I was the tender, young age of 2-years-old when the first episode of The Real World hit the airwaves, set in New York City in 1992. The Big Apple. They would later return to NYC for the 10th season, but it was that first one that really kicked it all off. 30 seasons later, arguably the most prominent reality show where the only recurring character was alcohol, is still alive and well.
You may recall the Real World and Road Rules challenges on MTV and the fact that shows like Jersey Shore never would've been spawned without the original trashy awesomeness that The Real World provided. The fact is, The Real World was not trying to depict what real life is like. I don't think it ever had that intention. What it ended up becoming was much better than real life. It was life amplified.
That's why 23 years later, checking in on the very first cast is such an important anthropological mission that I take very seriously. What did the cast end up doing with their lives?
Find out below!
Rebecca "Becky" Blasband
Becky came to New York the daughter of a psychiatrist and a German immigrant who ran an antique store in Philadelphia, which is where she moved at the age of 13. She went to NYU Film School and worked as an actress with playwright David Mamet's theater company, but eventually returned to her first love, music, which she's still working on. She was considered the "moody" one and, in a weird twist started seeing Bill Richmond, one of the show's directors in Episode 8.
Another musician - a singer and guitarist in an indie rock band called Reigndance - Andre grew up with music, as his mother had an album with Capitol Records. He came up in what he described as a cross between 'The Manhattan Transfer and The Osmonds.' He was supposedly the "prototypical Gen-X guy" and now he divides his time between Detroit and New Jersey. He was infamously one of the night owls of the group while on the show.
Heather B. Gardner
Heather was kind of the hipster before hipsters. She was yet another musician, and often experienced culture shock having grown up in an all-black environment only to end up on this mixed show. On the show she was working on her album, The System Sucks, which is almost so '90s it hurts. Clearly, as you can see, the casting in the very first season wasn't as broad and diverse as it later would get. She had some success and still works on her music.
Underestimated, coming out of Birmingham, Alabama, she was the small-town "welcome to the big city" girl from the show. She wanted to be a dancer but her dad wanted her to be a "computer expert." Hmm... I guess being a computer expert was kind of a thing back in 1992. Now it's almost mandatory for any person living.
Nothing needs to be said. Just watch this:
Norman, of Sicilian descent, and another artist, left Michigan to pursue a career in painting. He was the first openly LGBT Real World cast member, which would later become the norm (no pun intended) on the show. Obviously, Julie, from Alabama, was probably supposed to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from Norman but she got along well with him. This kind of pushed forth the narrative that people can co-exist even if they come from different backgrounds.
This dude brought the racial tension into the show. He was a young black male in the '90s, although he was the oldest person on the show. He kind of wanted it to be known that he faced a lot of prejudices and had a few uneasy moments with other members of the cast. Overall, he seemed to fit in just fine, and played a valuable part on the show. He's now a political activist, poet, writer, and entrepreneur who lives in New York.