Sometimes people will complain that MTV doesn’t play music videos anymore. If you ever hear someone say that out loud, cross to the other side of the street and speed-walk away like you exercise at the mall before the stores open. If you ever see someone type that out somewhere, block and report them immediately and then dip your mobile device in that blue Windex Kool-Aid that barbershops keep their combs. It’s the only way to be safe. We are so much better off now than we were in those days. First, we have around-the-clock access to all the videos. You ever stay up for three hours just to see The Regulators video? I did it every night for a summer. If I had that time back I could have studied to be a doctor or even better yet, a Dr. Dre. Second, I need MTV to be concentrating on making television shows, like The Challenge. In an ideal world, The Challenge would be like the Truman Show and run all year round, day and night. I want to see my fave Challengers in between shows, having off-season hook-ups, working their shifts as Student City Spring Break celebs, and forming secret alliances while rocking an appearance fee comp’d table at Harrah’s Pool Party after Dark in A.C. Then we’d see them get the call—a new season of The Challenge is casting—it gets posted directly into their brains via a chip Bunim-Murray has installed through deglutition via test tube shots. Everyone stops mid-whatever they are doing—free weights are dropped without even being racked—and walks out like that scene in the Scott Bakula movie Lord of Illusion when the cult members are called back in and all murder their families and leave to rejoin their master. His name is TJ Lavin and he’s got a new Challenge for you. It starts right now.
Here is a quick breakdown of how this works. The Challenge pulls contestants from a combination of places. It used to be the Road Rules/Real World Challenge but Road Rules ended in 2007 when the economy fell apart and it was way cheaper to just house kids in real houses than it was to pay for the gas required to put them into a Winnebago. Real World is the main farm system that continues to bring up young and exciting un-camera shy prospects. A couple of players have been brought up through The Challenge itself as every few years they will do a “Fresh Meat” season that brings in new talent. Last season on The Challenge they brought in a couple players from Are You the One?, another Bunim-Murray production on MTV but I can’t ever root for an Are You the One? contestant because I don’t know you Are You the One? what are you even doing in my house, how did you get in here, I didn’t invite you here so kindly get to stepping.
This season’s conceit is Bloodlines, which means every contestant is paired up with a family member. The duos are competing for $350,000 but because the host, TJ Lavin, utterly and truly enjoys messing with everyone on this show, he refused to tell them how the money was going to be split up. Usually, there is a first, second, and third place prize. Maybe this year is winner-take-all? Or maybe this year TJ will be like, “it’s actually my money, none of you get anything, I’m very disappointed in all of you for doing this, get to stepping all of you but especially the Are You the One? people,” because TJ is a total wild card. We’ll find out in the final.
Every week the duos compete in a challenge. The losers—the ones who do the worst aka the ones that TJ hates the most that week—go instantly into The Pit for an elimination round. The winners—the ones who do the best aka the ones that TJ only mildly disdains for that week—are safe and get to pick which other team competes in The Pit. Whoever loses in The Pit goes home. Whoever wins, gets to stay in Bodrum, Turkey and compete some more.
I am more pumped for this cast than those Reeboks Instapumps I had in 1994 that needed CO2 cartridges and felt like they could explode on my feet at any minute. After TJ explained the stuff I just said above, they do that thing where everyone gets to the mansion they’ll be staying in and runs around picking rooms. The houses always look like they have 32 rooms from the outside but everyone is stuck in three bedrooms with bunk beds. Production probably needs all that extra space to keep everyone’s liquor. The party immediately starts up with people jumping in the pool, the annual Johnny Bananas opening toast, and the Challengers checking out each other’s butts. Speaking of Production, they use all this as a backdrop to introduce the cast to us. My favorite is how they intercut an old clip of Camila screaming “you’re gonna die!” with her sister’s voiceover saying how she is a total softie. Some of the other good gossip from here is: 1) Cohutta is the one who broke up with Nany and there’s definitely some fire there still. I’m excited to see this play out because Kellyanne has reappeared this season and she has a long dating history with Cohutta as well. Nany brought her cousin, Nicole, who looks like Megan Fox with a Kim Kardash contour and seems to also have Nany’s complete lack of effs when it comes to drama. Could be good. 2) Jenna brought her cousin, Brianna, who has hooked up with a lot of Jenna’s exes. But Jenna is still with Zach. 3) Cory brought his cousin, Mitch, who looks exactly like Chase Budinger.
The most important part of this cast though is the addition of Real World Skeletons reigning champion and the most entertaining character on television: Tony. My man has the incredible ability to make decisions leading to the most absurd predicaments that are impossible to look away from. Tony has a tattoo on his shoulder that says “Y not.” It is his name backwards but also his philosophy on life. On Skeletons, Tony got himself in trouble by hooking up with his roommate Madison aka Bubbles the night before his “skeleton” showed up. Tony’s skeleton: two ex-girlfriends. He had a plural skeleton. And he someone managed to hook up with all three of them while they were all staying at the house together. Tony said every girl he met was his type because his type is every girl who is alive. And he’s still with Madison. She watched the show and they’re together and moved into an apartment they share right before filming started on Bloodlines. Tony brought his brother, Shane, who we also saw briefly during his visit to last year’s Skeletons season. Night one of this show, night one, as in the first night, Tony is immediately drawn to Christina. He goes from “I have a girlfriend” to “you’re going to be tempting to me” to “I want you so bad” before the second day has even started. It’s an entire season’s infidelity arc in like 15 minutes. Cut to Tony and Christina behind a closed door. You hear that? Production captions “kissing sound” on the screen. Then “pants dropping.” PANTS DROPPING. “Pants dropping” is the most pants dropping closed caption of all time. Someone listened to that sound and was like “that is the sound of pants dropping.” Tony gets pulled out of there by Cory. Then Production interviews Tony and he’s like nah, we didn’t hook up, I mean I know it might’ve seemed like we did, you know from all the kissing and pants dropping noises but we didn’t hook up at all but I know what you guys can do to you know make it look like we hooked up. Cut to Christina: “yeah, we hooked up.”
Then day two starts because everyone stayed up all night. Then night two starts and oh look at this, Tony gets called out by Camila’s sister for him saying that she is a weak player. So Camila gets involved. And then Nany does. And then Nany’s cousin does. Everyone is yelling at Tony. Tony doesn’t understand why they’re mad at him for his denial of saying something that he knows he said. He’s just like yeah I said it to her but I’m not going to admit I said it to her. Shane pulls Tony aside and yells at him for speaking to the women in that manner. And Tony is mad that Shane doesn’t have his back. Shane accuses Tony of being drunk and dares Tony to walk a straight line. Then Tony accuses Shane of being drunk but Shane is like “I’m Vogue a straight line.” Then in my dreams, Tony would say “Well, I’ll Harlem Shake a straight a line” and Shane would be like “I’ll Do the Bartman a straight line.” But dreams aren’t real, only The Real World is real. Tony feels like everyone is playing games with him. To which Shane screams “IT IS A GAME.” So Tony wraps his brother / game partner up in a chokehold against the wall. And Shane punches him a few times. The Producers break up the fight. This is night number two.
It used to be that the challenges on The Challenge were contestants competing for money and prizes. But not anymore. Now the true challenge is to even make it to the actual Challenges without being disqualified for physical violence. Tony pulled all of this off before the first day of competition. It used to be that any act of physical harm would get you disqualified immediately. But they let Tony and Shane off with a warning which basically legalized assault and battery for the show. And so they get to compete. Thank everything that Tony didn’t get kicked off though. I think he has so much more to give this season.
The competition was called King of the Hill and it involved two giant piles of mud that Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park would look at and be like “dino drop-droppings?” There were buckets of water and things that needed to be filled up. It was pretty standard in that Johnny Bananas dominated it (now with cousin Vince!) but somehow got teamed up on to get screwed out of winning. Pretty funny to see some of the falls down the hill though. My girl Aneesa landed in a full split, she’s still got it. I’m psyched to see her back in the mix. Jenna and Brianna lost and had to go in the elimination against Christina and Emily because you always throw the rookies in first and yes, thankfully Christina and Emily left because the Are You the One? people are like friends of your friends that you only see once a year at their holiday party and will never love fully (although Dario and Raphy have potential to win comps and hearts so we’ll see but I don’t trust it…)
More importantly than the elimination, everyone went to club and Cousin Vince was saying Cory slept with Nany so Cory had to confront him. Vince yelled out “you’re a personal trainer” like it was an insult but then later we find out that Vince is also a personal trainer so maybe it was some kind of code like “we’re both personal trainers, we can accuse each other of sleeping with anyone, its part of the code—that and also always rack your free weights.” But the best part of the night out was when everyone came home and paired off, Kellyanne and Dario, then Cory went with Aneesa and Cousin Mitch Budinger went with Aneesa’s cousin Rianna. Mitch was too lit to hook up so she was just feeding him cold slices of turkey on the top bunk bed which to me sounds actually one million times better than any kind of hook up. And then Rianna said Mitch is “a really great eater” (of cold turkey while drunk), which is the best compliment ever so I also have my eye on Cousin Mitch as a power player.
The show ended with scenes from the season and Abram, and Zach, and CT all show up and I just can’t get into that right now because even seeing CT for a second brings tears to my eyes so we’ll have to cover that later.