So as it turns out, you can go home again-even if you are the cast of the original season of MTV’s The Real World: New York. As Paramount + launches, all seven original housemates are reuniting publicly for the first time in thirty years. Becky Blasband, Norman Korpi, Kevin Powell, Eric Nies, Julie Gentry, Heather B. Gardner and Andre Comeau have returned to New York City to once more, and as the now-legendary series intro says, to “live in a house and have their lives taped”. In a nod to history, production has already commenced in the very same Soho loft where The Real World: New York was originally filmed,.
Before the Real Housewives and the Kardashians, The Real World was what many consider the first true reality show of it’s kind ever crafted. Putting seven people from very difference sociological backgrounds from all over the country was a risk for Bunim/Murray Productions, which was then in its infancy. The risk paid off; conversations arose on, among other things, race and sexuality, and a brand new type of television was born.
For many (this writer included) housemate Norman Kopi was arguably the first openly gay person that many were able to see on a network television show, and definitely on a reality show. Norman was living as an out gay man and in a world that was starkly different from the one the LGBTQ community lives in today. Korpi was living life and existing as a happy, out (and sexually active) gay man. So many young and possibly not out gay men that were not even remotely close to having Korpi’s bravery at that time, saw hope. They saw hope for existence in a world that they did not even know existed until they saw Korpi enter that home on May 21, 1992.
When several of the cast members recently sat down with Andy Cohen for his new show E! show, fellow cast member Eric Nies was honest about his experience saying “If ‘The Real World’ didn’t happen and my life didn’t go the way it did, I might have been dead” During a conversation for Cohen’s new E! show For Real: The Story of Reality TV’s Real World reunion, “there were a lot of wounds that I was suppressing from my childhood and I was on a self-destructive path. I started using drugs at a young age,” said the 49-year-old former model/reality star, who went on to host The Grind on MTV went on to say “I was able to look at myself and see the things that I didn’t like about myself that I wanted to change. In a way, ‘The Real World’ kind of saved my life.”
‘The Real World New York: Homecoming’ premieres Thursday, March 4 on Paramount+.