“The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles” Examines Approval

brake alert: Don’t read if you haven’t watched the first episode ofHomecoming in the real world: Los AngelesNow streaming on Paramount Plus.

During the summer of 1993, reality television cameras captured the moment David Edwards, a cast member on MTV’s “The Real World: Los Angeles,” pulled the covers of Tami Roman (then Tammy Akbar), who was lying semi-naked in the the bed . What seemed like innocent teasing among his roommates grew darker as he continued to pull on the blankets, which she was desperately trying to keep wrapped around her body, dragging her from the bed to the hallway in a supine position. Roommate Beth Stolarchik, who threw her body over Roman to protect her from cameras and the eyes of others in the house, compared her problematic disregard to approval of the rapist’s behavior. The event knocked Edwards out of the show about a third of the way through his career, and nearly three decades later the accident is still creating story opportunities for the franchise.

Certainly, “The Real World: Los Angeles” features other stories that have caused just as much, if not as controversial, conversations – from Irene Berrera-Kearns’ portrayal of her LAPD schedule before leaving the show because she got married, to Roman after an abortion. But it was Roman and Edwards’ chance to clear the air that launched “The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles,” the second season of reunion, which kicked off November 24 at Paramount Plus.

“If Tammy and David didn’t want to discuss the overarching incident, it probably wouldn’t make sense to get the season done,” co-creator of “The Real World.” Jonathan Murray Tells diverse.

Episode one saw the original “Real World: Los Angeles” cast members Roman, Edwards, Stolarchic, Pereira Kearns and John Brennan back to the same Venice Beach they lived in during that fateful summer in the early 1990s. Glen Nessence and Beth Anthony, who stepped in to replace Edwards and Pereira Kearns, respectively, also joined the “Homecoming” season of jumping right in. The group spent a short time quickly catching up before sitting down together to re-watch and process footage of the extensive incident.

Murray says this was a topic that staff members came up with during pre-interview in pre-production with a lot to say. What became very clear was that there was an opportunity not only to paraphrase a young man’s fault, but also to provide context for why Roman was upset (partly because she lived with physical issues and an eating disorder, which she shares in the episode) and to allow Edwards to reflect on how hearing his name near the term might affect him. A “rape” on his career (he held up chances before the show launched in case he became a pariah, he admits) and reconsider the action in hindsight and through the lens of 2021.

“We knew they were going to discuss it in reference to some of these current issues that we are all talking about now, in terms of what is consent, which was not something that was in the world; the MeToo movement as well as the stigmatization of black men,” says Murray. “Some people came in saying, ‘Could they have handled the whole thing better? “Some words have been thrown around and I think some people wish they hadn’t been.”

Berrera-Kearns is one of the cast members who said in the first episode that she regrets not doing more to help Roman at the moment, especially since she was a cop. On the other hand, Edwards still resisted apologizing, arguing that since everyone was laughing, it couldn’t have been that serious or shocking.

After the inaugural season of “The Real World Homecoming,” which reunited the cast members from the opening season of “The Real World (New York),” Murray said the production team checked the availability of cast members from a few “Real World.” The different seasons to determine the course of “homecoming” in the second year. In the end, although neither Aaron Behley nor Dominic Griffin was persuaded to agree to a comeback, they stayed true to the chronology and moved forward with “Los Angeles” due to the storytelling that would-be producers saw in those who would return.

“As we talked to them, part of it is the first assessment, ‘Where are you in your life?'” What’s going on? How do you think this experience, 28 years ago, affected your life? It’s not just “Can you come over?” Murray says. “The reason we chose the cast is partly because we believe there will be a current story, not just thinking about the past.”

Some of this story appears on screen, with Anthony and Roman talking about how Anthony is now married to a man. (In their “Real World” season, Anthony walked home with a T-shirt that read, “I’m not gay, but my girlfriend is,” and her openness about being a lesbian created opportunities for Roman to learn more about the LGBTQIA-plus spectrum, as well as her own potential biases.) Some of this type of storytelling has a bigger resonance around the show.

The first episode of “The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles” features never-before-seen footage of roommates watching but barely debating the verdict in the Rodney King beating case. Another clip shows Berrera-Kearns handling her firearm just two feet from Brennan, who makes a joke about target training. It’s not something, as yet, taken up on screen, but gun safety is one, especially in light of the tragedy on the “Rust” set, as Murray knows is at the forefront of people’s minds.

“Irene was a deputy mayor and she was on during ‘The Real World’ so she had to take her gun with her. And as I remember, she would lock him up in the house every night, but she had to deal with it when she came and went,” Murray says.

Although there were no incidents of using a gun during filming, according to Murray, he admits that if they were doing the show today, they might have to “handle it” differently “based on what’s happened in the last 28 years.”

“Part of the interesting aspect of The Real World is that for ‘Homecoming,’ we both see where the cast was and where the country was 28 years ago,” he says. “Yes, things change, attitudes change, and different aspects of this develop.”

Another thing that evolved, even from the first “Homecoming” season to the second season, was the production process. “New York” season included the COVID-19 pandemic in his story as roommates rallied around Norman Corby, who was “stuck” by it, while Eric Ness had to video chat in the loft because he contracted the virus, despite testing negative before traveling To New York for the period of quarantine and filming. Months later when Los Angeles season was about to prepare, the pandemic was still going on but vaccines were available. Murray has not commented on whether there was a vaccine mandate for the show to be in, but he says they followed “a lot of the same protocols in terms of testing and isolation” in order to keep them safe.

“We got into this feeling more confident that we would be able to get through it without any kind of shutdown,” he says.

Thanks to Stolarczyk, they’ve also been able to return to their original condo from the ’90s, with some “decor improvements,” including a developer acknowledgment. (“The Real World: Los Angeles” was the first season that brought the fourth production item to Breaking the Wall.) “Beth knows the person who owns the house and I think she might have given us the person’s phone number and we were able to cut a deal to use the house,” reveals Murray.

While it certainly wasn’t an easy season to get through, between bringing enough original cast members together and shooting with the extra safety measures in place, “I just appreciate the cast that embraced the project and dig into it and use this opportunity to explore those issues,” he says. Murray.

“The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles” airs every Wednesday on Paramount Plus.

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