Photo: Courtesy of MTV.
It was the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives taped. For 21 years and 28 seasons, MTV's The Real World has abided by that central premise — but no more. What's different? NPR's Linda Holmes said it pretty well in an article entitled "The Real World Trades The Final Eight Percent Of Its Soul For Magic Beans." Those beans are ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends. Welcome to Real World: Ex-Plosion, in which seven unwitting strangers will be ambushed by their former flings.
Why the move? Draaaaamaaaaa, of course.
Holmes points to what she calls a "Great Grotesquening" — a delightful addition to critical parlance — in which all of our entertainment simply gravitates to the more outré, the more attention-grabbing, the lowest of the lowest common denominators. In the case of Ex-Plosion, that makes for a poor mutation of a show that once featured heart-wrenching stories like that of Pedro Zamora, the young gay man who brought the real-world face of AIDS to The Real World. "[Rather] than making anything original," writes Holmes, "everything is endlessly franchised and extended and adapted and readapted and rebooted, because it's easier than building loyalty to something new."
Show co-creator Jonathan Murray told Entertainment Weekly that the show is simply trying to be adaptive. "[Maybe] we’re a bit of a victim of our own success. Diversity is a fact of life today. A lot of young people date people of different races, or have friends who are gay. The world has changed." So, since you can't wrench drama out of homophobia or racism anymore, you might as well manufacture it with people who are already proven incompatible?
"Four weeks into the show, after some [housemates] started to develop new relationships, the exes come in — thus, Ex-Plosion," Murray told Entertainment Weekly. “Then it got really complicated and really interesting. I’m still shocked we were able to pull it off."
The sex-fueled hot tub probably helped. "Of course there’s a hot tub," Murray said. (Entertainment Weekly)