The Real World‘s cast members will inescapably be affected by their stint in the spotlight. Having survived the same odd sort of fame — my family was the subject of the 1973 PBS documentary series An American Family — I humbly offer a bit of advice to MTV’s media babies: Beware — you’ll never be free of your stint on The Real World. I’m not saying that Andre’s rock career won’t happen unless his Real World mates turn up at every gig, or that Heather can’t top Queen Latifah without Kevin’s writing her material and Norman’s designing her video sets. But when a camera crew comes into your life, it’s a lot like taking in an extraterrestrial. At first it seems like E.T., a quiet, magical presence with the promise of wonderful things to come. But more often than not the experience will produce Alien-like chest-busting side effects. As my brother Grant says, ”The documentary camera takes no prisoners.”
The best way to survive docu-fame is to hold no expectations that it will be your ticket to a brilliant career — instead, make sure you have a good agent and a decent piece of the rerun rights. Being TV’s flavor of the month can be fun, but after the media parade moves on, go back to pursuing the dreams you had before, knowing that no matter what happens, you’ve already pocketed the honor of immortality as a Trivial Pursuit question.
One last thing: When you watch yourselves and cringe at something you did that’s idiotic and is now being broadcast coast to coast, relax. Out there in TV land, 20 million idiots are relating to you like mad.