10 years of True Life

Nicole Fano

True Life: I’m going to fat camp, I have friends with benefits, I live a double life, and I am celibate. The following are some of the several taboo topics exposed on MTV’s “True Life.” The Emmy Award-winning documentary series “True Life” follows several young individuals facing the same controversial issue. The tenth season began on March 15 with its premiere episode, True Life: I need a transplant. “True Life’s” appeal stems from its controversial episodes that are serious, informative, and even heartbreaking. On the other hand, “True Life” is also known for its hilarious exposure of trashy people who bring problems, both small and large, upon themselves.

Season 4 episode True Life: I’ve Got Baby Mama Drama, features young single moms and dads who experience the challenges of raising a child with little help from their exes. The goal of this episode helped her raise awareness about the consequences of unprotected sex. The episode’s popularity sparked similar episodes such as True Life: I’m pregnant, True Life: I’m placing my baby for adoption, and True Life: I’m having twins. Perhaps these episodes of “True Life” inspired MTV’s current shows “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant.”

Snooki and The Situation weren’t the first to broadcast their guido/guidette antics on MTV. Season 5 featured True Life: I’m a Jersey Shore girl. The episode follows Lisa, Dottie, and Erica as they rent a house for the summer in infamous Seaside Heights, N.J. Although none of the girls were punched in the face, viewers got a full dose of clubbing, drinking, tanning, hooking up, and of course, that undeniable Jersey accent. Maybe Snooki should thank these women for her current 15 minutes of fame.

Season 7’s episode, True Life: I Want the Perfect Body 2 follows three individuals who attempt to sculpt their idea of the perfect body. Rebecca is preparing for a fitness competition. To have any chance of winning, she must quickly build muscle and decrease body fat. Ryan, a 5-foot-3-inch jockey wants to be one of the top five jockeys in the nation. In order to achieve his dream, he must gain weight while staying under 112 pounds. Kevin was named the strongest teenager in the United States. His goal is to become a professional strongman. To prepare for a competition, Kevin must gain weight and partake in grueling workouts to improve strength.

True Life: I Have Tourette’s Syndrome premiered in Season 8. The episode follows Lou, Alyssa, and Jeremy as they desperately try to control their neurological disorder that causes involuntary body movements and verbal outbursts. The episode’s most memorable moment occurs when Alyssa lashes out at her grandmother for not painting her toenails correctly. Although Tourette’s syndrome is nothing to laugh about, the episode generated a large amount of media attention and a multitude of Facebook bumper stickers.

True Life: I Have Embarrassing Parents 2 aired in Season 9. Fifteen-year-old Niki can’t stop her midriff-wearing mom from acting like a Playboy bunny. At a birthday party, Niki’s mom starts flirting and grinding with her daughter’s friends. Holly, Millie, and Candy are triplets whose parents are clowns in the Ringling Brothers Circus. When the girls throw a party at their house, their parents dress as clowns and taunt their friend who is terrified of clowns.

“True Life” first premiered in 1998 and has since aired 216 episodes. The series has covered over 140 topics ranging from drug use, sexuality, financial issues, traveling, plastic surgery, behavioral issues, and many more. With its longevity and sustained popularity, “True Life” continues to push social boundaries and open the door for discussion on a wide scope of issues.