The Real World

Common Sense Media says

"Real life" amplified; mature teens only.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series voyeuristically captures the lives of young adults living together in front of TV cameras.

Positive role models

There's rarely positive role model-type behavior on this series. Housemates who don't party as hard as the others are made to seem like "downers" by the rest of the cast. Gay, lesbian, and transgendered characters are also featured. One cast member was an advocate for raising HIV/AIDS awareness; one had an eating disorder, another was a recovering alcoholic.


Bar brawls.


Kissing, multiple sexual partners, group showers, same-sex hookups, one-night stands, skimpy clothes, grinding on the dance floor, threesomes.


"Bitch," "ass," sexual discussions, more vulgar language bleeped out.


MysticTan, Subway, signs for local bars and restaurants get a lot of screen time.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Excessive drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this landmark MTV series first aired in 1992 (making it one of the first reality shows) and has remained popular among teens and young adults over the years. Each season follows seven new roommates who bring a wide range of social, behavioral, physical, and sexual issues and experiences to the table, including (but not limited to) alcoholism, smoking, bar brawls, girls kissing for shock value, hot tubbing, drunken parties, lewd sex talk, one-night hook-ups, eating disorders, stereotypes, group showers, concerns about body image and self-worth, excessive drinking, homosexuality, and racism. The housemates' ages range from 18-24, so it's no surprise that the show's topics are really for a mature audience.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

No matter which city is home to each new season of MTV's iconic reality series THE REAL WORLD -- be it San Francisco, New York, Austin, London, Seattle, Key West, or Denver -- the setup is always the same: Seven strangers are picked to live in a lavish house for six months and be filmed for viewers' enjoyment. Their close quarters always create the kind of drama that reality TV thrives on. Each season's cast is assigned to a specific job and works with a local organization, although considering how hard they party in the evenings, they often treat the responsibility of a job like a nuisance. In early seasons, jobs were community driven -- like helping build a playground for at-risk youths or serving as mentors -- but later seasons have featured the cast doing things like building, running, and marketing a MysticTan salon.

Is it any good?


In this very formulaic show, each housemate seems expected to conform to one of the following broad personality traits/backgrounds: naïve, small town/small minded, homosexual, bisexual, sexually confused, angry/bitter, drunken frat boy/sorority girl, loose, heavy drinker, or racist. In fact, so carefully are these boxes checked off every season that if you don't fit the bill, you probably won't make it to The Real World.

For the most part, conversations among the roommates are sexual in nature or center on their self-doubt. Occasionally, someone declares their sexual preference or their need to get some action. Housemates can often be found in the indoor Jacuzzi (a staple of every season) and drinking runs rampant. There are no televisions in the houses, but the Internet and phone are readily available. (Drunken phone calls back home to a loved one have become commonplace in the series.)

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the housemates. Which ones do you relate to? Why? What appeals to teens about the show and its stars? Is this something they might aspire to be part of? Why? What are the redeeming qualities (if any) of this fishbowl environment? Which issues in a particular season made a specific housemate stand out? Are there any positive role models here, or is everyone a stereotype? Do you think the housemates are chosen to fit a particular "type"? Why would producers want to do that? Why do you think they edit the show's content to emphasize sex, partying, and conflict?

TV details

Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

This review of The Real World was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Adult Written bySamanthamaster1 November 20, 2014

25+ IF you wan't to watch this pure garbage.

I absolutely HATE this show, because, it has all the bad stuff that's not healthy for young kids under 25 to see and hear, way too much sexual content/sexual innuendo, too much swearing, too much partying/drinking, and, too much violence. I don't blame the kids on the show, because, they're still young themselves, they're under 25 as well (most of them are under 21), I blame MTV, the producers of this show, and the entertainment industry for having these young kids on this dangerous show, showing negative behavior, and, targeting at youth ages 12 - 24. I don't recommend this show for anybody at all, but, especially for children under 25, because, cognitive development doesn't end until the age of 25, this show will profoundly damage a child's cognitive development. I'm 21 and I hate that children my age/generation like this show, i'd rather have them watch teletubbies (a show even a 2 year old is too old for) before this horrible show. I'm so above this junk or any other junk on MTV. We should call this show "The Fake World", this show is FAR from real. This is why there are so many troubled kids out today, because, of all this junk media, they have to be learning it from somewhere. Children of any age imitate what they see on TV, because, they're young and impressible. When I say children, a child to me is anyone under 25 years of age, because, of cognitive development. This is the worst show in the world besides The Walking Dead. Just the opening theme alone "Stop being polite and get real", that already teaches our youth to rebel against authority. I would NEVER watch this trash even if it was the last show on earth. Trust me, there are a lot of bad reality shows out there such as Jersey Shore and The Bad Girls Club, but, this show is the absolute WORST reality show ever, even worse than BOTH Jersey Shore and The Bad Girls Club combined and those are another two poor quality shows. I know there's always been troubled kids, but, now-a-days, it's an epidemic and I blame junk media like this very low class show. Unfortunately, even though this targets at children ages 12 - 24, but, I think it would mostly appeal to children ages 18 - 20, because, those are the first three years where society expects them to be independent and they're children seeing other children around their age and they will just think that's how 18 - 20 year old's act and that's not true. Even when I was 18, I hated this show, hated it at 18 and still hate it now at 21. Even though the cast members can range from ages 18 - 24, but, I think most of them are only from ages 18 - 20. Children younger than 25 shouldn't either be on The Real World or even watching it. No offense to the kids who like this show, i'm just giving my honest opinion about The Real World.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byAbErCrOmBii LuVr April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Only for mature teens and adults

i only watch it sometimes. you should be mature to watch it. some things have bad references but its just a reality tv show. and a lot of things on tv have stuff liek this in it
Teen, 15 years old Written byjesuslovesthischick April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


real world? what REAL world? more trash from mtv


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