Considered either one of the first, or the first, of its genre, The Real World has been under the critics' eyes for over 10 years.

Initially critics were taken aback by the series, as John O'Conner of The New York Times describes in a 1992 article,"[The Real World: New York] has been steadily evolving into the year's most riveting television, a compelling portrait of twentysomethings grappling with the 90s."

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As the show evolved into what some saw as a less genuine and interesting (as far as real-life hot-topic issues that the first casts endured--racism, homosexuality, AIDS, abortion, etc.), a sense of nostalgia for the first seasons developed.

When referring to the early years of the show, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, of alternet.org, said, "'The Real World' embodied the sorts of characteristics that fueled reality television's extraordinary rise to popularity: the intensely personal dramas, the vivid characters, and the sense (as was the case on 'Survivor' or 'American Idol') of the almost-attainable-exotic, the notion that we were seeing a world that we did not quite belong to, but wished we did."

Wallace-Wells continues, "In the first four seasons, the overarching, propulsive drama was that of people starting to immerse themselves in quasi-adult lives and careers, and the episodes documented the ways in which their experiences corrupted or emboldened their original notions of who they were."

"But 'The Real World' has since changed its formula dramatically," Wallace-Wells said. "No longer an outlet for twenty-somethings to brood about their future careers, the show has become a cyclic three-month on-air party for teenagers to mingle in hot tubs and obsess about the present."

Gael Faushingbauer Cooper, of MSNBC.com, agrees the show has changed.

"Ever since the group job was introduced, 'Real World' has seemed to cast for conflict and sex appeal rather than intelligence and goals," Faushingbauer Cooper said.

"They cared about each other, and they cared about real issues," Faushingbauer Cooper said of the first season. "Julie and Kevin had a frightening argument about racism, Julie befriended and spent the night with a homeless woman, and most of the cast piled in a car and drove to a pro-choice rally in Washington, D.C."

In comparison to the more recent casts, Fashingbauer Cooper asks, "Can anyone imagine a recent cast member — say, Las Vegas' Trishelle or San Diego's Brad — even being able to name the secretary of state?"

However, some critics question if this is simply a reflection the youth of today compared to that of the early 90s.

Erica Hughes, of screenwritersdaily.com, comments, "Unlike today's aspiring youth, where the Paris Hiltons of the world are rewarded for doing nothing, I see a reflection of that in the newer seasons of the Real World and their spin-off shows where the most obnoxious Puck-like characters are instead, rewarded for being terrible people, stabbing each other in the backs, spitting in each other's faces and spewing vile and hate-filled words to each other."

She then asks, "As I flip through the pages of a magazine or turn the TV only to see the likes of Paris Hilton, the Carters, or Tara Reid, I wonder... is the show indeed, "the Real World" and a true reflection of the times we live in, and today's youth?"

On the contrary, other critics still find substance in the more recent casts.

"'The Real World: Austin' is the most powerful and profound edition of that long-running reality series since its season in San Francisco back in 1994," Ed Martin of mediavillage.com said. "It's also the most moving original series on broadcast or cable television during this very full summer of first-run television fare."

And reviewing the latest season of the show, "The Real World: Denver," Richard Huff of nydailynews.com said the series "still remains an engaging unscripted series about young people living together."

Viewers can see for themselves as the latest season airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on MTV.