In 1992, The Real World debuted on MTV, introducing the nation to the guilty pleasure of reality TV with seven strangers picked to live together in a loft.
Norman Korpi, Julie Gentry, Becky Blasband, Kevin Powell, Andre Comeau, Heather Gardner and Eric Nies made up the original cast, living in New York City and just trying to get by.
“We believed that if we bring different kinds of people together, after all the drama and the shouting, they will find they have more in common than not,” cocreator Jonathan Murray told The Los Angeles Times in 2020 of launching the show with producer Mary-Ellis Bunim, which has since aired 33 seasons. It also led to The Challenge, a spinoff that’s currently airing season 36.
In 2015, he dove into why people join the show — something that has likely changed as fame has become more of a factor.
“The cast members are very much aware at this point that when they come on The Real World, it’s not just about partying and having fun, they’re going to be pushed to look at aspects of their life and examine them, and we’re going to bring in some outside stimulation to make that happen,” he told Reality Blurred at the time.
But when The Real World started, no one had an idea that it would turn into so much more.
“We do realize we have this incredible bond being the first of everything,” Powell told Us Weekly in 2021 ahead of The Real World Homecoming: New York. “Like, there’s nothing else without us — not in an egotistical way, an arrogant way, just knowing that we really pioneered something that really changed the face of pop culture. So to come back and revisit that is pretty amazing.”
Powell also noted that they weren’t going to do the reunion special unless all seven signed on — and Gardner was a bit nervous to do so.
“I was the last one to sign on. I needed the most convincing only because it’s, like, this thing where you feel like you put something really good together and you don’t want to mess it up,” the singer told Us. “I just had a great time during the first season. It was great for me. I loved it. I love all of them, we’re family and I didn’t want to go back. I don’t want to be sad, I don’t want to mess anything up. So it took a lot of convincing.”
She added, “We’re all grown! We all live in our own separate situations. I’m like, ‘I don’t want no roommates.’ But I’m glad. I’m so glad that I went back.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see where the cast is today.