"The Real World" as social commentary (or: I think I am now a grown up)

I was watching television the other day when I stumbled upon an episode of MTV's "The Real World." This season the show takes place in Denver and, following what seems to be a growing theme with this once-excellent series, boasts a house full of sexy young adults totally pumped about getting in bed with one another. I don't mean to knock modern culture, especially since doing so makes my being 28 seem not hip and mature-but-in-a-fun-way, but just, you know, kind of old and grumpy. But seriously, this is not a real world I'm interested in observing. Ok, ok, say I was forced to sit down and watch a few episodes, I'd probably get pretty into it, kind of like how I accidentally got into "Laguna Beach" that one day. Watching a little of the Denver season really got me thinking, though. Got me thinking about how our "Real World" generation - the generation who, like me, were in high school when the series began - got the best deal.

Remember the New York cast? The first New York cast, I mean, the ones who broke down the doors and invaded the production room at the end of the season, just to show MTV how rad they were? I used to watch that girl Becky sit outside, looking all alternative, talking to the camera about the situation in the house - and I'd think about how the world, the real world, was such a big, great, exciting place, and how one day I'd be part of it. An impressionable young 15-year-old looking forward to being an adult. That's what the show meant to me.

I know somebody - maybe a current fan of the show - is probably going to refute this claim - that "The Real World" used to be a cool, original program that really delved into young people's lives and young people's issues, and now simply features horny youngsters who want to be movie stars, and who are sometimes kind of idiotic, as if, I don't know, we've regressed slightly as a culture. Twenty-somethings who lay by the pool and wonder which cast mate is the "gay one." Who play truth or dare on their first night in the house so they can make out on camera.

Remember Pedro? And Puck? (who, watch out, allegedly had some children) And this Morman girl?

Remember these guys for Christ's sake? The Los Angeles crew dealt with racism AND sexual harassment if I'm not mistaken. And threw an aspiring country musician in the mix, who also, coincidentally, was a born-again Christian.

The 90s, especially early in the decade, was an interesting time. Nirvana and "Singles" and leggings worn with flannel shirts (that wasn't just me, was it?) Not all of it was good. I admit I prefer current fashion trends, but I'm telling you, watching that show the other day had me yearning for my teenage years. Maybe "yearning" isn't the best word, because, well, my eyebrows needed some plucking and, to tell the truth, I really like being in my late twenties. I guess what I mean to say is the watching show, believe it or not, made me realize how much I've enjoyed the ride, because suddenly here I am, judging modern culture like some, you know, adult, and then it hits me that that's exactly what I am, and having role models - or whatever they were - like Becky and Julie and Judd, makes me proud to have been a teenager in the rockin' 90s, when reality shows were making history and being socially conscious was hotter than making out with strangers.