MTV’s new docu-series “If You Really Knew Me” goes inside high schools across the country to discover what can happen when students peel back their public personas, break out of their cliques and show their peers who they really are. Premiering on Tuesday, July 20, at 11pm, each episode visits a different school, following five students as they tear down the walls that divide them through a transformative one-day program, “Challenge Day .” Reminiscent of the film “The Breakfast Club,” this real life series goes beneath the surface and behind the labels, ultimately uniting these students as they surprise each other with illuminating yet sometimes difficult truths about their lives.
‘If You Really Knew Me’ is an incredibly authentic and compelling docu-series that takes us on a 24 hour journey through a high school’s social transformation. It shows us what happens when kids from various cliques decide to break down the walls that divide them and commit to change,” said Tony DiSanto, President of Programming for MTV. “It’s an intense and dramatic experience, but ultimately uplifting and universally relatable for all of us who have gone through high school or are about to.”
Each episode takes place at a different high school with its own set of issues and its own unique set of cliques. In the series premiere, viewers go inside a Northern California school divided by race and cliques, a symptom of a newly-diverse student body that has grown from 500 to 2,400 students in just 10 years. As the season progresses, the show profiles a variety of schools struggling with everything from cyberbullying to small town rumor mills. Viewers learn that all of the young people profiled are striving to make the best of their high school years, while experiencing many of the same doubts and fears that are part of being a teenager. Deep down, all of these students want to be accepted for who they really are.
“Of all the programs I’ve ever filmed that help young people, Challenge Day is the most impressive and effective,” said Arnold Shapiro of Arnold Shapiro Productions. “Bringing MTV and Challenge Day together for this life-changing series has resulted in some of the most rewarding, amazing and uplifting hours I’ve ever produced.”
“‘If You Really Knew Me’ illuminates the power and strength that young people have when they share and connect in a vulnerable and authentic way,” said Jaime Polson, Chief Executive Officer of Challenge Day. “We truly believe that this series has the power to transform people’s lives, and by working with MTV and Arnold Shapiro Productions, we’re able to bring Challenge Day to even more people across the country.”
Online at MTV.com viewers can find exclusive content and updates on students featured in the series, sound off in an interactive discussion forum, and locate information and resources on issues touched on in the show. Fans tweeting about the show can use the official series hash tag #IfYouReallyKnewMe. Additionally, educators, organizations and individuals will be able to access information on Challenge Day, including weekly discussion guides that can be used as a resource to open up a dialogue and apply some of the training used by Challenge Day in the show.
As the series progresses, “If You Really Knew Me” touches on a number of issues young people struggle with today, from mental health to cyberbullying. On-air and online, MTV will connect viewers to information and resources for many of the topics addressed in the show, often integrating the network’s core public education initiatives including A THIN LINE , which aims to empower young people to stop the spread of digital abuse; Half of Us , mtvU’s Peabody Award-winning campaign to fight stigma around mental health; and It’s Your (Sex) Life , MTV’s Emmy and Peabody-winning partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation to encourage young people to make responsible decisions about their sexual health.
“If You Really Knew Me” is Executive Produced by Arnold Shapiro and Paul J. Coyne of Arnold Shapiro Productions, and Angie Day for MTV. Tony DiSanto is President of Programming for MTV, Liz Gateley is Senior Vice President of Production Development for MTV, and Tamar Zohar is Senior Director of Series Development for MTV. Concept by Arnold Shapiro.
MTV is the dynamic, vibrant experiment at the intersection of music, creativity and youth culture. For over 28 years, MTV has evolved, challenged the norm, and detonated boundaries — giving each new generation a creative outlet and voice that entertains, informs and unites on every platform and screen. On-air, MTV is the number one rated full-day ad-supported cable network for P12-24 and P12-34. Online, MTV.com averaged 24.5 million monthly unique visitors during the first quarter of 2010 — up +8% from Q4/2009 and up +13% year-over-year. Average video streams for the first quarter of 2010 increased +8% from the Q4/2009 and is up +6% over the same time period last year. And MTV’s successful sibling networks MTV2 and mtvU each deliver unprecedented customized content, super-serving young males, music fans, and college students like no one else. MTV is part of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms.
About Arnold Shapiro Productions:
Best known for his Oscar and Emmy Award-winning documentary, “Scared Straight”, and the CBS series, “Rescue 911,” hosted by William Shatner, Arnold Shapiro Productions– for more than 30 years– has been committed to documentaries and reality series aimed at helping young people get from childhood to adulthood without getting killed, dropping out, becoming addicted, pregnant, suicidal, or depressed. “If You Really Knew Me” addresses all these issues and more. ASP has produced 31 series and over 100 documentaries for every broadcast network and 14 cable channels, garnering 16 Emmys, the Peabody Award, and an Academy Award.
About Challenge Day:
Challenge Day’s vision is that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated. Additionally, the Challenge Day mission is to provide youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression.