Latinos on the Real World

Now, the Real World is supposed to be a character study of the psyche and relationships between seven (and more recently, eight) strangers chosen to live in a house together and be taped for several months. What is supposed to ensue is cultural and ideological conflict, and that's what the audience got for the first several seasons of the Real World. Towards the show's middle of its 23 season run, it began to lose that initial objective, and simply became a venue for binge drinking, incessant partying, and all other general douche-baggery. The characters ceased to be diverse and interesting, and the the show began to lose steam and a revolutionary and influential program.

However, lately, the show has made changes to who they cast, in an attempt to bring the show back to its ground-breaking and culturally diverse origins. Casting directors have also been instructed to seek out those that appear to be goal-oriented, which would bring more depth to their characters in a way that hadn't been seen in years.

Being Latino myself, I decided to look back at that past 8 seasons, seasons I remember watching and having some opinion or another on the character. How have Latinos on the Real World been portrayed or perceived from my perspective, and was it a good choice on MTV's part?

Real World: Philly


Willie was one of the two gay cast members on his season, and provided a shoulder to lean on to anyone who needed it. He was endearing in his quest for love, and because we all recognized him as the kid from "Ghostwriter." Although he was regarded as a "nice guy," I don't actually remember anything he did that was interesting or important. Its characters like this that make me think that I'd be way better on the Real World. There is a good way to be nice AND interesting, and Willie, unfortunately, could not find it.

Real World: Austin


Her incessant reappearances on challenge shows aside, I actually kind of liked Johanna on her season of the Real World. She was this cute Peruvian from California who was studying at Columbia, and she got arrested mid-season for being intoxicated in public (or something alcohol-induced like that). In fact, its hard to reprimand her for her actions when everyone on this season of the Real World got arrested or beat up or black-out drunk at some point. I think she showed the fiery and fiercer side of Latinas that you stereotypically hear about in a new way. Because she was one of the most chased-after characters of any Real World season, Johanna demonstrated her ability to choose and have power, and she was cool because of that.

Real World: Key West


Although he was goal-oriented and an all-around good guy, Jose failed to be of interest to anyone in his cast, let alone anyone watching the show. His ability to pick himself up and become a realtor at such a young age despite hardship makes him different from the stereotypes of Latino men, which was a redeeming quality. However, being invisible for most of the show's duration, his impact was a lot less than it could have been. We need to see more of Jose popping up on challenge shows in order to actually understand what a key figure he could be for Latino men everywhere.

Real World: Denver


With Jenn's propensity to fuck up her eyebrows and mostly destroy brain cells on the Real World: Denver, I firmly believe that if she continued on the path she was taking, she would eventually destroy the world. Jenn represented everything that producers of the Real World have been trying to change with their most recent seasons - namely, the alcohol-chugging, panty-dropping joviality of thirteen year olds given a cocktail for the first time. Although I did like her on her season, she didn't do much for representing Latinos on TV, and instead blended herself in with the likes of Brooke and Colie, who were both sorority girls with nothing on their hands but drugs to take and alcohol to drink. I guess homogeny is a good thing?

Real World: Sydney


Shauvon was likable for the most part. She had a brief romantic stint with roommate Isaac, before turning into an angry drunk, throwing a drink at his head, and then proceeding to retreat home back to her ex-boyfriend, who only broke up with her because she was going to go on the Real World. Huh? That doesn't sound like a strong Latina to me! A strong Latina would have stuck up for her decision, told her boyfriend to suck it, and maybe would have taken to tap or ballet or something. Screw you, Shauvon!

Real World: Brooklyn


Oh, JD - crouching asshole, hidden douchebag. Behind those adorably good looks, you have someone who is not only undeniably judgmental (at least, to the cameras), but also the first to say that he wants to "take care of people." How self-righteous can you get? On the Real World, when someone shows over-confidence and self-righteousness, it can only mean that they are terribly insecure, and JD proved to be the exception to the rule. I don't think there is a dose of insecurity in JD's body - which, when mixed with his self-righteousness, can only make him completely unlikable.

Real World: Cancun


Where did they find this fucked up gem of a television personality? Ayiiia started off as cute and cuddly, turning into a flesh-eating demon from California with the first drop of alcohol and slightest hint of aggression aimed at her. What was admirable about her was that she always went for the kill when it came to fighting - she'd pick the proverbial balls of your insecurity, and kick them as hard as she could. Towards the end, there were some redeeming qualities that surfaced, but where Johanna left off on the "feisty Latina" stereotype Ayiiia finished it off - and then kicked that in the balls, too. I guess that means I liked her?

Real World: Cancun


Derek, Ayiiia's roommate in Cancun, was certainly my favorite Latino character from the Real World series. An over-achieving teacher's pet and grandma's boy, he not only warmed my heart but froze it over when I found out he was a gay Mexican server from Arizona (there go my chances of being on the Real World, Derek. Thanks). On his season, he was opinionated and strong, yet always attempted to bring everyone together, and never failed to be there for those who needed it the most, even when his feelings towards them were somewhat unclear. He never failed to name-drop his Mexican heritage in nearly every episode, and he made his goals of becoming a physician's assistant quite clear. I just hope we see him on some challenge shows so that we don't forget about him!


Doña Nati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doña Nati said...

My faves were Jen and Derek. Poor Jenn, give her break. I really feel like she was a pretty decent representation of a modern day young Latina on the come up... haha. Drawn eyebrows, leather boots, muffin tops, acrylic nails, and from the Bay... HELLO? I can totally relate cuz she was still a little hottie and in complete control of the real things that matter. so there! haha! leave Jen alone!

Doña Nati said...

LOVE this posting!

and shauvon is Latina?