With full disclosure, I used to be a Real World fiend. Every time I heard the infamous “it’s time to stop getting polite and start getting real” it was like a hit of oxygen straight to my blood stream. I was a nerdy child, living in the suburbs of Chicago and absolutely desperate to leave home and start overpaying my rent. My first exposure to MTV’s Real World was the San Francisco season. To be frank, I mainlined those episodes. I would rush home from my summer lifeguarding job, sit in front of the television and watch in awe of what it meant to be an adult.
This past weekend I needed to find a television show to kill time until it I left the house for the ballet (something a Real Worlder has never said). I came across Hulu Plus’ cadre of old Real World episodes, a weird and wonderful showcase of infantile reality tv. I sat down to relive the glory years of MTV with Season 3. Come with me on a journey to dissect the cast:
Warning! Contains Real World San Francisco plot spoilers.
Before Juan Pablo graced the reality scene, there was Pedro
Pedro Zamora had the handsome face of Desi Arnez and the articulation of a Sorkin character. He was equal parts vulnerable and strong in the face of his struggle with AIDs. Pedro is the most charming person in the cast and he bravely reveals the truth about his life circumstances first to Corey on the train and to the rest of the cast once he gets to the house. I cannot watch the pilot episode of Season 3 with fresh eyes because I know where the story is heading. The pilot reminds us of the few healthy months Pedro had before he got a call from then President Bill Clinton thanking him for service in AIDs education on his death bed.
Oh Corey, you’re so Fresno you don’t even know
Corey rocks her lycra ballet shirt and high waist jeans on the train to San Francisco. We see her praying with her family at the kitchen table before she moves into the Real World house. Even in these early stages of Real World archetypes, it’s clear that Corey will become the fish out of water good girl. Pedro is hesitant at first to tell her he has AIDs, as is the home audience who isn’t quite sure if Corey can handle it. Her reaction is un-stereotypically warm and she shows concern for Pedro’s well-being. Given that Corey will become the insecure uncool girl in the house, it’s sad that the cast and audience didn’t give her enough credit for her acceptance of Pedro right off the bat.
Puck, nominee for worst human being of all time
Puck’s name is synonymous with annoying and brat. It’s clear that he was picked to stir things up with the cast and started off the first episode by landing in jail. Puck relishes in breaking the law and irritating people. Puck is a grown up Bart Simpson minus the Springfield charm.
Judd and Pam
The greatest thing about Judd is how quickly he gets over his crush on fellow cast member Rachel as soon as she mentions her political affiliation. Judd describes himself as a “bed-wetting liberal” and struggling comic. His vibe is mature and friendly and he makes a natural roommate for Pedro. Pedro expresses apprehension that he didn’t want a male roommate but given that these two become best friends in real life, it’s cute to see their pre-friendship jitters. Judd also quickly notices the med student Pam, who rocks a white pirate shirt blouse and a multi-colored vest. Pam, with her red hair streaks and her take no prisoners attitude, easily claims the single room since she will be doing rounds. Do you guys even remember that people on the Real World used to have jobs? Like actual careers? The most adorable part of this episode was watching Judd and Pam interact in a very nonchalant way because the viewers at home know that these two will be getting hitched a few years down the road.
Rachel the Republican
Rachel is the only cast member who is immediately uptight about Pedro’s medical condition. She claims she wishes she could ask him questions but the rest of the cast was too busy worshipping him. Since I have an unnatural love for Pedro, Rachel, I already hate you. She loses everyone on this show when she dabbles in a relationship with Puck. Rachel would go on to marry future Republican congressman Sean Duffy and continue her Puck free life in Wisconsin.
Mohammed, Mohammed, wherever you are
You have to give this guy props for volunteering to live with Puck. Mohammed bills himself as a spiritual kind of guy but signing up for sharing space with The Puck is a down right saintly gesture. He’s the lead singer of a local San Fran band, Midnight Voices, and seems to take life in stride. He does mention that he has a girlfriend in the pilot, suggesting that there will be privacy in the bedroom concerns down the line. Eventually Mohammed fades into the background this season because he’s just so damn normal and chill. The Real World casting team learns their Mohammed lesson and hires crazed oversexed coeds going forward.
Jenni Wright briefly considered applying for the Real World when she was 18. She is eternally grateful that she was too lazy to complete the application. To find more of her writing visit Wine Fill Fix It.