As it Turns 30, Praise Be to MTV's The Challenge – Houston Press
Everyone has their thing, a guilty pleasure, if you will. Some people swear by their favorite daytime soap opera. Some mark out for professional wrestling every Monday night. And others totally sing along to Heart’s “Alone” on the way to work in the solitary confines of their own ride.
Point being, everyone has that one thing of which they aren’t especially proud, but of which they are especially fond. Hell, some people have many. In addition to professional wrestling, solo karaoke Heart sessions and far too much celebrity gossip, I have MTV’s The Challenge.
Look, MTV hasn’t exactly been must-see television for a while. Music videos are so turn of the century, TRL ended long ago, Carson Daly moved on, Teen Mom can only entertain for so long, and The Real World hasn’t been relevant in years. Plus, the network’s ventures into original scripted programming haven’t exactly been met with major awards and fanfare.
Yet, The Challenge lives on. The show, which began in 1998, begins its 30th season with an aptly-titled “Dirty Thirty” tomorrow night. For those unfamiliar with The Challenge, the premise is fairly simple. A bunch of former Real World/Road Rules types —- and a bunch of newer folks who have never appeared on either show, mostly because they needed some fresh content — compete in a series of physical and mental challenges. Some competitions are team-based, while others are individualized. At the end of the season, whoever wins the competition wins some money; this year, in honor of the XXX anniversary, that number stands at a cool $1 million.
Sounds simple and inoffensive enough, and yet, it’s anything but. Alliances are formed. Petty spats turn into outright feuds, thanks to a nice mix of alcohol and undercutting. Hookups ensue; breakups are