After 23 seasons of Real World/Road Rules challenges, MTV has pretty much exhausted any possible shocking twists. This show’s primary appeal is the social aspect of the game. This time around, the 32 competitors learn they will be paired off with another player who they intensely dislike or even hate. Most of the bad blood is the result of behavior during previous challenges. A few notable exceptions are Cooke and Naomi, former Vegas roommates, who got into an altercation over fellow cast member Marlon. Rookies Anastasia and Jessica are the least dysfunctional of the bunch since their problems with each other are typical chick BS born out of their time together as housemates in Portland. Frank and Johnny have been waging a war of words on Twitter while former friends Nany and Jonne fell out over Zach.
Once paired off, T.J. runs down the rules of the game. Each competition will be guys vs. guys and girls vs. girls. The winning team is safe from elimination while the last place pair automatically goes into “The Jungle” where they’ll battle it out against another team voted on by the rest of the group. T.J. informs the players that this season there is a total of $350, 00 dollars at stake split among the final six teams.
The group heads to their digs, and the alcohol starts to flow. This inevitably leads to the first argument of the season. It occurs between Marlon and CT who spice things up by trying to drown each other in the pool. CT has a history of getting sent home the first night, and since his bare chest is one of the show’s major draws, I pray he doesn’t get the boot yet again. Over the past few years, MTV has become more lenient on their once very strict no tolerance policy regarding violence among cast members. The fight gets broken up with no serious casualties, and no producer arrives to escort either participant out the door. The bottom line is that in addition to being a serious panty dropper, CT makes a fantastic villain and losing him and possibly Wes could adversely affect viewership.
The first challenge is called “Game of Inches.” One team member is suspended 30 feet above water while the other stands on a platform. The object of the game is for the competitor on the platform to jump into the arms of their partner and hold on for 15 seconds. Successful teams will move on to the next round during which the platform is pulled back one foot. This continues until there is one girl/guy team left.
The guys’ expectations of the girls’ athletic capabilities is pretty low which is almost always the case. There have always been exceptions, but for the most part, the girls just don’t have the physical prowess and motivation that the men do. What they do have are t**s and a habit of going after each other personally more viciously than their counterparts. When the teams are large and integrated, girls are often voted out en masse because the boys don’t feel they can carry their own weight. But guys like Dunbar, Ty and Tyrie and are consistently disappointing players. And, Diem was the driving force getting CT to the top of the mountain during The Challenge: Battle of the Exes which occurred just months before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time.
Paula and Emily come out on top among the girls. Tyrie and Dunbar come in last, and since it is a male challenge day, they secure themselves a berth in “The Jungle.” Trey and Zach come in first place. Wes takes comfort in knowing what it would be like to watch CT plummet to his death.
Now the strategizing begins. CT starts campaigning for Johnny and Frank to go in, and who can blame him? Johnny has been a challenge champ four times and netted over $200, 00 in winnings. Wes thinks it’s too early in the game for such a big move and worries CT is putting a giant target on their backs.
The girls take a more conservative approach with the majority voting for Derek and Robb who haven’t really bothered to form alliances with any of the female teams. A few vote for Jordan and Marlon simply because they’re rookies. After the women’s’ votes are tallied, T.J. informs the group that the women will determine what male team to vote in and vice versa. CT’s plan to vote in Johnny didn’t pay off, but his plan to charm the ladies has already started.
Naomi is forced to drop out of the game leaving Cooke without a partner, and her future in jeopardy. Before the first elimination round, T.J. announces that she’ll be getting a new partner as opposed to being sent home.
The elimination challenge is called “Last Chance.” In the middle of “The Jungle” there are two walls set up that taper in the middle. One team member plays offense, the other defense. The object is for the offense player to make his way past the defensive players and ring a bell. The team that rings the bell twice first wins. Robb and Derek emerge victorious.
It’s unlikely that tonight’s premiere attracted many new viewers, even with four cast members from the recently aired Real World: Portland cast. They could have at least picked the nymphomaniac Averey or psycho Nia. Is the new twist a way to phase out old-timers like Johnny, Paula and Wes, or an attempt to give them the opportunity to reinvent themselves and the way they play the game? It might not make any difference at all since sexual manipulation has always been a factor in these challenges.
The real question mark is what lies ahead for ex-lovebirds Diem and CT. Like the first time they met, Diem is in remission from ovarian cancer and is extremely vulnerable. Both admit they have unresolved feelings for each other. Will her presence affect his strategy and will her new lease on life motivate her to rekindle their romance or finally leave him behind.
For the first time, the franchise is starting to feel stale. Partly because the available pool of interesting contestants seems to be getting smaller thanks to lackluster Real World casts of late and due to the fact that a lot of vets seem to be choosing to bow out gracefully.