially from the men) is staggering, with every action geared toward scoring as much camera time as possible. The only publicity the struggling Hard Rock (not to mention the city itself) is likely to get out of this show is the wrong kind.

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