'The Real World: Ex-Plosion': Meet the cast members ... and their exes

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Things always get crazy on "The Real World" when you pack a house full of seven beautiful twentysomethings and enough alcohol to supply a party for months. Now imagine what would happen if all those seven cast members were suddenly surprised by their exes moving in to the house halfway through the season. Welcome to "The Real World: Ex-Plosion."

For the first time in 29 seasons, MTV is changing up the format of its iconic reality series, and the result is as crazy (if not more so) than you'd expect. In fact, when the cast was asked to sum the season up, they all gave these words/phrases: broken bed frames, bear suit sex, and a ghost named Fredrick ...

Zap2it was on the scene in San Francisco at the end of the season, so before the new series kicks off on Wednesday (Jan. 8), get to know the original seven cast members and the exes that move in halfway through.

Arielle and Ashley C.

"We had a rocky relationship like everyone else," Arielle, the 24-year-old model/horror filmmaker says. "There came to be a point when everything in my life didn't feel like mine, and instead of talking it through with Ashley, I just called everything off. I quit my job, I went back to basics, and I couldn't be in a relationship while I did that. I mean, we had moved in together and were talking about marriage and family so that definitely got complicated."

Arielle was the original cast member and was shocked to see Ashley move into the house. "We thought, oh this is going to be great. I don't why everyone gets so crazy on these shows, we've got this. We can handle this. And then we walk in and meet our emotional death and it all went downhill from there. It became a whole other show," Arielle says. "The people that made the cast crazy are now in the house. You'll see a lot of makeups, breakups, makeups, breakups, consistently. There was an emotional high in this house."

As one of the exes, Ashley didn't have that much more notice than the original cast members. "I got the call about a week before asking if I wanted to be the new roommate but I didn't know I was moving in with all these other people. It was a double surprise for both sides," Ashley, the 26-year-old marketing director, says. "I was very hesitant at first because it was a lot to handle. But I wanted to see her and I also wanted people to see our relationship no matter how good or bad it is because I think two girls in a relationship have this stigma attached to it and I wanted people to see that we're just like everyone else. We have our fights, we have our awesome times. It's important and it's not talked about that much."

According to both Arielle and Ashley, the drama in the house was cranked up due to the fact that when the exes moved in, there was no extra space for them. "They didn't even add new rooms for all the exes. They just squeezed all the extra twin beds in between where they could fit, so things were tight," Ashley says. "They didn't even give us new cups or toilet paper. It was like prison. Except inmates don't have to live with their exes."

Cory and Lauren

After being in each others lives for over 12 years, Cory and Lauren have a very complicated relationship ... which was made to be even more complicated when Lauren surprised Cory by moving in after he had already started something up with another roommate. "I had no clue that there was a twist. No clue whatsoever," Cory, the 22-year-old personal trainer, says. "My jaw hit the floor. I thought they had brought all the exes out to visit and then we find out oh no, they're going to be living with us. That really just killed me."

One of the things that really threw Cory about the twist was the fact that his past was all of a sudden a factor. "Me coming onto this show was different because I had obviously no idea the exes were going to show up. I was thinking, oh this is about me, I get to create my image, I get to show people who Cory really is," Cory says. "But the tide kind of turned. You're bringing in that past that you left for reason."

That was also why Lauren was nervous to move into the house. "I was apprehensive because I didn't know what to expect from mine and Cory's past," Lauren, the 23-year-old hairstylist, says. "I felt kind of bad coming into the house because I knew that this was his time to be on his own, away from what we were and I basically put the kibosh on that."

But overall, Cory is really excited for viewers to see the final product. "This is an experience that no one else has been through," Cory says. "There are so many previous seasons where it's just the same over and over, and then we got hit with the surprise. That big shock had us on our toes and brought a new element into the show."

Jenny and Brian

Making things extra complicated in the house is the fact that Jenny and Cory started something before their exes moved in. While some fans might have a problem with how Jenny handles the situation, she couldn't care less. "Some people might have an issue with things I say or things I do, but there's this thing called, 'Spot it you got it,' that means whatever issue they're finding in me they probably have it. So time to recognize," Jenny, the 24-year-old actress/singer/dancer, says. "I definitely changed when Brian came into the house. Things were all of a sudden a lot different. But a lot of us I think have shown some healthy growth and viewers can learn from watching us although some of us maybe haven't. I went through some regression. There was some tug and pull, like the stock market."

Brian agrees with Jenny that viewers can definitely take something positive away from their season. "Everyone can relate to one of the relationships and maybe learn something from us," Brian, the 27-year-old fitness model/personal trainer, says.

That's not to say that everything will be positive on the show ... far from it. "When things are already developed and something's in play, and then someone comes in on that, it messes up that harmony and I get that," Brian says. "It was a sociological struggle. New cliques formed, there were previous cliques, but they were all constantly evolving."

Jay and Jenna

While others might have been upset about their exes moving into the house, it actually was a great learning experience for Jay and Jenna, who had never lived with each other before. "For us, it was definitely a challenge but it made us stronger. It made us realize more about each other. Together we powered through it," Jay, the 26-year-old club promoter, says. "You're here to be your own person, make a name for yourself, and see what you can do on your own. But my happiest moment was walking in and seeing her here. But also you're kind of thinking, but this is my chance. But her being here overtakes that, and it was nice to see a familiar face."

Jenna was definitely nervous to move in, though. "I thought I was going to be the only extra roommate. I thought maybe I was somebody's replacement. But then when I realized everyone's ex was moving in, I was like, 'Oh my god, he's going to kill me," Jenna, the 20-year-old secretary, says.

"I had no clue that twist was coming," Jay says. "The only way I found out was that we went on a trip somewhere -- which was honestly one of the best times of my life -- and when we came back home the next think you know, all these guys moved in."

With twice as many people, Jenna says to expect twice as much craziness and drama ... though she's not worried about how she might be portrayed when the episodes air. "It's real, so honestly if they show it it's because we did it," Jenna says. "They're not making anything up, so as long as you stayed true to yourself there's nothing to be embarrassed about."

Thomas, Hailey, and Jamie

One of the more awkward relationships of the season, thanks to the twist, is between Thomas and Jamie, who struck up a relationship before Thomas' ex Hailey moved in.

"I definitely had mixed emotions about the twist," Thomas, the 21-year-old tennis teacher, says. "To have that thrown onto you when you've got other things going on, it's just craziness. I was not thinking straight at that point. It was strange."

It was as much of a shock for Hailey as it was for Thomas, because she had no idea her ex was already beginning something new in the house. "I did not know anything about Thomas and Jamie when I got here. I was totally in the dark about a lot of things," Hailey, 21, says. "So I was going into it just as blind as they were, essentially which made it all the more emotional, complicated, and dramatic."

The way the twist was revealed made it all the more shocking for the original cast members, too. "We got hit by surprise on a day that we were feeling amazing. Walked through the door, and it was like a slap to the face," Jamie, the 22-year-old bartender, says. "I was pretty much shaking as soon as it happened. I didn't know what was happening or who all these people were."

Ashley M.

As one of the only cast members without an ex that moved in (as well as Jamie, whose rocker ex boyfriend couldn't take time off of touring), Ashley didn't have anyone from her past pop up unannounced. But that didn't stop her from being involved in some pretty major drama, really early on. But she's not worried about what viewers might think of her actions. "I'm not nervous about getting haters because honestly everyone has haters. None of us are camera shy really, and we're all just being who we are," Ashley, the 24-year-old model/actress, says. "My mom told me, a fourth of the people are going to love you, a fourth of the people are going to hate you, a fourth of the people are going to want to hook up with you, and the other fourth don't know who the hell you are anyway."

Ashley found it interesting to see how her cast members changed once their exes moved in. "We all had our set ways in the house and then all their exes came in and things just changed. People were influenced by their past and they changed a little," Ashley says. "Including myself, but for positive reasons. This definitely taught me to be responsible for my own actions. You'll see why."

Check out "The Real World: Ex-Plosion" cast photo gallery to learn more about them here

"The Real World: Ex-Plosion" premieres Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 10 p.m. ET on MTV.

Photo/Video credit: MTV