Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
It’s now been 22 years since Jonathan Murray and his late partner Mary Ellis Bunim created MTV‘s The Real World and thereby unofficially launched the reality television genre in its current form. The show is still on the air, in its astonishing 28th season, and Murray took a few minutes to reminisce this afternoon following a panel for his second-year Oxygen tattoo competition reality series Best Ink. He was asked how long Real World could conceivably run. The short answer: It will definitely see at least a 29th season (currently in pre-production) and has demonstrated that it still has some gas left in the tank after a slow start to Season 28, rising 77% in ratings since its premiere. As for how long Real World can remain on the air, Murray reveals that the question has been posed to him repeatedly over the years. “What I say is, it will be on the air as long as people want to see it,” he says. “We love doing it and every year is a challenge. Every year we come away saying we could have done this better, done that better. But every year we change the location, we tinker with it, we sort of reinvent it every year.” Murray also says he spends little time worrying about where the reality genre is heading. “The good stuff rises, finds an audience, stays on the air,” he stresses. As for Best Ink, Murray’s dedication to the show he executive produces doesn’t extend to getting a tattoo himself. He doesn’t have one and admits that he has no plans to change that. “I never got a tattoo because it wasn’t a rite of passage for my generation”, he says. “Now, for young women today, it is a rite of passage”.