In typical fashion, this summer found hundreds of Penn students remaining on campus taking courses, conducting research and pursuing jobs and internships in Philadelphia.
However, Penn students were not the only young adults on campus this summer. They were joined by the seven cast members of The Real World Philadelphia, who visited Penn as part of their four-month stint living and working in the city.
After several, frequently tumultuous months of filming which were characterized by a succession of production problems the MTV reality show's 15th season will debut next week, airing its kick-off episode on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
Continuing the trend of civilian intervention started by the Philadelphia construction union protests, which threatened to cancel the show before filming began in March, this season of The Real World will feature a large degree of interaction with the city itself.
The concentrated urban setting of Philadelphia prevented this season's cast members from becoming isolated from the city, and facilitated interaction with its residents.
"Philadelphia is a great city with great diversity and a concentrated downtown area," Sociology professor David Grazian said. "Unlike the sprawling suburban areas of previous seasons, which lack the authenticity of Philadelphia, the urban nature of the city will make it easier for the kids to interact with their environment."
Although the cast members' job is a staple of every Real World season, this season's job better reflects the interactive nature of the city and provides insight into the lives of Philadelphia residents.
The cast members worked for the community outreach program of the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football League team, which is co-owned by Jon Bon Jovi.
Assisted by area residents, their chief task was to construct a playground for troubled youth in North Philadelphia.
In addition to the geographical intimacy of the city, the abundance of young adults from the area's various colleges and universities also helped the cast members to interact with and blend into Philadelphia.
While at Penn, the cast members shopped on Walnut Street and stopped for lunch at Pod, frequenting many of the same places Penn students patronize and seamlessly integrating into the University community.
"When they came here, they just looked like regular 20-somethings," said one of the waitresses at Pod. "Apart from the cameras, they really just looked like any other Penn student out for lunch."
As has become customary in many recent Real World seasons, the interaction with the community was not all positive, as some cast members became involved in a bar-room brawl at the Old City club 32.
After trying to dance with one of the female cast members, a 22-year-old man was taken to the hospital for stitches following a fight with one of the show's male cast members. The late-night fight prompted police intervention.
Despite the incident's gravity, members of the Penn community believe that The Real World will have an overall positive impact on the growth and development of Philadelphia. The show's extreme popularity attracts more than 10 million viewers per season.
"Pop culture images of the city in recent years have portrayed Philadelphia as the city you see in Rocky or Hack, as a kind of undesirable place, which is filled with crime," Grazian said. "But residents are well-aware that the city has undergone an urban renewal in recent years, and we've seen the emergence of a very exciting downtown landscape."
He added, "The Real World may help to change perceptions around the country about Philadelphia as a place of entertainment rather than crime."
The last few seasons of The Real World have been based in San Diego, Paris, Las Vegas and Chicago.Comments powered by Disqus
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