When is MTV going to stop calling this series 'The Real World?' It's far from it. The only thing the peeps do on the show is drink, fornicate and never show up for their 'job.' The fact that they are having the show in Key West, known for it's wild behavior, indicates just low the standards have fallen since season one. Back then, everybody in the house had to find their own jobs and struggle for survival. Now, it's just another reality show where the booze flows and people hook up. How lame. Will I still watch? Of course!MTV's 'Real World' gets dose of Key West realityMTV's long-running reality show, The Real World, is in Key West filming its 17th season. The cast has opened a tanning salon on Duval Street -- and the producers turned back a legal challenge that sought to halt production.
By DANIEL CHANGMiami Herald
KEY WEST - A tanning salon on a tropical island may not make a lot of sense, then again, neither does the premise that seven young strangers of meager means could afford to live in an oceanfront mansion.
But this is TV and the plots are not supposed to adhere to logic or plausibility, even if the show is called The Real World.
The popular MTV series that launched the reality TV craze in 1992 has descended on the nation's southernmost city. Key West has greeted The Real World cast and crew with laid-back amiability, curiosity and nonchalance -- and a dose of litigiousness.
Among the true-to-life developments was a courtroom drama triggered by one of the Keys' larger-than-life residents, Edwin O. Swift III, owner of the ubiquitous Conch Tour Train and Old Town Trolley. Swift, whose million-dollar home is next door to The Real World mansion on Key Haven, said that the klieg lights were so bright that he no longer had trouble finding his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Swift complained that the show unleashed a parade of intrusive looky lous on his once-quiet street. But on Tuesday, Monroe Circuit Judge Mark Jones ruled in favor of Real World producers Bunim/Murray Productions, ensuring that the show will go on.
The Real World cast -- seven strangers between the ages of 18 and 24 who have agreed to live together for three months and have their every move filmed for later telecast -- does not spend all its time in the mansion. When the cast mates are not soaking in the indoor pool and spa or playing tennis out back, they can be found running a new spray-on tanning salon on Duval Street. Real World producers, who began filming in September, have struggled in vain to keep the cast's identities private and their actions hush hush.
Visitors to the salon, called Mystic Tan, are required to sign a contract acknowledging that they are being filmed for a TV ''documentary'' and promising not to disclose what they learn inside.
This being Key West, booze-loosened lips flap freely at the patio bar across the street, a restauranthotel-cabaret called La Te Da.
By most estimations, the cast is a likable bunch, maybe a little standoffish, but not unexpectedly so, given all the obvious attention of the camera and the pressure of their impending 15 minutes of MTV fame.
''They were great kids,'' declared Denise Dunbar, a Key West local at La Te Da with her husband, Greg. The Dunbars knew all about The Real World across the street. She had already visited the salon. ``The whole thing was a kick. I spent over $100.''
Greg Dunbar, 61, also had been. As he sipped his beer, he scoffed at the show's name. ''They call it The Real World,'' he laughed. ''It's really the unreal world: impossibly good-looking young people with no visible means of support . . .,'' his voice trailed, then thundered. ``You can't call it real.''
Soon after walking out of Mystic Tan, Stephanie Carney and Rema Shalan, a pair of 22-year-old students from the University of Dayton, in Ohio, said they were surprised to learn it was a front for The Real World.
''They just said it was a documentary,'' said Carney. Shalan described the salon's atmosphere as decidedly laid back, maybe a little too much so.
''We thought it was a little weird there's people just hanging out there,'' she said.
And the interior design?
''It's decorated by Pier 1,'' Shalan surmised. ``It looks like a Pier 1 store.''
Jason Vinkemulder, a bartender at La Te Da, described the cast as ''very well-behaved,'' if somewhat aloof, during bar visits.
They are usually trailed by a cameraman and a bevy of technicians carrying lights, microphones and clipboards with waivers.
''To some people it's a big deal,'' Vinkemulder said of the local reaction to The Real World, ``and they're trying everything to be on camera. But I realize they're trying to do their own thing and they don't want to be bothered.''
Just then, Gary Brown spoke up from behind his book and glass of wine. A train engineer on a three-week holiday from England, Brown offered that the cast and crew have been ``a bit too intrusive.''
''You're sitting somewhere and all of a sudden the doors swing open and it's lights, camera, action,'' said Brown, who encountered The Real World crowd at the gym and once while eating dinner.
Past seasons of The Real World have been filmed in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Miami and elsewhere. Key West is the smallest city to host the show. (The show airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m., although the season involving this cast won't be televised until early next year.)
Earlier this month, the cast extended a friendly ''how do you do'' to Key West, hosting a block party and ''tan-a-thon'' with live music, sandwiches and frozen drinks. The party was a combination grand opening for the salon and benefit for the campaign of Doug Stripp, a Key West local running for King of Fantasy Fest -- the annual Halloween carnival renowned for revelers who paint their private parts before exposing them.
Asked how he scored The Real World endorsement, the laconic Stripp just shrugged.
''I asked for it,'' he says.