“That’s one of the dumbest moves I’ve seen in Challenge history…” —TJ Lavin
“Robin is actually doing exceptionally well: She hasn’t totally freaked out and she’s not crying yet!” —Mark
One of the biggest factors determining whether or not a reality show contestant is well-liked has to be how entitled he or she seems. Players who come into the game acting as if they are somehow owed a pass to the finals come off as spoiled, whereas audiences will root for anyone if they feel he’s earned his keep.
Compare, for example, Camila and Paula in last night’s episode of Battle of the Exes. When C.T./Diem announced their decision to send Dunbar/Paula into the Dome—a puzzling decision that even TJ criticized—Paula took it in stride and didn’t complain, even though it pitted her against her new beau Ty. Dunbar was a little confused, but only because he didn’t understand the logic behind the move. Continue reading »
“Let’s make things interesting: The Power Couple will get $2500… and I will personally give you a pat on the back.” —TJ Lavin
Diem: “Wow, I’m excited for this one. The money’s cool..”
C.T.: “The pat on the back is cool!”
Like Rivals, the most compelling relationship of this season involves C.T., but unlike Rivals—when C.T. and Adam seemed to follow a slow but steady path toward reconciliation—Battle of the Exes has not renewed or repaired C.T. and Diem’s relationship. Throughout the season, they’ve been perhaps the most distant couple. They’ve rarely shared any scenes together, and when they have it’s usually been to talk about how they haven’t been talking.
It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to figure out that why: Unlike most of the other couples, they hadn’t seen or spoken in years, and unlike the other relationships in the house, this one was really important to both of them. Since they’ve been mostly polite to each other, and they haven’t lost or won a challenge yet, they haven’t had a lot of screen time; but based on their confessionals and brief interactions (and, of course, knowing C.T.’s history of dealing with anger), they’d always seemed one wrong word from being at each other’s throats. Continue reading »
“I just want to be on the same page as her, and I don’t know what page she’s on… or what chapter. I don’t know what book she’s reading.” —C.T.
“What is a second? It’s like… a second!” —Jasmine
As reality television has grown and evolved, a lot of attention has been paid to producers’ Orwellian attempts to spy on every aspect of the participants’ lives: The Real World producers alone have infamously put microphones in headboards to capture the cast’s pillow-talk, filmed a cast member receiving the news that his mother died, and captured a girl getting slapped in the face. Lost in all of this, though, is the fact that the secret to reality TV’s success is what the cameras don’t show.
Last night’s episode of Battle of the Exes was a perfect example. With Johnny/Camila once again in the position of Power Couple, they have to choose which team to send into the Dome against Tyrie and Jasmine. Johnny is leaning toward sending in Rachel, who voted against him on The Island (Dude, can hold a grudge—that Challenge was almost four years ago), and her partner, Aneesa, but Mark, Rachel’s friend, tries to intervene on her behalf. Continue reading »
“Vinny really surprises me. Maybe I should be eating more lasagna…” —Paula
“You’re too good for this, Sarah.” —Dunbar
Does anyone know MTV’s official fighting policy? Everyone knows there’s a No Fighting rule—since someone gets sent home for violating it seemingly every season*—but there’s obviously some ambiguity about what constitutes a “fight.” Contestants often say that they’re not allowed to hit anyone, but even that isn’t totally clear—Jasmine clearly hit Tyrie during their brief fight in last night’s episode, but there was no mention of her going home.
*It’s not actually every season, only Rivals, The Ruins, The Duel II, The Inferno III, The Duel, Battle of the Sexes II, and the Extreme Challenge. Just those seven. Oh, and now this one, so eight.
Of course, the difference between what Jasmine did and what Vinny was ultimately sent home for was that Tyrie was obviously never threatened by Jasmine’s violence (probably because she’s like three feet tall) while Mandi clearly and justifiably felt violated. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with this, but it seems like the policy is not nearly as black-and-white as the audience is led to believe, and I imagine that there’s an awful lot that goes on behind the scenes that leads to someone getting sent home. Continue reading »
“I know she’s a great competitor, but then there’s also the fact that I hate her.” —Ty
“We do not talk. We are not Facebook friends. Nothing.” —Diem
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back!
MTV is back with another installment of The Challenge and this time, fresh off the success of the Rivals format, it’s embracing a similar concept: Battle of the Exes will pair players with partners who they hooked up with/dated/sloppily-made-out-with-while-drunk on previous challenges.
Of course, it should go without saying that I love this season’s format, but I feel the need to stress something: I love this season’s format. There’s the obvious drama factor—always-quotable Paula called this season “drama’s wet dream”*—but this season also addresses a lot of concerns I have about challenge format. First of all, I almost always prefer individual or paired competitions (like The Duel, Fresh Meat, Rivals) to team challenges (The Gauntlet, The Inferno, Cutthroat). They prevent players from skating by and force everyone to strategize. Continue reading »