Is Frank from The Challenge a heartless woman abuser? Will a Beverly Hills Housewife save her marriage with squat thrusts and lamb fetus injections? Are they eating Andrew Bynum boogers on Survivor? Am I the only person still watching Jersey Shore? Just imagine, if the world ended this morning, you would've never read this column and never known the answers to these questions.
Phew! Now that we know Earth wasn’t eaten by the planet Nibiru, we should all just take a moment to appreciate the gift of life, our families, and, of course, Frank The Alcopsychoholic. Especially Frank The Alcopsychoholic.
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.
I have bad news for anyone who was thinking about getting Jacoby or me a Christmas present: an intrepid reader has stolen your thunder. Reader Devin alerted us to the fact that the contestant bios for the next season of The Bachelor have been released, and we had a field day wading through the gals. Not only did we hone in on a few notables, we used the highly reliable data to pick our Season 17 winners. Then we moved on to the highly entertaining Challenge; Lisa Welchel's emotional breakdown on this week's Survivor; and the ray of light that is The Shahs of Sunset.
Let me explain. In the late '90s, I made my living hustling tourists at the Empire State Building into going on the “New York Skyride.” The Skyride was a simulation ride, a movie with moving seats that would “take you on a trip to all the major attractions of New York City.” The money was great, hitting on a gazillion tourists was better, but operating the ride itself was the fucking worst.
I’m intimidated and a little nervous. When there is a The Challenge episode like the one on Wednesday night, I feel pressure to offer an appropriate GRTFL writeup. I mean, when you get the kind of violence, unbridled misogyny, and rampant lunacy this one episode provided, you owe it to the cast, crew, and audience to honor it. Look, nothing I can possibly write will be worthy of this episode of The Challenge. Nothing. But I will do my best.
OK, fine. I will do my kinda-best. Let’s get into it.
It's high season for us reality TV devotees: We've got the housewives of both Atlanta and Beverly Hills back in our lives, The Challenge remains in top form, and we had a near psychological breakdown on Survivor this week. A pre-Thanksgiving television feast, if you will. Jacoby and I discussed all of these, plus we brought in Hollywood Prospectus editor Emily Yoshida to discuss the crazy ladies of Beverly Hills.
This week featured the best elimination challenge in the history of the GRTFL, the worst run-in with the law in the history of the GRTFL, the greatest T.J. Lavin performance in the history of T.J. Lavin performances, and the creepiest psychological breakdown of a former child star in the history of ... oh wait, creepy psychological breakdowns of former child stars happen, like, all the damn time. My bad. Let’s start with the elimination challenge.
Zach (The Challenge, Lisanti), 40 points: In one corner of the arena we have C.J. Koegel, eye-black wearer, punting instructor, MMA fighter, and crush-note writer. In the other we have Zach Nichols, crier (20 points), Saginaw Sting wide receiver, headband wearer, and exfoliater. Presiding over the arena we have T.J. Lavin, hoster, rapper, Friend of Grantlander, and well-documented hater of quitters. Many a Challenge cast member has felt the verbal wrath of T.J. for efforts he did not deem Challenge-worthy. However, on this day, after this effort, there would be no such chastising from the Teej. Let me take you through it.
“At least I don’t do crystal meth all night long in the bathroom, bitch.”
Ah yes, the return of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. That quote was from the “previously on” setup to this season’s Monday-night premiere and made me say to myself, “Oh yeah, I forgot that Kim was using hard drugs all last season!” And then, “Oh yeah, I forgot Taylor’s husband killed himself last season!” And then, “Oh yeah, Camille divorced Frasier last season!" And then, “Oh yeah, I totally have to add this show to the GRTFL.”
If you aren’t familiar with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, here's a cheat sheet:
Imagine you woke up one morning and the sun didn’t rise. Imagine looking in the mirror while brushing your teeth and seeing someone else’s face. Now imagine it is 10 p.m. on a Wednesday and there is no Challenge on MTV. All of those things happened this Wednesday.
OK, sure: The sun came up and you were you in the mirror, but there was no Challenge. No T.J. Lavin, no Under Armour shirts, no Frank the Alcopsychoholic — just the credits to Friday the 13th. I have never hated Halloween more. I would have traded all the happy children, candy, and girls in slutty costumes in the world for The Challenge at that moment. Alas, Challenge-less, the GRTFL must trudge on. Good thing we still have Deena’s morning drinking! Deena’s morning drinking never has a bye week.
We have an emergency. Something terrible has happened to the most legendary figure in The Challenge history. Alton has gone soft. Once, he was the most feared cast member ever. A man whose competitive fire was matched only by his freakish athleticism. Now, he's ... well ... I have no idea what he is now, but I'm going try my damndest to figure it out.
Alton (The Challenge, Connor), 20 points: Do you remember the old Lil' Kim? Like, Junior M.A.F.I.A Lil' Kim? Like, “Pull out your nine while I cock on mine” Lil' Kim? Well, she doesn’t exist anymore. That Lil' Kim has been replaced by a designer zombie sex doll that looks, talks, and acts nothing like the Lil' Kim we all fell in love with as the Bonnie to Biggie’s Clyde. The same thing has happened to Alton on The Challenge.
I'll just say it: This week's episode of The Challenge was my favorite one in recent history. There was a crazy tirade from Camila, an Emmy-worthy performance from T.J. Lavin, and a trivia challenge that prompted Sarah to deliver what may or may not be my new catch phrase. Thus Jacoby and I could not resist the magnetic pull of the podcast studio. We also talked about Survivor, Bad Girls Club, Jersey Shore, and what it's like when your counselor leaves summer camp early.
The same way it's nice to come home at Thanksgiving and see that your old bedroom is the way you left it, it's nice to see the same old reliable insanity on reality television. So much has changed on Jersey Shore and The Challenge over the years, yet so much remains the same. Deena is still morning drinking, Camila is still possessed by evil demons every so often, and T.J. Lavin, well, he still hates quitters. A lot. Like, for real, don’t quit anything around T.J. Lavin unless you want to hear about it (see Easy, Big).
We might need to rename the podcast formerly known as "Reality TV Friday" to "The Knight Show." Not only is there wordplay going on, but we were so taken with Knight's performance on this week's Challenge that we couldn't help but spend a good 20 minutes analyzing his machinations. We also touched upon the bizarre romance of Big Easy and Devyn, as well as Jonny Moseley's appalling haircut. Scared of stepping on Derrick Kosinski's toes, we also talk about Survivor, Jersey Shore, and our respective Weird Watches of the Week. Stop being polite, get real with us. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)
Do you know what a sociopath is? Like, for real know? Sociopath is one of those words that we hear all the time, use ourselves, even, but can’t truly define. If someone walked up to you in the street and said, “What is a sociopath?” you would have trouble answering, wouldn’t you? Don’t lie, you would. Well, thanks to MTV’s The Challenge, you will no longer have that problem:
so·ci·o·path [soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-]
a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
Now, if someone walks up to you in the street and says, “What is a sociopath?” you can calmly reply, “Someone who behaves maliciously toward others without remorse, like Ryan from Real World: New Orleans. No, not the creepy Ryan that used to blow-dry his entire body; Ryan Knight, the one from Battle of the Seasons who makes women cry for sport, that one. Ryan Knight is what a sociopath is.”