WASHINGTON, March 27, 2013 —Tonight “The Real World: Portland” on MTV airs the season 28 premiere episode. First broadcast in 1992, the show, which was inspired by the 1973 PBS documentary series “An American Family,” is the longest-running program in MTV history and one of the longest-running reality series in history, credited with launching the modern reality TV genre.
At least now we know who to blame for “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” and grudgingly thank for “Duck Dynasty.”
For those unfamiliar with the format of “The Real World,” it’s pretty simple. A diverse group of 20-something people and their egos are thrown together in a house for three months. That’s it. “Bondage, Butts, and Burlesque,” the title of the first episode, pretty much tells viewers what to expect in the span of the three months.
When “The Real World” first aired way back in 1992 it was applauded for its exploration of contemporary problems familiar to its core audience like sexuality, prejudice, AIDS, abortion and substance abuse. As the years passed, it became less about issues and more about irresponsible behavior and contrived conflict within the household.
These days on “The Real World” there’s a lot of alcohol and hot tub activity, but very little soul-searching, unless admiring each others physical attributes passes for introspection. Instead, the cast is nudged towards conflict and encouraged to air their grievances about fellow housemates; a format that has become a staple of current reality programming.
The reality show genre is tired to say the least, but maybe blending a couple of the shows would breathe fresh air into it, and make reality TV more amusing in the process. Instead of an over-the-top “hipster” house, why not send the cast of “The Real World” to Monroe, La. to live with the family on “Duck Dynasty?” Better yet, combine “The Real World” and “Swamp People” by pairing up gator hunters with self absorbed young adults. (Those gators might end up with bigger smiles than they already have.)
“Real World’s” original premise was all about mixing people with diverse backgrounds from different parts of the country and filming the results of these encounters. What could be more diverse than watching a wannabe model slumming through the bayou with a crazy Cajun? Better yet, imagine “The Situation” from “Jersey Shore” going frog gigging with Uncle Phil and Si.
Now that would be entertaining, and the only way I would watch anything called “reality” on MTV.
All times are EST:
ABC: The Middle: (New) Frankie’s sister (Molly Shannon) offers to help at the house while Frankie studies for her finals for dental-assistant school; Axl tries not to act jealous when Cassidy’s ex-boyfriend visits.
CBS: Survivor: Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorities: (New) The Bikal tribe continues to struggle in challenges and its members grow increasingly annoyed with Phillip’s attitude. At Gota, Reynold shares some confidential information about his hidden immunity idol that could alter the game.
FOX: American Idol: (New) The finalists perform.
NBC: Whitney: (New) Get a double dose of Whitney! First, Alex and Lily become best buds. Then, Whitney befriends her therapist. Chelsea Handler guest stars.
CW: Arrow: (New) An angry resident of The Glades who calls himself “The Savior” (guest star Christopher Redman) embarks on a kidnapping and killing spree to punish those he believes have wronged the residents of his neighborhood.
ABC: The Neighbors: (New) During a trip to Atlantic City, Marty learns that Larry can count cards — and see through them; Jackie confesses that she has always wanted a human wedding; Dick Butkus receives an ominous call from his grandpa.
ABC: Modern Family: (New) Claire and Cam bring in a third party (Wendi McLendon-Covey) when they reach an impasse on a landscaping decision; Phil teaches basic fix-it skills to the kids; Mitch helps Lily with a bully.
CBS: Criminal Minds: (Repeat) A ritualistic killer is hunted after male bodies are found that have been physically altered. Meanwhile, Reid gets anxious at the prospect of meeting his mystery woman.
NBC: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: (New) A high-profile rape victim must undergo a brutal court battle against the attacker who stalked and impregnated her.
CW: Supernatural: (New) Sam and Dean investigate some recent vampire kills and are surprised to learn Krissy Chambers (guest star Madison McLaughlin) is involved. They find Krissy and learn her father was killed and she’s been taken in by a man named Victor (guest star Adrian Hough), who has taken in a group of orphan kids to teach them how to hunt.
PBS: Nova: (New) “Nova” crews and impact scientists head to Siberia to search for debris from the Feb. 15, 2013, meteor strike in order to ascertain the meteor’s origin and makeup.
ABC: Suburgatory: (New) After Noah’s divorce, George offers him and Opus a place to stay until they get back on their feet; Dallas realizes that Dalia is a hoarder; Fred asks Tessa to help him land his dream job.
ABC: Nashville: (New) Rayna tries to set the record straight about her failed marriage during an appearance on Katie Couric’s talk show; Maddie tells a lie that leads to dangerous consequences; Deacon is drawn to a pretty veterinarian.
CBS: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: (Repeat) A reverend is killed at the grave site of former CSI Warrick Brown.
NBC: Chicago Fire: (New) Firehouse 51 becomes the target of gang violence, and Shay tries to convince Severide to help her have a baby.
New episodes of:
Polar Bears: Edge of Existence at 9 p.m. on Animal Planet
Haunted Collector at 9 p.m. on Syfy
Hoarding: Buried Alive at 9 p.m. on TLC
Boston’s Finest at 9 p.m. on TNT
Duck Dynasty at 10 p.m. on A&E
Weed Country at 10 p.m. on DSC
Restaurant Stakeout at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
The Real World: Portland at 10 p.m. on MTV
Rise of the Continents at 10 p.m. on SCI
Stranded at 10 p.m. on Syfy
Blade Runner: The Untold Story at 10 p.m. on TLC
Southland at 10 p.m. on TNT
Food Paradise at 10 p.m. on Travel Channel
Psych at 10 p.m. on USA
For movie lovers:
Safe House on CINEMAX
Jurassic Park on ENC
The Man Who Wasn’t There on FLIX
Easy A on FX
Hostel Part II on IFC
The Mechanic on SHO
Two Girls and a Guy on SUND
Le Mans on TCM
The Big Lebowski on TMC
Robin Hood on ION
Legion on FMC
21 Jump Street on STARZ
Devil at 9:30 p.m. on HBO
Chernobyl Diaries at 9:50 p.m. on MOMAX
The Terminator at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX
The Omen at 10 p.m. on IFC
The Crowd Roars at 10 p.m. on TCM
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at 10:10 p.m. on ENC
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