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'The Real World' premieres tonight

Ken Tucker explains why you won’t want to miss a single episode

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‘The Real World’ premieres tonight

Just when I think I’m ready to abandon MTV’s ”The Real World” once and for all — to give up getting hooked on the lives of a gaggle of young people thrown together in cushy digs in a neighborhood nothing like mine — the dang show pulls me back in. On paper, the season that begins tonight at 10 p.m. doesn’t sound promising: The show goes to Hawaii this year. Hawaii — sun, sand, a haven for hedonists; I can’t relate. That chilly Real World year in Boston, or the drippy one in Seattle, agreed more with my inner climate.

In other words, I came to this new edition with low, simmering expectations, but was pleasantly surprised: The ”Real World” producers have managed to stock their latest house with a collection of youngsters whose dark neuroses and pallid egos more than outweigh their sunny surroundings. In the opening episode alone, we are treated to the slightly censored sight of rampant skinny-dipping in the Real Worlders pool, which causes anxiety among the more modest members of the group, particularly Kaia, who talks about the size of her breasts every chance she gets, but not even in a proud way. She seems sort of alienated from her own body in a way the guys in the house — Colin, Matt, and the pioneering skinny-dipper, named Teck — are not. Kaia is going to cause some trouble in this Honolulu house, you can just tell.

Already causing trouble is Ruthie, a sad-eyed young woman — the only native Hawaiian in the group — who in the premiere episode drinks so much she must be rushed to a hospital for what the Worlders fear is a case of alcohol poisoning. Every ”Real World” needs its difficult or troubled soul, and Ruthie seems to be the designated sufferer here; if I wasn’t such a trusting soul, I’d wonder whether the producers weren’t aware of Ruthie’s apparent drinking problem when she was cast, knowing it would make for dramatic tension. (For the record, the producers claim not to have known.)

But, see, I’m already enmeshed. No way am I not going to watch all 22 new episodes. Be sure to watch and tell me who you love, who you hate, and who you think is going to leave the house first.