washingtonpost.com
The 'Real World' in D.C.

Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 17, 2009 11:00 AM

After 17 years, 22 locations and lots of cultural baggage, MTV's "The Real World" has finally moved to D.C.

Washington natives have reacted with a mix of hostility, curiosity and zealous indifference to the past-its-prime, ratings-challenged reality series. Twitter feeds catalog every move the cast members make, while neighbors of the "Real World D.C." mansion are ashamed to admit they've become the tourists they loathe.

Washington Post reporter Dan Zak was online Monday, Aug. 17 at 11:00 a.m. ET to discuss his recent article about the show and what it reveals about the "real" D.C.

A transcript follows.

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Dan Zak: Happy dog days, kids. After six weeks in residence, The Real World has gone from novelty to neighbor. Here's what I'm looking for this hour: weird sightings/encounters with the cast and crew, thoughts about how the city has received the show, predictions about how the city will look on the air next year, reactions to my story, and musings about any season of The Real World (from the first in 1992 to the current Cancun season). I'd like to hear from anyone who got in the house. I want to hear how much you care. I want to hear how much you DON'T care. We can also chat about anything that falls under the category of "reality," even if it has nothing to do with MTV or television. There are no rules on this August Monday morning.

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McLean, Va.: Wow....reading your article made me realize how far this show is from the original, ground-breaking Real World season 1 in New York that dealt with relevant and powerful issues in our culture. It also made me realize how celebrity-obsessed (face it, reality TV stars are celebrities) our culture has become. Social media seems to enable the shallow ideology that many young people today have by providing an outlet to validate their superficial lifestyle. As someone that was about 11 when the first Real World show debuted and grew up with it, I think it's very sad what the show has become and even more sad how it may be a reflection of a misguided generation.

Dan Zak: I Netflix'd the first season a couple weeks ago and was delighted by it. How quaint it was, with its canted camera angles and early-'90s NYC aesthetic. The castmates were all artists (except the girl from Alabama)! MTV checked in with their parents! The cast sat around in one spot for more than 10 minutes sometimes, talking sincerely about, like, race and class! Yes there was skin (Eric Nies) and drama, but there was also earnestness.

And you're right about social media: It's all but invalidated The Real World. The world that the show anticipated (one of self-disclosure and voyeurism/exhibitionism) has caught up with it in the big way. And we're all mostly over it.

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Claimtofa, Maine: I saw them walking down Connecticut Ave on a Sunday morning...they seemed like they were trying too hard - one of the girls was wearing shorts with cowboy boots IN JULY...I was actually surprised with how low-tech the filming is - One guy filming with a girl holding him by his shirt, leading him down the street.

Dan Zak: You might try hard too if you were on a TV show. And you're right about the low-tech filming: small, unobtrusive crew. Single camera. Sound guy. And of course the seeing-eye girl who pulls the camera guy backward so he knows where to go. It's so simple, so boring.

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Washington, D.C.: D.C. is too "Real" for what this show has become. It belongs in Hollywood, Cancun or Miami.

Dan Zak: Hmm, D.C. is too "real." I want to hear some thoughts on this. The thrust of my story was about how a prideful city reacts to such a crass, pedestrian series...

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Alexandria, Va.: Dude, someone is going to get jacked. You're in DC. I like cops. Do you? Because if they flip out -- like in other places where people just look -- most in DC will beat them up for making that spot hot at that time.

Dan Zak: To my knowledge there has been no police brutality at 20th and S. Although that might've made a better story.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I was amused to find that people are blogging anti-Real World protests. My opinion? They are looking for a way to indirectly show off that the Real World is somehow touching their lives. Perceiving themselves as too cool to be excited by the Real World, they grasp for reasons to be annoyed by the whole thing and then broadcast their involvement with the show to all who will listen.

In all fairness, I'm not a Real World neighbor, so maybe I'm not getting what a nuisance they apparently are, but I did encounter a gaggle at the Capitol Skyline pool yesterday. They didn't hurt anyone. They just wandered and chatted. What's the big deal, people?

Dan Zak: I'm not a Real World neighbor either, but I've spent several days and nights in the area and saw nothing objectionable. The crew is quiet, the cast is pleasant. The big deal is that it isn't a big deal but people are making it a big deal. Although I'd like to hear from others who feel differently.

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Rosslyn, Va.: I read some of the ARWDC blog and it's hysterical. It's by some guy who wants to brag that he lives near the Real Worlders and clearly wants in on the action but doesn't want to admit it. One entry says that the cast should live in SE because that's the "real DC". Dude, you said you are neighbors with the cast, living in their neighborhood. Are you not a "real DCer?" Obviously people live all over DC. Plus, it brags about the "heckling" they plan for the cast. If that's "real" then I would hate to be this guy's neighbor in the future. Is that how this guy treats all newbies on the block? Nice. He also talks about the stalkers and gawkers and then posts pictures of the cast, and tiny details about their comings and goings, and keeps a blog about them. Who is the "real" stalker and gawker here?

washingtonpost.com: Anti-Real World DC

Dan Zak: Well, yes, that's the whole irony: Gawkers gawking at gawkers. I guess I fall into that category too.

The ARWDC people aren't braggarts. From my talks with them, it seems they want to do two things: 1. Give people a portal into the action, and 2. Have fun. I think they're succeeding at both.

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Washington, D.C.: After watching her videos, is Ms. Ploger concerned that her antics will reflect negatively on the District? Also, what are her plans now that the cast has received instructions to not speak with her?

Dan Zak: I can't possibly see how her antics will reflect negatively on the District, which is already full of media crazies whose angles are more diabolical than Beth's. Not sure what she plans on doing now that she's a recognizable face. Maybe she has some thoughts on her most recent Webisode. It's very Shakespeare, though (or is it Greek tragedy?): She wanted to get close to the cast, but now that they know her she can't get any closer.

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Forestville, Md.: Stop comparing this upcoming and current seasons to the beginning of the series. It's 10+ years later! And I am very disappointed in how people are receiving the cast and crew. All the hate blogs and stalking is embarrassing. Everyone says DC has always been a great city and MTV is late in "discovering" us as a real world city but they are here now so let's embrace them! All the overreacting by the loser stalker/blogger neighbors says more about them than it does about the cast or production.

Dan Zak: Correct.

And, for the record: It's 17 years later. A generation, or more.

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Arlington, Va.: I was surprised at how poorly both MTV (really BMP) and the mayor's office thought through how this show would come to D.C. The arrogance of the producers who thought they could model "have they have always done it," was off-putting to members of the community who would happily have advised them.

Bunim-Murray productions has now sold their company to Endemol, USA, so there probably is no point in beating this dead horse.

Dan Zak: From my reporting, I found that members of the community did and do, in fact, advise the production. BMP/MTV isn't pretending that the city doesn't exist. From what I can tell, they do some degree of homework.

What's your beef?

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Anonymous: Where is the cast from? Are they even from DC?

Dan Zak: They're not from D.C., although Ty is reportedly from Baltimore. Andrew is apparently from Colorado. Josh is apparently from Philadelphia. As for Callie, Erika, Ashley and Mike (is there one more? who knows), just Google around. There are tons of reports, and few confirmations.

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Northern Virginia: DC is a town where you either put up or shut up. The Real World Kids are learning this finally and now they are starting to be more accepted. I blog about them and follow them on occasion or run into them when I am out and they are normal people. I have had a lot of interaction with them and I find them very cool.

Dan Zak: They were perfectly charming at National Night Out. But who knows what's going on INSIDE the house. That's where all the glass gets thrown.

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Washington, D.C.: It's interesting comparing The Real World to the late WJFK... celebrity for the sake of being a celebrity. I had once brief encounter with the cast and crew since they arrived but haven't really been near the house much. What's surprising is the number of younger people who tell me they still actively enjoy the show, while most still give a blank look once they hear the show is still in production. From those I polled I'd say it's a 70/30 split (in favor of those not watching). One thing is certain, RWDC's presence has galvanized Twitter's usage among an entire group of locals who previously only used Facebook.

Dan Zak: Teenagers still watch The Real World. Well, teenagers and me. But only for professional reasons. Honest. (Has anyone been watching Cancun? Jeebus!)

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20910: Could not care less if I were dead and in the ground. At least I moved out of my old 19th and R apartment a few years ago, so I'm not at risk for airborne herpes.

Dan Zak: That explains the sore on my bottom lip.

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Falls Church, Va.: Have the Real World kids been dipping into any of the hot action that DC has to offer, like Congressional health-care hearings, Supreme Court arguments, or janitors' union protests?

Dan Zak: Or ANC meetings! Or waiting for the Circulator! Or standing forever in line at Whole Foods and stewing in self-hate!

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Washington, D.C.: For the commenter who said "DC is too real"... To expand on what he was saying. DC is a great place to make a name for yourself, but you must do so based on your accomplishments (or at least perceived accomplishments). This isn't the domain of Paris Hilton nor do we celebrate fame for its own sake. I think this is where the disconnect lies between the cast/crew and most of the locals who actually live in the neighborhood. Most of the stalker/gawkers are traveling here from outside the District.

Yes, we have bars and clubs here. People get drunk in them. So we have some attractive college-aged kids getting drunk in local bars. What separates this footage from any other city? I agree, it's not "Real" in that it has little to do with the District other than the fact that the bars happen to be here... For all practical purposes you could film this entire thing in another city and have a chroma-key backdrop with some pictures of the Washington Monument and it would be just as effective (and I use the term loosely).

Dan Zak: I like what you're saying. In my story I grazed the notion of D.C. as a city of accomplishments. Deeds are its currency.

I wouldn't be surprised if "Real World D.C." tries to be very pro-active and goody-goody and change-the-world-y when it airs next year. Apparently the cast is volunteering. And some of them are working for non-profits. The series sounds like it's hopping on the Change train.

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Northern Virginia: Josh-Philly/Callie-Texas/Erika-Illinois/Josh and Andrew-Colorado/ Emily-Missouri/Ty-Baltimore

Dan Zak: So says one source from NoVa. Look how intrepid we've all become.

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Arlington, Va.: Jon Murray (CEO of Bunim Murray Productions) said he wasn't coming here until Bush was gone, so he kept that promise. He also promised to hire a number of locals to work on the production, so props to him for dropping needed $$$$ on the local economy. The house was standing empty and in need of renovation, too.

Dan Zak: All of this is true.

Side note: Murray declined to comment for my story. As did Tony DiSanto. As did Brian Graden. Unfortunate. Although Murray did talk to Digital Spy. Here's what he said:

"The location is very important. ... Generally, the bigger the better -- New York, L.A. are cities where we are not the biggest thing that are happening in that town. It's great; we're just like a nobody, as far as production when we're shooting. So the cast members are left alone to do their thing and meet people. Whereas when you shoot in a smaller city, often the radio station and newspapers are talking about you - it's like you're the big news in the town, which is not what we want to be."

I think he's talking about us.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you know if the Real World has anything to do with a new coffee shop that opened up right next to it, Le Pain Quotidien? It seems odd they have a host of gorgeous twenty somethings at the same time MTV moves in and they're from New York too.

Dan Zak: I know nothing about this. Anyone else?

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Northern Virginia: I have spoken with Adam from RWDC and he is the most impersonable person ever. No one cares about Anti Real World. It is stupid. There is a blog on his site from a dogs point of view. Talk about desperation....

Dan Zak: I don't think you get it. The ARWDC people don't take themselves THAT seriously. It's just something to do this summer.

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Arlington, Va.: What's my beef?

Dan, you and I were at the same community meeting where the Mayor's assistant and the ill director of the Mayor's film office tried to answer questions with little or no factual information. MTV didn't even bother to show up.

Dan Zak: The main complaint at the meeting was about advance notice. Residents were (justifiably) pissed about being kept in the dark until a couple weeks before the move-in. And, yes, MTV should've showed, just to be polite.

But from what I hear from people, the mayor's office has been responsive since then and there have been no major issues. Correct me if I'm wrong...

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Arlington, Va.: From what I hear the producers/camera people are quite arrogant. One of the cast members is apparently playing with a local amateur sports team and the cameras are right out there in the middle of the field, not caring that they are in the way and ruining the game for everyone else.

Dan Zak: Can anyone corroborate this? Sounds douche-baggy, but I'd think everyone involved in the game must've signed off on this. If it's true.

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Washington, D.C.: re: "DC is a town where you put up or shut up" - I agree that they're finally starting to get it. In the beginning I had seen reports of the cast complaining that everyone they encountered in the bars were rude/arrogant/not sucking up to them. What they failed to realize is that unlike the venues featured in previous seasons, the people they're mingling with at the bar could very well be Congressional aides, or work at the White House, etc. Glad to see they're finally trying to fit in better.

Dan Zak: After six weeks, you kind of just have to start living your life. Even if you're on a TV show. And remember: They're shooting through October.

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Ballston, Va.: It really would have been the Real World if the cast members (male and female) had to get jobs as strippers in local clubs!

Or even better: worked at WalMart!

Dan Zak: If I could pick their assignments, they would be: cashier at Chick-fil-A, Metro bus driver, the Nationals' Teddy Roosevelt mascot and...what else? What else should they be made to do to get the full D.C. experience?

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Washington, D.C.: I've watched all of Beth Plogger's videos, and aside from her encounter with the guy at Rhino, I just see her and her friends driving around and eating. If you're going to be a "Real World stalker" with the hopes of using that as a launchpad to work for TMZ or US or whatever, don't you actually have to come up with something good?

Dan Zak: Well, precisely. Beth's videos are mostly about Beth. For that reason, I don't understand why the cast is so skittish.

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Washington, D.C.: In response to the person who asserted that the gawkers come in from outside the city: not entirely true.

Right now, most of the gawkers appear to be from inside the District. These are the closeted gawkers.

It's summer, so obviously tourists and local tourists have taken trips to the house. This weekend an impromptu "flash mob" of several dozen people dressed and made up as zombies stopped by the house. CLEVER - they got on the show, the cast participated, and I believe that this was indeed an event with mostly out-of-towners.

Dan Zak: Yeah, some gawkers live next door. Some commute in from the states. Either way, the Real World house gives the locals a chance to be obnoxious tourists themselves.

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Arlington, Va.: The Real World DC had some run-ins with locals the first few weeks they were here. Are they adjusting to their new lives in the city and are they making any friends? I've seen them around town (I work at the Russia House) but they don't seem to be too friendly. =(

Dan Zak: Something tells me they've been cautious, or are scared of Washingtonians. From what I can tell, they're adjusting to their lives. As I say in the story, they go for jogs. They have jobs. They pop over to the Safeway for cigarettes. They work out. And so on.

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SE D.C.: Ignoring the comment about SE being the real DC.....Anyway, I have a friend who works for a non profit with some of the cast members. He said they canvassed with him a few weeks ago in NW (with cameras) and everything went smoothly. No biggie.

Dan Zak: It'd be a lot more interesting if crazy sh*t happens, but so far: none.

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Arlington, Va.: You are correct about the Mayor's office. The director gets it.

Dan Zak: At the very least, the District will get a solid hour of promotion every Wednesday starting next year.

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Washington, D.C.: DC is a city of unabashed self-promotion and pursuit of fame just like LA. The difference is that in LA, the stars are beautiful people who say little; in DC, they're ugly people who talk all the time.

Dan Zak: Right right, yes yes, Hollywood for ugly people, blah blah.

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Washington, D.C.: Having watched the show on and off (more off than on) since the 1st season, I was admittedly somewhat excited when I heard it was coming to DC... and I actually just moved into the neighborhood shortly before they did.

Does the cast have any regular hang-outs where they can be spotted or to meet any of them?

When is the DC season slated to air on MTV?

Dan Zak: This year's Real World Brooklyn debuted in January, so I assume Real World D.C. will debut in January 2010. Mark your calendars.

Regular hangouts: Nellie's at 9th and U, Third Edition in Gtown, the Capitol Skyline pool party, Washington Sports Club, Lauriol Plaza, Rhino Bar in Gtown. There are others too. The RealWorldDCNewz Twitter feed keeps up with them.

I'd like to hear from anyone else who's been a charter viewer of The Real World. Take us back to New York, L.A., San Francisco, Pedro Zamora territory...

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Washington, D.C.: I spoke to JD Ordonez of Real World Brooklyn at the Halo event several weeks ago; we chatted about the impact that social media have on the arguably stuck in the 1990s way of production.

He said that in Brooklyn nobody really cared/notices since camera crews and reality shows/tv/movie sets are a dime a dozen in NYC. I think the interest for some (and push-back for others) stems from the novelty component of having a pop-culture fixture such as RW or Real Housewives, etc., in this political "serious news" town.

At this point, I have to admit that I find it silly that some folks are still so adamantly opposed to the fact that this is really happening. While obviously the obligatory hot tub and extracurricular activities that come with it -- the bar hopping, the drama -- provide the ratings (or lack thereof) for the show, I believe that Jonathan Murray and executive producer Jim Johnston are taking a different approach with this season because it is in D.C.

Most cast members are interning at NPOs, one cast member is interning at two. The social media component (though BMP won't admit it) is providing enough buzz that this season may actually be poised to be more of a return-to-the-roots, back to basic season.

As for the obtrusive nature of the cameras: it's really not so. I've attended several evens where the cast showed up and they really don't impose all that much. Though, I do admit that having a camera a few inches from my face while speaking to some of the cast members was a tad awkward.

Dan Zak: Yeah, New York appears to have totally ignored Real World Brooklyn. There were only a handful of snotty posts on Gawker while they shot last year. Brooklyn was a weird season -- they had their first transgender castmate, plus an Iraq vet, and still the whole season was oddly unfeeling. The current season (Cancun) has reverted to debaucherous insanity, but I also have a feeling that D.C. will be a tad more buttoned-up.

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Washington, D.C.: They should also work a day as the "hand people" during rush hour traffic.

On what they are actually doing: one is a photographer for a media company, one is an intern at the Human Rights Campaign and the Energy Action Coalition. One will be working in a trendy hair salon beginning this week, another is a bartender, one was going to work with NPR, but that fell through. Also, Whitman Walker Clinic will have a "real worlder" in the house.

Dan Zak: The hand people! Yes! Blow that whistle til you drive us all mad.

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Washington, D.C.: Beth Plogger is an embarrassment to both herself and the city. But I'm curious how you feel as a journalist about her and her friends surreptitiously videotaping one of the cast members as they talked to him at his job. Is this in any way legitimate journalism? Is it even legal?

Dan Zak: I wouldn't call her an embarrassment. She's just doing what she likes and having fun. As for the surreptitious videotaping and legitimate journalism and legality...that will take a whole other hour. Suffice to say: Witnessing that scene made me think all kinds of things at once (including "This is hilarious" and "This is sad" and "What am I doing here?").

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Friendship Heights, Md.: After the Metro collision this summer, I found myself walking all the way or part of the way home from Farragut North quite a few times. This is after spending quite awhile standing on the platform trying to get on a train. My walk up Connecticut would take me by the Real World house, and being the masochist that I am, I would walk by it real slow. One particularly hot evening, after a long day of work, I passed by their little hot tub tent and heard them joking and laughing in there. They should put a sign on the gate that says, "If you were pretty enough to be on MTV, you'd be home by now."

Dan Zak: Love it. (Except the cast is, uh, not as attractive as usual. Yes, I am shallow enough to notice this.)

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Washington, D.C.: The real world kids have been fine. I've met most of them and they seem like good people. The camera crews have generally been okay. They've drawn out some groupies and NIMBY neighbors, but that's to be expected.

Not like we've ever had a group house in Dupont Circle - or someone filming a movie or TV show around here. I mean, it's gotten to the point you can't get a drink in this town without running into Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughan.

Maybe you should have entitled the article, "Much ado about much ado about nothing." (repetition intended)

Dan Zak: One of Dupont's ANC commissioners told me this: "It's not like this is the first group house full of young people in D.C."

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Washington, D.C.: mmmmm, self-hate stew.... Delicious.

Um, a comment about Real-World DC... I'm glad they fixed up a vacant house, and it did make me think about watching a show that I've never watched, we'll see if I remember when the episodes come out. When do they come out?

Dan Zak: My guess is January 2010, but MTV and Bunim-Murray Productions don't confirm even basic information. I'm sure you could Google your way to an estimated debut date.

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Washington, D.C.: What exactly does Chris Wiggins get out of this, other than attention for a few months? Is there demand for people who can re-tweet stuff? Isn't it sort of absurd for him to whine when he doesn't get attribution for such tweets?

Dan Zak: I asked Chris about this. He started the Twitter feed as a lark, and it grew into something more. He considers it added experience in the social media/network realm, which can be applied to future jobs.

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Arlington, Va.: What I find interesting is that in past episodes the cast seems to be pretty attractive. Comparing other episodes with the RWDC cast members, couldn't MTV have picked individuals that were a little more attractive? They just seem to blend in with the frumpy girls and douche-baggy guys in Georgetown. I saw the girls at Banana Leaves on Saturday for dinner, WOW!!! I don't see what all the guys are fussing about...MTV you could have done better!

Dan Zak: A fellow shallow person weighs in. The sad thing about MTV is that the only thing it offers is soft-core porn featuring attractive people. If they skimp on the hotness, there's no reason to tune in. Did I really just type this?

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Arlington, Va.: You CAN compare earlier seasons to now! In earlier RW seasons, the casts actually talked about and struggled with issues of race, class - as they were Six Strangers with little in common. Pedro is a great example, as he was treated with scorn at first (gay guy with AIDS! ohmygawd) but was beloved by the house and viewers by the end. Now, it seems like the cast all have one thing in common: they are willing to do anything outrageous to get screen time. Anyway, my favorite season was Seattle. They had an awesome house on the pier, great jobs at a radio station, and had big outrageous fights about stupid stuff.

Dan Zak: During the early years, MTV had to look for castmates. Now, they have thousands of 20-somethings coming TO them. Everyone's in on it, and it means less.

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Washington, D.C.: Whitman Walker? I can already see the look on people's faces as the cameras are rolling when they arrive at WWC confidential testing.

Dan Zak: People In The Know have already assured us that we all must sign release forms to appear onscreen! Otherwise we're just blurryfaces!

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Anonymous: Just thought I'd throw this out there:

The roommates don't have access to Facebook or Twitter at the house; and they are contractually embargoed (to the tune of hundreds-of-thousands of dollars) from logging in.... That having been said, rest assured (we..er...they...) are participating in this chat.

Dan Zak: If this is a cast member, know this: We come in peace. And there's nothing else to do in August in D.C.

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Re: That will take a whole other hour: Fair enough. But at least answer this. Videotaping the guy without his knowledge: Fair or foul?

Dan Zak: As a human, I say foul. As a journalist writing a story, I say great! Any lawyers out there?

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Anonymous: I live a few blocks away from the Real World house and my observations are quite different from some of the others.

I feel like the whole anti-Real World sentiment, especially the "go back home" commentary that I hear from people I know, in the blogs, and being shouted at the cast mates in the streets is coming from folks who are newcomers to the city themselves.

I've lived in and around the city my whole life and the Dupont neighborhood has always been in a state of evolution; this is just the latest wrinkle in the unique fabric of this community.

Lastly, the cast seems to have one black male, a Latino male, and a Latina female. I challenge anyone living in this 'gentrified' part of the city to find a household as diverse as theirs.

Being anti-Real World is just trendy right now and all of the wanna-be cool kids want in on the act, even if they have no sense of this neighborhood beyond their narrow vantage point.

Dan Zak: Noted.

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Why is the cast so skittish about her?: She's not trying to befriend the cast because of who they are as human beings. If they weren't going to be on TV, she'd have zero interest in them. She's doing so--by her own admission--to gain entrance to the house or to get on the show or to further her own career. Why would they want this parasite within a hundred yards of them?

Dan Zak: Eh, she's a nice girl and she's not really out to get anybody. I think MTV/BMP are just nervous about Beth scooping them on drama.

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Anonymous: Yes, Dan, someone else is watching Cancun. Best moment was in the first episode, when the cute tattooed guy was making out with a girl at a bar, and the doofus was making out with her MOTHER.

Who are the hand people and what do they do?

Dan Zak: And don't forget Ayiiia (yes, three i's). She is caaaah-ray-zy.

The hand people direct traffic in downtown D.C. because streetlights aren't obnoxious enough.

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DC Connection to Real World: I was a stand up comic based in DC in the 1990s. The first member to get kicked out of The Real World was DC native David Edwards.

Edwards was a great comic who I thought would become "Chappelle" big but I heard he had difficulty getting along with folks-something he proved on the Real World.

Dan Zak: Dang, I wish I knew this ahead of time. Where is he now? Dang.

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DC: I'm happy to address what I 'get out of this'. Nothing. Yeah, there have been several print and TV interviews, but the Twitter feed wasn't meant for my exposure.

I said to Dan recently that I myself thought it was (shall we say "interesting") that reporters are reporting on people who are reporting on "stuff".

As for the demand: if there wasn't a demand/interest/obsession/avoidance factor, my RealWorldDCNEWZ feed wouldn't have going on 5,000 followers.

Dan Zak: Wiggins weighs in!

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Le Pain Quotidien: Has had at least three locations in DC pop up in the last month. The bigger question is how are they expanding so quickly in such a crap economy? Not what a coffee shop has to do with the Real World. What a weird question.

Dan Zak: Chick-fil-A is expanding rapidly in this crap economy too. And no, I'm not a shill for Chick-fil-A. I did a story on their antics back in March or so. Google me and Chick-fil-A.

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Washington, D.C.: After watching the Post's clip I have to say that the well timed transitions of the background music made the video. Excellent work.

Dan Zak: I agree. The video was key to capturing the monotony.

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Buffalo, N.Y.: The Real World filmed on Crescent Ave., in Buffalo, N.Y. and it livened things up a bit.

I would walk my dog past the house and as I was using the pooper scooper would glimpse into the inner workings of reality filming.

My question is: Why would anyone want to film their personal lives?? Yikes!

MC and Don G.

Dan Zak: Ladies and gentlemen, this comment is from my aunt and my grandfather.

But I have to correct: It wasn't The Real World that filmed in Buffalo. It was another MTV show called Frat House or something. Either way, I'd love to see a "Real World Buffalo." The castmates' job could be the second-string defensive line on the Buffalo BIlls.

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D.C.: Not a lawyer, just a journalist, but what I'm fairly certain of is this 1) he's in a public place and can be filmed/photographed by ANYBODY. 2) he's on a reality show which has the sole purpose of filming/taping/photographing/recording their every move. So, no... no foul at all really. Comes with stepping into the spotlight.

By the way: just because you don't see a camera crew around, do know that they always wear their microphones under their attire and those transmitters can be picked up by master control in the RWDC house for a relatively long-range.

Dan Zak: Spooky.

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Washington, D.C.: Mike is from Colorado as well. twitter.com/RealWorldDCNEWZ and Vevmo.com had pretty good scoops on the hometowns of all of the cast members. For example, they had posted pictures of Andrew from back home.

Dan Zak: There ya go.

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Arlington, Va.: The Facebook group "The Real World DC" run by Chris Wiggins, has emerged as a very moderate source for RW DC news, with even the lesser paper in DC "borrowing" from him without attribution.

washingtonpost.com: Facebook group "The Real World DC"

Dan Zak: More conduits.

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Washington, D.C.: Why does Dan Zak rule?

Dan Zak: Because most of the important journalists have been bought out.

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Alexandria, Va.: Mr Zak,

Please, folks from this area refer to Whole Foods as Whole paycheck! Wegman's rules. Better stuff at lower prices.

Dan Zak: This, friends, is how it is in the REAL world.

Thanks for chatting. Get back to work. If you ever have a story idea on ANY topic, e-mail me: zakd@washpost.com. TTFN.

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