The Challenge is Back & Badder Than Ever 🙂
I am writing these blogs because according to me I am an Enneagram 9, and according to the book I read about the Enneagram, 9’s need to get their opinions out in the world because they often hold them inside. While anyone who knows me knows I will likely bring up the reality TV show I am watching within the first 5 minutes of a conversation, I am trying to “take action” and “not be depressed anymore”.
So anyway, now that I have already overshared in a variety of ways, I hope you are comfortable here, and above all else, I hope these blogs can provide food for thought & the escapism we all crave (the reason why we turned the tv on in the first place). This blog is not for the reality tv faint of heart… I get deep, deep, DEEP into this shit (If by any chance you listen to the “Game of Roses” podcast, then you may know what I’m referring to as the “pit”), so if you are just a “casual” reality TV viewer (I would define casual as not constantly thinking about reality tv, everything reminding you of something you saw on reality tv, and just, in general, the only thing that interests you at all is reality tv), you are going to want to leave this blog immediately. JUST KIDDING!!! Please don’t leave, you just got here. 🙂
The point is, I take this shit VERY seriously. In fact, it’s the most serious thing in my life. So please, make yourself at home; pour yourself a nice glass of wine, get in your coziest sweats, & join me as I divulge deeper into The Challenge (reality TV in general) than any (sane) human has dared to venture before 🙂 *insert cool ass music*
I’m not sure if you guys have heard, but there is a little something happening in the world right now called “COVID-19” (a simple joke to make light of something all-consuming and life-altering; my sincerest condolences to anyone who has lost someone to this disease, has struggled financially, mentally, physically, and everything in between. Lastly, thank you to all “essential workers” & healthcare workers who are still putting their lives on the line so I can sit comfily in my home and sell Lysol.)
So anyway, we’ve obviously all been spending a lottttt of time inside this year (and this will likely continue into 2021. Again, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just cuz the clock is going to strike at midnight & it will be 2021, it will conversely NOT just “strike” and snap! Covid is gone! It’s gonna take a while for shit to return to “normal”, not that we will ever live the same as we did pre-COVID, but I digress), so during that time I have managed to get addicted to nearly every reality TV show that has ever existed, and primarily the ones with a vast abyss of characters, history, and relationships, and while I tried (and still love) the likes of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Survivor, Big Brother, The Real World, and more, The Challenge is my ideal, most perfect, and probably number one love.
It has repeat characters which are my absolute favorite thing in my entire life (I think cuz anxiety? And feeling like I “know” someone is easier and more comfortable than having to meet a whole new cast (my beef with Survivor & Big Brother)). Additionally, all these characters were already created on a different show and then pulled over to The Challenge. That then opens up the world of all THOSE shows I can watch, and you can see how the rabbit reality hole begins.
The Challenge is also more interesting than Survivor/Big Brother to me in the sense that there hasn’t been just one main version of the game. It’s evolved from the twist being the last-place finishers in the daily challenge go into the elimination challenge. There have been team games, partners, individuals, then as of late we have the “tribunal”; a more sophisticated social/political aspect of the game because the winner of the daily challenge then gets to decide who will go into elimination, etc., etc. I like how it has evolved and each game is slightly different.
Thirdly, on shows like Survivor and Big Brother, it’s about who wins, whereas I would argue the finals episode in any given Challenge season is allllways the most boring and as my friend pointed out, usually them just crossing long distances, lol. The beauty in The Challenge (to me) is the wealth of characters & history, and then the actual “challenges” are kinda just like frosting on the cake. So I think that’s why the season usually gets more progressively boring vs. Survivor where I wish I could start every season post-merge (not really but kinda… like THAT’s when the REAL game starts) cuz the beginning I actually feel like there are too many characters (again, usually all-new unless it’s a special season) and most of them won’t matter anyway (since they leave early).
The point is… I fucking love this show and I vow to watch every single second that has ever been created & above ALL, my promise to you, dear reader, is to become one of the greatest, most knowledgeable Challenge historians to ever exist so I can then provide YOU with all the proper necessities & enhancements to make reality TV your whole life too. 🙂
So let’s thank the LADY GOD OR UNIVERSE HERSELF that we have a NEW SEASON OF THE CHALLENGE ON THIS WEDNESDAY, WHOOOOOOOOOO. Shows like Survivor (lol sorry I am literally mentioning this every other sentence) & Euphoria are rumored to not come back until 2021 so I really wasn’t sure the next time we were going to be seeing CT’s face, but alas, they worked it and cranked out a season. And so for THAT, I am grateful!
The first thing I noticed in the Season 36 “Double Agents” official trailer (required viewing, see below for link) was that…this season is in Iceland!!! (GOD, I COULD WRITE A WHOLE BLOG ABOUT THE TRAILER IN AND OF ITSELF, CAN NOT EXPRESS HOW FKN GOOD THIS SEASON LOOKS HOLY SHIIIIIT).
Wait, that’s not true… First thing I noticed is that TJ looks bad as FUCK.
I for SURE thought it was going to be filmed in some town two hours away from LA same as The Bachelorette production this summer, but NO folks, we are still cross country! And remember, Iceland is GREEN, and Greenland is ICE (in case you were thrown off by the name, which is obviously understandable) so I’m pretty hyped for that/it looks beautiful.
My main complaint will be again if it’s cold/cloudy because then everyone will be depressed again like last season and no one will hook up which again is one of the main reasons for tuning into this show!!! (Okay, spoilers except not really cuz it’s in the trailer but I saw at least TWO kisses with FOUR people involved TOTAL so there is definitely some hope). Especially in a time like this when I ain’t getting shit from anyone out here in bum fuck Indiana!!! Like last season all we got was Nany & Asaf for ONE EPISODE (Nany’s “kiss of death”, smh, Asaf, do your research!!!)…
…And then Kailah and Bear but like… that didn’t feel nice or fun at all because Kailah fucked up her whole life (Mostly Bear, not that I blame Kailah but it does take two to tango) !!! So yeah… I need some hook-ups PRONTO, enough of this wanting to win the game bullshit (jk).
This season is called “Double Agents” which is… intriguing. There are also 10 rookies… TEN. That’s so much!!! That’s TOO much some may argue (me!) !!! In season 35, Total Madness, there were 7 rookies, which was a lot, and 3 are back for season 36 (Fessy, Kaycee, & Jay), and then in season 34, War of the Worlds II, there were 4 rookies and NONE of them ended up coming back… (Idris, Esther, Nicole, & this guy named Sean that I literally don’t remember a lick). So my first thought was…. Vet & rookie teams maybe? But then there are 20 vets so that wouldn’t work… and I don’t think they would have teams of 3 because… double means two? So now we’re back at not knowing the gig, the twist, the bit is, WHATEVER.
TJ does say in the trailer something about there only being 10 skulls? So maybe you have to win an elimination AND be one of the first ten people to do it??? IDK. And also… I’m tired of only one or two people winning, can we get another team win?? I need some champs in the mix we’ve only got 4 LEFT ON THIS SEASON (CT, Darrell, Wes, & Ashley, and for the most part all three of those guys won back in the early Challenge days, Ashley’s the only recent winner minus CT winning season 34).
Again, I don’t reaaaaally care, but I definitely don’t want them to do the whole “red skull”-having-to-win-an-elimination-to-get-into-the-final-thing because it just made the whole season way less dramatic because now instead of trying to AVOID elimination at all costs (the majority of the drama derives from whose going home or at least for that episode), everyone WANTED to go in so there were really no seemingly “bad” things that could happen per usual. So I definitely don’t want that, but I almost 100% guarantee (Kills 99.99% of germs; ) Lysol 😉 Corporate America 😉 Capitalist 😉 Society ;)) that won’t be it now so I guess we’ll just patiently wait for Wednesday. 🙂
And now, without further ado – Please continue for my full cast breakdown & analysis on the season. 🙂
So FIRST up…. Let’s take a look at these rooks! And BOY OH BOY do we look like we have some home runs here folks!!! A professional wrestler?? A Survivor winner??? An OLYMPIAN??? UMMMM yeah, SIGN ME UP.
AMBER BORZOTRA – BIG BROTHER SEASON 16
First up is Amber B. (yes, there are two) from Big Brother 16, which was SIX seasons ago (first random thing) ie. 2014 ie. I was graduating high school and was just a naive, non-depressed young sprung chicken… Now, when I found out AMBER FROM BIG BROTHER 16 was rumored to be on this season, I was literally like… what in the damn HELL… I don’t remember ANNNNNNNYTHIIIIING about this woman except that this gross boy who called himself “Beastmode Cowboy” was obsessed with her… An absolutely terrible hand to be dealt if you ask me. Literallllyyyy hooooooowwww in the HELL did MTV decide to call up THIS WOMAN from Big Brother that was on 6 GOING ON 7 YEARS AGO….
I get that they (Big Brother contestants) have to be off of their two year CBS contract or whatever, (but wait… more to come on this, but Natalie, another rookie, just got off of a season of Survivor that aired in January-April of 2020… so I wonder how she was able to be on MTV this quick?… Hmmm more pointless questions to ponder for my whole day and life!) but they just had 4 people from Big Brother 20 on season 35 so obviously all seasons up to that would have been fair game…
Just seems like an odd choice + when you combine it with the fact that she was absolutely SO not memorable PLUS you could’ve probably guessed this next part, but she doesn’t make it far at all (doesn’t make the jury which is like the last … 8-11 people I think?). Again, this isn’t necessarily that weird since Fessy, Bayleigh, & Swaggy all had pretty mediocre runs on Big Brother too… but then again you also have two past Big Brother winners (Kaycee, Season 20, & Josh (literally by the GRACE OF GOD AND THE SKIN ON HER TEETH JOSH WON AND I’LL STILL NEVER UNDERSTAND HOW HE MANAGED TO PULL THAT OFF), Season 19). DAMN it is absolutely just mind-blowing lol.
Okay, wait… One thing that does check out… Of all the people who have ever crossed over into the great land of reality tv careers and beyond ie been on The Challenge, only ONE person has ever NOT been a person of color; Paulie Calafiore, who is incidentally the brother of Cody Calafiore who incidentally just won Big Brother 22 back in October, and yes it was two reality worlds colliding as I watched Cara Maria watch Cody win Big Brother from a live Calafiore household Zoom… AND Cody was incidentally on the same season as YES, YOU GUESSED IT – AMBER…. (Natalie what’s her butt looks white but identifies as Hispanic)… Every other person to hop from Big Brother to The Challenge has been a person of color (Da’Vonne Rogers, Jozea, Swaggy C, Bayleigh Dayton, Fessy, Kaycee Clark, & Josh Martinez)
AMBER MARTINEZ – ARE YOU THE ONE? SEASON 8
And now we have Amber M. who I am AMPPPPED AS SHIT FOR. Okay, so AYTO is the most fun insane dating show where they typically have 10 guys and 10 girls and everyone has a “perfect match” in the house which is determined by psychologists who do interviews with the contestants, the contestants exes, their family, friends, blah, blah, blah you get it… so OTHER rookie Amber (and arguably my fav rookie tied with Natalie but we’ll get there 🙂 ) is from the GAY season of AYTO, and when I say gay I mean everyone is sexually fluid ie. down for anyone regardless of gender, and I may or may not have seen this entire show about 6 times through (yet… I still struggle with my sexuality… hmmmm).
Amber is definitely a memorable character on AYTO, with her initial storyline of being really into this girl, Nour, who later “cheated” on Amber in the show when she made out with Kylie while Amber was away from the house on a date… And the kicker is… This very same date Amber is out with Paige and refUSES A KISS FROM PAIGE WHO IS PERFECT AND SO SWEETLY ASKED HER FOR THE KISS (can you tell I’m on team fuck Nour?)
THEN she basically just hoed around the house for the rest of the time, BUT she DID provide IMO the hottest moment of the entire season where Justin (mostly ew but for these purposes; hot) basically holds her and air grinds her during their mermaid party???? The slow-mo shots??? Lol sorry, I just came!!!!!!!!
NATALIE ANDERSON – SURVIVOR & AMAZING RACE
Okay so of course I also have watched about 8 seasons of Survivor including Season 40 where SPOILER ALERT Natalie is on because again SPOILER she had ALREADY previously won Survivor (29), which if you don’t automatically know, season 40 is “Winners at War” so the entire cast is comprised of previous Survivor winners. Her storyline on the season is that she’s the FIRST ONE voted out, but there’s this thing called the “Edge of Extinction” (a facet of the game reminiscent of the early seasons of “Exile Island”, everyone say it with me now, “1, 2, 3, Candice!” – call back to season 13, the Cook Islands, when they sent Candice to exile every time for literally no apparent reason, she wasn’t like a threat in the game or anything. Hahahhahaha, get fucked, Candice)
SO Natalie essentially survives the whole time on the Edge which is significantly less comfortable than still being in the game if you’ll even believe that (since she was the first one out, she was LITERALLY THERE ALL BY HERSELF UNTIL THE NEXT PERSON CAME WHICH WAS PROBABLY DAYS??? …. LIKE THAT ALONE HAS ALL MY RESPECT I WOULD HAVE GONE INSANE IN MINUTES).
THEN there’s a competition for someone to come back into the game from the Edge to make up the final 6, and she WINS THE CHALLENGE due to all the advantages she bought with her “fire tokens” ie. the Survivor economy they created that added a whole additional intricate level of the game, and THEN SHE MAKES IT TO THE FINAL 3 & GETS THE CHANCE TO ARGUE FOR HER CHANCE AT THE 2 MILLION DOLLARS, YES NOT ONE BUT TWO, AND THENNNN THIS MOFO GETS 4 VOTES…. SHE IS LITERALLY THE RUNNER UP ON THIS SEASON ARGUABLY THE HARDEST COMPETITION IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME (LITERALLY ALL THESE PEOPLE HAVE WON BEFORE). So if that didn’t land her a spot on this season, girl, I don’t know what did!!!
One last fun fact – Natalie is a twin and her original Survivor season was a family game, “Blood vs. Water”, where the twist was everyone had a family member on the opposite tribe… Her sister, Nadiya, got voted out FIRST, and this hoe goes on to WINS IT ALL. I’m sooooooo excited to see Natalie again, she is literally SUCH A FUCKING BADASS. She’s STRONG AS FUCK, she’s a physical trainer and does Cross Fit… I am favoring her to win 🙂 🙂
OLIVIA “LIV” JAWANDO – SHIPWRECKED
Next, we have Liv who I SUPRISINGLY do not know… Okay, WOW, the first video clip I watch of this girl is her repeatedly throwing water onto this mans face and yelling at him in such a strong British accent I truly do not even know what she’s saying and I’m soooooo fucking here for this, LMAOOOOOOOOOOOO.
It’s also really interesting she’s from Shipwrecked… There are only two other Challenge castmates (okay nope there were 3 because of the Sean mans on War of the Worlds II that I, again, fully don’t remember at all) to ever come from the show Shipwrecked and that is Stephen “Bear” (not on this season, which BOY OH BOY, is that mans GREAT TV but a terrrrrrrrrrible person, lmao, what’s new) and Tula “Big T” who is on this season and we will be getting to later…
There’s also a clip of Liv and BIG T GETTING INTO IT which is more than I’ve heard Big T say for her entire Challenge career (not really but I was literally so shocked to see Big T behave like this but also like… now in love with her as much as everyone else is I think… )
All in all, Liv seems like a greaaaaat addition – She’s got a history with Big T and she seems like a FIRECRACKER so I’m jazzzzed to see her on my TV. 🙂
GABBY ALLEN – LOVE ISLAND SEASON 3
I have to apologize because I tried to find ANYTHING significant about Gabby and I simply just couldn’t. She looks like every other blonde woman who has been on Love Island so we’ll see, lol. I could see her being the first one gone… SORRY TO WISH U UNWELL but the truth hurts : (. Consequently, she could surprise us and be small but mighty similar to Melissa or Georgia who was also blonde, also looked like every other blonde on Love Island (and she was in fact on Love Island!) but was actually a great Challenge contestant: she wanted to win & she hooked up! She has 4 of the integral parts to being a good Challenge competitor – three coined by Ashley Mitchell, the most recent two-time female champion, “I fuck, I fight, I cry”… and then lastly I would like to add, to be a great Challenge player… you gotta win and you gotta wanna win BAD.
JOSEPH ALLEN – AMERICA’S GOT TALENT
Yeah… you read that correct this mans was on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT which is definitely the weirdest stretch of a show for a cast member I’ve ever seen (minus WWE and an OLYMPIAN but we’ll get there).
Despite this absurdity, the first video I watched of him was his rap/singing a song to his mom, and I was just like ok I need to cry for the next ten days straight bye!!! Not much else to say, but hey Joseph, I wish ya well in your Challenge debut!
LIO RUSH – WWE
Lio is a former WWE wrestler… Interesting… Obviously (or maybe not lol) I think wrestling is legit so gross (sorry, not trying to undermine anyone’s livelihood literally do your thing, I just really don’t like watching people beat the shit out of each other), HOWEVER on the Challenge Mania podcast I listen to they said Lio was “okay” in the WWE, but apparently WWE like the corporation or whatever the fuck is really shitty and treat all their wrestlers like “independent contractors” ie. they don’t get healthcare and other employee benefits, yet the WWE still controls everything they do: their appearances, their matches, etc. so it’s kinda like… okay fuck you WWE!!! Essentially, they’re like, yeah, he was always going to just be average in the WWE, but now he can come to The Challenge and FUCK SHIT UP, and potentially win!
They also AMAZINGLY reference Kenny King who was also a WWE wrestler and also on reality TV, Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette – Basically, it was the same move for him: He was an average wrestler in the WWE, but then went on Rachel Lindsay’s season and has more followers than ever before. Either way, I’m hype as hell for Lio, I think he has great potential, and his hair is sick as fuuuuuuuck.
LOLO JONES – U.S. OLYMPIAN & CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER
Y’all… not only is this woman an OLYMPIAN, but she is also an AMERICAN RECORD HOLDING OLYMPIAN. If I was on this cast, Lolo Jones would deeeeeefinitely be who I fear the most… Unless you’ve seen Survivor 40 then you’re money is allll the way on Natalie. ❤ Jones is the American record holder in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.72. She specialized in the 60-meter hurdle but also does 100m & bobsledding.
Also, on this same Challenge Mania podcast, they were discussing how Lolo & Paulie got connect from Champs vs. Stars (a spin-off Challenge show that’s not considered as part of the show but it literally functioned exactly like a Challenge show/season), and they have the Big Brother connection (Paulie was on Season 18 of BB, and Lolo apparently played on Celebrity Big Brother which I have yet to dip my toes into… but kinda seems like it might be my next big reality TV obsession, lmao).
Anyway, apparently, Lolo Jones convinced Paulie that he could make it onto the American Olympian bobsledding team, and apparently, that’s like what he’s trying to do now???? Insano, if a man who got his start on Big Brother probably 90% due to the fact that his brother had been cast and done well on the show two years prior… what a fucking ride THAT would be.
MECHIE HARRIS – EX ON THE BEACH SEASON 3 & MUSICIAN
Listen, I was like… ummmm they’re bringing this mans over from Ex on the Beach… WTF. FIRST off, Ex on the Beach is ALSO a show where the premise is to have on past reality TV stars of other shows, and then jumble them all together into this NEW show, so essentially I’m like… okay if he was on Ex on the Beach then he had to of been on another show, right? WRONG.
So this IS possible for him to not have been on another show if he was the EX of someone who HAD been on another show which I can’t confirm but I’m 95% sure on this one… So then I’m thinking… he literally was on this show because he dated someone that was a reality star… MTV this is a STRETTTCH. You couldn’t get… anyone else? Like another VET PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE ME THAT GOOD GOOD REAL WORLD CAST BACKKKKK.
BUT, I quickly realized all of this thought process was WRONG because the first thing that pops up when you google this mans is “Kardashian scandal”… and let me tell you… if the first thing that pops up under your name is KARDASHIAN SCANDAL…. UHHHHHH you know that shit’s gonna be GOOD. Something about him hooking up with Blac Chyna who was dating Rob Kardashian at the time…
My research revealed he was also an original member, rapper, and singer in the R&B group 4EY The Future with their hit song “Scoot Ova”. I did not personally recognize this song but, like, we vibe with it for sure.
And then LASTLY, this man was a semi-successful vine star??? AGAIN, tried to look up his vines on YouTube to see if there was one I recognized but again I sadly did not. They’re like boy vines about rapping and cars and shit, IDK, but STILL this mans knows how to get in the spotlight so I’m guessing he’s going to make some good ass tv (even though I am trying to watch his Ex on the Beach season with no avail to actually understand how tf he got on The Challenge)
NAM VO – ULTIMATE BEASTMASTER
Okay, so Nam Vo has the best bone structure of all the rookies, potentially all cast members total?? Ultimate Beastmaster??? Never heard of this, but from the likes of it, I wouldn’t be fucking with Nam Vo if I were them!
So apparently Ultimate Beastmaster is a Netflix show?? WTFFFFF. Read damn near their entire Wikipedia page and still truly do not know one thing about this show except that it’s a competition. Obviously, it sounds like it would naturally lend itself to The Challenge (“Beast Master”), so you know what Nam Vo, I wish you luck! (“I don’t wish you luck… I wish you SENSE!” Absolutely incredible line from Balto, consequently, my favorite G-rated movie.:) )
And nooooooow for our vetty, vet, vets. 🙂
BIG T – ORIGINALLY FROM SHIPWRECKED
Big T is another cast member who went out first on their rookie season… but this is actually a fairly good omen in terms of your future Challenge career (Cara Maria & Johnny Bananas were both the first out on their rookie seasons 😉 ).
She is clearly well-liked by all her castmates & production, and despite not necessarily having huge storylines in the past two seasons, or even lasting that long for that matter, she’s back for more. I’ve heard multiple cast members speak highly of Big T (on podcasts and such), but she really does seem to be universally loved. Everyone loves Big T? Obvi I’m gonna love Big T! She also gives me Melissa vibes… She’s small but scrappy, and I think the third time could be a charm for her if she can start making some strategic game moves/aligning herself with the right people, which, shouldn’t be too hard to do if she’s got everyone in her pocket!
DEVIN WALKER – ORIGINALLY FROM ARE YOU THE ONE? SEASON 3
DEVIN IS LITERALLY THE MOST ANNOYING KNOW-IT-ALL OF ALL TIME AND HAS A FAKE RIVALRY WITH JOHNNY BANANAS AKIN TO THE WES-JOSH RIVALRY WHERE JOSH IS LIKE MY NUMBER ONE TARGET IN THIS GAME IS WES, AND WES, TO JOSH’S FACE, IS LIKE, PLEASE STOP ACTING LIKE WE ARE RIVALS I LITERALLY DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU AND I’M NOT GONNA WASTE MY TIME GOING AFTER THE WORST PLAYER IN THE GAME (LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, shit still cracks me up). This is how I felt with the Devin-Banans rivalry…
Here’s the thing… Devin knows how to make good TV even though I guarantee he was an absolute annoying nerd loser in school. So he knows, wow, in order to make a name for myself I can create this rivalry with Bananas, the longest, most winning cast member in Challenge history… But again do you really think the LONGEST MOST SUCCESSFUL CAST MEMBER FROM THIS SHOW IS GONNA HAVE A RIVALRY WITH YOU, A DUMB LITTLE DEVIN… Bananas has bigger/more longstanding rivals than your dumb ass from ARE YOU THE ONE.. like, I don’t know… WES.
So Anyway, I’m very very annoyed I have to watch Devin again and I pray to everything holy that he gets out first, but unfortunately, with his political savviness, he’ll probably make it at least halfway.
CT – ORIGINALLY FROM THE REAL WORLD
DADDIII CCCCCCTTTTTTTTT – Literally thank GOD ALMIGHTY CT is still on this show, sorry if this is controversial, but give me CT over Johnny and DEFINITELY over Wes ANY day (Not that it’s a competition 🙂 ). CT was the second guy out of season 35, Total Madness, taken out by rookie Jay, who went on to win “Rookie of the year” (Fun awards given out by the Challenge Mania podcast), despite going against three other rookies who all actually went to the finals (instead of Jay who went out third, after his third week in elimination).
Also on the Challenge Mania podcast, they were discussing how people like Johnny & Wes love fame and feeling special, but that CT genuinely seems to not like the attention/wants to be treated like a normal person. CT for pres jk I want someone QUALIFIED for ONCE. The point is, CT can do damn near no wrong. Also… this mans has still got it. He’s won as recently as Season 34, so don’t count Daddi CT out.
ASHLEY MITCHELL – ORIGINALLY FROM THE REAL WORLD
Ashley Mitchell, ie. the most winning female competitor in recent history (Evelyn Smith & Veronica Portillo tied for the most challenge wins from a girl Challenger with three a piece 🙂 ), and she was previously the highest $ winning challenger (gotta get that money, honeyyyy), but just got knocked down a spot by Banana’s most recent win on season 35. Ashley is a very polarizing player because 1) she’s a camera hoe, 2) she’s not very nice/not necessarily an upstanding citizen/person… BUT 3) she’s a damn good challenger and she makes DAMN good TV.
I recently started watching The Real World seasons of people who go on to be long-time Challenge castmates, and while I’ll spare you the juicy details (literally cannot recommend this show ENOUGH. Please watch season 24 and feel happiness/joy/friendship again for the first time in 2020), this is insane enough that it needs to be noted – Typically, you can kind of tell who the characters will be that go on to do the Challenge (one because… I literally know/hindsight bias lol), but also they are typically the biggest/most memorable characters from The Real World season (naturally, so they can draw that viewership to The Challenge).
Ashley was on season 29 “Ex-plosion” where all the exes of the original 7 cast members come to live in the house for the rest of their tenure, BUT Ashley didn’t even get to that part of the show because she left after THREE EPISODES (typically the season will run anywhere from 12-25). This MOFO burned FAST AND BRIGHT. She’s literally sobbing, fucking, fighting (cry, fuck, fight – the holy trinity), & throws hamburger grease at her roommate when she’s blacked out???
It’s just so incredible to me how Ashley Mitchell turned three episodes of The Real World, a show she either voluntarily left or was forced to leave because of the havoc she was wrecking (I could really see it going, either way, because she has tried to quit The Challenge I don’t even know HOW many times), into a LONG ASS CHALLENGE CAREER, IF NOT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL GIRL CAST MEMBER SINCE CARA MARIA… Love her or hate her, she’s undeniably a force to be reckoned with.
DARRELL TAYLOR – ORIGINALLY FROM ROAD RULES
DARRELL IS BACKKKKKKK LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO. Darrell will be the longest-standing GUY cast member on the show, LONGER THAN CT. His first season was season 7, The Gauntlet, which he went on to win, and then consequently proceeded to win the next 3 seasons. He still holds the record for the most consecutive Challenge wins.
Darrell was most recently seen on Dirty 30 where he was, unfortunately, one of the first to get the boot after the first round challenge bloodbath, and then he came back for an episode of Vendettas as a “mercenary” where they brought in past cast members to play against challengers in the elimination round. Here he also made a record with Nelson Thomas; the only elimination to ever end in a “draw”, TJ calling it quits after almost an hour going at it in the elimination.
Apparently, he gets a call every year to see if he’s available, but then they usually call him back to say they’re going another way…
(Same with Derrick Kosinski who has the Challenge Mania podcast and arguably loves The Challenge more than anyone I have personally witnessed). But not this year! I’m excited to see Darrell on my TV again, and I’m hopeful he can get in there & make relationships quickly with the younger cast members before they realize he’s the odd man out!
CORY WHARTON – ORIGINALLY FROM THE REAL WORLD
There is a small group of Challengers who will likely be on every season until they decide to stop until the end of time but will NEVER win, and obviously, I don’t want to PUT this on them Ricky Bobby, but with journalism comes integrity, and it wouldn’t be right to knowingly lie to you all… This list includes but is not limited to:
No offense, but I don’t think any of these people can ever win The Challenge because they’re not well rounded enough (none are particularly spectacular at puzzles, or known for their wit, an essential part of this game, and especially in the finals).
Cory & Nelson’s relationship is one that I will always love to watch, though, starting from their “bromance” on season 29, Invasion of the Champions, they’ve seemed to be attached at the hip ever since, including Nelson sacrificing himself to go into an elimination for Cory right before the finals in Total Madness.
Cory has a longggg ass history with MTV (he is also on Teen Mom, Ex on the Beach, started on The Real World), but this summer, MTV was supposed to air a “home-shot” quarantine video of his then-girlfriend, Taylor Selfridge, giving birth… Right before it aired, the Black Lives Matter movement was going on, things were coming out of the woodwork left and right for past grievances people had made, and essentially MTV pulled the special right before it aired due to some of Taylor’s racist tweets that were uncovered.
This is obviously a thing I am in support of, but I just think it’s a lot more complicated, and especially for Cory, who is biracial himself, and now has two black/black-presenting/biracial children… How did he feel when his whole show was cut due to something someone he is supposed to love said a long time ago essentially about him??? They preceded to break up later in the summer, and I’m not sure exactly why, nor do I care enough to look it up, BUT I would be hard-pressed to think it didn’t have at least a little something to do with this incident.
JAY STARRETT – ORIGINALLY FROM SURVIVOR
Jay bay bayyyyyyyyy – Jay arguably made the most memorable rookie appearance on Total Madness (Beating Asaf, then beating CT, then getting CLOCKED in elimination round by Rogan after kissing Dee, Rogan’s “ex” girl in the bar the night before). Jay also made an impressive run on Survivor, “Millennials vs. Gen X” season 33 SPOILER placing 6th, lasting 36 out of 39 days. He also appeared on Ex on the Beach season 2 (WITH LITERAL CHAD JOHNSON IE MEAT MAN FROM BACHELORETTE) AND he comes on as the ex of Morgan something, who is NOW BANANA’sS CURRENT GIRLFRIEND)… This mans knows how to make an impression, and he’s got the athletic prowess & heart to back it up.
I can see Jay having a much better go about this round, earning (hopefully) respect from his fellow competitors for his play last season, and not earning the same “rookie target” as he, unfortunately, got unwillingly pinned on him in Total Madness.
ANEESA FERREIRA – ORIGINALLY FROM THE REAL WORLD
Aneeeeesaaaaaa… Okay, so some of you may be like, Aneesa… you never win nor do we think you can…. And to that, I say DO NOT DISRESPECT MY GIRL LIKE THAT. Aneesa is the longest standing competitor on this season PERIOD (competing first on season 6 of The Challenge… IE THIRTY SEASONS AGO FOR THOSE OF U WHO STRUGGLE WITH MATH), and she used to be known as an elimination beast.
Alsooooo, she has consistently represented gay girls everywhere in every season. I also recently so fortunately acquired The Real World Season 11… Aneesa’s original season… Where she comes out in the first episode and the guys she’s talking to asks why, did you have a bad experience with men? She slyly smiles and bites her lip… “Women are… nice” HAHAHA YESSSS ANEESA.
Also, by the way, The Real World season 11 was on in TWO THOUSAND AND ONE. THERE IS LITERALLY A 911 EPISODE IN IT. And ABOVE ALL, ANEESA IS MOTHERFUCKING NINETEEN YEARS OLD IN THIS SHOW. Obvi I don’t know Aneesa’s whole life but it basically seems like she’s been doing this shit her entire adult life… And again, for that, I am VERY impressed, and for being gay, I will never NOT stan Aneesa.
Anyway, I’m here for Aneesa (obvi). She’s going to provide hella laughs & amazing commentary (or literally just her facial reactions… TBT to greetings earthlings), that gay girl pride, and the culmination of 30 seasons of Challenge history sitting within her like a deep well. And, HELL, maybe she just might WIN!
FESSY SHAFAAT – ORIGINALLY FROM BIG BROTHER
Fessy & Kaycee are the only Big Brother rookies from last year to remain on the cast this year (notably absent are Swaggy & Bayleigh – I don’t think Bayleigh could have competed because she was on Big Brother All Stars, season 22, this past summer which overlapped with The Challenge recording? Josh got cut from the show (Yes, the very same Dumb-Idiot Challenge Josh) right before they started filming because he got fucking COVID. We really could have not had Josh on this season either which would have been such a fkn BLESSING (but who would I devote this undying, inexplicable rage towards then?))
ANYWAYYYY, I didn’t think Fessy was extremely memorable in his Big Brother season OR The Challenge besides literally… just being a massive person no one wants to go against? I will give him great credit for getting to the finals in his rookie season, but still… Fessy, you’re gonna have to step up your game to impress me.
However, there is one really cute montage on Big Brother that is my favorite Fessy moment –
NELSON THOMAS – ORIGINALLY FROM ARE YOU THE ONE? SEASON 5
Nelson!!! I love Nelson, lol, and tbh, I always have. YEAH, he does dumb things, and YEAH, a lot of times those dumb things are disrespect towards women… (why did he COME FOR ANEESA AND KAILA LIKE THAT, THE HELLLLLLLL), but he’s just soooo compelling to watch.
I love The Challenge because despite a lot of these people obviously being “influencers”, they all seem to also have the genuine desire to win, like Survivor, and unlike Big Brother where it’s easy (easy enough to live in a house and not leave for three months, right? You mean what I’ve already been doing for the past NINE MONTHS… ohhhhh well when you put it like that, LOL).
Nelson is someone from his first appearance, his desire to win is PALPABLE through the screen. He’s definitely silly, and I think his inability to do puzzles always does & will continue to bite him in the butt, but let us not forget how much of a PHYSICAL BEAST Nelson is. He has the number one highest elimination winning %, not just this season, but in HISTORY (if you don’t count people who have all been in one and won one elimination – Rogan, Fessy, Kaycee, & Nicole Zannatta – 89% chance if you go against Nelson, he will win, 8 out of 9 elimination wins) … Ie. You ain’t trying to go against him cuz your ass has a 90% chance of going home. Again, he’s one of two players in the history of The Challenge who has ever ended an elimination with a draw!
KAM WILLIAMS – ORIGINALLY FROM ARE YOU THE ONE? SEASON 5
Killaaaaa Kaaaaaaam!! Kam is back after taking a season off on Total Madness. I also love Kam, she has amazing commentary and is also just a joy to watch. Also… her and Leroy used to date… do they still?
OKAY YES THEY DOOOO THANK YOU GOD THAT THERE IS HOPE IN THE WORLD AND ALSO FOR BLESSING MY EYES WITH THIS GORGEOUS PHOTO
They are one of the most beautiful couples I’ve ever seen DAMN. Kam, Cara Maria, and Ashley all notably had an alliance that made it to the end in season 34, War of the Worlds II, only to lose in the finals to the “UK” team: CT, Jordan Wisely, Rogan & Dee. She also made it to the finals in Vendettas. Her ability to perform, and to be aligned with big shots in this game… I think this could be Killer Kam’s year.
JOSH MARTINEZ – ORIGINALLY FROM BIG BROTHER
JOSH TAKE THAT WEIRDLY 60% TILTED BACKWARDS HAT OFF YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW. Opposite of Nelson, Josh is one of the BEST players you can pick to take in an elimination round, as he is yet to win one, 0 for 3 babyyyyyyy 🙂
Josh is also notoriously my LEAST FAVORITE CAST MEMBER bc he really …. Seems so mf DUMB. I will NEVER FORGET when Jordan Wiseley beat Josh in a ROPE PULLING ELIMINATION IE. IF YOU HAVE TWO COMPLETE HANDS THAT’S LITERALLY THE ONLY ADVANTAGE YOU REALLY NEED AGAINST A MAN WHO CAN ONLY HOLD ONTO THE ROPE WITH ONE HAND.
But NO, once again, Josh is outsmarted when Jordan studies how he winds up to do a large pull, and at the same time lets up on his rope, causing Josh to lose his balance and fall back. Directly after this though, one of the most memorable moments of War of the Worlds II happens when Jordan comes and proposes to Tori post-elimination win… So at least thanks for that Josh, that’s probably your single greatest contribution to The Challenge.
However, as much as I shit on Josh… which is literally every episode and every time I see his face… I DO need to note he won Big Brother 19… And NOT because he dominated the game, but because he took someone who DID dominate the game but burned too many bridges along the way, so he essentially won because the jury hated him less than the other guy… Again… this seems like I’m discrediting him, which I kind of am because in Survivor a “bitter jury” isn’t really a thing because most people can separate the “game moves” and the “gamer” identifying okay, yeah, this person sent me home, but it’s because they’re dominating the game.
Josh will NEVER win The Challenge, mark my words. But also at this point… I feel like not many people really do…
KAYCEE CLARK – ORIGINALLY FROM BIG BROTHER
Kaycee ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ When you realize you’re deff at least bi during quar cuz you’re weirdly obsessed with this girl who is barely seen saying a word on the show ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ LOL
I love Kaycee, mostly because of her storyline with Nany and them being all snuggly buggly in Total Madness. Also, Kaycee is not really a dramatic person, her appeal is definitely in her ability to compete, but again, she found herself tied in some deeeep drama with Bayleigh when she decided to choose Bayeligh to go into elimination, her fellow cast member of Big Brother 20, instead of Nany, someone she had just met on that show.
Kaycee also made it to the finals her rookie season, AND she’s a Big Brother winner. Again, I would be lying if I said she was favored to win… The editors/producers definitely edited the show to make it look like Tyler, the runner-up, would be pulling in the win, but again, Kaycee won over the bitter jury as she just burned fewer bridges. Again, I don’t want to undermine Kaycee because she definitely deserved the Big Brother win TEN TIMES MORE than Josh. I think one of her greatest strengths IS her social game… This is what gave her the win ultimately in Big Brother, and it led her to not be targeted just for being a rookie in Total Madness as well.
Also, side note… Something I didn’t remember/know until I rewatched the clip… the vote was 5 to 4 for Kaycee to win over Tyler and BAYLEIGH WAS THE VOTE FOR KAYCEE TO WIN. DAMMMM now I can see why Bayleigh was a little salty someone she gave a half-million dollars to didn’t have her back….
LEROY GARRET – ORIGINALLY FROM THE REAL WORLD
Leroy is back yayyyyyyyyyyyy! I love Leroy. He is funny as HELL. Notorious BFF and alliance member with Bananas, I think this will be Leroy’s first time playing without him (?), so it will be interesting to see who he aligns himself with. Again, he was a part of the alliance that did go on to place second in the finals (including Kam), so he definitely has friends in holy places/a long history with this show.
I’m ready for this to be Leroy’s season. Unlike the aforementioned long-time cast members I don’t think will EVER go on to win, I think Leroy’s just waiting to pull one out for us. I’m rooting for you Leroy, my number one guy choice to win!!!!
KYLE CHRISTIE – ORIGINALLY FROM GEORDIE SHORE
Kyle, Kyle, Kyle… LMAO. Another great commentator but someone who probablyyy won’t ever win… Unless it’s a team challenge and he’s practically carried… He’s actually a surprising competitor … a self-proclaimed “workhorse” as he once said, you just give him one task to do, and he doesn’t stop…
Also… Imma need Kyle to hook up with someone??? There were… no hook-ups last season except for Nany’s kiss of death with Asaf and stupid Bear & Kailah…. Let us not forget that Kyle used to hook up with CARA MARIA and THEN had a whole fighting thing with Paulie on Final Reckoning??? TBH I have not fully watched season 32 or 33 because THESE SEASONS ARE NOT ON PRIME, NOT ON MTV, NOT ANYWHERE EXCEPT THE FEW RANDOM EPISODES I CAN FIND ON DAILYMOTION. So don’t fucking come for me, I’ve watched almost 20 seasons of this show in 9 months.I’m fucking dedicated.
NICOLE ZANATTA – ORIGINALLY FROM THE REAL WORLD
OKAYYYY MY OTHER LOVEEEEEEEEEE – So I’m going to be honest… Nicole was a big factor in why I started watching The Challenge. Back when I was depressed in New Jersey (vs. now being depressed in Indiana 😉 ), with reality TV as my only friend and solace in the armpit buttcrack of America, I started watching Ex on the Beach because I often would get on the MTV app to rewatch season 8 of Are You the One?? (gay season, again), and so when I saw that Ex on the Beach: Peak of Love (instead of on a beach they are on these sickkkk mountains in New Zealand) “new episodes” on the app I was like hmm… Let’s give this a go… Was IMMEDIATELY pulled in, obviously, because the format is a cast of all reality tv stars from other shows (including Nicole listed as from “The Challenge”).
Nicole had a VERY dramatic time on Ex on the Beach, immediately being coined as “the lesbian player” I have come to know and looooooove. She comes in on the very first episode and starts connecting with this girl, when Romeo, the host, comes out announcing that this is after all not just a reality tv dating show, but rather… in fact it IS Ex on the Beach, just this time on a mountain. Nicole is the first to have an ex come, Laurel, another star from The Challenge, and they had a veryyyyyyyy tumultuous relationship on the show, originally rekindling, only to break up in a more fiery passion than before. Anyways… I loved Nicole on this show lol.
Sooooo when Juliet Litman started covering The Challenge on her Bachelor recap podcast (previously my favorite Bachelor recap podcast, in which … now I don’t even listen to;,( cuz I realized ABC ain’t SHIT. MTV DOES AND ALWAYS HAS MADE THE BEST REALITY TV IE THE REAL WORLD IE DONT COME FOR ME OR THE GRAND DADDY OF ALL REALITY TV, U MOFOS OWE EVERYTHING YOU LOVE TO THE REAL WORLD), I knew I was about to be hooked.
Lastly, I just want to mention this is only Nicole’s THIRD Challenge… The same as Big T just for contrast… She made it to the finals in both of these seasons, placing third in Invasion of the Champions (mostly due to timing out on a triangle counting puzzle with Cory… They started counting the triangles in the instructions instead of just… on the puzzle LMFAO. It’s good but also very bad, lol). She also makes it to the finals in her second season, Vendettas, but then, unfortunately, has to leave the final after getting injured…
Needless to say… I’m CLEARLY rooting for Nicole to pull one out. If she can just manage the puzzles, not even excel, she can kick most everyone else’s ass in the physical competitions… (but again can any non-Olympian.. Beat an Olympian??? I just really don’t KNOW. Guess I’ll have to watch, jk lmao)
NANY GONZALEZ – ORIGINALLY FROM THE REAL WORLD
Nanyyyyy. Of course another Challenge staple, originally from the same season of The Real World as Leroy. Sadly, Nany’s not necessarily the best physical competitor, but she somehow does seem to do okay for herself in these games, making it many times ALMOST to the final.
Again, another cast member I can’t imagine they ever DON’T call, because yes Ashley Mitchell makes great TV, but before there was Ashley, there was Nany, the OG queen of crying, fucking, AND fighting. She and Camilla getting labeled as the “spicy Latinas”, which is A STEREOTYPE WE CAN STOP PERPETUATING MTV, then literally making up the very next day. There’s no one quite like Nany, and it certainly wouldn’t be the modern age of The Challenge without her!
THERESA (GONZALEZ) JONES – ORIGINALLY FROM THE CHALLENGE
Theresa is back!!! Theresa hasn’t played since season 26 in 2014, Battle of the Exes, where she was partnered with Wes & made it to the finals. My first impression of Theresa was that she was weirdly quiet…. But that quickly changed when I saw there is an absolute FIRE within this chick.
She & Nany notably had some beef, just on how the voting went (Theresa, partners with Wes, voted Johnny Banana’s & partner Nany into elimination), so I’ll be curious if any bad blood remains between the two. Again, super happy to see Theresa back and I want to say please please please more vets, fewer rookies, thank you very much!
TORI DEAL – ORIGINALLY ARE YOU THE ONE?
Tori, my favorite straight girl competitor ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ LOL. Now, THIS GIRL IS OVERDUE for a win. She notoriously dominated on her rookie season, Dirty 30, AND made a great storyline for herself (whether intentionally or not), where she ended up cheating on her at the time boyfriend (someone she had met from her previous show, Are You the One?) for Jordan Wiseley, who went on to win Dirty 30, and 50% of the challenges he’s gone on to compete on (the winningest challenger in recent history, tied with the one and only Darrell).
Tori & Jordan then go on to become a power couple for the next few seasons of The Challenge, and especially notably in season 34, where Tori & Jordan are “turncoats” and jump ship to join the “UK” team (all UK people except for CT who was with them from the beginning LOLOLOL) and go on to make the finals: Tori is the only member of the UK team that gets eliminated before the end and ends up not making the money… Cut by a puzzle… Ya hate to see it.
However, Tori recently just posted on her Instagram that she and Jordan broke up which is SOOOOO SADDDDD TO ME but listen QUARANTINE is gonna tell you if you can be with someone for your whole life… and every single hour of the day…
Anyway, I’m ALWAYS rooting for Tori, and Jenny’s not here this season, Dee’s not here (another past female winner), so the path for a female winner is clearer than ever before, but I think it will also be potentially harder than ever before… An Olympian… A former Survivor winner/Runner up on Season 40 arguably the HARDEST season of Survivor to ever exist…. Plus Ashley is now a few seasons distant from her most recent win so she’ll be more under the radar than as of late… I am SO EXCITED TO SEE WHOS GONNA PULL THIS OUT.
WES BERGMANN – ORIGINALLY FROM THE REAL WORLD
And last but not least, the “possum” and extremely egotistical, Wes. Obviously, Wes is a staple, but he is also very annoying, I don’t root for him, lol. He’s just whiny!!!! When Asaf throws out his name to vote him into the FIRST elimination round of Total Madness after it was already 100% determined it would be Asaf, so Asaf just threw out Wes’ name to ruffle feathers, Wes was legitimately HURT, he’s like uh! uh! What did I do!!!
I’m like WES STOP BEING A BITCH. Also, an amazing show-down and long-awaited between Wes & Johnny last season in the elimination, but again… don’t care, don’t root for you, don’t like you!! I am coming off very harsh, I actually really don’t hate Wes that much (reserved for Josh), but eh I guess I’m glad he’s here.
Now that you have made it to the end of this essay, I’ll see you next week after episode ONE LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO. Thanks for reading. 🙂