Though you wouldn't know it from my feelings now, I once was a fan of some reality television.
Yep, you read that right. And in the early days, I was a big fan of MTV's "The Real World." That was back when alcohol, sex and partying were part of the antics, but not the entire focus of the show.
I was an especially big fan of the first season. That's why I'm pretty excited that this weekend, in advance of Wednesday's premiere of season 28 in Portland, the network is airing marathons of three past seasons, including the first.
It airs from 8 p.m. Friday to 3:30 a.m. Saturday and is followed by season 12 in Las Vegas, from 2 p.m. Saturday to 4:30 a.m. Sunday, and season three in San Francisco, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
I couldn't care less about Vegas because by then the show had become what it is now — a showcase for debauchery. I am excited for the other two, though.
The show was still new then, as was the reality TV genre, and those seasons were more real. It really was about, as the show's intro goes, having their lives taped — as in, the lives they were already leading.
Since then, the focus of the show has become being on the show. That's what defines the cast's lives; that's their reason for existing. They even have a group job to work, further keeping them in their own little world.
In early seasons, though, the cast members already had their own careers. They were out living their lives with some help/manipulation from MTV, not living lives for the sole purpose of being televised.
In season one, Heather, Becky and Andre were musicians; Julie was an aspiring dancer, Eric was a fitness model and Kevin was a writer.
In season three, Judd was a cartoonist, Pam was a med student, Pedro was an AIDS educator and Puck was a bike messenger.
I can remember the first cast attending political rallies, Julie spending the night in a homeless community and Kevin mentoring a troubled teen. In season three, Pedro's struggle with AIDS and his work as an AIDS educator were chronicled, as was his commitment ceremony to his partner, Sean.
I can't remember later seasons having much worthwhile footage like that, though, granted, I haven't watched regularly since season nine, New Orleans, in 2000 and not at all since Paris in 2003.