MTV's classic reality show returns with a twist

Change is coming to MTV’s The Real World. After 21 years and 28 seasons, TV’s second-longest-running reality show (the longest is COPS) is altering its format for the first time. The upcoming cycle — set in San Francisco and premiering next year — is titled Real World: Ex-Plosion, and the premise is this: The new crop of seven housemates get a huge shock roughly a month into their rowdy cohabitation when their ex-loves move in too. (CBS’ Big Brother experimented with a similar twist in 2003.) Co-creator Jonathan Murray points out that The Real World‘s pioneering format in which diverse strangers live together and (theoretically) learn from one another is a common component of reality shows now — so it’s not as dramatic: “After 28 seasons, why not shake it up a little? The world has changed; diversity is a fact of life today.” Producers cast singles who had interesting relationships with their exes, then covertly scrambled to persuade those ex-boyfriends/girlfriends to move into the house after filming began (five exes agreed). “It got really complicated and really interesting,” he says. Okay, so change may be good. But there’s still a hot tub, right? Murray pauses. “Of course there’s a hot tub.”