I can already anticipate the backlash responding to this article, so let me start by saying I understand. I know The Real World used to be a legit show. I know there used to be real people on it (ones with body fat) and that somehow it’s evolved into a series showcasing the downfall of modern humanity. But for a second, cast aside the fact that the show is teaching your children terrible, terrible things and admit it: This season of Real World Las Vegas was awesome.

This was the series’ second go-around in Sin City – the first one in 2002 marked, for some, the inevitable exit of any semblance of reality – and not since Paradise Hotel ended (insert frowny face) have I seen a season of anything so filled with love, hate, and of course, revolting drunken behavior. But that’s not all, secret drug-dealer pasts! Casual hookups! Non-casual hookups! Faux-marriages! Diversity! This season covered more bases than a weekend marathon of Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Every one of the roommates this season contributed to my fascination/disgust. Adam, who was cast off early in episode 6 and is clearly in need of a 12-step program. While he struggled with serious alcohol and rage issues, the roommates alternated between defending his actions while shreds of sanity peeked through. And then there was the hero of the season: Mikey, the lone innocent of the group. He was a beacon of all that is pure. Okay, he was a nerd, but he was so right about everything. And while there was no token gay cast member this season, there was a hidden past involving gay porn! Dustin, a “man’s man” was outed by, of all people, his girlfriend’s mother, who found a site that featured Dustin performing a different kind of “man’s man” activities. Juicy!

If the gay porn, violent behavior, and mother-son reunions weren’t enough for you, Real World even dealt with a death in last night’s finale when Leroy got a call that one of his friends had been killed. It was tied up a little too neatly in the last episode, but it did provide some really intensely emotional moments. And I have to admit: It got to me.

So I applaud this season. Real World‘s been dealing in tough times. Its all-Italian counterpart (I’m looking at you, Snooki) has been overshadowing the series for the past couple years and I think this season commanded respect — oh , think my hands are melting from typing that — from the MTV audience.

Did anyone else watch? Have you been following along all season? What did you think, was it horrendous, or hypnotic? Also, if anyone wants to start a campaign to bring back Paradise Hotel, you know where to find me.

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