The Real World: Chicago

The Real World: Chicago (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The Real World: Chicago is the eleventh season of MTV's reality television series The Real World, which focuses on a group of diverse strangers living together for several months in a different city each season, as cameras follow their lives and interpersonal relationships. The Chicago season debuted in 2002, with its cast living in a converted bookstore/coffeehouse in the Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. This was the first and to date the only season of The Real World to be filmed in the Midwestern United States.

The season depicted cast members dealing with issues such as romance, illness, homophobia, recovery from alcoholism, as well as the cast dealing with learning of the September 11th attacks, although criticism was leveled at the series for staging this, as the cast was actually at Wrigley Field for a photo shoot when they learned of the event.

Bunim-Murray Productions experienced a number of problems with the production of this season, including a nearby shooting, and numerous protests and vandalism by local activists, anti-globalists, anarchists and radicals critical of MTV and its parent company, Viacom, and opposed to the production's perceived contribution to the neighborhood's gentrification.

Season changes

This was the first season of The Real World to feature two openly gay cast members, Chris Beckman and Aneesa Ferreira. A previous season, The Real World: Hawaii, featured two LBGT castmembers, one of whom, Justin Deabler, was gay, and another of whom, Ruthie Alcaide, was bisexual.


Almost every season of The Real World, beginning with its fifth season, has included the assignment of a season-long group job or task to the housemates, continued participation in which has been mandatory to remain part of the cast since the Back to New York season. The Chicago roommates were assigned to three different jobs at the Chicago Park District. Some were lifeguards at the Lake Michigan beaches while others worked with inner-city children on a park mural. The cast then worked on "Chicagoween" (a portmanteau of "Chicago" and "Halloween") and had to devise a story to act out for the children at Chicago's Halloween celebration.

The residence

The cast resided in a loft at 1934 W. North Avenue in the Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park, which had formerly served as a sweatshop, storage facility, and, after falling into disrepair in the 1980s, a drug den. After it was renovated, it served as Urbis Orbis Café, a classic hipster hangout, then an antique shop. Chicago Scenic Studios constructed the loft's interior, and interior decorating was overseen by local designer Suhail. After filming, fixtures and other items used during the production were auctioned off, and the space was converted into a Cheetah Gym, which opened in 2002.


Cast Member Age Hometown Stats
Keri Evans 22 New Orleans, Louisiana An outgoing and charismatic young woman, much of Keri's activities depicted over the season involve her tumultuous relationship with Kyle, whose is torn between his attraction to Keri and his on-off relationship New York girlfriend Nicole, who is in New York. Keri becomes homesick at one point, and claims not to like the men of Chicago. She remains in the house, though, and does end up flirting with guys at a local bar with Cara as she gets over Kyle. Keri shares a room with Kyle and Chris.
Kyle Brandt 23 Lincolnshire, Illinois Kyle has just graduated from Princeton University. Although he first was on track for a football career, he got involved in theater. Kyle dreams of acting and being in the spotlight. His "will they or won't they" relationship with Keri takes up most of his screen time in the Chicago season, though their romance inevitably does not work out. After the events of the September 11 attacks, he realized how important his ex-girlfriend Nicole, who was in New York at the time, still is to him.
Aneesa Ferreira 20 Narberth, Pennsylvania Aneesa comes from an interracial relationship - her mother is Jewish-American, and her father is black. Aneesa is a very liberal lesbian who does not mind walking around nude, or even showering with a male roommate, much to the dislike of small-town girl Tonya. She has a quick temper but also is very funny and caring. Throughout the season, Aneesa clashes frequently with Tonya, and argues with her mother by phone frequently, mainly because of her mother's lack of acceptance of her sexual orientation. She enters a brief relationship with a woman named Veronica, but Veronica's history with her ex gets in the way of getting close to Aneesa. Aneesa then finds romance with Danielle, who, while often overbearing and bossy, allowed Aneesa happiness during her months in Chicago. In the house, Aneesa shares a room with Theo.
Tonya Cooley 21 Walla Walla, Washington Tonya was a foster child, going from home to home from a young age until she moved out on her own at age 17, and has lived a sheltered life. She is very taken aback by Aneesa's openness about nudity and is often offended by it. She also appears homophobic when Chris comes out to the other roommates, telling the camera, "I think the gay lifestyle is full of drugs and a lot of sin!" But as the season progreses she appears to open her mind up and discard her past prejudices. She also claims to be afraid of Theo and men in general. Tonya suffers from kidney problems from medical problems that were never addressed when she was younger. She experiences problems with her condition while in Chicago and is admitted to the hospital several times. Tonya is very attached to her boyfriend Justin back home, and spends much of her time in the house talking on the phone with him. The other roommates accused her of being a drama queen. Tonya shares a room with Cara.
Chris Beckman 24 Brockton, Massachusetts Chris is an openly gay artist who has struggled in the past with alcoholism, but takes up a job as a bartender during the show, much to the bewilderment of Kyle, who wonders what this does to Chris's recovery. Chris maintains his body by working out a lot, but some of the roommates see his exercise to be on the obsessive side - and maybe compensating for something else. While in Chicago, Chris enters a relationship with a man named Kurt, with whom he seems compatible. However, Chris ends the romance because he wants to focus on his recovery instead of a serious relationship. Chris's relationships with men do make the other male roommates a bit uncomfortable. Chris also does modeling during the season, and asks Kyle to join him. Chris shares a room with Kyle and Keri.
Cara Kahn 22 Boston, Massachusetts Cara is from the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. She comes from upper-middle-class Jewish parents, including a professor-doctor father who valued academics, though Cara often felt she did not live up to that standard, as her brother did. She is a student at Washington University in St. Louis. MTV describes her as humorous, generous, and "intensely creative". Cara has spent most of her adult life in relationships making her move to Chicago as a single woman the beginning of a new phase in her life.
Theo Gantt III 19 Riverside, California Theo is a devout pastor's son from California who socializes with women a lot. He is attracted to Aneesa upon first arriving in Chicago, but she is not attracted to men, and they form a brother-sister bond instead. Theo clashes frequently with Tonya, but is always quick to apologize. Theo is seen as a lovable naive party boy who has a good heart. Although he disapproves of Aneesa's and Chris's sexual orientation, he is still good friends with both of them. Theo shares a room with Aneesa.

After filming

After the show, Kyle Brandt starred as Phillip Kiriakis on Days of our Lives on NBC. In 2008, he wrote and produced the TV series Rome is Burning and The Jim Rome Show, a sports radio talk show out of California, on which he appeared as "Lyle Grant".

Tonya Cooley went to pose for Playboy and appear in productions on Cinemax.

Real World/Road Rules Challenges

Cast member RW/RR Challenges Challenges Won Total Money Earned
Keri Evans
Kyle Brandt
Aneesa Ferreira
Battle of the Sexes, Battle of the Sexes 2, The Gauntlet 2, The Duel, The Inferno 3, The Duel 2, Rivals, Battle of the Exes
Tonya Cooley
Battle of the Sexes, The Gauntlet, Battle of the Sexes 2, The Inferno II, Fresh Meat, The Inferno 3, The Island, The Ruins
The Inferno 3
Chris Beckman
Cara Kahn
Theo Gantt III
Battle of the Sexes, The Gauntlet
Challenge in bold indicates that the contestant was a finalist on The Challenge, but lost in the final race.

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