Happy Challengoliday! America’s fifth major sport, MTV’s The Challenge, returns to your television this evening, and we’ve decided to roll out a special GRTFL post just to get you prepared for this glorious event. I urge you to right now get a Challenge fantasy league together with your friends and hold a draft before this evening's premiere. There is little more enjoyable in life than yelling, “C'mon, TJ, give her a, 'You killed it!' TJ. GIVE HER A 'YOU KILLED IT!'” at your television. OK, there are actually a gabillion things more enjoyable in life than yelling at your TV about a reality show, but it's pretty far up the list, so email your buddies, set the stakes and divvy up the alcopsychoholics. You won’t regret it.
You know Conan O’Brien, right? Your “favorite” late-night host whose new show you have never seen? Yeah, that guy. Remember how Conan ends every monologue by saying “We have a great show tonight"? And you always wonder if he really means it? And why he keeps saying it? And how close is he to moving to Idaho to become a farmer because no one watches him on TBS? It's hard to take him at his word, because not every show has been great. That is how I feel when I write the intros to GRTFL scorecards. So I am going to be honest and tell you that last week's wasn’t a “great show.” But this week? This week is different.
This week in reality TV had the magic and nuance of a pitchers' duel. It was low-scoring, but to the trained eye, to someone who really appreciates the underlying hatred of a good tribal council, the blossoming of a new relationship that will inevitably wilt, and watching liars tell transparent lies, this week had it all. When you dive deep beneath the lowbrow surface, you find lots of lessons. Lessons like how to accept alternative lifestyles, and the guilt and dishonor that come after gallivanting with “musicians” LMFAO. If you spend an evening going shot-for-shot with LMFAO’s “designer,” who wears Zubaz, you'd better make sure you don’t have work in the morning. This last lesson was one learned the hard way by this week’s top scorer, Nate from Real World.
This is probably going to be the last Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League scorecard I ever write. I cannot adequately express how much joy writing this column has brought me. There will forever be a little smush room in my heart for all the coitus denials, fellatio soliloquies, intoxicated spills, tweets from celebrity rehabbers, pregnancy scares, murder attempts, suicide attempts, and murder-suicide attempts. This may very well be the sudden end to our deep dive into the lowest form of human entertainment. What did you say? "Thank god?" Oh, “That’s odd.” Sorry, I misheard you. It is odd. I had no intention of ending it this way, and if it were up to me, I would write this column until I lay on my deathbed. The problem is that I know myself, and there is probably no way for me to write about what happened this week in reality TV and not get fired. How can I properly address all of the misguided piety, blatant homophobia, and over-the-top materialism without getting a phone call from someone in human resources? Matter of fact, I will be upset if I don’t get a call from human resources. If I don't hear from HR, that will validate my long-held suspicion that this column is not actually being published and the Grantland crew has somehow hacked my laptop so my GRTFL scorecards are only visible to me. Gotta be on your toes with this group; they're a crafty lot.
Okay, fine — getting fired isn’t the reason that this might be my last scorecard. The real reason is that I met “Crazy” Jackie from Basketball Wives this week, and now that she knows what I look like, it would be easier for her to hunt me down and make a handbag out of my appendix. Anyone have a good recommendation on where I can get cheap facial-constructive surgery?
You know I'm just kidding and will never stop writing this column, right? In 2026 I will still be making hacky jokes about the Real World when I am done watching it on hologram TV in my satellite/apartment. By that time they will have figured out how to clone Ted Williams, and me and one of the bazillion Teddy Ballgames will get together every Wednesday to watch hologram MTV and grill cheeseburgers. I can't wait.
This week we said goodbye to The Challenge and Celebrity Rehab and selected the new shows we'll be adding to the Grantland Reality Television Fantasy League this fall. There was a lot of talk around the office about adding ones that were “smarter” and “less trashy,” but after extensive research we concluded that those shows don’t exist. So we will soon be drafting cast members from Basketball Wives LA, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Survivor: South Pacific, and Real World: San Diego. At least that's what we’re going with until Bravo announces a new series about astrophysicists tracking distant galaxy clusters.
Let’s have a look at who scored points while we lost brain cells.
Late August is always bittersweet. When we were kids, it brought both the gloom that was the end of summer and the excitement of the new school year. As adults it brings the heartbreak that is saying goodbye to your reality TV fantasy roster and the anticipation of drafting from the intellectual dregs of the fall’s offerings.
It is hard to imagine that in just a week we'll have to say goodbye to the drunken maniacs of The Challenge and the sober ones of Celebrity Rehab. But it's not all bad — we no longer have to be subjected to the disaster that was Love In The Wild. Also, we have Jersey Shore, and the women of the Bachelor Pad are to irrational desperation what the Phillies’ starting rotation is to dominant pitching.
Full Disclosure: We don't know what we're doing. One might have assumed that with the embarrassing amount of time we've spent on the Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League we would have at least come up with a plan to, you know, end the season and declare a winner. Well, we didn’t. Until now. OK, fine — we still haven't.
But what we now know for sure is that there are new shows debuting soon whose contestants need to be added to our league. So in the very near future, our GMs will hold supplemental drafts to divvy up some additional drink throwers, coitus claimers, and erection concealers. And after that, this season of the GRTFL will conclude at the end of the calendar year. Or not. We're pretty sure it will, though. Anyway, look for the results of our Jersey Shore draft soon (the show returns on August 4).
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves or lose sight of the fact that when we last saw Celebrity Rehab's Bai Ling, she was on a roof, in a bathrobe, carrying a name plate she had just ripped out of a wall
God bless America! Monday's celebration of our national independence gave us the American flag Budweiser can, a new record for hot-dog eating, and a break from the soul-draining torture of watching The Bachelorette and Basketball Wives. Both shows aired repeats on the Fourth, so the GMs of the GRTFL were forced to rely on the rest of their rosters. It was a sink-or-swim week for our role players, some of whom seized the opportunity, while others just went crying to Dr. Drew.
Week 4 of The Grantland Reality Television Fantasy League was the first in which all five of our shows were on the air, and the first time I rooted for someone to lose a limb to a crocodile. For the unfamiliar, the GRTFL is like fantasy football, except a little more complicated and way more shameful. You do not truly know embarrassment until you turn around in a coffee shop and see a group of attractive women giggling because you're watching The Bachelorette on your laptop and taking notes.
For several days last week, six adult men heroically neglected their jobs and families to create a stupidly complicated scoring system and draft the cast members of five bad reality shows onto teams for the first Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League. This week, league commissioner Katie Gorman carefully monitored episodes of The Bachelorette and Basketball Wives from the past two Mondays for any instances of fighting, coitus, and/or non-court-ordered volunteering, then she tallied up the points. Welcome to the first GRTFL scorecard.
Comedian Fred Allen once called television "chewing gum for the eyes." If that’s the case, reality TV is chewing tobacco for the eyes: It’s unhealthy, addictive, and sometimes makes you want to puke. But unlike dip, reality shows have an appeal that stretches beyond just dudes who wear overalls for function. Reality TV is popular because it's fun. And it's about to get more fun.
One thing sports have taught us is that almost anything can be improved by creating a scoring system and holding a draft. Try it. Assign point values and draft your coworkers before a meeting. Or family members before Thanksgiving dinner. I once participated in a celebrity DUI draft (Shia LaBeouf was a late-round steal). And this summer we’ll use a similar model for the inaugural Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League.