The MTV series that started out as a crazy social experiment in is still going strong -- its 20th season debuted earlier this month. And its effects are everywhere. It's hard to imagine TV without reality TV, but when "The Real World" debuted 16 years ago, it launched a whole new television landscape and signaled a cultural shift. There was something about it that was almost magical. Murray and Bunim originally pitched MTV a scripted series about young people starting out in New York, but when the network didn't have the money for it, they said, "Let's move seven people into a loft and shoot it and see what happens," Murray said. Looking back at that first season, it bears scant resemblance to the current one or any of its reality show descendents. Today, there are dozens of reality shows and entire cable networks that would not have existed without the MTV show. They each took their cues from "Real World" and put their own twist on it.
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First broadcast in , the show, which was inspired by the PBS documentary series An American Family , is the longest-running program in MTV history,  one of the longest-running reality series in history, and is credited with launching the modern reality TV genre. The series was hailed in its early years for depicting issues of contemporary young-adulthood relevant to its core audience, such as sex , prejudice , religion , abortion , illness , sexuality , AIDS , death , politics , and substance abuse , but later garnered a reputation as a showcase for immaturity and irresponsible behavior. The series has generated two notable related series, both broadcast by MTV: Road Rules , a sister show , which lasted for 14 seasons — ,  and the ongoing spin-off reality game show The Challenge , which has run for 34 seasons since , thus surpassing The Real World. The show moves to a different city each season. The narration given over the opening title sequence used during the first 28 seasons by the seven housemates states some variation of the following:. This is the true story…of seven strangers…picked to live in a house… work together and have their lives taped…to find out what happens…when people stop being polite…and start getting real… The Real World. The Real World was originally inspired by the popularity of youth-oriented shows of the s like Beverly Hills, and Melrose Place. Bunim and Murray initially considered developing a scripted series in a similar vein, but quickly decided that the cost of paying writers, actors, costume designers, and make-up artists was too high. Tracy Grandstaff , one of the original seven picked for what has come to be known as " Season 0 ", [ citation needed ] went on to minor fame as the voice of the animated Beavis and Butt-Head character Daria Morgendorffer, who eventually got her own spinoff, Daria.