Today marks the 20th anniversary of MTV’s The Real World — the network’s longest-running series that helped shape reality television as we know it. That’s a lot of faith to put in seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together, and have their lives taped. While the show’s depiction of relevant issues like AIDS, substance abuse, and eating disorders was compelling, the roommate drama also kept people tuning in. Twenty-six seasons of seven (and sometimes eight) opposing personalities became the perfect recipe for heated debates, memorable clashes, and lusty crushes.
While the 27th season of The Real World readies for its debut this year, we got busy dream casting our own version of the upcoming installment, using the past seasons as our guide. Check out our picks after the jump, then let us know what cast members you’d add or detract from the group in the comments.
Dan Renzi (Miami, Season 5)
Sharp-tongued roommate Dan was a wannabe model during his season on The Real World, but most people remember him for his bitchy confessional revelations and duking it out with roomies Melissa and Flora. We could always count on Dan to serve up Real World realness, however, making even his years-later Pee-wee Herman moment forgivable.
Melissa Howard (New Orleans, Season 9)
Goofy girl Melissa’s humor helped carry us through the New Orleans season. She’s adorable, flawed, and more genuine than most of the cast alums. Even her drunken banter was hilarious and often smart. She was passionate about her viewpoint and never afraid to back down during housemate debates.
Pedro Zamora (San Francisco, Season 3)
The champ of house San Francisco, Pedro’s story is tragic, but inspiring. Born in Cuba, he arrived in the US in the 1980s and at 22 years old became a HIV-positive AIDS educator. He was also openly gay and lived with the deadly disease. This was 1994 and acceptance surrounding the epidemic wasn’t nearly what it is today, making his story one that educated and sincerely touched viewers. Always honest and kind, Pedro was taken from the world too soon. We think he had a lot more to teach people.
Heather B. Gardner (New York, Season 1)
Hip hop Heather B. from Jersey City kept the New York crew’s ego in check — especially that of model Eric Nies. Always one to speak her mind, Heather found an unlikely alliance in the naïve Julie Gentry — even after the racially tense question Julie posed to the Boogie Down artist (“All Glocks Down” shout out!) about selling drugs. The experience was an entry point for the housemates to share personal experiences and proved Heather could take it all in stride, but wasn’t afraid to “start getting real.”
Neil Forrester (London, Season 4)
Best known for being the Brit who got his tongue bitten off during one of his band’s shows, Neil’s other shining moments include the pig’s heart love letter his girlfriend sent him for Valentine’s Day, and the ongoing sexual tension with all-American girl Kat. The moody artist would lend some necessary brooding to our dream cast, and his apparent xenophobic tendencies would be sure to bring the drama. Also, we want to see if he still lives in leather pants.
Brooke LaBarbera (Denver, Season 18)
Brooke’s sheltered roots, hypersexual attitude, She-Hulk rage, and fragile ego make her an explosive, but necessary addition to our dream team. We’d like to see her fight against some of the stronger, saner personalities in our group while crying over manicures. Every season needs a memorable, schizophrenic freak-out.
Parisa Montazaran (Sydney, Season 19)
Persian-American cast member Parisa Montazaran spent most of the 19th season battling it out with preppy girl Trisha and southerner Dunbar. Some people called her boring since she stayed out of the house drama and antics for the most part, but she always had a sharp comeback and spoke her mind. MTV probably grimaced when Parisa handled the famous Trisha outburst tactfully with a phone call to producers instead of raging on the California girl. We’d like to see how she’d handle some of the bigger personalities of our group.
Puck (San Francisco, Season 3)
Even if you’ve never watched an episode of Real World before, chances are you’ve heard of Puck. Some viewers thought he was terrible, others found him redeemable, but there’s no denying that San Francisco’s volatile cast member made for entertaining television. A bike messenger with a bad attitude, Puck made his grand entrance into the third season by showing up late after being arrested. His lack of manners, poor hygiene, general rudeness, and eventual eviction make up some of the show’s most memorable moments. As Pedro famously clashed with Puck, we’re hesitant to put him through hell a second time around, but we’re pretty sure the two would either make up (hopefully showing that Puck learned a lesson), or that Pedro’s experience with the untamable roommate would give him the upper hand.