“This is the true story…of seven strangers…picked to live in a house…(work together) and have their lives taped…to find out what happens…when people stop being polite…and start getting real…The Real World.”
Before reality television became a juggernaut force that took over a large portion of all television programming, MTV had The Real World. Each of the show’s 33 seasons is hosted in a different city, and in June of 1998, TRW made its first stop in Seattle for the sixth season. The cast of seven young people, aged 19-22, were assigned to live in a converted warehouse that sits on Pier 70 of Elliott Bay.
While all the chaos seemed to be fairly controlled by the production team of Mary-Ellis Bunum and Jonathan Murray, The Real World: Seattle is perhaps best remembered for violating the show’s no physical violence policy, when one cast member slapped another during a confrontation. The incident was dubbed “the slap heard round the world.”
It’s been over 20 years since the TRW: Seattle made its debut. The show made its return to Seattle during its 32nd season, shortly before the series ended. By today’s standards, season six was fairly tame and innocent, but during its time, the show was considered controversial and risqué for cable television programming. Though reality television has come a long way since the days of MTV inciting supposed unscripted confrontation among young adults, TRW will always have its place among the pantheon— and that Seattle season remains of its brightest moments.
Every Thursday we'll feature a blast from Seattle's past, with links to resources for learning more. If you have ideas for a piece of Seattle history we can feature, or anything else you'd like to see us cover, hit reply to this email!