I’m not going to lie to you: This is the GRTFL offseason. Normally The Challenge is the tentpole that shelters us all from the reality that there isn’t much reality in August, but this week was uncharacteristically snoozy. No one killed it, no one coitused, no one was found guilty of possession of a concealed erection. It was such a down episode that they did the whole “We know this episode was flat, but here is what's in store for the rest of the season just to remind you that this show is bitchin'” montage at the end. More on that later.
But just because The Challenge is the only show I'm scoring with our foolish rules, it's not the only show I am watching. So, I would like to take a second to toss out a few other lowbrow options for your viewing pleasure. None of these shows is going to make you smarter, enrich your life, or benefit you in any way beyond an hour in which you don’t have to use your brain. And let’s be honest, using your brain sucks:
The Bachelorette had her heart broken, made out with a couple people, broke some other dudes' hearts, fell in love with someone else, and then got engaged all in the course of a week on a Caribbean island. She basically went on spring break. It seems like the episode aired a decade ago and I have emotionally moved on, but I can’t lie: While I was watching the finale on Monday night, at least twice I said to myself, “I have no idea what is going to happen. This is riveting.”
It was. It isn’t every day that you get to watch someone find true love — then get engaged to some other dude.
With a brokenhearted Bachelorette, battle-rapping rivals, and mortuusequusphobia, reality TV killed it this week. The Challenge provided its usually oddity and idiocy, but The Bachelorette really exceeded expectations. It was emotional, it was shocking, it was weird, it was genuine — I have watched it four times and I still have no idea what the hell happened.
Fine, I watched it twice. But whatever, four sounded more impressive. Let’s get to it.
What looked like a light week in the GRTFL schedule turned into a trap game: Sure, The Bachelorette ground to a near-halt with the “Men Tell All” special, but The Challenge hit with the force of 1,000 sharknados. This week’s episode featured hetero and homosexual hookups from Marlon, Trishelle’s belief that being African American and Jewish are mutually exclusive, and TJ reconfirming his hatred of quitting, quitters, the word "quit," the song "2 Legit 2 Quit," and even quilts by proxy. It was glorious. We have to start with Trishelle, though; she was so Trishelley, let’s just say no one is going to recruit her for the debate team.
I don’t think of the people on The Challenge as actual real-life human beings. In my mind they spontaneously materialize every 10 months in some foreign country in the latest Under Armour gear and start drinking and arguing. The idea that Jasmine files taxes, Paula Walnuts goes grocery shopping, and CT has an employer just blows my fucking mind. I was reminded of this odd reality because my pod partner Juliet and I had the pleasure of hosting Frank The Alcopsychoholic at the Grantland studio yesterday. Not only is Frank an actual real-life human being, he is smart, charming, and has a earnest understanding of how he is portrayed and perceived. After a couple hours of listening to Frank rationalize his behavior, you almost forget how he earned the moniker Frank The Alcopsychoholic in the first place — almost. I mean, he did get slammered and try to fight CT this week. No truly rational real-life human would try to fight CT.
CT and Marlon are drownstrangling each other in the pool while Jemmye is double-fisting drinks and Tyrie is blacked out butt-naked on the toilet.
THE CHALLENGE IS BACK!
The "America’s Fifth Major Sport" moniker may have been born in jest, but as every season passes it feels more accurate. Think about it: They fly to locations around the world to face off against a consistent group of competitors for cash prizes. How is this any different from tennis or golf? They work in teams, they have specialties and complementary skill sets. How is this any different from the NBA or baseball? They are super violent and suspiciously muscular. How is this any different from the NFL? Until the rest of America fully embraces it as the legitimate sport that it is, it is up to us at Grantland to cover it as such.
In just two days, MTV will graciously save your television summer by unleashing the latest iteration of The Challenge franchise. That means just two days until Paula Walnuts, Johnny Bananas, and Frank the Alcopsychoholic are all up in your living room exchanging insults, punches, and venereal diseases. That also means you only have two more days to draft your official GRTFL Challenge team.
Look, we realize that we here at GRTFL headquarters have not been very helpful in helping you tally up your own coitus denial and concealed erection points at home. But all that has changed. In anticipation of Wednesday’s Challengholiday, we have teamed up with the homies at Fantasizr to provide you with a way to create your league, draft your teams, and play along as you watch CT cannibalize his castmates. Just click on this here link to set up your league — but before you do, let’s review the show-specific rules:
“I rule the world, not you. You are little pawns and I am the queen. Know your place, stay in your role, think before you speak. I got your dog, bitch. I GOT YOUR DOG, BITCH!”
— Hurricane Nia, June 5, 2013
First there was music. Then eerie calm. Then the shocking flurry of violence. Yep, Real World went straight Game of Thrones this week. This particularly dysfunctional group of seven strangers gave us the most violent fight in the history of the franchise. Bill was bummed out about it. He said that it “went to a dark place” and forced him into "Real World retirement.”
This week reality TV featured the clingiest woman in the history of dating, the silliest breakup in the history of Real World, and the cringiest Bachelorette suitors in the history of the franchise. But before we get to all that delicious nonsense, we have to officially jump The Bachelorette into the GRTFL gang. That means making up a bunch of moronic rules:
Calling Desiree a Pet Name: 5 points Giving Desiree a Gift: 10 points Mentioning Sean Lowe: 10 points Claiming Another Bro Is "There for the Wrong Reasons”: 10 points Having Desiree Question Your Potential as a Parent: 20 points Overtly Using Your Profession for an Advantage: 15 points (one time only) Erection Possession: 25 points Hinting at Procreation With Desiree: 10 points Cooking for Desiree: 5 points Initiating a Sexual Relationship with Chris Harrison: 25 points Helicopter Make-Out: 20 points Telling Desiree You Love Her: 20 points (first instance only) Winning Final Rose: 50 points Winning a Nobel Prize: -100 points Stating “This Is Fucking Silly” and Walking Off the Show: All the Points
You have to trust your body. Your body will tell you what to do, what to think, how to feel … you just have to listen to it. If you dent a parked car and don't leave a note, your body will punish you with guilt. If you stand close to the edge of a cliff, your body will override your brain and back off of it. If you get drunk, when you wake up, your body will make you get a Gatorade and a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. Your body is smarter than you are. This week, my body was telling me that it can’t watch Ready for Love.
I tried; I really did. I carved out a couple of hours and sat down, ready to love Ready for Love. My body just wouldn’t let me.
Look, people may think that the first Grantland Live stream was programmed around the NCAA Tournament, but GRTFL readers know that the only reason the live-stream is happening this particular week is because this is the slowest week in reality TV history. With The Bach over, Survivor in full midseason “finally we're switching up the tribes” mode, and The Real Unrelatable Housewives of Beverly Hills trudging along, there aren’t any points to be doled out this week. But if you think that'll stop me from recapping, you are sadly mistaken. This week I'm going to run through the GRTFL Top 5 of Every Show That's on TV This Week. It's going to be fun. Let's do it.
This week, it was just me and Grandma. No friends. No wife. Just us. Grandma was fired up — taking her position on the couch around 7:15 p.m. Around 8:15, she grabbed her cane and scrambled to the back of the house in a panic, thinking that we had missed the first 15 minutes. When I explained to her that we were recording the show, she gave me a look that said, “I don’t care if you are recording it, The Bachelor is on, and we’re watching it now.”
Well, Grandma was right. Women Tell All shows are always kind of a drag — the only real joy is in evaluating exactly what type of “I just got dumped on national TV so I need to change up my look” adjustments the women made to their hair. But this season’s show had a moment — a transcendent accusation that severely damaged Sean’s reputation as Mr. Perfect-Bring-Home-to-Mom and totally cemented one bachelorette's reputation as that of a hot, obsessive, uber-organized alien cyborg. It was so fucking good.
Khloe, behind the wheel, driving Kim and Kourtney: "You ever want to take Viagra, just to see what happens? Do you become a horny little toad?"
They realize they're on the part of the MacArthur causeway "where the guy with the bath salts like ate that guy's face off?" Khloe wonders why you'd take bath salts if you knew something like that could happen.
"I think it's like a cheaper meth," Kim says.
"Spend a little more money, so you don't eat someone's face," Khloe says. This recap has already titled itself at least four times. At some point in this scene Khloe says, "Oh my Godula," which is apparently another word she is trying to make happen. Or maybe her God is a giant Dracula.
You know what? I’ve turned a corner. Week after week, this column is full of pun jokes, insults about physical appearances, and catty comments about the idiocy of the imbeciles of reality TV. I've had enough; this week the GRTFL goes heady. I'm going to intelligently tackle the complicated issues we face as a society and go straight New Yorker in this bitch. Time to show my range. Instead of breaking down the way Selma’s boobs turned on her and tried to strangle her while she was rock climbing, I'd rather address the complications she faces as a Muslim woman finding love in a modern American society. Instead of pointing and laughing at Yolanda for her dedication to domestic perfection, I'd rather use her marriage as a jumping-off point for an essay on how the new gender roles at home affect gender roles at the office. Oh, wait, just remembered, no I wouldn’t. Why fix what isn’t broke? Let’s make fun of these assholes ...
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.