The show follows the lives of "seven strangers" who are thrown in a house to live together. The daily happenings of their lives interacting with their housemates are filmed. The camera footage is then edited into half-hour TV shows. The show takes place in a different city every season.
The Real World didn't really start getting an audience until The Real World: San Francisco, its third season, hit the airwaves in 1994. That was the season in which Pedro Zamora became a famous AIDS activist and viewers became interested in his legendary arguments with Puck, another of the house's guests, as well as the message he was spreading. Zamora unfortunately died in November of 1994, but producers realized they had hit a gold mine with reality shows. As an aside, housemate Judd Winick went on to critical/commercial acclaim, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination, for his graphic novel's account of time with Zamora called "Pedro and Me."
In 2003, Bunim and Murray produced a racy movie spinoff called The Real Cancun