by BRANDON UTLEY
This quote by Challenge Champion Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio is the tagline the reality stars on MTV’s The Challenge live by. Now, I understand that reality television is not everyone’s forte, but give this show a chance. The Challenge is by far my favorite reality show on television.
The show has been in production since 1998, and has been growing in quality ever since. After the producers saw high ratings for a special crossover competition special for the 1997 seasons of MTV shows The Real World and Road Rules, The Real/World Road Rules Challenge was born (since renamed The Challenge).
With MTV struggling to bring forth high rating television in recent years, they have been heavily relying on their juggernaut challenge competition series. The series has something for everyone, drama, romance, and action.
The show has gone through a lot of iterations over the years, from the original Real World vs. Road Rules setup, to the more recent Battle of the Bloodlines and Dirty XXX. Along with the varying themes, the show also ran through various reincarnations of the gameplay format. The first few seasons shared a similar format. The challengers competed in a basic competition, the winners were put in the “inner circle,” and a challenger was voted out of the game. In more recent seasons, however, the game gets more intense. The challengers compete in brutal, over-the-top competitions around the world and the losers compete against each other in physical elimination rounds.
Even if you do not know the show, you most likely know someone who has been on the show. WWE Superstar, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, appeared on the 2001 season of The Real World: Back to New York and competed in multiple Challenge seasons. Jamie Chung, who currently plays Clarice Fong on FOX’s X-Men series The Gifted, originally appeared on the 2004 season The Real World: San Diego and competed on The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II. Chung is known as the most successful alumna of the franchise. Last, but not least, Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, who originally appeared on The Real World: Key West in 2006 and has competed in 16 seasons of the show, recently appeared as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Bananas has made a name for himself as the most successful Challenge competitor in series history, winning six seasons and making a total of $685,543.
Personally, I started watching this show during its 21st season, Rivals, which paired each competitor with someone they despised and forced them to work together. New, innovative themes such as this and their infamous Battle of the Exes are what kept me interested all these years. From tightrope walking between skyscrapers to swimming 150 feet underwater between yachts, this show never fails to disappoint with jaw-dropping competitions. Since starting, I have gone back and watched the first 20 seasons and the show has only improved since its origin in the late 90’s.
The Challenge has cemented itself as a staple in reality tv history and does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The show has become so successful, it has spawned a spin-off series that puts celebrities and professional athletes against the series champs in a much shorter competition for charity.
The 31st season, The Challenge: Vendettas, currently airs on Tuesday nights on MTV and includes cast members from The Real World, Road Rules, The Challenge, Are You the One?, MTV UK’s Ex on the Beach, MTV UK’s Geordie Shore, and CBS’s Big Brother. If you want an interesting, competitive, and dramatic reality program to enjoy, check this one out.
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