'The Real World' Is the Source of Some of Reality Television's Worst Scandals

Jamie Lerner - Author
By

Jan. 16 2024, Published 10:17 p.m. ET

'The Real World' cast
Source: Getty Images

Content warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.

In 1992, our world changed when The Real World came to the small screen. It was arguably the first reality television series and its format of bringing strangers together to live in a house was the first of its kind. The show inspired iconic series like Big Brother and The Challenge, but MTV’s The Real World is where it all began.

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However, a mainstay in reality television is also the high number of scandals. Every reality show has its scandals, from The Bachelor to Survivor. But no show can match the crazy scandals of The Real World throughout its 27-year run. So we’ve rounded up the five wildest Real World scandals.

'The Real World: Los Angeles' cast
Source: Getty Images

'The Real World: Los Angeles' (1993) — David Edwards assaulted Tami Akbar.

'The Real World: Los Angeles' cast
Source: MTV

David and Tami rehashed the incident in The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles in the #MeToo era, but David's perspective barely changed, according to Daily Beast. In Episode 6, David pulls a blanket off of Tami, who's in her underwear and bra. She laughs uncomfortably but she also fights back and tells him to stop. David then exposes himself, and when Tami likens his behavior to rape, the women band together to kick David out of the house. This is reality television's first forced exit.

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'The Real World: Chicago' (2002) — Tonya Cooley was allegedly sexually assaulted.

'Real World: Chicago' cast
Source: MTV

Years after The Real World: Chicago aired in 2011, Tonya Cooley filed a lawsuit against MTV, Bunim/Murray Productions, and her castmates, Kenneth Santucci and Evan Starkman, according to TMZ. She claimed they "took another male participant's toothbrush and rubbed the toothbrush around plaintiff's genitals, including rubbing her labia and inserting the toothbrush into plaintiff's vagina." She added that the producers filmed the incident instead of stopping it.

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'The Real World: San Diego' (2004) — A friend of Randy Barry allegedly raped a 22-year-old woman in the house.

'The Real World: San Diego' cast
Source: MTV

While this scandal doesn't involve any of the cast members directly, many were present for the alleged incident. A friend of Randy Barry, identified as "Justin," allegedly raped a 22-year-old woman on Nov. 14, 2003, in the house. Justin was staying in the house as a guest after he bought a drink for the young woman. She blacked out after drinking it. Cast member Jamie Chung found her on the bathroom floor naked after Justin bragged about his actions. Police investigated thoroughly, but didn't have enough evidence to prosecute.

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'The Real World: New Orleans' (2010) — The police were called by cast member Ryan Leslie.

'The Real World: New Orleans' 2010 cast
Source: MTV

Probably the worst homophobic incident in the history of The Real World, Ryan Leslie called the police on his housemate, Preston Roberson-Charles after Preston called him a "f----t" and threatened to ruin Ryan's belongings. When Ryan called the cops, Preston had urinated on Ryan's toothbrush and then used it to scrub the toilet, which caused Ryan to get a virus for which he was hospitalized. It all came to light in Episode 6 when the police came to the house.

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'The Real World: Portland' (2013) — Nia got into a physical altercation.

'The Real World: Portland' cast
Source: MTV

While violence should have resulted in an immediate eviction, Nia Moore repeatedly struck her fellow castmates. In Episode 11, Nia and Johnny Reilly got into a fight over who should clean up Daisy's excrement. Nia and Johnny were already on edge after a fight in Episode 8, but this time, Nia used a hair dryer to hit Johnny. His girlfriend, Averey, stepped in and Nia then punched her. This was one of the worst fights in Real World history and still didn't end in Nia's eviction.

If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.

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