I’m out. This season of The Challenge has rapidly gone from potential All Time status to un-watchable. My thoughts haven’t changed since my last articles. It’s still all the same complaints, just exacerbated and compounded by time and repetition. It’s one thing for the players to unfairly stack the game against one another I guess, but what MTV has done this season is simply a terrible viewing experience. People watch real sports to see individuals or teams compete on an allegedly even playing field and root for whoever their chosen favorite ends up being. The leagues do not need to protect favorites, or even underdogs, because different people watch for different reasons, and in all honestly you need a somewhat reasonable balance of both for the product to succeed.
Even in a product such as the WWE were the physical competition is real but the outcomes are scripted, you still have a full and conscious understanding of what makes a good sports product. Professional wresting has their “heels” and their “babyfaces”… their villains and heroes, but they work out a balance between the two. Even in a scripted athletic event such as professional wrestling, the writers understand that stacking events too far in the favor of one camp or the other makes events inconceivable and preposterous, and therefore unwatchable. Hell, even when they forget this sometimes their fans vociferously elucidate the error (as demonstrated by the Roman Reigns fiasco in Philadelphia a couple months ago.
But hey… any publicity is good publicity right?? Right?!?! Not really…
In sports or even pseudo sports like the challenge the “integrity of the game” (as baseball writers will tell you ad naseum) is valued above all else. What MTV has repeatedly done this season, however, is shred their game’s integrity and credibility to ribbons. My thoughts on how they botched the Battle of the Exiled were covered in last week’s article, but they made things even worse this week after unfairly sending the show’s rightful #1 seed home. They constructed a game whose rules were unclear, convoluted, and, as it turns out, unfair. See, they said Johnny Devenanzio and Nany beat Leroy and Nia, because they performed better “as a team”… not jsut as individuals. Sure… whatever… that’s all fine and good… we like teamwork in America sometimes right? But their justification was frustrating and ambiguous. Devenanzio and Nany both got to the 3rd stage of ropes before falling while Leroy completed the entire excercise (5 stages) and Nia got to the 2nd stage. So MTV claimed that Leroy and Nia only finished 2 Stages, Devenanzio and Nany 3… ergo Leroy and Nia lose. But wouldn’t it make more sense to calculate the total number of stages completed by the team? In that case Leroy and Nia completed 7 stages while Devenanzio and Nany only completed 6. It seems absurd to even ask Leroy to finish the competition (which MTV did do) after his partner fell if they were going to completely disregard the work he did thereafter.
At the end of the day I just cant help but think and feel that this shit is fixed. MTV has its chosen favorites from before the season even starts, and the outcomes are altered mid stream to ensure these favored candidates move on. It’s not secret that certain characters draw big ratings, either positively or negatively, and MTV seems to be doing everything they can to protect these characters in place of fostering competition. In fact, there is no competition. And if there is no competition in an athletic event (scripted or otherwise)… not even a GUISE of competition, then why watch? Why not just check the “box scores” after the fact, see if your favorite was granted the favor of the deus ex machina and move on. That’s where I’m at now. I’m not interested in watching anymore. I’ll keep an eye out to see if Leroy and Nia win this thing (the only acceptable outcome).
Go ahead and say I’m being petulant and bitter. Say its just sour grapes. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and if you had asked me about this season of the Challenge 3 weeks ago I would have told you it was one of the best ever… now I won’t even be watching the end. Something is broken here, and if MTV truly is trying to save The Challenge from getting the axe, they had better think of something better than this… because THIS is garbage.