It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment at which The Real World lost its cultural relevance, but if you were to press us for an answer, we'd have to say it was when the greedy producers at MTV killed their golden goose by launching Real World: Philadelphia less than six weeks after the finale of Real World: San Diego aired. In retrospect, the grand successes of the last truly great RW season were a unfortunate harbinger of things to come for the series as a whole; while the arrests of Brad and Robin made for undeniably great television, it also established a dangerous precedent for the series by making the act of running afoul of the law something for future housemates to aspire to. But we digress — we could talk about this for hours, but we won't. Our point was mainly to say that we haven't watched the Real World in years, and while The Reunion Special / Roast that aired last night had its moments, there was a moment that occured just minutes into the show that, for us, symbolized the de-evolution of the series from a (dare we say) noble social experiment into something that more closely resembles a frat party for community college dropouts.
The moment in question comes when King Of The Friars, Jeffrey Ross, launched into one of his trademark "roast" bits and started putting the screws to Real World punching bag Puck. In what can only be described as a overly macho and HGH-fueled show of support, a few fully lubricated meatheads who we didn't even recognize (save for CT) unexpectedly bumrushed Ross and tossed the unsuspecting comedian into the pool below for his transgressions against the King Of The Snot Rocket. From the look on Ross' face, this moment was clearly unscripted.
For us, this moment represented everything that has gone wrong with the show in the last three or so years. While the composition of the cast has always included a few instigator types, the battles used to be fought on the psychological level, not the physical. The popularity and watchability of the loveable lunkhead Brad led the RW casting directors to fill future casts with aspiring Abercrombie & Fitch catalog models, all of whom also doubled as alcoholics-in-training. Much like pouring water on the back of Gizmo, a bunch of wannabe Brads were spawned after that San Diego season, and Jeffrey Ross felt their wrath last night.