The Real World, what many consider to be the first in the television genre of "reality TV" first aired on MTV on May 21, 1992.
Originally intended to be an MTV spin on the traditional TV soap opera, executive producers, Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray, found the first concept of the show to be too expensive for their budget. The solution to this dilemma proved to be revolutionary as far as TV goes: dump the screen-writers and actors, and instead opt for real people.
The first casting call had producers looking at about 500 potential cast members, seven of whom were ultimately cast as the first members of this sort of TV social experiment, if you will.
The original cast was comprised of seven demographically different individuals from the ages of 18-25 (a formula MTV has kept ever since.)
The formula, ever since, thus has been to take seven young people, place them in an urban living environment, and see how they interact.
Currently on its 18th season, it might be safe to assume the formula for The Real World has been a success.
The longest running show on MTV premiered its latest season, The Real World: Denver, on November 22.