The Real World

TV review by Jill Murphy, Common Sense Media
The Real World Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 16+

"Real life" amplified; mature teens only.

Parents say

age 12+

Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 13+

Based on 14 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 13+

MTV's social experiment has grown stale over the years.

When The Real World began its run on MTV in 1992, the idea of putting 7-8 twentysomething strangers under one roof and watching them interact with one another was entertaining. Now in its 30th season, the reality television giant is no longer fun or inspirational. At one point, The Real World was known for casting your average, authentic person, and some of the stories they shared and their personal experiences were heartbreaking and many people could relate to their situation. The cast members used to get jobs while on the show and contribute to charity work. Nowadays, things have changed. The show casts attractive models and actors who are only looking to go on The Real World to have a good time, party, have sex, and apparently "find out who they are" in the middle of it all. The recent seasons have established "twists" which modify the original premise of the show. For example, Season 29 was named "Ex-Plosion": the housemates discover halfway through the season that their former lovers will move in with them and disturb their already formed relationships. The current season, Season 30, is called "Skeletons": the cast members get weekly visits from people from their pasts that they would rather forget about (such as former flames, ex-friends, bullies, horrible bosses, and estranged relatives). As one can expect, The Real World is jam-packed with drama, and pointless confrontations almost always ensue, with a healthy dose of "f*ck", "bitch," "whore," "d*ck," "bastard," "a**hole," and more. Some cast members get violent and are kicked off the show. For example, during the 2011 Las Vegas season, cast member Adam Michael Royer was kicked out of The Real World house for trashing the hotel room, throwing and knocking furniture, and getting close to hitting fellow female cast member Nany Gonzalez in a drunken rampage. In the 2013 Portland season, Nia Moore got physical with many of the cast members, including Jordan, Averey, and Johnny, culminating into a hair-pulling, fist-throwing brawl. In the end, Nia stayed in the house after a shocking house vote that was in favour of keeping her, even after the problems she caused. In addition to fighting, sex is another large component of the show. One night stands, drunken hook-ups, threesomes, and infidelity are all common. The 2009 Cancun season, for instance, was filled with a surprising amount of sexual escapades. Most seasons have an LGBT cast member, and discussions about coming out and homosexuality cannot be avoided. The cast members discuss and engage in promiscuity. There is your typical kissing and flirting, as well as on-screen sex, and hot tub actions is practically a series staple, at times making viewing a little uncomfortable even for the most mature individuals. Drunken antics sometimes involve nudity (although sensitive parts are blurred out) and same-sex romance. The cast members visit sex shops and strip clubs. Discussion about sex toys, pregnancy, virginity, and references to masturbation are not unheard of. The cast goes out clubbing in the majority of episodes, and are seen drinking alcohol, dressing and dancing suggestively, smoking, and behaving sloppily. Some cast members have alcohol/drug addictions which are discussed in length and make for storylines. Finally, Subway restaurants are blatantly promoted, as are other locations that the cast members visit. Teens might find it amusing watching The Real World and laughing at the immature behaviour of its cast members, but other than that there is no substance to the show that was once a decent social experiment.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 16+

A train wreck in the making

I hate to love this show. But I can't turn away from the train wreck. Would not let my kids watch this.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

TV Details

  • Premiere date: May 21, 1992
  • Network: MTV
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Last updated: April 1, 2022

Our Editors Recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate