‘Real World: New York’ Vs. ‘Portland’: ‘A Lot’ Has Changed Since 1992

Producer Jonathan Murray compares season one to season 28 before 'RetroMTV' marathon and Portland premiere next week.

SANTA MONICA, California — Back in the summer of 1992, when the very first season of “The Real World” plopped seven strangers into a New York loft, we found out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.

Twenty-one years later, eight strangers were similarly thrown together in Portland, Oregon, for the show’s 28th (yes, 28th!) season, premiering Wednesday at 10 p.m. on MTV. Starting Friday (March 22) at 8 p.m. on MTV, a “RetroMTV: Real World” marathon begins with that fateful New York season and leads all the way to the “Real World: Portland” premiere next week. When MTV News caught up with “Real World” mastermind Jonathan Murray, we wondered how the O.G. cast compares to the brand-new Portland roomies.

” ‘The Real World’ is still basically the same show,” Murray insisted. “It’s about that time in your life when you’re out on your own, you’re responsible for the decisions you make, hopefully you learn from your mistakes, and sort of that optimistic time when anything’s possible in your life. And I still think the show captures that.”

But Murray pointed out that a lot has changed since 1992, and the new show reflects just how big that cultural shift has been. “Young people are not the same,” he said. “There’s a lot more heavy drinking now, people are more comfortable with their sexuality. A lot of things have changed, many of them for the positive, since 1992. I think it’s interesting to look back.”

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Looking back at that first New York season, Murray recalled groundbreaking moments that remain relevant issues today.

“There were so many incredibly magical moments for us,” he said. “Just the way that these very different people came together, [like] Julie and Heather — Heather’s beeper goes off, and Julie goes, ‘What, do you sell drugs?’ Julie was from Birmingham, Alabama, but they became best friends. Kevin and Julie’s argument over race and Becky and Kevin’s arguments over race were fascinating. Julie’s befriending of a homeless women and wanting to spend the night with her in Central Park scared us to death; we had security people just out of frame. It was just an incredible time for all of us. And we’ll always be incredibly grateful for those seven individuals taking this plunge into the unknown.”

And Murray is thrilled that a whole new audience — many of who weren’t even born when that first season aired — will get to discover how it all began during the marathon, which will also include season three in San Francisco and season 12 in Las Vegas.

“I think it’s great for the viewers to be able to see this, because this was essentially the first reality series,” he said. “It’s interesting to look at it and compare it to what we have today. So I think it will be interesting for viewers.”

Don’t miss the “RetroMTV: Real World” marathon , which includes the New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas seasons, starting at 8 p.m. Friday on MTV. It all leads up to the premiere of “The Real World: Portland” on Wednesday at 10 p.m. on MTV! For more “Real World” coverage, visit the MTV Remote Control blog.