Alex McCormick ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
My name is Alex and I have an addiction. That addiction is a show on MTV called The Challenge. I know what you’re all thinking; “Alex! Stop it! That’s something we don’t talk about!” Most of us refuse to admit this, but we’ve all enjoyed—ironically or otherwise—at least one MTV series. Whether it’s Jersey Shore, Awkward., Catfish, or if it’s classic MTV like TRL, Jackass, and Daria, we have all given in to what’s [formerly] known as Music Television. I know this because we, as college students in the 21st century, are part of the tail end of the MTV Generation.
I acknowledge that shows on MTV aren’t exactly synonymous with high-brow or sensible programming, but MTV does lead the road in innovation. Without early MTV, the reality television movement wouldn’t be what it is: without Beavis & Butt-Head, where would South Park be?; without The Hills, would The Real Housewives franchise exist?; and without The Real World or Road Rules, Big Brother, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and The Amazing Race would be unrecognizable.
While on the topic of those last two MTV shows…
The twenty-fourth season of The Challenge (formerly, The Real World/Road Rules Challenge) premieres July 10th on MTV. The Real World/Road Rules Challenge pitted members of various casts of The Real World and Road Rules against each other in insane and dangerous tasks to win money and prizes. With the cancelation of Road Rules (twice), however, some of the formats changed, and when Road Rules favorites, such as Derrick, Mark, Susie, Darrell, Katie, and Rachel started to age out of the show’s demographic, The Real World/Road Rules Challenge became The Challenge. This change was inevitable, as the last time a Challenge cast comprised more than a handful of Road Rules-ers was thirteen seasons ago.
The last few seasons of The Challenge have seen steadily declining ratings. It’s mostly due to the terrible casts that The Real World has been producing the last five or six seasons, but it is also because the same competitors (Johnny, Kenny, Evan) were winning and the formats were getting more and more desperate; for instance, the last few lackluster formats consisted of pairs of exes (I use ‘exes’ VERY loosely), three teams chosen by the weakest competitors, and a season where the teams were LITERALLY winners versus losers—which, shocker, the losers lost.
The last unique and remarkably successful Challenge format was season twenty-one, Rivals. This season featured teams of Real World and Challenge alumni paired with their greatest enemies from past seasons. Unsurprisingly, this was one of the highest-rated seasons in the show’s history. What do you expect when you have CT teamed up with Adam, whose rivalry dates back to their season of The Real World XIII: Paris, and came to a head when CT punched Adam in the face and said he wanted to “Smash [Adam’s] head and eat it;”Aneesa from The Real World XI: Chicago and Robin from The Real World XIV: San Diego, whose rivalry began when the latter chastised the former for her race, heritage, and sexual orientation; and favorites Wes, of The Real World XVI: Austin, and Kenny, of The Challenge XII: Fresh Meat, who have hated each other since Kenny slept with Wes’ ex-fiancee, The Real World XVI: Austin‘s Johanna.
This upcoming season is Rivals II, and I think it will out-do every season thus far for three reasons:
1. The first Rivals was incredibly successful and a sequel should improve ratings due to fan favorites and familiar faces from The Real World XXVIII: Portland.
2. From speculation and rumors, producers seem to be setting up for future seasons.
3. Bunim-Murray Productions seems to have learned its lesson from mistakes in the past in regards to format.
The cast for Rivals II is a double-edged sword. The supposed ‘rivalries’ are weak and quite a stretch, but this season’s cast seems to have someone for every kind of fan. The cast includes: favorites like Wes, Diem, Emily, and Sarah; classic Real World-ers CT, Aneesa, and Trishelle; legitimate athletes Jordan, Marlon, Zach, and Cooke; people you love to hate in Camila, Paula, Johnny, and Frank; and people who have no chance in hell and will be eliminated first with Tyrie, Dunbar, Jessica, and Anastasia.
As long as MTV keeps producing seasons of The Challenge, The Real World is safe, though the reverse is not true. Rumors have recently circulated that MTV may choose to discontinue the long-running Real World and its sister show, The Challenge after Rivals II and the twenty-ninth season of The Real World wrap in 2014. However, according to reports from cast members, due to the insane amounts of fights and political hookups on Rivals II, BMP has begun considering sequels to Battle of the Exes, Cutthroat, and the long-anticipated fourth installment of The Gauntlet, which pits Challenge rookies against proven veterans.
Any fan you talk to who has seen any season of The Challenge in the last ten years will agree that season thirteen’s The Duel is the gold standard for BMP. However, The Duel II was an incredibly disappointing followup, which is why they have strayed away from sequel seasons in recent years. The fact that they are producing a sequel series for the first time since 2010 tells me that they figured out the way to out-do the original Rivals. After watching the trailer (embedded below), something tells me that Rivals II will not only out-do the original, it will out-do every season to date.
The Challenge kicks off with a launch special–hosted by Challenge veteran Kenny Santucci and Jersey Shore cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi–Wednesday, June 26th at 10pm, and will feature cast favorites from Girl Code and Guy Code.
Rivals II premieres Wednesday, July 10th at 10pm on MTV.
Alex McCormick ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor