Review: ‘Pedro’ on MTV
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“Pedro,” which premieres tonight on MTV (and simultaneously on sister station Logo), dramatizes the short, productive life of Pedro Zamora, a third-season cast member of “The Real World” -- the 1994 San Francisco season, known also for the abrasive, abusive and generally uncooperative bike messenger Puck, who was kicked out of the house, in part because of his treatment of Zamora.
This was back when “The Real World” still had the air of a social experiment, making roommates of seven strangers “to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real,” before it became, for a while anyway, a kind of financed spring break, a chance to live in a cool house and party and be on television.
Born in Cuba and raised mostly in Miami, Zamora -- “the first-ever openly gay, HIV-positive main character on TV,” the network says -- was an inspirational figure just for showing up. But he was also an AIDS educator who saw his “Real World” tenure as a kind of platform -- in a time when Ellen DeGeneres was still in the closet and gay characters, let alone HIV-positive gay characters, had yet to become unremarkable participants in the narratives of mainstream television. Yet “The Real World” made the ring exchange between Zamora and boyfriend Sean Sasser the centerpiece of one of its episodes and made the enlightenment of his cast mates one of the series’ main themes as well. It was bold television in its time, and the gesture still resonates.
(Photo courtesy MTV)