Real Advice

Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray wanted to create a television show for MTV that capitalized on the 90s teen culture.

But they had a problem. 

Scripted shows like Beverly Hills, 90210, and Melrose Place were expensive. So the staffers looked to MTV’s roots for inspiration. 

Successful businesses deliver value to customers in a sustainable way. Apple doesn’t sell iPhones for less than the cost to make them. The local lawn care company won’t mow for less than the cost of labor. 

MTV’s original secret was just that. The musicians paid for their own videos. MTV got them for free. MTV sold advertising on the broadcast and the artists got attention

Bingo, thought Bunim and Murray. Find “free” content.

MTV’s Real World premiered on this day in 1992. 

Around the same time, Mike Reiss was writing for the Simpsons. In his book, Springfield Confidential, he writes that he’s not a religious man but he’s spiritual in the sense that there’s always a perfect joke. Every gag, prompt, and setup has a perfect punchline. They didn’t always find it, Reiss writes, but they always tried. 

That’s was Bunum’s and Murry’s mindset – find a way. 

When money is tight, when skills are scarce, when growth has stalled – find a way. 

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