After listening to Grantland‘s latest podcast that featured a nostalgic and ego-filled interview of Johnny Bananas from MTV’s The Challenge - I’ve recently gotten back into the show and have been watching the classic seasons. I’m talkin’ pooka shell choker necklaces, sideways caps, & mohawks…these were even the days before they had T-Mobile Sidekicks. I just finished Fresh Meat I which was a little mind-blowing because the OGs of today’s Challenge were the fresh meat back in 2006. It’s fascinating - like watching 10-year-old home video of your friends being rowdy, except you might love these people but can’t manage to respect them and you suspect they’re insane but can’t look away. So many thoughts…
- Did anyone actually ever watch Road Rules? (I had to read the wikipedia page to familiarize myself with it because I had only ever heard that it was a “moving Real World” that MTV aired in the 90′s)
- Wes went on National television with a legitimate mohawk…
- The challenges back in the day were cake compared to what they are now! Back in the early 2000′s they had to slather themselves with oatmeal and hold onto ropes for as long as possible…nowadays the final challenge is comparable to straight up torture; it often involves several stages of rafting, running, swimming, biking, rock-climbing, and/or hiking while the castmates are deprived of proper sleep and food for 24+ hours
- Wes may be mentally ill…Scratch that, many of these people may suffer from some form of mental illness involving delusions of grandiosity and self-importance. But hey MTV is their enabler, so who can blame em?
- TJ did not even try that hard in the early days, he’s really stepped up his game in pretending to care about the castmates and the show in general
- The sexism in these shows is pretty terrifying at times…whether it’s digs at women being “weak” and “worthless” or male cast-members screaming “hurry up you stupid bitch!” at their female team members. Scary stuff – props to the women that defy stereotypes by kicking ass and confronting the sexism in the show
All in all – a classic show that is so entertaining because it builds a bubble so small and so removed from real life that these people are actually brought to the brink of humanity. This show has everything from love stories to rivalries to the risk of mortal injury…watching these shows is how I imagine the Romans felt sitting in the Colosseum to watch gladiators fight to the death. It’s gruesome, it’s shameful, and it feels sooo good.