Remember early 1993? Kurt Cobain was still alive, the AIDS epidemic was, arguably, at its height, and I was wearing flannel and reading Sassy. I'd say it was a happy time, except for the fact that it totally wasn't; recession notwithstanding, I was also a senior in high school, and as such, stuck in a living hell. On the other side of town, less than twenty miles away, however, MTV embarked on the second season of The Real World, which was another kind of hell entirely. To wit:
The first episode begins not with the familiar fish bowl, seven strangers, polite/real dichotomy fishcakes, but with advice from the New York cast interspersed with introductions to the Los Angeles group. I suppose, at the time, this was a clever way to kick off the second season, but right now, it's making it very hard for me to decipher where, exactly, the New York cast reunion ends, and the Los Angeles season begins. So I'm just going to pick a moment and go with it.
We meet Dominic, a spiky-haired Irish guy first. Dominic's kind of punky-looking -- leather jacket, the aforementioned hair, a Johnny Rotten t-shirt, the works. I admit, I dig the accent. Also, because he's Irish, and because this is MTV, where stereotypes go to die, we find out that he likes to drink. He likes to drink a lot. Dom clambers into a Winnebago, and informs us that he's driving all the way across the country to pick up a bunch of people he's never met before. And thus a small seed of an idea is planted in the collective heads of Bunim, Murray, et al: the germ of a plan which eventually spawned the other TV-As-a-Human-Train-Wreck phenomenon -- Road Rules. More or less. Anyway, Dom blabbers that he hopes the cast will get along. Heather, from New York, pops in at this point and predicts, with stunning psychic powers, that "somebody's gonna leave ahead of time." Of course, this happens almost every season, but she couldn't know that then, could she? Heather rocks the house. Next, Eric "The Grind" Nies, clad in a God-awful grungy plaid thing and a backwards "Newsies"-style cap, primly advises the Los Angeles cast to "be themselves." Wow, Eric, that's really great advice from an insider, and totally not something everyone has already heard from their Mom twelve thousand times already.
So Dom revs up the Winnie and takes off for the airport, emoting the whole time that he doesn't know what the person he's going to pick up looks like, if that person is black or white, a man or a woman, gay or straight, religious or atheist, if they'll get along, because, you know, they're just these perfect strangers, sent to live in a house. He wonders what will happen when people stop being polite and start being real.