Facebook is rebooting The Real World, which seems adorably quaint

Yes, it's promising to "stop being polite and start getting real."

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Two people fill out casting applications for MTV's "The Real World"

MTV's The Real World was an originator of reality TV. 

Getty Images

Facebook Watch, the massive social network's hub for video, is the latest to jump on the nostalgia bandwagon, with multiple revivals of MTV's The Real World. 

Facebook is creating three new seasons of the reality show that stuck strangers together in a house -- shooting one each in Mexico, Thailand and the US -- and will debut them next spring. 

The company said the new programs will "live up to" the original show's opening mantra, to tape strangers living together "to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real," which all feels adorably quaint now. After more than two decades saturated in reality TV, do cast members ever bother being polite? How much are people really strangers when Googling any name brings up an annotated life history? Also "tape" doesn't even exist anymore. 

But nostalgia is a booming business, from Hollywood blockbusters to internet TV

The Real World made history as a "trailblazing social experiment," Matthew Henick, head of content planning and strategy at Facebook, said Wednesday. "We're thrilled to reboot the show for today's audiences, representing and amplifying the real life, real people, real places and real social tensions of each country." The company is working with MTV and Bunim/Murray Productions, which originated the show. 

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MTV president Chris McCarthy called the Facebook reboot an "opportunity to impact culture and create a new genre of television all over again." Facebook's press materials reminded me that The Real World did take TV to uncharted territories, such as televising the first same-sex commitment ceremony.

This being Facebook, "social conversation" will be a central element of the new Real World shows, executives said. Facebook users will be able to vote one housemate onto the show prior to air, for example. Facebook Watch will release scenes daily from coming episodes leading into a weekly half-hour premiere. 

Facebook executives, speaking at the Mipcom media conference in France Wednesday, also announced two other programs. Facebook Watch is widening its interactive game-show format Confetti internationally, and it will launch a program called The World's Most Amazing Dog, a worldwide interactive competition series in partnership with animal-video publisher The Dodo. 

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