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Date: 05/04/1997
Words: 312
          Publication: Sun Herald
Page: 6
HERE'S the pitch: get an eclectic group of young people together, rent them a funky apartment in a trendy area with all the latest Ikea furniture, then film every waking minute of their existence for a television show.

Oh, and don't forget to inject some conflict. If there's a gay person, he or she must have a homophobic counterpart; the black person has to have a closet racist to fight with; the classics lover rooms next to the headbanger. You get the picture.

That's probably something like how the meeting went before MTV's most popular new show was born. An idea so contrived could have only been given one name and MTV obliged, dispensing all irony when they called the series ... Real World.

Australian viewers - or at least those with cable - are getting their first taste of Real World now with series one, which was set in New York, screening 10 times a week on MTV Australia.

Since then the show has moved to San Francisco, London and Miami, with different "casts" at each setting (the positions are advertised before each new series and the eventual housemates have to get through a rigorous auditioning process).

It's like being able to tune into Sylvania Waters every week, only the people in this TV goldfish bowl are young, hip and good-looking - perfect representatives of the perfect MTV demographic.

In America the show has developed a huge cult following among the sort of people who arrange their social lives around Melrose Place and Savannah. MTV has even managed to spin it off into a book and a video, including all the juicy uncensored bits.

But despite all this, Real World has been singled out by critics as symptomatic of an MTV decline. These naysayers, who mainly come from the music industry, reckon MTV is losing touch with its original directive: ie, to help make the music industry more money by endlessly playing its video clips.

Come to think of it, there's an idea for the next Real World: The members of dysfunctional rock band Oasis could be set up in a pad with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and, oh, death metal group Pungent Stench.

There'd be conflict aplenty - and not even the record companies would complain.

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