The Real World Homecoming: New York is getting the gang back together for the first time since the inaugural 1992 season of MTV's groundbreaking reality series. The cast and creator of the series spoke to USA Today ahead of Thursday's Homecoming premiere on the all-new Paramount+ streaming service, explaining that while some things have changed, many more remain the same.
Getting back together in the same NYC loft where they first met are Heather B. Gardner, Becky Blasband, Andre Comeau, Julie Gentry, Norman Korpi, Eric Nies and Kevin Powell, who were between 19 and 26 when the show first gave an unfiltered look at what happens when strangers are forced to live together. Executive producer Jonathan Murray, who created the series with the late Mary-Ellis Bunim, said he was shocked to see how quickly the cast's dynamic returned.
"What surprised me most was how quickly the same rapport was there. It was like those almost 30 years disappeared the way this group took up life together again," Murray said. "The essence of who those people were, it's still there. They're just a little more experienced." Gardner added that the experience was "surreal" and took her back in time almost three decades. "To go back into the same place where we did this thing 29 years ago, you can't even imagine it. It was just absolutely crazy," she said.
The Real World's original 32-season run on MTV blazed trails for reality TV and oftentimes featured uncomfortable conversations between the houseguests as they tackled topics like race. "We really enjoyed seeing everybody, and just like the first run of the show, there were some pretty serious conversations. Some heavy topics were covered and not all of it was comfortable," Comeau said. "Not everything is perfect in real life, and our show is no different."
While plenty of things have changed since 1992, the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot took place while the cast was quarantining for filming, which reminded the cast of the riots that took place in Los Angeles after the acquittal of police officers in the Rodney King beating. "The most uncomfortable moment in the [original] show was the Rodney King moment. We were living in that loft and the verdict [came in] and L.A. was literally on fire," Gardner recalled. "And if you fast forward 29 years later, imagine we come back and we're hanging out as friends and catching up in our adult lives and there's an insurrection. These conversations can't help but come up again. It's like, wow, how much has really changed?"