I. Can’t. Take. It. There's. Too. Much. Reality. TV. Tremendousness.
Seriously, I don’t even know where to start.
OK, that’s a lie. I totally know where to start: When MTV drops its “Real World will never be the same ever forever, forever ever, forever ever ever” official season trailer, that's where to start. Saying “I don’t even know where to start” is just something people say. The truth is, so much good stuff surfaced this week that I have to save some for next week. The Bachelorcast bios are now on ABC.com, and next week’s GRTFL will include a full breakdown of all the fitness models, former NBA dancers, opera singers, and — wait for it! — “free spirits.” Yes, some poor lass actually listed "free spirit" as her occupation.
We also got a top-10 Tribal Council on this week's Survivor, which I'll discuss in a bit. But before we get to that, how about a waaaaaaaaay too detailed breakdown of that Real World trailer? Way, way too detailed.
Real World has stopped being polite and stopped being real. When news first broke via a super press release–y post on EW.com that the MTV show had adopted a new format for its upcoming season, it felt like hearing that Bruce Springsteen had become a dubstep DJ. Learning that the new title was Real World: Ex-Plosion didn’t help.
Apparently, a little while into filming the show, producers decided to have the castmates' exes join the house. It's not a bad idea, but there was something nice about Real World always being the same ol’ Real World, even as Bunim/Murray employees right down the hall pumped out The Simple Life, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and Bad Girls Club. The “seven strangers in a house” format was the Adam and Eve of the reality TV species; strands of its DNA can be found in all current reality iterations. So at first this change felt wrong. It felt like MTV and Bunim/Murray were selling out.
Full disclosure: I'm just vamping until the return of Grandma's favorite arranged marriage/divorce vehicle, The Bachelor, returns, but I need some lowbrow programming to highlight in the meantime. With that in mind, I popped in an advanced screener of MTV's Big Tips Texas. Well, not only is this Coyote Uglier, Canal Street barmaid bullshit not worth writing about every week it's not even worth writing about this week only.
Juliet and I address the undressed ladies of Big Tips Texas on the podcast this week, in case you want that in your earballs. Right now, however, there's still one GRTFL staple of starvation left in the rotation: Survivor. And this week's episode was loaded: Colton bolted, Jeffy P did his best Teej from The Challenge, and Tyson was almost amputated in a pillow fight. Yep.
Remember when The Challenge was full of absinthe-fueled arguments between sociopaths, dudes getting eggs smashed on their faces, and subtextual sexual tension between an ex-gay porn star and an alcopsychoholic? Well, kiss that The Challenge good-bye, ‘cause this week’s episode and next week’s finale are when America’s fifth major sport morphs into something that is much more sport and much less “let’s put some lunatics in a house, give them alcohol, and giggle as they hurt each other’s feelings.” Basically the difference is that now they are vomiting due to physical exertion when before they were vomiting due to one too many cocktails comprised of two parts Everclear, one part Red Bull, and four parts insecurity. To be honest, it’s kinda fun to watch them vomit regardless.
This week in reality TV we saw kind of sexy, mostly disgusting oil wrestling; a hilarious removal of an oil painting, and a budding affair on Survivor that is rooted in a shared love of snuggling and lack of self-awareness. But before we get to all that, this week, several members on The Challenge had the nerve to disrespect the competitive integrity of America's fifth major sport by throwing challenges, and as you can imagine, this didn't sit well with T.J. Lavin.
Camila (Battle of the Seasons, House), 50 points: Over the course of his BMX career, T.J. Lavin has broken nearly every bone in his body, been in a coma, and nearly died. When a man like this — a man that has sacrificed his body and almost his life — is put in charge of a reality TV show competition, he expects a certain level of effort.
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.
I hear this all the time: “I don’t watch those shows, so I don’t read the Reality TV column.” Of course you don’t watch those shows, that’s the point. You shouldn’t watch those shows — that would cut into your philanthropy/Paris Review-reading/hot yoga schedule. You shouldn’t know that we are in the midst of a Survivor sex scandal, you shouldn’t know that there is an attractive young woman on the Real World dating a dude that makes Screech look like Warren Beatty, and you certainly shouldn’t be following the Basketball Wife coup d'état like it is the Egyptian revolution. That would be weird. That is why this column exists, so you can read it and have something to talk about with your super-hot, super-dumb date, your sister-in-law that the family hasn't truly embraced, or the person next to you in the Twilight line. Consider the following your “Guide to Thanksgiving Conversations With Dumb People.” You’re welcome.