Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The Real World met The Hollywood Squares and E! True Hollywood Story on this adroitly contrived reality series. Created by Rick Telles, Cris Abrego, and Mark Cronin, The Surreal Life assembled a group of B-list celebrities (a less polite correspondent might call them "has-beens") who, over a ten-day period, all lived in the same Hollywood Hills mansion. Denied such perks as cell phones and sauna baths, the formerly famous tried their best to get along, and as expected, their best was often none too good. Among those present were ex-Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil, former child star Emmanuel Lewis, Survivor alumnus Jerri Manthey, and the inevitable Corey Feldman. Though the participants insisted that they were not mocking their fall from professional grace, the producers had no qualms about promoting the series with the tagline: "When the stars fall from sight...this is where they crash." The Surreal Life debuted on January 9, 2003.