What's more horrifying: Watching an MTV reality show? Or reading its participant contract?


Image Credit: MTV

Sorry, you don’t know these people in the picture. They’re the cast of The Real World XXV: Vegas and, as is the case with all humans, they may or may not have STDs! Starring in a fancy show with Roman numerals in the title is an honor, so you’re going to need to waive some basic personal, sexual, and reproductive rights. Just go with it; you’ll get to be on TV. Producers can twist your story any which way they want, but eyes on the prize: You! TV!

The Village Voice obtained a reputed copy of the standard contract for The Real World, and while it’s everything you might expect for reality TV, that doesn’t make it any less skeezy. (MTV has not yet responded to requests from EW for comment.) You can read the full document here, but here’s a quick list of my….

Five Most Worrisome Stipulations of an MTV Reality TV Contract


 I represent and warrant that, to the best of my knowledge, I do not currently have any sexually transmitted disease. However, I acknowledge and agree that other participants in the Program may have one or more sexually transmitted diseases and other diseases.

Honey we all agree. (Emphasis mine.)


Participant further understands and acknowledges that neither Producer nor any other party has represented to Participant that any other participant is or will be free of HIV, herpes, hepatitis or any other sexual transmitted disease.

WHY DON’T YOU JUST TEST THEM? It’s like they want disease.


In the event I do become pregnant during the Program, Producer shall have the right, in its sole and absolute discreation, to terminate me from further participation in the Program.

Unless you are 16 and pregnant, MTV will be unable to market you.


I waive the exercise of any ‘moral rights’ and ‘droit moral’ and any analogous rights however denominated in any jurisdiction of the world.

Too many big words in there, but the gist is: No rights!


Okay, this is my favorite chunk of text, which basically says, “We’re gonna make up stuff about you,” or more succinctly, “F— you.”

Producer may depict, portray me and my Life Story either accurately or with such liberties and modifications as Producer determines necessary or desirable in its sole discretion for the purposes of fictionalization, dramatization or any other purposes, including without limitation to achieve a humorous or satirical effect, and by means of actors who may or may not resemble me. 

Imagine how any of this would go down in the actual Real World. What’s more horrifying — watching an MTV reality show or reading its participant contract?

Read more:
‘The Real World’ premiere: Is this show too tame for a ‘Jersey Shore’ world?
MTV’s Hall of Shame
MTV’s Greatest Hits

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Comments (24 total) Add your comment
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  • Lauren

    What’s disturbing is the type of people who sign up for this show are (I would have to presume) the type of people who would not read a single word of their contract before signing off on it.

    But really, so many stipulations just for STDs? ewwwwww

    • LOL

      Who watches this crap? Seriously. Who?

      • @

        Well, you tell us all the time that America loves crap – and you are so right.

    • abadstroller

      To Question 1: Don’t watch. Problem solved. To Question 2: Have some dignity, for cripe’s sake, and keep it zipped up (guys and gals) and don’t have sex on or behind the camera. Again, problem solved.

    • abadstroller

      Is it me, but why when I saw the above cast photo could I not get the idea of weepy pustulent sores out of my head? Just looking at it makes me want to bathe in Purell and Clorox AND eat handfuls of non-MRSA resistant antibiotics.

  • Stacie

    Yeah, that last one is pretty messed up.

  • elsol69

    They forgot the NCAA one… where they can use your image forever and ever… and if there’s a heaven or hell, they can use it there too.

  • JLC

    That guy who exhibited the Elephant Man would be very proud.

  • Holly

    YIKES!!! Thanks for sharing Annie. And yeah, why not just test contestants for STD’s? Or cast less-slutty contestants??

  • Lia

    ‘We can dress people up and have them do stuff and lead people to believe that it’s you’?! ICK

  • Chuck

    Most of your snark is well-placed, but you need a little context behind comment #4; “moral rights”, despite its title, has nothing whatsoever to do with morals, ethics, or their application (or, in this case, lack thereof) to the cast of THE REAL WORLD. It’s a legal term of art that deals with copyright law; basically, it’s saying that people who sign the contract give up their right to object if their image or likeness is used without their permission in other contexts, such as marketing or promotional material created for the show. Sorry that clause isn’t as juicy as some of the other stuff, like that classic “no-STDs” stipulation.

    • PDDB

      Soooo, like Annie said, “No rights.”

      • me

        Haha! That’s exactly what i was thinking! I like you.

  • chalky

    Geez, with all these stipulations, Pedro never would have made it onto the show.

    • abadstroller

      Pedro Zamora was awesome–probably the only redeeming person AND personal story to come out of “Real World”.

  • PDDB

    The guy on the left has his hand in between the legs of the girl to his left. Classy.

  • ColinSTL

    Regarding No. 4: It’s more along the lines of something my Father used to intimidate me with when he was drunk: “The only rights you have are the rights I DECIDE to give you/” Pretty sad. Fortunately, we’ve long since kissed and made up, and it’s something I’m really proud of. But I digress.

    As to the question overall, i.e. what’s more frightening: To me, it’s six of one and half-dozen of the other. It’s easy to say here, but no less true. Don’t even get involved with any kind of Reality TV. Saying it’s phony as hell is probably the understatement of the month.

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