- Franchise Original Sin: On a broader level, the show can be seen as this for MTV as a whole, in that, while it wasn't the first non-music-related program they ever aired (that would be Remote Control in 1987), it was their first Reality TV show, and one of the first shows in that genre period. The thing was, that was a key part of its success; there was nothing else like it on television in 1992, it was genuinely boundary-pushing at the time in its frank discussion of real-world issues like racism, homosexuality, and politics, and it fit in perfectly with the kind of "cool rebel" image that MTV built its brand around in The '90s. The problem came when MTV tried to copy its success, leading to the glut of reality shows that turned their Network Decay terminal in the 2000s, especially as The Real World itself succumbed to its below-mentioned Seasonal Rot. Laguna Beach and Jersey Shore can be seen, in many ways, as the Flanderized versions of The Real World, sharing its Docu Soap format but dropping the social commentary in favor of more sex, romance, and drinking.
- Funny Moments:
- From the New Orleans season:
Melissa: Let me tell you what the sex life is like: Melissa is in bed with a Mormon on the left, a naked gay man on the right. What am I supposed to do with that?!
- Melissa starts screwing with Julie and the poor OnStar assistant after getting fed up with Julie making small talk instead of getting directions.
- Poor sleep-deprived Melissa delivers one of the season's (and probably the entire show) funniest Confession Cams after getting woken up by Julie and Danny because two of the bedrooms were occupied by two of the roommates having sex with their respective hookups and the displaced others can't find a place to sleep.
Julie: What did I sign up for?! The Belfort Brothel, that's what it is!
- From the New Orleans season:
- Hilarious in Hindsight; Several:
- Puck was cast mainly because the casting directors thought he would be (out of the seven cast members ultimately picked) the most likely to accept everyone for who they were. Instead, the casting directors cast an obnoxiously gross homophobic jerk who was the poster child for "Worst Reality TV Roommate."
- In a similar vein, Neil in the London season was cast because (as a punk rocker), the casting people thought he would be Puck V2.0 and cause all sorts of ratings boosting drama. What they got instead was an intellectual Deadpan Snarker that was well adjusted and got along with everyone, even the people he couldn't stand. In other words, he was what they wanted from Puck in the first place.
- On her way out of the show during the Seattle season, Irene told Stephen (with whom she had an antagonistic relationship) "A marriage between you and I would never work out. You know that. You're a homosexual." Stephen angrily denied this and slapped Irene. Years later, Stephen not only admitted that he indeed was gay, but was arrested for prostitution...
- Retroactive Recognition:
- Judd Winick, from San Francisco, has since become a well-known comic-book writer.
- Michael Mizanin has since moved on to bigger and better things, but there's a chance The Real World will be a case of Never Live It Down.
- Wisconsin natives would be surprised to see one of their U.S. representatives (Sean Duffy) in TRW: Boston in full party mode.
- David Giuntoli appeared on the show because he needed the money to pay off his student loans. He cites his experience on this show as sparking his interest in pursuing acting as a career.
- Romantic Plot Tumor: Got really bad during the Austin season.
- Genesis from The Read World: Boston revealed years later that the producers invoked this trope and pushed hard for her to hook up with her transgender best friend. Genesis vehemently refused to do so, and expressed frustration that they edited scenes between them that implied they were more than friends.
- Seasonal Rot: Depends on who you talk to, the rot took place around seasons three (San Francisco) or four (London) while some state that the show stayed relevant up through season six (Boston). Still others say it hung on up to season seven (Seattle) or eight (Hawaii), where the show seemed to dive from "Social Experiment" to "Trash TV."
- Strawman Has a Point:
- For all of the horrible things he said to Pedro, Puck did have a point when he pointed out that Pedro having AIDS was his own fault due to him not using protection when he had sex. Granted, it was still a needlessly judgmental thing to say, especially when you consider that, before the show began, Pedro worked as a lecturer on the importance of safe sex to young people after finding out that he had AIDS and was quite open with the foolishness of his actions when it came to having unprotected sex. Pedro even famously has an onstage trick where he would stick both of his hands inside a regular condom to show how far it could stretch without breaking.
- Neil of The Real World: London has defended his season of the show (which was considered so boring by the producers, that the following season saw the introduction of the first of several gimmicks to make things more exciting) by pointing out that it was not so much boring as true to the original premise of the series (watching the lives of seven strangers in a house).
YMMV / The Real World