The Real World is officially back… on Facebook Watch this time. While the season is simply called “Real World Atlanta,” that does not pay respect to the 32 prior seasons of the show. That is a lot of history and a lot of people have viewed the show over the years.
Here is my ranking of all thirty-two prior seasons. This is clearly biased, but I do think I have a decent idea of which seasons are popular and which were poorly received. This is meant to be somewhat fun, but also a nice trip down memory road as we begin a new era for the show.
32. Go Big or Go Home
Go Big or Go Home fused the Real World with physical, social, personal, and psychological challenges. A questionable concept, but the main issues with this season had to do with the casting. The season centered around forced social issues and uncomfortable drama. This is when what happened in Vegas should have stayed in Vegas.
Memorable Roommate: Ceejai
Memorable Moment: Ceejai finally hitting Jenna after a season of trying to be patient.
31. San Diego (2011)
Returning to San Diego was met with excitement, but the end product was less than stellar. It was a series of random outburst held together with Zach & Ashley’s relationship. After a season like Brooklyn, this season felt like social regress in a time when we should have focused on progress.
Memorable Roommate: Frank
Memorable Moment: Zach telling Sam he was going to “beat the gay out of her” and the obvious confrontation that followed.
30. St. Thomas
St. Thomas was never an obvious location, and putting the cast on a secluded island led to cabin fever, prank wars, and failed romances.
Memorable Roommate: Marie
Memorable Moment: Brandon getting kicked of the show for cocaine usage.
29. Bad Blood
Returning to Seattle, Bad Blood had seven original roommates and surprised them with seven of their enemies picked to invade the house. There were so many petty fights and the number of people in the household was actually a determent to many story lines.
Memorable Roommate: Theo
Memorable Moment: The onegoing back and forth between Theo and Kassius leading to a physical altercation where Theo got the boot.
The original boring season, London was the first season abroad. This led to some complications for the Americans who couldn’t work, and the season had notably less drama than the first three.
Memorable Roommate: Jacinda
Memorable Moment: Neil having the tip of his tongue bitten off during a performance.
Season thirteen, originally slated to be filmed in San Diego, was Mary-Ellis Bunim’s dying wish. She always wanted a season in Paris and her wish came true. Despite this sweet sentiment, the season was far from perfect. CT was largely distant from his castmates and half of the season was centered around making a map.
Memorable Roommate: CT
Memorable Moment: The cast learning about President Bush’s plan to invade Iraq while living on foreign soil.
The longest season ever, Denver also felt like a turning point for the series. Since Vegas the show was hyper-focused on partying and college life. Denver was when this format felt really stale and no number of mountain climbs could save the season.
Memorable Roommate: Brooke
Memorable Moment: Brooke’s meltdown when Jenn called her a whore.
This season was a combination of episodes that dragged mixed with some explosive moments. The season-long Colin & Amaya romance and Ruthie’s battle with alcohol abuse where the themes of the season. The season featured some really polarizing characters, so I could see why some people may like this season a lot more.
Memorable Roommate: Ruthie
Memorable Moment: Ruthie driving home drunk during one of the cast’s first nights.
On paper, this season seemed like it should have worked a lot better than it did. Landon & Shavonda were cute, but much of the cast never seemed to click. The show was Karamo Brown’s introduction to the small screen, but he was a much different person than he is today.
Memorable Roommate: Sarah
Memorable Moment: Landon threatening some guests in the house with a knife and a “Huggable” shirt.
23. Washington DC
Some people seem to love this season, others think it’s the most boring season yet. While it did give us Emily & Ty’s odd romance, it also gave us a lot of cast member who were forgettable or unlikable. It was also odd to have a DC season directly after a presidential election.
Memorable Roommate: Emily
Memorable Moment: Ty pushing Andrew off the balcony onto concrete.
Similar to Denver, it seems like this season was clinging to the popularity of the party seasons. This season did have some memorable moments and some really likable cast members. It also had some vile cast members and ugly moments. However, it was nice to see the show film in the land down under.
Memorable Roommate: Kellyanne
Memorable Moment: Trisha getting the boot after shoving Parisa
A transitional season, and a point where the Real World was in serious danger of cancellation. Johnny and Averey were a memorable couple, but Nia seriously shook things up when she came into the house. She was essentially the star of the season, causing some type of drama with everyone in the house, boiling into a huge fight with Johnny and Averey.
Memorable Roommate: Nia
Memorable Moment: aNIAlation
After Brooklyn, it was time to immerse the show back into the party life. This season was pretty wild and had most of the drama we wanted. However, the odd choice to make the cast members Spring Break employees rather than Spring Break partiers was an odd twist in the season.
Memorable Roommate: Ayiiia
Memorable Moment: Joey and Ayiiia’s constant fighting, leading to him spitting in her tacos.
19. Key West
An interesting cast filled with fragile cast members and a couple of bullies. This season did deal with some serious issues such as Paula’s eating disorders and some comical issues like Svetlana questioning her boyfriend’s sexuality because Tyler’s partner was so masculine.
Memorable Roommate: Paula
Memorable Moment: The cast having to survive hurricane Wilma as it tore up Key West.
The first season where the cast had any type of regulated work, Miami had a good blend of cast members. You can thank the Miami season for introducing one of the first cast members to appear on the show for attention and for introducing the us to three-way scandals.
Memorable Roommate: Flora
Memorable Moment: Flora breaking the bathroom window trying to spy on Mike as he had a threesome.
As far as the Real World goes, Austin is a polarizing season. Casual viewers fell in love with Danny & Melinda while hardcore fans of the series felt this season was repetitive. However, it’s undeniable that Austin left a serious mark on the series and its legacy continues through Wes on The Challenge.
Memorable Roommate: Danny
Memorable Moment: The unfortunate passing of Danny’s mother that ended up bringing him closer to Melinda.
After a long series of party-based seasons, the Brooklyn season featured a more socially-conscious cast. It had a veteran, the first openly transgender roommate, and a religious and conservative Mormon. The season was effective in bringing many social issue to light though it did drag toward the end.
Memorable Roommate: Ryan
Memorable Moment: Kaitlynn revealing her gender identity to her castmates.
15. Back to New York
This season introduced us to The Miz and Coral, one becoming a huge WWE star and the other becoming a legend on The Challenge. While two big names got a start on this season, other cast members kind of disappeared. This season tackled some social issues, particularly challenging Mike’s view on African Americans in the new millennium, and was filmed in NYC shortly before the 9/11 attacks.
Memorable Roommate: Coral
Memorable Moment: Coral’s argument with Jisela during a roommate vacation.
The Hollywood season seems to be one of the most forgotten, though it was also very impactful. Between Joey’s battle with substance abuse and Brianna’s legal issues, this season had some somber undertones. Of course, Greg came into the season ready to fight and stir the pot while his unsuspecting roommates had to deal with his bullshit.
Memorable Roommate: Brianna
Memorable Moment: Joey admitting he had a drug problem and asking for help.
By season 29, the “strangers picked to live in a house” shtick got a little old. So, this season brought in (almost) everyone’s ex as a twist. It was shocking, entertaining, and surprisingly well executed. For a moment in time, this revived an otherwise dying series.
Memorable Roommate: Jenny
Memorable Moment: The roommates coming back home only to be greeted by five exes.
Moving to the Windy City, this season featured a diverse cast with interesting background stories. Most notably were Tonya, an orphan suffering health issues, and Aneesa, a lesbian who loved to be nude. There were many interesting story lines throughout this season, but nothing compared to the sense of comradery that formed when the cast were filmed on September 11, 2001.
Memorable Roommate: Tonya
Memorable Moment: The cast reacting to the 9/11 attacks.
11. Los Angeles
The second season (and surprisingly the season that inspired Road Rules) featured a diverse cast and plenty of drama. It had the first lesbian cast member, dealt with body image issues and abortion, and had an alleged assault case. Most fans just know this season because of Beth, but there’s so much more to be seen on this season.
Memorable Roommate: Tami
Memorable Moment: David pulling off Tami’s blanket, leading to assault accusations and David leaving the show.
Similar to Bad Blood, this season forced roommates to deal with their past grievances. However the season was much more effective as it typically introduced one skeleton at a time and built cohesive stories around each skeleton. This was the Real World twist at its best.
Memorable Roommate: Madison
Memorable Moment: Madison reveal he past issues with drug abuse and having support from her then-boyfriend Tony.
This season is notable for blending the ultra liberal with the ultra conservative. I mean, just look at Sean Duffy now. Fans would cling to cool roommates like Syrus, the ultra-feminist Montana or the iinnocent Elka.
Memorable Roommate: Montana
Memorable Moment: Montana getting fired from the casts’ job because she let a kid try wine.
8. New Orleans
A great blend of personalities, the New Orleans season mixed issues surrounding racism with homosexuality and racism with modern religious issue. The cast also had a cool job working for a local TV station which allowed David to sing his iconic “c’mon be my baby tonight” for tens of New Orleanians.
Memorable Roommate: Danny
Memorable Moment: Having Danny’s boyfriend Paul appear on the show only to have his face blurred because he was in the military during the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” era.
7. New Orleans (2010)
The return to New Orleans felt like a rebirth for The Real World, returning to an iconic city with a fresh cast. This season gave us Knight & Jemmye and one of the cringiest rivalries of all time between Ryan and Preston.
Memorable Roommate: Jemmye
Memorable Moment: When Ryan called the police on Preston who scrubbed the toilet with his toothbrush.
The first season where two roommates knew each other prior, Seattle won the hearts of viewers with its relatable roommates and shocking story lines. Between David’s romance with a producer to Lindsay’s friend committing suicide, there was always something happening this season. Yet it never felt over the top.
Memorable Roommate: Stephen
Memorable Moment: Stephen slapping Irene when she left the house.
5. Las Vegas (2011)
Returning to Sin City, this season upped the ante when it came to drama but assembled an equally likable cast when compared to the first season. Fans loved the flings between Dustin & Heather, Leroy & Naomi, and Nany & Adam then the drama the ensued.
Memorable Roommate: Dustin
Memorable Moment: Heather discovering Dustin’s past in gay porn.
4. San Diego
The original San Diego season assembled one of the most likable casts of all time. A mix of relatable and dramatic, every week increased the viewers’ investments in the cast. This season had its share of partying mixed with a little punk rock.
Memorable Roommate: Frankie
Memorable Moment: Brad and Robin getting arrested on the same night.
3. New York
The first season, and perhaps the inventor of reality television, New York demonstrated how a simple format could be incredibly interesting. This season had its share of racial discussions, roommate bonding, and romantic topics. Seems simple now, but it was a huge revolution in 1992.
Memorable Roommate: Julie
Memorable Moment: Julie and Kevin’s argument surrounding racism after Kevin allegedly threatened Julie.
2. Las Vegas
It took twelve seasons to get to Vegas, but it was a natural evolution for the show. This season was fueled by hook ups and drama, but viewers fell in love with the cast. Between fork-flinging, pregnancy scares, and threesomes, this season showed Sin City in all of its glory and breathed new life into The Real World.
Memorable Roommate: Trishelle
Memorable Moment: Trishelle’s pregnancy scare with Steven.
1. San Francisco
The season that threw The Real World into the limelight, San Francisco was more progressive than any other season. It featured Pedro, a HIV positive man who would advocate for awareness toward HIV, AIDS, and safe sex. He clashed with bad-boy Puck but found respect from his conservative roommate Rachel.
Memorable Roommate: Pedro
Memorable Moment: Pedro marrying Sean, knowing his time was limited.
Which season was your favorite? Where do you think Real World Atlanta will rank?