Being the strange child that I was, I didn’t spend all my television time watching Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. By fourth grade, I had moved on up to MTV. Gone were the days of All That and Dexter’s Laboratory; I was enthralled by the coolness of TRL and the drama of my perennial favorite, The Real World. The Real World is one of the first “reality” television shows, and it features “seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together, and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.” It has been on the air since 1992, and recently finished its 26th season. Like the parents described in Chudacoff’s “The Commercialization and Co-optation of Children’s Play”, my mother expressed concern over my new television obsession. Although she accepted the fact that she couldn’t keep me away from the show, she was worried about what kinds of adult themes I would be exposed to. I assured her that it would have no negative effects on my life, and truth be told, it didn’t. In fact, it may have contributed to my open mindedness and accepting nature that I have today. In the 11th season, Real World: Chicago, I first learned about homosexuality through Aneesa and Chris. In the 16th season, I explored Austin along with Johanna and Wes, and I learned about the depth of addiction through Nehemiah’s struggles with his mother. Yes, there were adult situations presented in the show, but the positive effects outweighed the negative. I think the parents and policy makers embodied by Chudacoff’s essay have children’s best interests at heart, but it would probably be best if they chilled out a little bit. My mom did, and I turned out wonderfully.
A clip from Real World: Chicago, where the castmates react to the news of 9/11