With the sports world at a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no live action sporting events on TV that are not simulations, whether it be virtual NASCAR races or a televised NBA 2K tournament featuring actual NBA players. Luckily, there is one outlet for those seeking to watch some form of athletic competition between actual humans and it premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on MTV, as The Challenge: Total Madness gets started.
The Challenge has always been tangentially sports in that it forces its participants to compete in various athletic ventures and, sometimes, straight up one-on-one combat. There is also the reality TV element of people getting drunk and yelling at each other, but, even so, this qualifies as sports right now. As such, we’ll be coming to you each week with a look back at what happened in the previous episode, taking a look at which player’s stocks are going up and who is struggling each week.
To start, we’ll see what we can glean from the previews that MTV has put on YouTube to get fans excited and give them an idea of some of what’s changing in this year’s format, including the first five minutes of the first episode.
T.J. Lavin’s Prop Budget
The Challenge is the reality TV show equivalent of the Fast & Furious movie franchise, as it’s grown from humble beginnings to having a preposterous budget with which to create stunts. The biggest beneficiary of this is T.J. Lavin, whose prop budget continues to grow exponentially. In the first five minutes of this week’s episode, T.J. signals in a cargo helicopter carrying the entire cast with flares, loads them on a bus, and then meets them at the first daily challenge driving an honest to god tank. So, for those wondering, we’re at the same place as the sixth Fast & Furious movie, which means if we follow the same growth curve, we are only a few seasons away from T.J. showing up to a challenge on a nuclear submarine.
Rather than their typical mansion, this year’s cast is staying in a doomsday bunker with no windows. It does have a CrossFit gym with the above-ground pool your stepdad built to try and win you over when you were 14, so apparently it’s all cool. Through our flash forward montage, we can see that the lack of windows and ability to go outside leads people to descend into madness (get it, cause it’s called Total Madness). Anyway, get excited for people being extra tense this season!
Surprise! No one on this show can keep themselves from screwing up a long-term relationship from back home. I know, this is shocking news. In the preview, we see Jenna and Zach managing to have a fight via Skype despite Zach not being on this season and Kailah in tears realizing she screwed things up with her longtime boyfriend because she decided to make out with Bear. Per usual, decision making on The Challenge remains at an all-time high.
Avoiding Eliminations As A Strategy
This year’s big twist (at least that we learn early on) is that the only way to reach the Final is to win an elimination, which means the general strategy of “avoid eliminations” is not going to work. This could be exciting in terms of changing up how elimination nominations and deliberations go down, but also will surely lead to every viewer being extremely tired of the phrase “skating by,” because every person will parrot that phrase in their confessionals all season.
Johnny Bananas (20th season)
CT Tamburello (17th season)
Aneesa Ferreira (13th season)
Wes Bergmann (13th season)
Nany Gonzalez (9th season)
Jenna Compono (8th season)
Ashley Mitchell (7th season)
Cory Wharton (7th season)
Jordan Wisely (6th season)
Nelson Thomas (6th season)
Kyle Christie (5th season)
Kailah Casillas (5th season)
Tori Deal (4th season)
Dee Nguyen (3rd season)
Josh Martinez (3rd season)
Rogan O’Connor (3rd season)
Melissa Reeves (3rd season)
Stephen Bear (3rd season)
Jennifer West (2nd season)
Mattie Breaux (2nd season)
Tula Fazakerley (2nd season)
Asaf Goren (Rookie, Big Brother Israel)
Bayleigh Dayton (Rookie, Big Brother)
Swaggy C Williams (Rookie, Big Brother)
Kaycee Clark (Rookie, Big Brother)
Fessy Shafaat (Rookie, Big Brother/American Ninja Warrior)
Jay Starrett (Rookie, Survivor)
Jennifer Lee (Rookie, The Amazing Race)