A local production company has completed casting for “The Real Renters of Minneapolis,” which promises viewers a look at the conflict that arises “when people stop living in houses, and start living on top of each other.” The show will be set in The Wedge neighborhood of Minneapolis, the heart of recent battles over development. Filming will coincide with the opening of a brand new apartment building at 2320 Colfax Avenue South, with most of the action taking place in a 400-square-foot studio apartment.
The show will spotlight the tension caused by cramped urban life, as well as battles between the transient cast and the neighborhood’s long-time homeowners. Producers plan to foster conflict by regularly sending cast members, equipped with smartphones and out-of-state ID cards, to meetings of the local neighborhood association. The show’s creator, Fedora Hedge, calls it a cross between MTV’s The Real World and the horrific “Mouse Utopia” experiments of John B. Calhoun.
In a twist on the typical “weekly elimination” formula of many reality shows, the cast is expected to grow as the season progresses. New “renters” will be added to the apartment when underemployed cast members are unable to pay rent. Rent credits will be offered for completing certain challenges: furnishing the apartment by struggling with bulky Ikea packages on lengthy bus rides; overcoming the parking crisis created by the new building by stashing tiny Smart cars on neighboring porches; and making camouflage suits out of keyboards, to wear at public meetings.
Hedge has revealed little about the cast, saying only that we can expect to see some of the more “irritating” users from the internet forum UrbanMSP: “These guys are ready to stop hiding behind keyboards and silly usernames. They want to show the world that they live their values, they walk the walk–and that walk is about more than trampling the landscaping on the way home from the bar.” At least one “closeted” homeowner will be cast as a roommate, in an effort to manufacture a tearful “coming out” or a violent tantrum.
Many neighbors are unhappy with the prospect of television crews invading their backyard. A Facebook page has emerged with posts arguing that North Minneapolis is more deserving of television exposure. Other critics worry about the displacement of “The Andy Griffith Show” and similarly vulnerable reruns. There’s also the contention that constant filming would mar the historic character of the neighborhood. Producers respond that the location is no stranger to reality TV. The area has been featured on other reality shows: HGTV’s Rehab Addict, an episode of Ghost Adventures, and an upcoming season of Ice Road Truckers.
The show’s feline cast members pose yet another concern. “These urbanist guys own a disturbingly large number of cats,” said Hedge. “While our teeny tiny apartment is technically safe for humans, we’re bringing in animal welfare specialists to make sure nothing goes wrong in that regard. As far as the longer term risk of schizophrenia from living in a small space with dozens of cats, we’ll be requiring cast members to sign a release.”
The show faces one last hurdle before production can begin: candle light vigil protests against a plan to “place-make” an adjacent 100-year-old house into an open lot. Max Musicant, a series consultant, says this is necessary to accommodate the weekly, ceremonial tossing of a bocce ball through a neighbor’s window. Producers are prepared for an extended legal battle.
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