Kristen Baldwin
June 28, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

EW ranks the best and worst ”Real World” casts

The annual rite of summer — a new season of MTV’s festival of narcissism called ”The Real World” — is upon us, and, oh, does this installment (set in Hawaii) look deliciously sleazy. There’s the buffoonish drunk (Ruthie, who got so inebriated in the season premiere that she had seizures), the inappropriate exhibitionist (Kaia, a dull-eyed brunette who walks around the beach house topless) and the insecure Dennis Rodman look-alike (a hyperactive string bean named Teck). Even with all this promise, ”Real World 8” will have a hard time living up to the voyeuristic legacy of the previous seven seasons. Herewith, a ranking of ”Real World”s from best to worst:

1. New York (Season one, 1992): It’s hard to argue with the original. You knew this one was going to be replete with awkward, wince-inducing, oh-so-watchable situations when, in the opening minutes of the premiere episode, the naive, white Southern girl Julie asked her beeper-carrying black roommate Heather, ”Do you sell drugs?” And who can forget Julie’s dustup with angry poet Kevin? Or Kevin’s blowout with flaky folk singer Becky? Ah, memories.

2. Seattle (Season seven, 1998): It was creepily fascinating to watch the curly-haired, giggly Irene devolve — after being infected with Lyme’s Disease — into a rambling, bitchy, neurotic freak show who ultimately flees the house. It was even more riveting to see her accuse roommate Steven of being a homosexual — a statement that caused the hothead to plant a big ol’ bitch slap on Irene’s forehead. Runner-up story line: David’s highly dysfunctional relationship with MTV employee Kira. ”Yuhr tearin’ my heaaaaht apaaaaht!”

3. Boston (Season six, 1997): This odious cast couldn’t muster a single redeeming quality among the seven of them — and, boy, did that make for great viewing. Watch Montana give alcohol to the children at the community center that employs her, and then deny it! See Cyrus date a mother of one of the children at said community center, and then insist that it’s not inappropriate! Marvel as confused lesbian Genesis forms an unhealthy attachment to her drag queen friend! They should bring these boneheads back every year.

4. Los Angeles (Season two, 1993): Three words: The underwear incident. David pulls a blanket off the near-naked Tami, she throws a gargantuan hissy fit, and then the poor prankster becomes the first victim of a now tried-and-true ”Real World” tradition: getting kicked out of the house. The only problem with the L.A. season was listening to Billy Ray Cyrus wannabe, Jon, sing that godforsaken ”Boot Scootin’ Boogie” song over and over again.

5. San Francisco (Season three, 1994): Puck may have been an unsanitary imbecile, but he was just the spark needed to set that predominantly bland, personality-free cast (with the exception of Pedro, who had way too much dignity to be there) ablaze with ire. But for the love of God, did Cory ever stop crying?

6. Miami (Season five, 1996): Pure incompetence in motion. It seemed simple enough — start a business and cash in on a big MTV pay day. But these seven slackers couldn’t even decide on a concept (A bagel shop. No, a clothing line. No, a coffee joint!), and thus they were left with nothing. Somewhere, Horatio Alger is weeping.

7. London (Season four, 1995): Any show that launched the ”acting” career of British bimbo Jacinda Barrett (she of the quickly canceled ”Wind on Water” and the upcoming ”D.C.”) is a blight upon humanity that should be consigned to the darkest recesses of Hell. Period.

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