Real World Homecoming's Danny Roberts Argues the Handling of His HIV Journey Failed Pedro Zamora

Danny Roberts hoped Real World Homecoming would spotlight his HIV journey. Instead, he's criticizing the show for his portrayal in an exclusive statement to E! News. Read it here.

By Spencer Lubitz, Daniel Trainor Jul 06, 2022 2:45 AMTags

It was a disappointing Homecoming for Danny Roberts

The 44-year-old, who first appeared on MTV's The Real World: New Orleans in 2000, reunited with his former cast mates on season three of The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans on Paramount+, which released its season finale June 8.

Danny, who went public with his HIV diagnosis in 2018, was hoping his appearance on the show would give a platform to somebody living life while HIV+. That opportunity never came, he tells E! News in an exclusive statement.

Danny said the plot line was cut because it was a story he had already told—but he argued that's not the full picture.

"It was stated that it wasn't prioritized because it's something I've previously spoken of, or at least the diagnosis and health journey," Danny said. "But what was missed here was the broader opportunity to talk about our health care system, access and medicine."

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While Danny said he appreciated that Homecoming "genuinely focused on my mental health journey," he argued it not only did a disservice to his own story, but also those that came before him.

"What I want heard more than anything is that this was a failure to honor their own previous work and Pedro Zamora," Danny said, "which was so important and forgotten."

Pedro appeared on The Real World: San Francisco in 1994 and became one of the first openly gay men living with HIV to be seen on television. Zamora died of an AIDS-related illness on November 11, 1994 at the age of 22, just hours after the Real World: San Francisco finale aired.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Bunim/Murray Productions—the production company responsible for The Real World—responded to Danny's allegations that the HIV storyline was cut, saying it "has never shied away from sharing stories around HIV and AIDS" since the franchise premiered in 1992.

"The Homecoming series ultimately focused on Danny's mental health journey," a Bunim/Murray statement said, "which he shared publicly with all his former roommates for the first time."

Akasha Rabut/Paramount+

Rather than feel pity, Danny urged viewers to pause and think about what they watch—and what it says about all of us.

"I actually think it's a moment for all of us to pause and consider what we expect and demand from reality tv," Danny said. "It's a reflection of what society is asking for, or at least has been for years. Perhaps it's time for us all to consider what we consume. This decision wasn't made in a vacuum. This formula of reality tv today wasn't created in a vacuum."

E! News reached out to Paramount+ and Bunim/Murray Productions for comment but hasn't heard back.

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