For as long as I’ve been a fan of the show, Real World Las Vegas has been regarded as a turning point for The Real World. The show’s twelfth season changed a lot about the show, and this turned out to be a huge success. Fans were fascinated by the hook ups, the partying, and the drama and this resulted in changes during future seasons.
In case you didn’t know, MTV Classic is airing the original Vegas season right now. It will be on until 8PM tonight, and will resume and complete itself tomorrow from 1-8PM.
Firstly, this cast was beautiful. While the Chicago cast (the prior season) was also good looking, they didn’t quite reach the model status of the Real World Las Vegas. This cast tried to pass Frank off as the nerdy guy, and even he as a rippling six-pack. On current Real World season, it’s expected to see models put on the show. During the show’s first decade, the cast was attractive but regular people. This season definitely kicked it up a notch.
Then, there was the sensationalism of it all. I guess that should be expected for a season based in Las Vegas, but there was a lot of buzz worthy moments this season. Whether it was a threesome, a pregnancy scare, or a fork-flinging fight, there were plenty of moments the keep viewers glued to their TV. However, it seemed the each episode churned out new drama and there were fewer season-long storylines.
This is really the season where drinking and partying became central to the plot. This should be expected in Las Vegas, but moving forward the show relied on alcohol-fuels drama to carry seasons forward. After the Vegas season, the bulk of the Real World seasons were criticized for relying on drunken fights and hook ups, but this is all an attempt to recycle the success of the Vegas season.
Perhaps this was all a strategic move by MTV. Keep in mind, this season aired in 2002/2003. This is when reality TV was really starting to take off and The Real World was the genre’s grandfather. It was a reliable show, but nothing new. Then this season came out and experimented with the formula. The Las Vegas season also seems to be a season that intended to have returning cast members. This was the time when The Challenge was established as an MTV mainstay and it was expected that these roomies would have an opportunity to compete. I’m sure no one expected the cast to have the opportunity to compete twelve years later, but this cast was able to leverage their reality TV experience into future opportunities.
The influence of this season is pretty clear when you watch more recent Real World seasons, but in 2002 & 2003 this season was an exciting change.