To most of the country, the season finale of “The Real World VI” signifies a farewell to another cast of post-adolescents struggling with such weighty issues as gender politics, racism and who has the finest booty. But to many proud Bostonians, it culminates nearly six months of showing off their city to a national audience. To celebrate the season’s conclusion, we tracked down some Boston natives and asked them whether they thought this year’s “Real World” depicted Beantown in all its glory or simply as the latest site of The Whine Heard Round the World.
When MTV sics its quick-cut editors on a city, the result will always be rockin’, regardless of the subject matter. (Think of those hyper-edited segments of Bob Dole on “Choose or Lose.”) But Boston provided a real challenge. “It’s not an MTV city,” says Dave Hamilton, a Boston native-turned-New York TV producer. “It was odd to see these whip-pans to the Paul Revere statue, which made things look cooler than they are.”
When the roommates took time off from housebound bickering, they were often seen out partying: an odd special effect in a city that’s notorious for closing down early — 2 a.m. at the latest. “It wasn’t the city I knew,” says Kristin Toli, the marketing director for the Back Bay Brewing Company, a microbrewery that employed two castmates as bartenders. “It looked like a nightlife city, but Boston’s not really known for that.”
MTV might have helped to bolster Beantown’s “cool” quotient, but in the process they made it seem downright cold. “They always showed it snowing,” adds Toli, pointing out that Boston had only one huge storm last winter. “I have a friend in tourism who said, ‘No one will want to come here!'” (Those tempted to travel might consider this: Over the past 70 years, Boston has averaged 41.3 inches of snow annually.)
For some locals, though, the biggest problem was not the chilly stock footage of Boston, but rather the cast members who appeared between that filler. “It was grueling to watch,” says Boston attorney Dan Cortell, whose civic pride kept him from throwing his TV out the window. “If it wasn’t in Boston, I wouldn’t have felt compelled to stay with the show. I can’t wait for it to be over so I can be free.”
Some viewers say that the end of the season is the perfect time for newcomers to experience Boston, now that the “Real World” cast is gone. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised not to find them walking around anymore,” Hamilton says about the squabbling housemates. “Visitors will be amazed at the level of intelligent discourse that actually exists here.”