The first few episodes of MTV's "The Real World" have now aired, and if you're watching this season's show, which filmed in Denver this summer, you'll see all the standard melodrama and infighting but none of the bullying and manipulation tactics MTV used while filming the show.
What fun is that?
MTV spent the summer guarding its contrived and meaningless show like a mother eagle lying, deceiving and threatening the public in an effort to protect whatever integrity the show still has.
Maybe they're just proud parents; after all, "The Real World" is the original reality show, having started its run on MTV in 1992. By now, you surely know the idea: MTV puts seven beautiful 20-somethings in a house for 13 weeks and then films the subsequent drama and mayhem that transpires.
The premise is weak. The characters are typecast. And the storylines are repetitive. But it's the most addicting show on television. I, for one, loyally watch. It's fascinating television.
But as mind-boggling as it seems onscreen, it's even more so behind the scenes. This past summer, I worked as a reporter with the Denver Post, and part of my job involved reporting on the show for the Post's getrealdenver.com a blogging site focused specifically on the MTV show as the whole thing was being filmed.
A camera crew following a pack of partiers will inevitably catch the eye, but as MTV filmed, it demanded strict privacy. Readers wrote into the Post's Web site and told stories of how MTV bullied onlookers. MTV told the off-duty policemen who guarded the cast members' house that the network owned the sidewalk. Gawkers were to be shooed away, despite the fact that they, too, were an inevitability; the house is located in Denver's LoDo neighborhood and sits among dozens of bars on one of the city's busiest public streets.
Producers asked the fans they caught taking pictures of the cast and crew to erase the pictures they had taken. MTV even arrested one person, allegedly for holding open the house's gate much like a pedestrian would hold open a door for someone entering the house.
In reporting on the show, I, too, had my own run-in with MTV. After taking photos of the cast outside one night (for work, I swear), a producer jumped in my face and started snapping his own shots, saying, "Do you like this? Is this what you like doing to other people?"
I took out my own camera and did it right back to the producer (who, incidentally, wouldn't offer me his name). We had a photo-snapping fight right on the corner of Denver's 19th and Market streets, like some beautiful dance.
Already, the show has had its own fights. In this season's first episode, female Colie hooked up with male castmate Alex. The next night, Alex slept with Jenn. Trailers for upcoming episodes show even more delectable delights: fights over homophobia, fights over racism, and, yep, more fights over boys.
The only fight you won't see on these trailers is a photo-snapping one. I guess even "The Real World" audience isn't ready for something that childish.
Scott Lieber covered "The Real World" for the Denver Post and getrealdenver.com this summer.
"The Real World: Denver"
New episodes air on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
Visit realworld.mtv.com for more episode guides, exclusive online clips and other information.