Melissa Maerz
January 22, 2014 AT 05:00 AM EST

Real World: Ex-Plosion

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
Reality TV

We gave it a D

Even before it became a freshman course in shot-glass toasts and hot-tub three-ways, MTV’s The Real World was never all that real. Since it debuted in 1992, it’s been a fascinating look at performance, with the roommates choosing the roles they’ll play: the bumpkin who’s never had black friends, the party girl who’s always crying, the brah with anger-management issues. Back when people were arguing about privacy and the Internet, that all felt prescient. But more than 20 years later, that ”realness” isn’t just fake — it’s a performance of a performance. The kids on Ex-Plosion seem to have cast themselves as even-more-over-the-top versions of the usual ”characters”: Take Jay, the naive white kid who wants to touch a black woman’s hair for the first time, or Ashley M., the wild child who gets blitzed and threatens to leave the house in the first episode. The series looks like a bad imitation of the reality TV it’s spawned. In fact, the premise comes straight from Big Brother 4: The roomies are forced to live with their exes, which might be the only surprise in a season with two personal trainers, multiple love triangles, and at least one scene where a curvy blonde professes, ”Oh my God, it just got really real.” Reduced to their base elements — hookups and fights — episodes of Real World have become indistinguishable from the supercuts MTV uses to promote them. It’s only a matter of time before the network premieres Real World: Facepuncher. D

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