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With "The Challenge: Rivals," MTV Reminds Us What A True Guilty Pleasure Is

By Seth Freilich | Industry | June 22, 2011 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | June 22, 2011 |

For the last two-odd months, I’ve been most excited about Sunday night television because “Game of Thrones” is the fucking bee’s knees. I suspect many of you were similarly excited for Sundays. But now that GoT is gone for too long, what night are we to be excited for? What night will step up and fill the void? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Wednesday nights, for MTV’s “The Challenge” is back and I simply cannot deny my excitement for the return of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures.

In a piece of legitimately good news, T.J. Lavin is returning as the host (for his eleventh go at it). This isn’t good new because he’s a good host — while he’s gotten somewhat better over the years/seasons, he’s still really stiff and has only managed to show the thinnest amount of personality. But last October, he had a heinous injury during a BMX competition in Vegas, and it was unclear if he’d even come out of his medically induced coma, let alone get back to a normal life. So I’m happy for him and his family that he’s back up and around and, while he’s not a great host, I welcome him back with open arms as he guides these MTV knuckleheads through another season of inane shenanigans.

As for the show itself, this year they’re going with “The Challenge: Rivals.” Rather than two big teams, there will be 14 teams made up of pairs of “rivals.” That is, as the press release puts it, “each team is comprised of two people who are known enemies … who will have to depend on each other to win.” Looking of the list of of teams (included at the bottom of this post), I have to admit that this is the largest group of people I don’t know in quite some time on “The Challenge.” But it doesn’t matter because there are definitely some good pairings here:

Of course, the slam dunk pairings here are Kenny with Wes and CT with Adam. Especially CT with Adam:

Jesus Christ, it’s possible MTV is going to air an actual murder this season. And I’m fucking giddy. Don’t get me wrong, CT is a despicable human being. Over the years, there have been a few times when I’ve found myself starting to come around on him and almost liking him. Because he can be pretty funny in his calmer moments and there’s something about him that reminds me of a few roughneck friends I had growing up in Philly. But every time I begin to fool myself, CT’s ugliness comes roaring back with ferocious vengeance and I’m reminded that of all the many terrible people MTV has cast in “The Real World,” “Road Rules,” and “The Challenge” over the years, CT may be king of the trash heap. He’s loathsome, and I hate myself for being so entertained when he shows his ugliness. But I just can’t help myself from being endlessly entertained by the show, and my enjoyment of CT’s garbage is part of that package.

Do I feel bad about my enjoyment and endless fascination with “The Challenge?” Yes. I wish I had the moral turpitude to not watch the show. By watching it, I realize that I’m tacitly approving a show that has no redeeming qualities. None. It’s MTV and reality television and the entitlement generation all at their absolute worsts. (Not to mention that it allows CT to continue to take in an easy source of income, which truly hurts my soul.) And I also realize that I’m making it worse by explicitly approving of “The Challenge” and all the badness wrapped up therein by pimping the show publicly in this here forum. I know it’s wrong. I accept that I may be doing myself and the universe permanent spiritual harm by helping spread this awful, awful show. And I accept this because I can’t fucking help it. And if that’s not the true definition of a guilty pleasure, then I don’t know what is.

Who’s joining me under this shroud of shame? Come on, it’s actually quite cozy, and we can cuddle up and keep warm with the glow of CT’s hate and Wes’ assholeicity.

This Year’s Cast:

  • Adam Royer and Leroy Garrett — The Real World 25: Las Vegas
  • Kenny Santucci (The Challenge: Fresh Meat) and Wes Bergmann (The Real World: Austin)
  • Evan Starkman ( The Challenge: Fresh Meat) and Nehemiah Clark (The Real World: Austin)
  • Tyler Duckworth and Johnny Devenanzio — The Real World: Key West
  • Davis Mallory and Tyrie Brown — The Real World: Denver
  • Brandon Nelson(The Challenge: Fresh Meat II) and Ty Ruff (The Real World: D.C)
  • CT Tamburello and Adam King — The Real World: Paris
  • Cara Maria Sorbello and Laurel Stucky — The Challenge: Fresh Meat II
  • Mandi Moyer (The Challenge: Fresh Meat II) and Jenn Grijalva ( The Real World: Denver)
  • Evelyn Smith ( The Challenge: Fresh Meat) and Paula Meronek ( The Real World: Key West)
  • Sarah Rice and Katelynn Cusanelli — The Real World: Brooklyn
  • Jasmine Reynaud and Jonna Mannion — The Real World: Cancun
  • Theresa Gonzalez (The Challenge: Fresh Meat II) and Camila Nakagawa ( Spring Break Challenge)
  • Aneesa Ferreira (The Real World: Chicago) and Robin Hibbard ( The Real World: San Diego)

  • Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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