I don’t know how ready you are to admit your familiarity with the show and everything about it, so let me go through the motions of pretending to explain how it operates. Once a Real World season ends, the cast members who have emerged during the filming as the popular ones (a status that can be achieved through hotness, all-American likability, and/or unusually blatant behavioral disorders) are invited into a shadow world that exists just below the glare of the series itself. This world has many rooms of its own: club appearances (like this one in Chapel Hill), spring break (which is essentially an amplified version of the club appearance, at one or another beach resort, with several bars and clubs jammed into several consecutive days of straight wildin’-wildin’), “speaking engagements” (at colleges, or to youth groups or antismoking groups, or what have you—especially advantageous here is if you’ve revealed some side of yourself on the show, such as gayness, alcoholism, bulimia, unhappiness over your breast implants, severe and unprovoked instantaneous anger, neediness, fainting when you see large ships, or crypto-racism, which speaks to a certain specialty population); “um, product launches”; and finally, most important of all, the highly visible and jealously guarded spots on The Real World/Road Rules Challenge, where former cast members team up to compete for—oh, fuck it! You know how it works. It’s like a ten-times-as-excellent version of Battle of the Network Stars—and of course, this being the twenty-first century and reality having long surpassed our fictions, a few of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge standouts, among them the Miz, have been cast in a revived edition of Battle of the Network Stars. Point being, one never really leaves The Real World, not if one is blessed with ripped abs or a boomin’ rack.
-“Getting Down to What Is Really Real”