Pop Culture

My Strange Addiction – MTV Style

There are always those television shows that you watch faithfully and can’t wait for each week, even though you have no idea why. For me, my odd devotion is to MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge.

The reality show competition is now in its 21st season, having morphed from an innocent way for Real Worlders and Road Rulers to play strange games together to an intense fight-to-the-finish where each week, the challenges get stranger and it seems like someone is always about to die. The current incarnation, The Challenge: Rivals, is just as strangely addictive as its predecessors.

On The Challenge: Rivals, contestants who became foes in earlier seasons are now partners, fighting for a chance to make it to the finals, where three teams will compete for the $100,000 grand prize. The challenges the teams must go through often involve them needed safety harnesses, helmets and other protective items – for example, a few weeks ago they needed to leap off a plank over a waterfall, trying to clear as many hurdles without going over.

Some of the rivals aren’t really rivals at all – Sarah and Katelynn, for example, were friends while on Real World: Brooklyn and had just a minor tiff on a previous Challenge. Others, like CT and Adam (who got the crap beat out of him by CT a few seasons ago) and Kenny and Wes (who both have egos that rival Donald Trump’s), have had major beefs and are ticking time bombs waiting to go off.

With that background, don’t you see why I have no clue why I find the series so compelling? Masterpiece Theater, it ain’t.

I think I get so caught up in the show because I loved the Real World and Road Rules growing up (although a great majority of the players today are from recent editions I didn’t watch, or were picked during open casting calls), and I enjoy watching inane drama unfold. It can feel like getting together with old, short-tempered friends: who is loose cannon Katie going to hate this season? Will CT once again punch someone in the face, disqualifying him from yet another Challenge? Is Paula EVER going to not get screwed over at the last minute and finally win the whole shebang?

I also love seeing the exotic locales that are selected each season. This time around, they’re in Costa Rica, an amazing country that I was lucky enough to vacation in two years ago. Watching the show reminds me of the jungle we stayed in, where howler monkeys woke us up every morning and I got to see a sloth up close and personal. Other times, like when they’re in Australia or South Africa, I can just dream about someday making it there myself.

I don’t know how many seasons the show has left; they don’t even make Road Rules anymore, and the best cast members (like Coral and the Miz from Real World: Back to New York and Theo from Road Rules: Maximum Velocity) have retired. But I have a feeling that as long as there are money-hungry reality stars yearning for another brief stint in the spotlight, I’ll have a Challenge to watch. Yay?

Am I alone in this, or does anyone else watch The Challenge: Rivals?

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

7 replies on “My Strange Addiction – MTV Style”

I love love love these things. This is only my third season, but I just love the insane drunken fightin’ and f*ckin’, the intense challenges, and the fact that this is basically their jobs; they train for this so they are actually good at a lot of this random crap, and there is all this history.

My favourites right now are Paula and Evelyn, and Evan. CT is probably one of the worst people. Full stop. I really hate him.

I will watch a Challenge if Evan is on it. I fell in love with him when he and Coral were partners. And since she’s besties with Melissa (RWNO), that just makes me love her more. I still find it amazing that Evan and Kenny made it on the Challenges from that one season when they let fans battle favorites. And now they’re like total veterans.

Meanwhile, I know the truth, just as Heather B said on the reunion with seasons 2 & 3 – season 1 was the only real Real World. Everything else has been manipulated in some way.

Oh I too love this show. I have loved this show since they did that long-forgotten Battle of the Seasons. I just can’t turn away if I know it’s on. I miss that strong gal Tina who had some tiffs with Coral. She was hilarious and slightly off-her-rocker. Paula was really funny in the last few challenges. It’s also funny to see these people who all hate each other because they move in the same circles in LA where they live between the challenges, so half the time there’s no footage of why they hate each other. And then MTV just encourages them to try and destroy each other. It’s too fascinating to ignore!

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