HOT TAKE: The Challenge Vendettas recap – Czech Yourself

Half of $25K and a seat on a plane headed to the Czech Republic are up for grabs on tonight’s episode of the Challenge Vendettas. Last week we saw all the remaining contestants run a mini-final of sorts to determine who would be moving on and who would be sent home but we were left without the results. We know from last week that both the guy and the girl with the slowest times will immediately be sent home. No trip to the Czech Republic. No shot at $350K. First, TJ announces the winners and I am not at all surprised by who they are. For the guys, Zach is our champion. And for the ladies it’s none other than Staten Island Nicole Z. These two are probably the most physically dominant of the remaining challengers so again, no surprise here. They both can respectively dominate a physical challenge. Congrats you two, you each get some monies! Maybe Nicole can use some of that money to buy herself a new wardrobe – in her confessional she is wearing a shirt with her face on it. Ugghhh. I already instantly hear her accent the second I see her face so with this shirt out in the wild that just increases the chance my daily inner monologue gets a grating Staten Island accent…

As for our losers, the first one doesn’t surprise me either. For the girls it’s Jemmye. If I’m not mistaken this is yet another example of a time that Jemmye has managed to just kind of hang around right up until the end because no one really views her as a threat. Her game has largely been to team up with different coalitions of women to protect herself and just blend in as a seasoned vet. She doesn’t perform particularly well on any of the challenges but because she keeps her mouth shut no one really pays her any mind. Well that strategy works until you need to perform and when she needed to perform she didn’t quite deliver. Personally I am glad to see finally go. Ever since she joined the mean girl group that attacked and bullied Kayleigh I was ready for her to go. She never really got any flak for that either, which was surprising considering how easily she turned on Kayleigh. I sincerely hope this is the last challenge Jemmye does – does she even have a much of a fan base? Doubtful.

As for the guys, the two slowest finishers were only separated by 5 seconds. 5 SECONDS?! That is just brutal. Devin and Kyle finish at the bottom. With only a 5 second difference between the two I immediately wonder what could have been done just a teeny bit faster to finish faster. Lock into the zip line and tuck yourself in as you shoot the gap? Repel down the side of the bridge more quickly? Throw yourself across the finish line when it’s in sight? If Devin had just schemed to finish 5 seconds faster than I he would be going to the Czech Republic – but he didn’t. Despite Devin being incredibly annoying I think I’ll miss him. Someone on reddit pointed out that he was really the only challenger that kept things real and I agree. Dude was on the level. I’m positive we will see him again but for now we wave goodbye to the mastermind and congratulate Kyle on being just good enough to skirt by. We’re off to the Czech Republic!

devin
Goodbye Devin – till we meet again

In Prague the remaining challengers check in to their new digs and settle in. They have a challenge the very next day so there is no going out antics and the drinking is minimal – everyone has their eyes on the prize. We’re treated to a few segments on what each remaining challenger would do with the money if they won and the answers are somewhat predictable. Support my family, pay off debts, etc. However there were 2 notable answers among the group. The first belongs to Cara Maria who wants to use the money to finally build an obstacle course? Okay – I assume this is related to her fitness program du juor but still – is this really the best use? The other response I notice is Kam’s who said she would donate money to charity. That’s awesome and I think anyone who gets some sort of windfall should consider donating to a cause they support. Kam says she will donate to kids with cancer or kids that suffer from alopecia…hmmm…those two seem pretty different if you ask me. I’m not judging at all, both are worthy causes – I just don’t understand Kam’s thought process on this one. Maybe sleep on it?

When the challengers wake up they face their next challenge – Outside the Box. TJ tells the gang they will be dodging stacked boxes while being joined to truck traveling at 50 miles per hour. Damn! They just keep upping the ante on these challenges and this one seems like one of the more extreme challenges they’ve had in recent seasons (Survivor, looking at you here: Do better). Each challenger will be suspended mid-air on the side of a truck and have to move back and forth while the truck is at speed to avoid columns of boxes. Each column has a point value assigned to it and if you hit it, you get those points. The objective here is to have the lowest score possible to stay safe. Winning this challenge comes with a few perks, too. Each guy and girl with the best score will automatically be placed in the final and get a shot at the $350k. They will also split another $25k for the winning the event. I think their banks are safe at this point if they win so the money is theirs – its no longer a device that paints a target on your back.

Up first for the guys are Zach and Leroy. The two strap in and truck takes off accelerating to 50 miles an hour. Zach moves back and forth as best he can and makes it look so easy that Kyle remarks, “He looks like a proper action man!” Is this what they call action stars in the UK? Action Men? Because I love it. Leroy has a more difficult time and ends up getting stuck between the support beam and the truck. He becomes a hanging target and plows into several columns, earning him points and immediately dropping him into last place. Leroy just can’t catch a break. Next up is Nelson and Kyle. Kyle manages to duplicate Zach’s effort and knots a goose egg for himself. Nelson…is not as coordinated. He loses focus and hits a column very quickly into the competition, whoops. I think this column might be worth more than the 2 Leroy hit so maybe my boy Lee is safe now? I would love to swap Nelson for Leroy in the final. Last for the guys are Tony and Brad who each run through the course and avoid all the column. Impressive. Looks like Nelson will not be going to final, right?!?

Before we see the men’s results the women are up next. Killa Kam is up first along with Nicole. Kam is talking a good game about how she can’t make any more mistakes and she is more focused now than ever and then…hits some boxes and earns herself 4 points. Nicole on the other side of truck doesn’t come close to a box and earns the coveted zero. Cara Maria squares off against Kailah in round 2. Each avoids the boxes and each gets a zero. Now I’m worried Kam may not be going to the final and that’s a damn shame considering how much shit she had to go through to get here (3 eliminations in as many weeks and she still may not qualify for a final). I’m fully prepared for TJ to send Nelson and Kam home when he announces the competition is just getting started. That was just the first round? The announcement catches me and the challengers off guard but then I come to realize with so many perfect scores on the first round this makes sense. The winner is automatically in the final so they need to determine who that will be, duh. Round 2 means only one thing – more speed!

This time the girls are up first and right from the beginning I can tell this truck is now hauling ass. It is moving way faster than 50 mph (anyone get a speed check? I never heard what the second round speed was but if I had to guess I would think it’s like 70 or so…) and the challengers struggle to dodge all the boxes. It turns out that the human reaction time to move back and forth between a column and truck at speed is not great. Nicole and Kailah both hit boxes and Cara Maria fails to transfer (counts the same as hitting the boxes, minus the bruising) so it will come down to who got the least amount of points based on the column’s value. I think Cara Maria has it at this point but I’m not sure because the point system is confusing and I only saw it once.  Also at this speed it looks like it fucking hurts to collide with those boxes. I can’t imagine connecting with anything at 70 mph feels good. Full size body bruises anyone?

The boys are up next and they have the same results as the women – almost all of them hit a box. I say almost because somehow Tony has managed to miss all the boxes and looks to be our winner by default. Goddamit. I really don’t care for Tony at all. But here he is in his first final after today, sigh. For the girls, Cara Maria gets the win over the girls and I am okay with this. TJ tells Nelson to get lost since there are 6 guys – he won’t get a shot at redemption in the elimination event since he placed last – wahoo!!! I’m stoked to see Nelson go. He was the other guy I was actively rooting against outside of Terrible Tony. As for the girls, since there are only 4 girls left, they all get to go to the final! Killa Kam is safe!!! So now Tony and Kailah will form 2 parts of the last troika and be joined by…Cara Maria. Wow. Kailah somehow manages to come up big in the only challenge that really matters and wins a spot in her first final. Lots of new blood for this final it seems. You really gotta think if Joss had never ran into Derek he would be here, too. Poor Joss.

Competition
Our final group of scrappy challengers

This troika is the best troika to be a part of because there won’t be any revenge, game-wise, for the decision the group makes (mostly, more on this a bit later). TJ tells them that he need 1 dude’s name to save from the inquisition and he needs it now. The troika huddles and with Tony being the only guy he’s automatically the odd man out if the girls vote together. He won’t have a say in who the troika spares. Both Cara Maria and Kailah agree that out of all the guys remaining if they need to run the final with someone they want that someone to be Zach. Zach, by far the best player left standing in the game, will be spared from elimination and automatically placed in the final. Tony doesn’t like the move. You know why Tony doesn’t like the move? He can’t beat Zach in a final. Brad, Leroy and Kyle will be up for elimination and will have to plead their individual cases at the inquisition that night. The troika will need to select one more guy to save and have the two remaining challengers battle it out to earn the last spot in this season’s final.

At the inquisition Brad, Kyle and Leroy make their closing arguments. Brad has been placed in elimination a few times already this season so it’s a good bet that he will be going in again. Brad tells the group he’s going to use the money for his kids and that should deliver for Tony but because Tony is an asshole he doesn’t care and remains unmoved. Kyle is up next and he talks about how he’s changed from the beginning of this competition to now. This is all just a formality for Kyle though because he has been bonin’ Cara Maria for weeks now so because he has a dick he’s probably safe – forgone conclusion. This leaves my main man Leroy who basically tells the troika that he shouldn’t be going in. He’ had their backs, he’s played a fair game and he deserves to be in this final. This is easily the most assertive I have seen Leroy, ever. And honestly, it’s about damn time. Leroy knows how much he has been fucked over in the past and I like him telling each and every member of the troika that if he gets put in it’s a joke. He’s earned a spot in this final dammit. His reaction catches everyone at the table off guard but dude is right. If anyone is safe over him its bullshit.

Fast-forward to the elimination night and wouldn’t you know it – Tony fucks Leroy over. This dude is a real piece of shit. Oh, and Cara Maria is a piece of shit too. She also votes in Leroy. Kailah is apparently the only one with a conscious and votes Leroy safe and suddenly my opinion of Kailah is not as bad as it was just seconds ago. Now Cara Maria has my ire. As for Tony – Lee explodes on him. He calls him out in front of everyone for being a snake and coward. Leroy tells Tony that he would be good with Tony saying his name if he was honest about why he is saying it but Tony keeps avoiding the confrontation. Tony tells Leroy he didn’t like how aggressive Leroy was at the inquisition the night before and because of that he decided to put Leroy in the elimination. Come on Tony – that’s pretty damn weak. We all know you don’t want to go up against Leroy in a final – something Leroy calls him out for. Congratulations Tony, you just made yourself a new enemy. As for Brad, well we all knew he was going in all along so now Brad has to square up against a super-pissed Leroy in the final elimination. Sorry Brad.

Inquisition
Leroy’s eyes already calling Tony a bitch

Brad lost before TJ said the word “go”. Lee uses his anger to break through two walls, then bust up 2 additional balls to win the elimination and send Brad home right at the finish line. God that’s gotta suck.  As this is happening the camera pans over to Tony periodically who looks fairly uncomfortable with Lee’s domination. He’s just created a monster in Leroy and I have a feeling that all the bad karma Tony has built up to get himself here is going to catch up with him during the final. And every other challenge he participates in from now on because Tony made a fuck ton of enemies to get to this point. Hope it’s worth it Tony.

Now we have our cast for the final – Zach, Tony, Leroy, Kyle, Nicole, Kam, Cara Maria and Kailah. Who do you think has the edge going into the final that is not named Zach? I’m personally pulling for Leeroy and Kam on this one.

 

 

HOT TAKE: Winter Break: Hunter Mountain Episode 2 Recap

Ugghhh. I’m really going to write about this show. I debated not writing about this show because this show, Winter Break: Hunter Mountain, is not good. It’s not even close to being good. Unfortunately the executives over at MTV know that if they put a bunch of strangers in a house and give them copious amounts of alcohol I will watch – and watch I did. MTV is still trying to figure out what to do with this show. Since Winter break first aired the second episode was delayed a few weeks and moved to a new night – this was the result of disappointing ratings.  Like 184,000 viewers disappointing ratings. Woof. This show was supposed to be a nice little bridge between winter dead zone programming and the new Jersey Shore content but MTV has already moved it into the Friday night @ 8:00 PM death-spot. Now Winter Break is taking up valuable Ridiculousness re-run real estate! This show is clearly doomed for 1, and only 1, season – so savor the flavor while it lasts.

As a result of this multi-week spacing between episodes I remember exactly 0% of the cast so it’s like watching a new series for the first time all over again! I remember all the faces but the details are lacking – this review can also serve as a preview for my eventual dementia. When we last saw our brave brand of rowdy misfits they were finally shreddin’ hunter mountain when tragedy occurs – Jill goes down with a high pitched squeal and we were left to wonder for 3 weeks what happened!!! Well it turns out that lil’ miz Jill has somehow managed to shatter her elbow on day 2. Bummer city, brah! Now what I can‘t understand about this whole situation is how scared Jill is about a broken arm – she acts like she is going to die over this. I’m not kidding – she is legit having a panic attack. She’s never broken a bone before but with the recent news she’s acting like she is going to die like Phineas in a Separate Peace. People don’t die from broken bones any more (not really, though I guess it technically could still happen, just not likely).

Back at the shredhouse JBrew, who is 29 years old (important to not because he is insanely immature for his age), is pranking Marc because JBrew is a dick. He replaces all of Marc’s lotion with ranch dressing which is 1) disgusting & 2) so impressively juvenile. At the same time that JBrew is busy being an anus Alessandra is on the phone with her dad checking in and letting him know that she’s all good. You should know this conversation isn’t her idea. Her parents are super overprotective despite her being 25 and have a bizarre need to check in on her multiple times a day to make sure she is still alive. While on the phone with her father he neglects to tell her that since she did not answer her phone for approximately 5 minutes he has called the local authorities to come and perform a welfare check. The fuzz already showed up in the first episode but here they are again for the same reason. The cops help themselves to the unlocked door and walk right in looking for Alessandra – who they find quickly. JBrew is up in arms about the cops being there and immediately starts to attack Alessandra. What the hell is this dude hiding? Methinks Punky Brewster definitely had some unfortunate run-ins with the po-po in his life.

JBREW
JBrew – A giant man-baby misogynistic dickhole

Jill misses the action with the cops but returns before the crew gets too deep into the booze to show off her new cast. TJ, a 20 year old army vet with some emotional repression issues consoles her and lets her know that a broken arm ain’t nothing to worry about. Why? Because TJ has broken just about every bone in his body. Seriously. He rattles off about 20 different locations that he has crushed, smashed or shattered and he doesn’t seem too broken…on the outside (foreshadowing!). After reuniting with Jill the crew gets ready to go snowtubing. Snowtubing, for the record, is awesome. It requires zero skill and is super fun. If you haven’t taken a tube for a spin in a while I recommend going. Obviously JBrewster isn’t going snowtubing because it’s for lames and the activity isn’t hard enough – JBrew is a hardo. He reminds me of how I was in middle school. I didn’t do anything fun because I was too concerned I wouldn’t look cool doing it. I definitely missed out – just like JBrew does here.

Let’s discuss our boy Marc for a second. Marc applies some of his new lotion and somehow doesn’t notice that it’s filled with ranch…WHAT? Is his sense of smell dead? Does he use so much ranch on food that he’s become nose-blind to the smell? HOW DOES HE NOT KNOW THAT HE REEKS OF RANCH DRESSING?! This is a guy who wants to be a doctor people. I’m not saying these two things are correlated, but it is cause for concern. Also Marc’s face. It has a massive hole in it. It looks like he spent the weekend as an extra on the Walking Dead and didn’t get all his makeup removed – it’s very unsettling.

Post-Snowtubing the gang returns to the house to commence binging. Just a few observations about this “party”:

  • Taylar is drinking vodka and tequila together – no thanks
  • Taylar has “never” done a body shot – meaning she has never served vodka out of her bellybutton. She fixes this.
  • Marc is first to drink vodka from Taylar’s bellybutton, no surprise (It was established in episode 1 that Marc has a boner for Taylar)
  • Marc says Taylar is playing hard to get and he doesn’t get her despite his game being “solid”. Marc – you’re game is not solid.
  • DJ TJ is making moves on Jill makes it to 2nd (?) base
  • Jill makes out with the TJ sober…
  • JBrew continues to attack Alessandra because she doesn’t snowboard and I am beginning to think he may just be a misogynist
  • The boys are hitting ping pong balls at each other as hard as they can because boys in their 20’s do this sort of thing after consuming large amounts of alcohol in an environment where they are trying to “impress” women
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I don’t know if I can tolerate all the will they won’t they tension

Who knows they do the next day – it’s glossed over and we are back to another house party in the evening. This time Marc lathers up and realizes he’s been had – he finally notices the days old rotten ranch that is in his lotion. He’s a pretty good sport about this and laughs it off as JBrew runs and hides in a closet – this is the last time we see BrewBrew smile during the episode. It actually might have been the first, too – he’s not a smiley guy. It’s at this party that we are introduced to what the smashing a ping pong ball at the opposite side of the table is called – sting pong? It’s just like it sounds. The team that scores a point gets to whip the ball at the other team. SIGH. Can’t you just drink 4lokos and slam beer bongs like my generation did? Play flip cup, dammit! The future is doomed. One nice thing about this scene is that we get to see Sheen’s really awesome tattoo that goes from the base of neck all the way down his spine. “LOOK AT ME NOW” in that drippy blood Kid Pix font. HOLY FUCK DUDE – that might actually win lamest tattoo I have ever seen. I mean all his tattoos are terrible, but this one is exceptional for its terribleness. Good job.

We end this week’s episode – and possibly the season – with two painful JBrew scenes. The first is his conversation with his girlfriend who lives in California with him. She’s telling him that living in Tahoe sucks when he’s not there and that she moved to Tahoe for him so now they should move to Hawaii because that’s where she wants to live. Wanna guess JBrew’s reaction? He don’t go where there’s no snow so he’s a no go to Hawaii – sorry babe. He then asks if she’s on her period because she is complaining and she somehow doesn’t hang up/breakup with him right there. Girl, you can do so much better than this man-child with anger issues (Yep, he’s probably a misogynist).

The very next day Alessandra has lapsed in her required hourly communication with her parents and the cops are back at the house. JBrew is now officially on the warpath – he’s John Bolton. He marches straight over to the phone and calls Alessandra’s parents. He’s sick of the cops showing up to his house (not his house) unannounced and he’s going to put a stop to it one way or another. As the credits rolls we see JBrew point-blank tell Alessandra’s parents that they need to either stop calling the cops and let their daughter be 25 or pick their daughter up and take her home. Now. Tonight we find out how Alessandra’s parents take this ultimatum from the Brewmaster. How do you think they’ll take this tough-talk from JBrew?

One more note – you know how I said TJ was busy nursing Jill back to health with some sweet talk and kisses? Turns out TJ may have a girlfriend back home. Uh oh!

PS somehow I wrote over 1500 words about this shit of a show – god that’s depressing.

HOT TAKE: The Challenge Recap – Help Me Rhonda

Kyle tell us he doesn’t remember what happened last week and I’ll be honest, I don’t either. After a quick recap we see Natalie who is just a mess. Mascara is running down her face as she during a tearful confessional with Nelson about how awful she feels that she betrayed him in last week’s votes. Come on girl. I know Nelson ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but even he can sniff this one out. He tells her it’s cool after the apology but to the audience he says he’ll keep her thinking he’s her ally till he doesn’t need her. Has Natalie actually convinced herself that she’s mended the damage between her and Nelly? Is she really that dense or does she know the walls are closing in and she’s just treading water?

leroy
Leroy sums up his swimming technique

Speaking of water – today’s challenge involves Leroy’s favorite obstacle – WATER! Poor Leroy. Any veteran who has watched enough of the Challenge knows that any challenge involving water is basically a death sentence for Leroy. Dude just can’t swim. I remember one season where Leroy came onto the challenge and proudly told everyone he practiced swimming in-between seasons and was now so much better at swimming. But he wasn’t. He graduated from a doggie paddle but that’s about it. Poor guy. TJ tells everyone that for today’s challenge they will have 2 teams that will need to swim across a stunning Spanish spring (seriously this place is gorgeous. I can only imagine how many #fitgirls have instagrammed themselves here) to an area where there are floating balls. They will then need to grab a ball and swim underwater with the ball and place the ball in a net. The nets are fastened to a treasure chest that will eventually rise off the bottom of the spring once enough balls have been secured. The chest will then rise allowing the team to swim with the chest back to the shore and declare victory. Seems easy enough unless you’re Leroy. Or Cara Maria. She also sucks at swimming stuff.

Brad and Killa Kam won last week’s elimination so each has a grenade that they need to toss. Kam is up first and she decides she is going to add time to Cara Maria – Cara Maria (and her team) will start with a minute penalty. Kam has made it abundantly clear that she is gunning for Cara Maria at this point and might just have cemented a new vendetta with this latest stunt. Brad’s and his grenade are next but before he pulls the pin he asks TJ a logistics question: If he chooses to add time to someone he could still potentially end up on the team with penalties, right? Clever girl, Brad. TJ tells him, yes, that is definitely a possibility since the troika will be picking this week’s teams. Brad essentially barters his way on to the troika’s (Tony, Zach and Natalie) team and chooses to penalize Kyle by not allowing him to compete. MY MAN! Such a power move! Brad may be a bit older than most of the competitors but my dude has not lost a step strategically. The whole time this is happening Kam’s face just sinks, as do her chances of winning this challenge. She knows that both Cara Maria and Kyle will be on her team so she’s essentially used the grenade on herself. Whoopsie Daisy!

kam
Some girls have all the luck

Sure enough Kam is placed on the all can’t with team with Cara Maria, Kyle, Leroy, Nelson, Kailah. This is not good. As for the troika? They’ve got Brad, Tony, Zach, Natalie, Nicole, Jemmye and Devin- all strong swimmers. Side note: I actually think swimming might be the only thing Jemmye is good at other than stirring the pot for other people and inflating arguments. With the teams decided we are off and team troika is up first. Practically before the competition has even started they finish with a commendable time of 15:03. Their effort and teamwork looked seamless. Watching this you just knew that there was not a chance in hell that the other team would be able to compete – no less do it in under 14:03 because of Cara’s penalty. They all can’t swim, save Kyle, who isn’t even allowed to compete. At least he gets to keep his gorgeous flow dry? Sorry bud, you fucked.
Cara jumps into the water and swims out to the balls where…she struggles, mightily. Apparently all that CrossFit doesn’t help when it comes to pushing a buoyant ball under water because Cara can’t manage to do more than break the surface of the spring. After a futile minute of trying to dive with the ball she gives up and swims back to the shore. Kam is up next and basically drowns. Maybe it was the adrenaline coursing through her veins that convinced her she knew how to swim but girl does not know how to swim. I’m not joking when I say she almost drowns – the standby rescue crew has to come over and grab her after watching her head slip below water, mid-flail. Ooof. And that about sums up team-can’t swim’s effort. Kailah jumps in and also fails and by then it’s too late, time has expired. I don’t think they got a single ball in the net. Ouch.

Victorious, Tony, Zach and Brad somehow convince the rest of their team that they need to be in the new troika because Tony and Zach picked the teams and Brad used his grenade. Okay, that seems fair-ish but the thing is that it’s a girl elimination and whoever is in the troika is safe from elimination. There’s 3 girls on the winning team and none of them really protest the guys forming the troika. SIGH. Come on ladies, don’t let Zach push you around! Did you not hear that Burger King is providing today’s troika with the royal treatment?! I bet it’s like a mayonnaise bath followed by chicken fry massage. Don’t sleep on BK, ladies! Natalie, Jemmye and Nicole are placated with assurances from the troika that none of them will be considered for elimination. Oh dear – this is not smart. Devin is openly giggling about this. He knows what is going to happen – stop trusting these men ladies! They leave their fate to the guys and also will dine on zero Burger King this evening save nothing for the royal treatment. Bad form, Peter!

burger king
What the fuck is the royal treatment?

As for the losers, they need to nominate someone to go immediately into the elimination round by voting on the teammate they deem most deserving. Right away it seems like Cara will be the unlucky one but then Kailah’s name gets thrown into the mix and suddenly it’s a draw. Oh shit! TJ warns them that if all they vote and reach a stalemate once more that the troika will decide who goes into elimination. Another round of voting produces the same results and it’s now up to Tony, Zach and Brad to decide who will face elimination. What’s that expression? No good deed goes unpunished? Well Kam, for all her effort with the grenade and now battling her way out of elimination 2 times in 2 weeks, is going into elimination for a third consecutive time. Oh, the joys of being a rookie on the Challenge. Congratulations Kam – you just played yourself.

Back at the house the troika must now determine three potential opponents for Kam to face off against. It takes roughly 15 seconds before Tony and Zach suggest turning on Natalie and throwing her into the mix despite their promises to her that no such thing would happen. She’s a rookie, she is playing everyone by cozying up to the strongest players that will have her – girl got caught. Tony laments that this will be the second time he’s lied to someone’s face (RIP Bananas) about their status in the house, but I mean, this is also coming from a guy who has major infidelity issues. I think its par for the course for old Tony-Bologna and despite Tony trying to be a better guy – a leopard don’t change his spots, ya know? I think Tony is cool with this and probably won’t think twice about betraying Natalie unless he has to deal with an immediate personal consequence. He’s already been labeled a liar, a philanderer and a drunk. How much of a reputation does he have to protect at this point? The troika rightly decides to avoid any other conflicts and just throw Cara Maria and Kailah into contention since they each received votes to go in already.

Cut to the inquisition and we see tonight’s feast has been furnished by the king himself! You want a whopper? Done. BK Chicken club with a side of fries? BOOM, it’s there! I don’t know any other food items BK serves because BK is disgusting and I don’t eat there. Kudos to those that do but this meal would be instant diarrhea for me. Suspiciously I don’t anyone enjoying their sandwiches during this scene…but the fries are admittedly good so those are cool to snack on. As 6 people share a limited amount of fries Kailah and Natalie have a row about why the other girl should be going into the elimination. Kailah figures the troika may not realize Natalie is just sponging off the strongest competitor she can find and informs them of this fact. Dammit Kailah, they know this girl. It’s pretty fucking obvious. They only thing you’ve done with this little rant is paint a big old target on your back for next time. Nice work. All 3 of these girls are legitimately concerned that a match up against Kam will send them home. They’re right. Killa Kam is a beast, especially when she’s heated (and water isn’t involved), and she is super heated about going in again. Yikes.

Natalie
Natalie’s strategy doesn’t work on people not named Bananas

Tonight’s elimination, TJ says, is called Spanish torture. The contestants will walk across two wires that they are attached to from one end of the ring to the other and ring a bell. First one to ding the bell wins. Now that we know what we are doing we just need to know who will be doing it against Kam. Natalie clearly did not stop to purchase a bus ticket before tonight’s elimination because she is thrown right under it. Tony, Zach and Brad all turn on her and tell her that because she is a rookie it’s time for her to prove her worth. WHAMMY! Natalie, who has made a living hiding in other contestants’ shadows, is exposed and has to go up against Kam in order to prolong her stay in Spain. Not good. Natalie gives us a little speech about how she used to be a gymnast and this event is well-suited for her skillset but we know this is a classic Challenge misdirection. Anytime anyone on the show boasts of a skill before displaying that skill it usually foreshadows disaster. Sure enough – it spells disaster. Natalie gets off to a good start versus Kam but suddenly loses her footing and begins to panic. This gives the HMS Kam-Coming-for-Your-Ass enough time to gather steam and eventually pass Natalie. Kam rings the bell first and Natalie exits stage left. Overall did I like Natalie as fresh fodder for the Challenge? Mostly yes. I think she learned some valuable lessons for her first go-around and I think we’ll see her back with an improved game on future Challenges.

With Natalie vanquished Kam is riding high. She’s officially put the other girls in the house on notice that she, much like Laurel, is not to be fucked with. When you take a shot at the queen you best not miss because you won’t get another one. I went into this season pretty indifferent to Kam overall but now? I’m a super fan. TJ is too, and congratulates her for putting another opponent into the ground. But the celebration is short-lived because TJ has another twist up his sleeve – he needs to dump 2 more contestants, 1 guy and 1 girl, before they jet off to the Czech Republic for their next challenge. OH SHIT! No challenge, no troika, nothing. Put up or shut up time – TJ’s favorite part of every challenge.

So how will our beloved remaining contestants punch their ticket to the Czech Republic? Easy. All they need to do is run a mile uphill, zip line across a huge gap, repel down the side of a bridge and run some more. Think of it like a jr. final. Each guy and girl with the slowest time will set sail for America. Since this all happens towards the end of the episode we end not knowing who will be sent home. Each cast member gives us a semi-stirring speech about why they are there so we can validate our attachments to them as they run the course. I’m all in on Kam, Brad and Leroy at this point. Especially Leroy. Not because he can’t swim but because he wants to use the prize money to open a group home with his adopted parents for kids. OMG WHAT? Is Leroy actually real life Randall Pearson from This is Us??? I’m really hoping they all make it to the end.

What were your hot takes on tonight’s episode? Who do you want to make it to the Czech Republic? Should Natalie have been back-stabbed like that? Will Leroy ever learn to swim?

HOT TAKE: Teen Mom OG – Bye Farrah

We need to address the elephant in the room straight away – Farrah Abraham is no longer filming with MTV. Sigh. We will no longer have the privilege, and IT IS a goddamn privilege make no mistake, to witness the successes of Farrah – wonder woman of teen mom who made MTV what it is today. She has respectfully began a Trump-style lawsuit against Teen Mom/MTV claiming abuse and harassment. GOD SHE IS THE FUCKING WORST. I’m sure MTV would much prefer to just settle with her out of court and be done with her but honestly, I have to fault MTV here. They encouraged this monster to grow and blossom into the harpy that she is today. When you see a weed in your garden you pull it, you don’t water it. MTV, this is yours to own regardless of how awful Farrah is.

Farrah crying
Protip: Don’t google Farrah gifs at work. You’re guaranteeing an uncomfortable conversation with HR.

With that addressed we can dive into last night’s action. We start off with Maci because you need to start off a good story with a positive note. Maci and Taylor are seemingly the most stable of the Teen Mom relationships outside of Chelsea and Cole. Side note: I just looked up how to spell Cole because I am a miserable speller and accuracy is important and I just discovered that they (Chelsea & Cole) are having their third kiddo! They’re more like Maci and Taylor than I thought! Each with 3 kids! Let’s be fair to Maci and Taylor and refocus on them now after that brief tangent. Taylor and clan welcome Maci back from Nicaragua with one of those heartwarming airport welcome scenes – think love actually (RIP Alan Rickman – Always). Apparently their clothing line TTM Lifestyle has been growing so much that Maci and Taylor needed to open a distribution warehouse in Jacksonville, FL. Really? I mean good for them. I want their business to succeed because they both seem like decent people but how does a company that makes different colored pocket squares with a super lame-o name grow that fast? Who wears this stuff outside of Tennessee? I don’t get it. Maybe I don’t get today’s fashion but I mean really? Taylor and Bentley are going to have a boys’ trip to Jacksonville to see the new facility and give Maci some time alone with Maverick and Jade.

Every time we see the goings on with Maci we need to visit Ryan to see what he’s up to for comparison. Ryan and Mackenzie are in the kitchen talking about their future and suddenly Ryan starts asking ‘Kenz about the possibility of another kid. STOP IT. Seriously? Ryan is recently sober and needs to make up for lost time with Bentley and he’s already braying about another kid? Mackenzie has a kid of her own, too. That’s two kids he needs to be a better father to right now! I get the desire to have a kid with your partner but maybe they should think about timing? There’s no such thing as good timing but I mean…maybe there is a such a thing as better timing? You think Ryan has gray hair now, just wait. He’s gonna go full Henry Bowers post seeing IT if he has another kid. The best laid plans of mice and men…

Henry Bowers
Ryan, after having his 3rd kid (technically 2nd but also sorta 3rd)

Back in Michigan Tyler is trying to keep things together while Catelynn does another stint in therapy to deal with her anxiety and depression. In the last episode Catelynn reveals that she considered every way she could kill herself and that scared her so badly that she knew she needed additional treatment. I’m glad she can recognize when she needs help but I also sincerely feel for Tyler at this point. Dude is always left holding the bag and it seems like his feelings are rarely considered – and it might be coming to a head.

Shifting to Amber we learn that Gary gave Amber permission to take boo-boo (Leah) to Florida for winter break with her new beaux, Andrew. It’s crazy to see how responsible Gary has become over the years, right? This is the same guy that spent their last $400 on a PlayStation 2 because he felt like it. Never mind he had a small family to take care of – dude wanted to game! I can’t imagine being in that position and making that decision but it looks like Gary has figured out this whole parenting responsibility adult thing. Amber wants to introduce Andrew to her brother Shawn “Bubby” Portwood. When you write the name out like that it sounds like a worse version of Puffy. I have an important question before I continue: Does she refer to everyone by some little kid jargon b-word? If so I vote we she call Andrew Beaux-Beaux. But really I couldn’t handle that. I can barely handle that on the show. If my sister called me a pet name like that I would stop shit immediately. NO MORE! I digress, during this segment we are also treated to a Matt being a piece of shit flashback. He is the very definition of a masshole and MTV seems perfectly happy to remind us at every corner that dude was a loser. Seriously, fuck that pill-popper.

Meanwhile in the other corner of Florida we see Taylor and Bentley at the driving range. Let’s stop and acknowledge that Taylor is probably replacement father of the year – get that man a mug that says so. Honestly, he loves Bentley so much and it seems so genuine that you know Taylor sees Bentley as his own kid. I don’t watch this show to feel feels Taylor, thanks a lot. Back home in Tennessee Maci is taking Jade, their middle child, big-girl bed shopping. It’s a pretty routine kid-in-furniture store scene but one shot has me asking another important question – How are the bottom of Jade’s shoes so clean? Unless they are brand new, which is possible, how does a 2-3 year old girl have clean white soles on her shoes? I call BS production – where are the real shoes?!

Back to back to back Florida scenes reveal that Andrew is about to meet Bubby Ports. They sit down and have a nice little chat (interrogation) and Bubby does not hold back. He’s seen Amber burned in the past and also knows his little sister better than most suiters do. After a hilariously candid question about how much it must suck to move from Cali to Indiana Shawny-B gets down to brass tacks. Basically he asks what Andrew’s intentions are for his sister. He says he’s not judging Andrew but let’s be honest, he’s definitely judging Andrew. During their conversation Andrew offers up some really profound wisdom – he thinks everyone should write. Wow. I mean that right there would win me over but the jury is still out for Bubby.

Remember how we started this episode in an airport? We’re going back to the airport – but this time in scenic Michigan. Tyler and Nova are traveling to visit Catelynn at her therapy facility. FAMILY VACATION THAT IS NOT A VACATION, YESSS! There’s a brief phone call in the car where I scold Tyler for using a phone while driving without a hands-free device (MTV completely whiffs an opportunity for a PSA here. They’ll intervene with Ruthie trying to drive drunk but being a distracted driver with a child in the car is apparently cool?) and then we’re back to view Ryan and the ‘Kenz. With Farrah gone MTV needs to fill a that hole (pun intended) with new footage – enter Kenzie. Kenzie confides in her friend about the conversation she had with Ryan concerning their futures and the possibility of adding another child into the mix. This is all well and good until she says something that makes me nearly spit my frosty Coors light out – SHE THINKS RYAN IS GOING TO BE JUST THE BEST FATHER. Hold the fuck up. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING GIRL?! I know you’re married to the dude and should be his biggest fan but there is reality to deal with too. Unless you’ve somehow forgotten that Ryan is already a father to Bentley you should already know how capable of a father he is. Now I’ll give you that Ryan was addicted to painkillers (Not Xanax, MTV. I’m sure he was abusing Xanax, too, but let’s be real and confront what he was actually using. Be the educational program you set out to be) but that doesn’t excuse his recent absentee-dadism. Everyone should get a second chance but maybe time this second chance a bit better? SIGH.

Ryan

Sick of Florida? Good, because we’re back with Amber and bro again. Bubby is still grilling Andrew and decides it’s time to up the ante. He point blank asks Amber if she is going to do a prenup with Andrew to protect her assets. Cue awkwardness. She meekly says she would with the other men in her life but not with Andrew – he’s different. Amber…Thankfully we cut to commercial and return to Maci who is chatting with a friend at her home in Chattanooga. Maci is gushing about how wonderful of a dad Taylor is (we already gave him a mug!) and how lucky she is. WE GET IT! Taylor, outside of his fashion label, is perfect. Right before we check in on Catelynn’s therapy I notice Maci’s tongue is Tennessee Volunteer orange. What the fuck has she been eating/drinking? The answer shortly reveals itself…

I have another important question after watching this episode: Did anyone eat raw onions as a child? Because it seems raw onion may be Nova’s favorite food. Is this a Midwesterner thing? Do they serve raw onions with stuff in Michigan? I NEED TO KNOW WHY THIS IS HAPPENING. It happens twice – and she practically has a fit over not getting one the first time. While this is happening Catelynn’s mom is recapping some of the strategies she learned to help Catelynn deal with her depression and seems like she may not be buying the education theory behind them. Catelynn’s mom seems like she learned how to deal with life the old fashioned way – if you get out of line you get corrected via a nun’s ruler. She seems to be a proponent of tough love, and that’s fine for certain people, but for other’s maybe a softer touch is required? Perhaps maybe with Catelynn? I’m not totally sold that her mother thinks Catelynn’s therapy is worth it, but hey, she’s not paying for it so she’ll play along! As she discusses the lessons learned with Tyler it becomes apparent that Tyler may not be fully grasping the lessons either. He is thinking a bit more reactive – “When you do this then I am going to do this!” Not quite, Tyler.

Quick update on Ryan and Mackenzie – they made spaghetti for dinner and are continuing to discuss adding a child and going back to school. Ryan eats like a prisoner and thinks it’s appropriate to feed the dog a plate of leftover spaghetti. RYAN, NO!

Towards the conclusion of the episode we finally learn why Maci’s tongue has an orange hue – her beverage of choice would appear to be Henry’s Hard Soda…gross. I know Maci and Taylor used to be a Bud light family and I am all for keeping it simple with domesticos but switching over to such a sugary malt beverage is no bueno in my book. This actually might be one of the few decisions Maci has made that I disagree with – and I know this from experience. I have tried the Henry’s Hard Soda – it is not good. Ryan probably wouldn’t even give it to this dog – it’s honestly that bad. Maci, can I tempt you try Coors light? It’s at the same price point as both Bud light and Henry’s Hard Soda but it doesn’t have the sweetness that those other guys do. It basically replaces water in a balanced diet. TAP THE ROCKIES, MACI. Is Henry’s a sponsor of the show? That’s fine if that’s the case but be more transparent about it – labels need to face the audience. The case of the orange tongue has been solved and now Taylor is bugging Maci to have more kids. This dude is kid-crazy. I have a friend who couldn’t wait to be a dad and I thought it was just about the strangest thing I have seen. If you’re reading this you know who you are…

Taylor
and give me another kid

What do you guys think? Should Maci and Taylor have another kid? Is it okay to feed your dog spaghetti? Do you already miss Farrah? Let me know what your thoughts on last night’s episode are.

FASHION FRIDAYS: Jersey Shore

So last night was a bit of red herring concerning the Jersey Shore – we did get some new footage of MVP + Deena but MTV still hasn’t shared much of the upcoming Miami trip. That’s okay. I understand these things take time. So what to do on Thursdays while we wait for the new Jersey Shore: Family Reunion? CLIPSHOWS! Yep. The old MTV standby. MTV aired the first of what I can only guess will be a series of clipshows centered on different themes highlighting our favorite Jersey Shore memories. Clipshows usually serve two functions:

  1. They cheaply provide material in the absence of new material
  2. They build hype for an upcoming event

Last night’s theme was the 15 hottest hookups on the Jersey Shore. Woof. I had forgotten how horrible most of these encounters had been; particularly the hookups between Pauly D and Jwow/Vinny and Snooki. And while a proper recap might rehash these fleeting encounters I am going to go a different direction. Let’s talk a little bit about the elephant in the room…MY GOD THE CLOTHES! Now I did not consider the Jersey Shore cast to be especially well clothed when the show originally aired in 2009 but oh man! Their duds did not age well at all. Fashion is dangerous. That’s often the risk when you dress on-trend. At the time you don’t notice why your Jennifer Aniston hair might not look too good 5 years out – you’re too busy living your best life as the impossible cute girl next door. But look back at that hairstyle in a few years and you realize just how big of a tool you were. Trust me, I know. I’ve regrettably been dressing on-trend for decades. I hate old photos of myself for this very reason. No fear? Check – I had zero fears. Abercrombie and Fitch? Check, check – I was just a casual beach boy who occasionally played LAX and rowed crew? Bleached tips? COUNT IT! Bowl cut? Guilty. I wear tend-proof neutrals and flannel now. I DARE YOU TO DATE MY STYLE! Flannels are timeless, right…RIGHT?

In order to feel better about myself let’s do what the internet was invented for: Breaking down others from the safety of your keyboard! It’s time for Fashion Fridays y’all!

First up we have Vinny

Vinny
Vinny circa 2009. He probably hates himself for dressing like this.

Oooof. Before we go for the jugular it’s only fair to mention that Vinny has addressed his sartorial faux-pauses and now dresses like a normal C-List celebrity. That being said, this look is fairly representative of the Vinny we knew back in 2009. The shiny patterned tall-tee shirt (Afflicition?) with the XXXL chain + cross is vintage 2009 for the Jersey Shore. It would be a mistake to say Vinny was the only one rocking it – we’ll get to more examples shortly. Vinny always looked like he was wearing someone else’s skin when he played Jersey Shore dress up – I’d wager this was probably never his personal style – it’s a manufactured look. Now this look is missing 2 prominent features of going out at night Vinny; crazy-angled flat bill cap and sunglasses. Somehow Vinny got it in his head that it was actually very cool to wear sunglasses in the clurb at night – but my question is how the fuck do you see anything with those bad boys on? Was it more to not see your own reflection? Does it make everyone look better at 2AM? YOU LOOK LIKE A GODDAMN MORON WITH THOSE ON! TAKE THEM OFF BEFORE YOU HURT YOURSELF. Sunglasses are for driving automobiles home from work in the afternoon.

Pauly D

paulyd_300
Yea buddy, I dress like a goon.

Wow. Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Let’s start with the obvious: The hair: It’s hurricane proof. The amount of product that dude applies to his hair has to cost him (or MTV) a literal fortune. And guess what…aside from his tan it is his most recognizable feature so he still rocks the exact same hair today! Poor guy. You know that one day all his follicles are just going to sigh en masse and fall out in unison. As for clothing – he doesn’t deviate from the pattern Vinny follows. It’s all bright colors, gold and silver accents, wild patterns, etc. He may be more Ed Hearty than Affliction, but that’s only a guess. So what separates him from the pack? His tattoos. It’s like he walked into the first Seaside Heights tattoo parlor he could find and asked for one of everything. Seriously have you seen his tattoos up close? These are the type of tattoos tattoo artists can rely on to keep the lights on in their shop – they come straight from the book. No need to draw an outline for this nautical star, dude can do it from memory. And unlike clothing, Pauly will have a hard time getting rid of those eyesores. At least he’s funny.

Ronnie

Ronnie
Who needs a shirt when you have muscles?

Ronnie doesn’t wear clothes. Skin never goes out of style. Just ask JWow.

Jwow
One of her more reserved looks

See description for Ronnie

Deena (Meatball 2)

Deena
Pretty sure she borrowed the boots from Snooks

Deena is your basic, basic girl. She’s also a copy of a copy of Snooki. As you can see from the photo above, she loved boots with the fur. Overall she was one of the lesser fashion-offenders on the Shore. More than anything I think her clothes just weren’t up to the task of staying on and in the right places when she danced – wardrobe malfunction city. She gave many a peep at her “golden ticket” unintentionally and never really seemed to mind. One of Deena’s best features is her ability to laugh things off which is a good thing because after revisiting how she dressed I’m positive everyone is probably having a laugh at her expense. Deena, now married, seems to have cleaned things up and dresses appropriately for her age, but I think we might see the old Deena “peek” out during the reunion.

Mike “the Situation”

Situation
Rare siting where the Situation dressed his age

Everyone has that older friend that still hangs out and talks shop. You know the guy I am talking about. The guy who is too excited about happy hour and starts talking about how gone-zo he was over the weekend. He dresses down for his age and tries to fit in but no matter how hard he pretends to not be 38, he is still 38. The Situation is the guy forever running from actually being himself – so much so that he created an alter ego, “the Situation” that is younger and more successful than his actual self, Michael. Today Michael is wanted for Tax evasion and facing possible jail time. But the Situation is having fun in Miami without a care in the world because he just finished undergrad and is excited to move back in with his parents while he gets his club promotion/bottle service business up and running. He mimics his younger peers, be it shirts, no shirts, tattoos and swagger. Dude is still 38.

Sammi “Sweetheart”

Sammi
“I fell in love with the girl at the rock show…”

Honestly – there aren’t really any fashion no-nos with her. She dressed pretty typical for the time. During the day she looked like she was about to go to a punk/pop show. At night, she got dressed like she was going dancing with the girls. But she never really danced. She fought. With Ronnie. ALL THE TIME. So she cried a bunch and her make up ran a bunch. Mascara has come a long way since 2009. The waterproof tech that can be found in today’s mascara will undoubtedly come in handy when we inevitably revisit the Ronnie + Sammi relationship in Miami.

Snooki (Meatball 1)

NICOLE POLIZZI AND JWOWW OUT IN FLORENCE
A good outfit is all accessories

I mean just look at that. THAT IS FASHION. This is the best “I don’t give a fuck what you think” look I have ever seen. Snooki wears what she likes and she likes what she wears. Does it have to look good? Nah. Does it have to make sense? Nope. She is the person that does all her shopping in those tourist stands inside the airport. She’s the reason luggage stores sell clothing. This is runway editorial high fashion at its finest. It’s bold. It’s experimental. It’s timeless. Its 100% Snooki. Why? You can’t really date this look because this look shouldn’t even exist – it’s brilliant. I sincerely hope that for the reunion she returns to this look. She’s a mom 2-times over now and dresses a bit more conservatively so her time away from the kids could give us a chance to revisit this statement – her magnum opus.

We Got a Situation Here; Welcome back Jersey Shore

Parting is such sweet sorrow. When the original Jersey Shore crew signed off after 6 long seasons it seemed like it was time to let go. The jokes had worn thin, the cast could barely tolerate one another and Snooki had really dialed back her indecent behavior. The series finale was a far cry from when we were first introduced to our Jersey Shore summer share crew. We watched these kids grow up before our very eyes – and as they did their drunken antics become less and less entertaining. So, it was with a heavy heart that we finally heard Pauly D yell “Cabs are here!” one last time and we said farewell. Jersey Shore/my life was over.

Cabs

You can try and fight it but time oppressively marches on and obscures the memories of those we’ve loved and lost. Like you, I learned to replace the Jersey Shore with various different MTV reality shows. Each show looked to capture the bottled lightning that was the Jersey Shore, but each show couldn’t stick the landing. Buckwild introduced us to a rowdy bunch of rednecks hailing from a hollow in West Virginia, but the showrunners stopped producing after a tragic accident took the life of one of the co-stars, Shane “Gandy-Candy”. Undeterred to fill the ratings void left behind by the Jersey Shore MTV tried again with a show centered on eclectic Alaskan youth called Slednecks. I’m not sure what happened here but after one season MTV pulled the plug – probably a result of low ratings.

Slednecks
MTV’s Sledneck crew – where are they now?

Still there were other shows that tried to replace the Jersey Shore such as Big Tips Texas and Scrubbing In, but each show failed for the same reason. There is just no replacing the personalities on the Jersey Shore. How do you expect to find another Mike “The Situation”? Situations aren’t just lying around growing on trees waiting for a hungry producer to come along and pluck them. No. Situations are like diamonds – only years of extreme pressure experiencing forces beyond comprehension (tax fraud?) can produce something like Mike. Our situation.

I had accepted that MTV would keep throwing different casts from different backgrounds my way and that none of them would ever be as good as the Jersey Shore. How could anything possibly reach that level of excellence? Jersey Shore is a like a first love; there will be another after love later in your life but you’ll always compare that love to your first love.

So what happens when your first love inexplicably comes back into your life? In our case, the Jersey Shore; Family Reunion is just such an occurrence. WELCOME BACK TO JERZDAY! MTV, tired of reinventing the wheel, decided to dig the old wheel out of storage and give it one last spin. No, this isn’t some fever dream where you suddenly wake up drenched in sweat, wondering why you’re in bed when but a moment ago you were at the shore house slamming Ron-Ron Juice. MTV is gracing us with a new season of the Jersey Shoret!

18-jersey-shore.w710.h473
Prepare for Jersey Shore to take over Twitter once more

We learned that we won’t be in our beloved Seaside Heights this season but we will still be visiting a familiar locale: Miami, baby! The last time we were here things did not go especially well for our group of Italian Stallions. It was mostly just Ronnie and Sammie Sweetheart fighting and breaking up and getting back together and breaking up again. Still, that experience was so visceral you felt like you were the third leg of that disastrous tripod. If MTV can bring even a tenth of that feeling (cue to “Cut to the Feeling” by Carly Rae Jepsen) to this new season of Jersey Shore than it is going to be a run-away hit once more. This is going to be so good there is no possible way this latest installment of Jersey Shore won’t deliver. I have no idea what we are in store for this season but I gotta say – after saying goodbye to my dear friends so long ago it’s fucking great to see them again. Especially Vinny. There’s so much to catch up on and so little time. Savor the flavor on this one folks – we’ve been gifted a bonus-Jonas season of the Jersey Shore seemingly out of nowhere – right when we needed it the most.

The Challenge Recap: Devin’s Big Dumb No Good Plan

Challenge vet Johnny Bananas is out – a fact that Devin reminds us of right when the episode starts. After squaring off against Bananas in a literal lights out elimination Devin sends Johnny packing. With such a big personality gone there is a black-hole-sized power void left behind that needs filling and Devin fancies himself just the guy to fill it. I get how MTV shows work – particularly the Challenge _ I’ve watched this show religiously for like 15 years. We need each cast member to play a certain role and with Sarah out the competition for good (courtesy of Bananas) Devin is now the resident “schemer” of the show. The only problem is that Devin isn’t very smart. Like not even a little bit smart. He’s like the Devin Nunes of the Challenge; he’s an idiot who thinks he’s playing 3D chess when he’s actually playing checkers. Devin ain’t outmaneuvering anyone.

Another result of Johnny being gone is that Leroy finds himself on an island without an ally. Poor Leroy. I love this dude because every opportunity he has to do the wrong thing he ends up taking the high road. And each and every challenge some combination of bizarre circumstances combine to force Lee out sooner than expected. This just proves that you usually have to play dirty if you want to be in the money at the end of the show. Speaking of dirty, Big Brother’s Natalie also finds herself without a powerful ally now that Johnny is gone. Her strategy of cozying up to Johnny seems to have backfired. She’s playing the no one should put me in the elimination match because I have powerful friends game but that game only works when you have powerful friends. Is this how she handled her stint on Big Brother? My guess is she starts hanging around Zach and Tony…

After a brief mention that it is Nicole’s birthday we are ready for today’s challenge. HI TJ! Has TJ Lavin been the host of the Challenge longer than Jeff Probst has been the host of Survivor?  I feel like TJ’s retirement coffers have been absolutely stuffed courtesy of MTV/Viacom. Dude has been on this show so long and he still seems like he’s enjoying himself. He’s part of the challenge family and I’ll be devastated when he eventually leaves. Remember Dave Mira? That was rough. Who is going to replace Lavin when he finally hangs up his beanie? Only two candidates come to mind: 1. The Miz. 2. Johnny Moseley. The Miz is probably way too famous to come back and host the Challenge now, but he has been known to do a special here and there. He’s like the record setting high school QB – he’s sort of obligated to come back every now and then and let us know how he’s doing. As for Moseley, he’s hosted the Challenge before – 3 times actually. If, and when, he does come back to the Challenge I need him to come back with the intensity I saw during the big air competitions at the Pyeonchang Olympics. OHhhhhHHH MAaaanNNn! DID YOU SEE THAT GNARLY DOUBLE BACK GAINER MCTWIST?! THAT WAS…OH MAN THAT WAS SICK! WHOA. We need that Moseley.

Anyway for today’s challenge TJ explains that the cast will have to run across a beach, move pallets and stack them to form a tower where one team member can raise the Spanish flag and declare victory. Seems straight forward enough. Since Devin-not-Nunes won the last elimination he gets a coveted grenade. Grenades are a new mechanic introduced on this season of the Challenge that allow the owner of a grenade to fuck with the rest of the competitors during the day’s challenge. Devin, grenade in-hand, chooses to pick the teams for the Challenge. He’s definitely looking to stack the odds in his favor by making his team the super team while at the same time putting the people he most wants to see in an elimination event on the worst team. Since we are about mid-way through the season at this point there aren’t enough people left to form 3 equal teams of 5 so the worst team only gets 4 people. If you remember nothing else please remember that Devin made these teams:

  • Too Big to Fail team: Devin, Kam, Nelson, Kailah and Brad
  • Weak team destined to lose: Leroy, Jemmye, Kyle (“I’m not smart”), and Cara Maria.
  • Leftovers/Actual Super Team: Nicole, Natalie, Zach, Tony, and Britni

This is Devin pulling the strings all by himself. THIS IS HIS PLAN. Oh, and TJ mentions that tonight’s elimination is a double-elimination so that means potentially 2 people are going home tonight. Why the hell would anyone looking to save their own skin not put Zach and Tony on their team if you have the option? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING DEVIN! You released your ultra-top secret memo and nothing happened. America is laughing in your face now – you deserve to lose. You’re going to lose.

Let the pallet-stacking begin! Even though the weak team only has 4 players they seem to be keeping pace with the other 2 teams. During the competition Kyle admits that his fitness routine of drinking too much and loafing around the house has not prepared him for such a strenuous challenge but he’s making it work as best he can. Him and Leroy end up pulling more than their fair share of the load – they have to compensate for Jemmye – Jemmye always looks like she is just about to throw in the towel. Why does she keep coming on these shows? Everyone know if she makes it to a final she’s going to roll over. She’s going to be the new Vanessa; mark my words.

When the whistle blows it shouldn’t be a surprise that Zach, Tony, Britni, Nicole and Natalie easily beat the other two teams. What is a surprise is that the team Devin picked for himself, what should have been the safest place for him, ends up losing to a team that has 1 less person. This is an endurance-based challenge. Let that sink in for a moment. Ready? Good. Devin should teach a master class on how to royally fuck things up but present yourself as being extremely talented and successful. Did he go to the now defunct Trump University to learn these skills? How does this happen? Nelson figured out why they lost – they used the wrong strategy: muscles. See, the thing about muscles is that over time they don’t work so good when performing the same action over and over again so you actually want to have a strategy to conserve energy when you’re…I don’t know…RUNNING IN FUCKING SAND?!

So now Devin’s team has to cannibalize their own team and throw 2 members into the elimination challenge. Amazingly Devin’s team doesn’t throw Devin into the elimination even though he is without a doubt the most deserving person to go into the elimination. He’s the captain that got into the Titanic’s lifeboat dressed as a woman. Throw him in! Instead they pick Kam and Brad. Sigh. Kam gets picked because she’s a rookie. This is not the first time Kam has been thrown in for being a rookie and it probably won’t be the last. Kam could be the new Laurel. Brad gets thrown in because Brad is in a relationship with Britni and the house wants to split them up. The only thing more common than throwing a rookie into an elimination is splitting a couple up via elimination. Rule number 1 of reality TV competitions – no showmances! The heart is always your enemy. Brad, you know this. You’ve been here before but somehow you ignored this lesson so here you find yourself facing another elimination. Come on bro, get a clue.

The other two players going into the elimination will be decided by the Troika. The Troika is another new device developed by the mad scientists at MTV where 3 players from the winning team are selected to form a tribunal of sorts. Being in the Troika has one advantage – you’re safe from elimination that night. But it also has a cost – the Troika’s job is to select the players who will be going into the elimination that evening. This puts a big ol’ target on your back so you might be safe tonight but tomorrow is a whole different story. Zach, Tony and Melissa (I knew she would do this!) form the Troika after ensuring Britni that she’s safe and promise to not put her in the elimination match. The Troika begin their deliberation over who to send into the elimination and it doesn’t take long to determine that they are going to fuck over Britni. Duh. Also Nelson is going in because no one likes Nelson. His Challenge photo alone is reason enough to send the dude in each and every elimination until he goes home.

Like TJ said, tonight’s elimination is a double elimination so there’s at least two people going home tonight between Brad, Britni, Kam and Nelson. Like a kitten with a ball of yarn TJ toys with us. TJ says he’s going to take it easy on the players after such a brutal challenge earlier in the day – psych! Of course he’s not stepping off the gas. TJ only has one speed – elimination. So what will it take to stay in the competition? Not much, you just have to beat…THE CHAMPIONS! In walks Laurel, Darrell, Frank and Ashley read to bust some ass. Now I’ll give you that neither Frank nor Ashley are really champions but hey – CT is probably busy being a dad. On the other hand Darrell and Laurel are not be fucked with. Darrell has not only won the challenge 5 times, he’s now a boxer. Instead of aging gracefully into retirement Darrell may actually be in better shape than when first appeared on the Challenge back in 1992. As for Laurel – well she made a name for herself as a rookie continually going into eliminations and continually sending Challenge veterans home, one after another. She’s an absolute beast. She’s not losing. To decide who is playing who we flip a coin. Laurel will face Britni, Frank is up against Brad, Darrell versus Nelson, and Laurel will square up against Britni. Bye Britn, you ded.

The elimination itself is more medieval torture device than challenge. With a rope connecting the contestants back-to-back each will run around a circle and cross a platform to ring a bell on the opposite side. The rope is only long enough for 1 contestant to successfully ring their bell so you’re forced to drag your opponent backwards and further away from their own bell. It’s like reverse tug of war, sorta. We lead off with Brad and Frank. The whistle blows and Brad bolts towards the platform – where he easily disposes of Frank. This was no contest and no amount of editing is going to make it seem that way. Frank should not have been a champion. MTV, do better!

Next up we have Kam versus Ashley and we see a similar contest. Ashley is absolutely no match for Kam. Kam is physically bigger and stronger than Ashley. Ashley, despite her appearance, plays a more cerebral game. Physicality ain’t her thing. It doesn’t take long for Kam to drag her back far enough to reach her bell. DING! Kam is safe, again. The play to put Kam into the elimination is a Devin level fuck up because she has now twice-over proven she is here to compete. Killa Kam is coming y’all! With the 2 gimme matches over it’s time for the main event. We start with Nelson and Darrell. TJ blows the whistle and they’re off – Sisyphus meet rock. Nelson may not be the smartest competitor but he can always rely on brute force to get him out of a jam and it’s on full display against Darrell. Nelson sounds like he’s in labor, moaning and groaning making these guttural noises (think dude at the gym attempting a new max deadlift), but he doesn’t move. He can’t get to his bell but Darrell can’t either. They stay there, locked in gladiatorial combat for over 20 minutes before TJ demands blood. They reset and TJ blows the whistle once more. Even with the reset we get the same result. Darrell and Nelson are too evenly matched and we watch them struggle for an additional 40 minutes before TJ, empty-handed, calls it a draw. Nelson has survived hurricane Durrell.

Our last match is between Laurel and Britni. Britni talks a good game about how she is going to beat Laurel…and no one believes her. Laurel has absolutely nothing at stake in this competition except to remind her now-ex, Nicole, that she is a bad bitch and Nicole fucked up and Laurel is totes fine without Nicole. Shit. That’s a way better motivator than money. Britni’s screwed more than she was before. After TJ blows the whistle they’re off and it doesn’t take too much effort for Laurel to ring the bell and eliminate Britni. Britni is not back. Britni is going home. Immediately after losing she starts running her mouth about how she’s coming back and when she does Zach, Tony and Natalie are all gonna pay…blah, blah, bah. No chance. Britni is not a threat. Britni will never be a threat. Britni, say goodbye to Brad and go home.

Britni makes her exit and Laurel makes her way towards Nicole. They share an embrace and for a moment I start to think something might wonderful might happen. The challenge and This is Us share a timeslot on Tuesday evenings so maybe some of that Pearson magic is carrying over to the Challenge? Well if it did Nicole kills it because Nicole opens her big fat mouth and tells Laurel that if she really loved her than Laurel would have tried harder to make it work. NICE. It’s always good to blame the person you love for your own shortcomings, smdh. Nicole, you’re such a bro, bro. This line has never made anyone feel guilty about anything ever.

So the Teej promised us a double elimination but instead we only saw Britni leave. I’m okay with this but I was hoping for more carnage on this episode – I want the carnage I was promised! It looks like I will have to wait till next week to see how much longer Devin survives. Speaking of survival, will Nelson’s muscles hold out till the final? Can Leroy finally get a chance at glory? Will Tony drink too much and fuck everything up like he always does? Most importantly, will Kyle remember that Cara Maria’s name is Cara Maria and not Cara Marie? Tuesday seems so far away.