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October 4, 2015

Yes, It Happened: Sean Duffy Goes From 'The Real World' to Congress

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 3rd 2010 11:45AM
Sean Duffy, former 'Real World' cast member and soon to be a congressman'The Real World' has become such an ingrained part of our pop culture, most people who are fans of the show these days probably don't realize that the program has been on for 18 long years. This means that some of the "kids" who populated the show during its early seasons are now old enough to have real, adult jobs.

So, for anyone who decried the fact that one day the "slackers" on 'The Real World' will one day run the country, take notice: one of them just got elected to help do just that.

Sean Duffy, a cast member of 'The Real World: Boston' in 1997, was elected to Congress last night by residents in Wisconsin's 7th district. The Republican district attorney of Ashland County won quite handily over opponent Julie Lassa, for a seat that was held by Democrat Dave Obey since 1969 (two years before Duffy was born).

And while this event may indicate to people my age (I'm about five months older than Duffy) and older that we're going to hell in a handbasket, what I thought when I heard about Duffy's victory was: why didn't this happen sooner?

Not every member of the 'Real World' cast -- especially during its earlier seasons, when most of the cast were in their mid-to-late 20's, rather than the near-teens that populate the cast these days -- was a confused kid who just wanted to drink, toke up, and swim naked in the pool. Some had real ambition, and others had actual careers.

Duffy was in law school when the show filmed, ready to embark on his career. From what I remember about that season of 'RW,' the housemates were supposed to work with kids at an afterschool program, giving the kids a place to go because their parents either worked or were otherwise indisposed. The gang all seemed to slack off at one time or another; Syrus got involved with one of the parents, Montana lets one of the kids have a sip of alcohol. Sean grumbled about the job as much as everyone else, but he went every day and seemed to get a lot out of it.

'Real World: Boston' CastHe was cast in the "conservative, wide-eyed Midwesterner" role, and he admitted that Syrus and fellow cast member Kameelah were the only African-American people he knew at the time. He got in lots of fights with Kameelah about race, calling her a "bitch" during an argument. But what struck me about Sean at the time was that he was one of the few people in the house that had his stuff together. It's not a surprise that, after having his late-20's reality fling -- he met his wife, 'Real World: San Francisco' cast member Rachel Campos, while doing a season of 'The Real World / Road Rules Challenge' -- he ascended through the political and legal ranks.

It did seem like his television experience helped him as much as this year's "throw the bums out" voter mentality did. A Slate report on the campaign noted how smooth Duffy was in a debate with Lassa, not needing notes and hammering on his opponent when she wouldn't stray from her talking points. Indeed, years in front of a camera, having your life laid bare and edited down into a convenient plotline would probably make an election cycle look like a piece of cake.

But, like I said, I'm surprised it's taken this long for a former 'Real World' or 'Road Rules' cast member to reach Congress. Kevin Powell, the most together cast member from the show's original season, also ran for Congress this year, but got defeated in the primaries.

Other early seasons had cast members that you could see running for office, either because they had those ambitions or they had the personality to pull it off: Campos-Duffy and her housemates Judd Winnick and Pam Ling from San Francisco, Irene and Aaron from Los Angeles, Dan from Miami, Melissa and Julie from New Orleans.

So don't be surprised if we see other reality stars, especially from those iconic MTV shows, start really running the country. Heck, they can't be any worse than the people who were already there (from both sides of the aisle). But if The Situation goes to Congress in 2020, I'll be getting in that handbasket with the rest of you folks.

Which current or past reality star do you think would make a good congressman or senator? Could you see one of them as a governor or (gulp) the President?

(Follow @joelkeller on Twitter.)

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We vote popularity and political persuasion rather than for experience and background knowledge and this is the achilles heal of our present political system. When a country or a state has economic problems, one would think to vote someone in with creditable economic knowledge but not the case. We will vote some entertainer/actor who we enjoy and leave it up to his economic advisers to solve the problems except that the advisors most likely were chosen for their political affiliations rather than their expertise in solving economic problems. A ship of state captained by a popular, inexperienced person with no knowledge of red ink or how to deal with it is a recipe for a potential financial disaster. Are you awake and thinking realistically America?

November 04 2010 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well The Office and HIMYM are both having really good seasons so we have not had to clash over your recaps. I think because im such a die-hard fan I get really defensive over people talking smack.

Plus you and I don't have the same sense of humor, not by a long shot. Plus I read your little retrospective I have been here for ages so everybody look at me piece and really enjoyed it. Found that you made some very valid points about how everyone is a critic or a wannabe blogger.

I couldn't pump out as many articles as you do weekly in a year so I should not criticize over something I don't understand. I also stand strongly over my right to say pretty much whatever my opinion happens to be and I should respect your right to also.

Anyways I say Russell Hantz for president. That's one election I would be engrossed in. Fairly that lets keep our fingers crossed CBS casts him for The Amazing Race. He has to be without a doubt my favorite reality contestant ever followed closely by Abram from Road Rules.

So yeah in future I'll blank slate it when it comes to your articles and stop harping on about you 4 year old girl styles.


November 03 2010 at 9:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brent's comment

That might have looked like I was calling you a 4 year old girl. To be clear I was referring to my previous comments as having a 4 year old girl throwing a tantrum style.

November 03 2010 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Interesting article Joel. I'm a huge 'Real World' fan. More article's like this would please me and lets face it Jkizzle you live to appease.

Side question. Are you and Rich related?

November 03 2010 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brent's comment
Joel Keller

Glad to see you've enjoyed at least one of my articles.... I think this one might be the first. And, yes, Rich and I are related.

November 03 2010 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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