Ask any 40-something what they remember about the first season of The Real World, and they’ll probably tell you one of two things: Eric Nies or the big, awful, uncomfortable fight between Kevin and Julie that happened right at the end of the season. A hard-to-watch battle centering on what our own reviewer called “race, violence and telephone etiquette,” the fight led a lot of viewers at the time to cast Kevin in their own minds as a stereotypical “angry Black man,” while sweet little Julie just couldn’t understand what was going on.
Almost 30 years later, Real World viewers may find they view that fight with a different lens, just like a lot of Kevin’s more confrontational moments in the loft. He was speaking to institutional racism and inequality, and to the injustices he’d personally experienced, and just because Eric said he played basketball with and had a lot of Black friends, that didn’t mean that he wasn’t bringing in some pre-existing biases. (And that’s just one case. Don’t even get us started on Becky.)
Times have changed, though, and with them the relationships between the roommates. Those seven strangers have all come together for The Real World Homecoming: New York, available now on Paramount Plus, and The A.V. Club was fortunate to sit down with all seven for group chats. Above, you’ll find a discussion with Kevin Powell, Julie Gentry, and Andre Comeau about the reception they felt post Real World, both as individuals and, in Comeau’s case, as a member of a struggling band. We also talk to Powell about whether he thinks America was ready to accept his truth in 1993, and to Gentry about what it was like being the only outsider dropped into a house full of New Yorkers.
The Real World Homecoming: New York is streaming now on Paramount Plus. The first episode is also available for free on YouTube.