I’m a big advocate of scripted television and rarely dip my feet into the cesspool that is reality TV.
But when I do wade in those murky waters, I find myself drawn to the classic MTV mainstays — The Real World and Road Rules.
I used to love the original incarnation of these shows before every cast member was essentially an STD on legs. Back when cast members did more than live out Jimmy Buffett songs and succumb to fits of rage.
I think Paris was the last season of the Real World I watched and after that, I essentially gave up. But damn it, MTV lured me back in with their all-stars challenges.
Reality television stars I hadn’t seen in a decade competing for money in feats of athleticism?
Another chance to see David from The Real World: Seattle?
I am a sucker.
That being said, I was obviously stoked for The Challenge: Fresh Meat II.
We’re midway through the season and the show has delivered exactly what I needed – mind-numbing, hyper dramatic idiocy.
For the uninitiated, here’s the basic concept: Challenge veterans team up with fresh-faced (and by that, I mean drunk and horny) rookies to compete for cash and swanky prizes. This is interspersed with living in a ridiculously lush log cabin that comes fully stocked with all the essentials. The essentials in this case being a full bar, hot tub and fistfuls of condoms.
My favorite part of the show is the formation of alliances.
Imagine, if you will, a dumber version of the American political system (Wait. I forgot about Sarah Palin. Never mind), filled with way more sex, drama and double-crossing.
Castmates quickly decide who to align with based on things like friendship/bromances, athletic performance and likelihood of getting laid.
This season, Wes and Kenny are the two dueling forces of the show and the jefes of each respective alliance.
Landon and Carley — I’m happy whenever these guys do well because Landon seems like a pretty good guy and Carley seems like the kind of girl who was always picked last in gym class, but kept on keeping on anyway. I’m a fan of the underdog.
Jillian and Pete — Who I know pretty much nothing about other than Jillian’s kind of annoying and Pete’s attractive in a generic , boring sort of way.
That leaves two remaining teams:
Jenn and Noor — Kenny thinks they’re on his team, but they’re actually plants for Team Freckles. The CIA could learn a thing or two about espionage from these guys.
Ryan and Theresa — It seems that Theresa’s greatest aspiration is to get boned on national television. She attempted to seduce Kenny and was shut down, so she went after Wes. Subtlety of a bulldozer, that one.
Week after week, two teams get sent to ‘Exile’ where they have to hike while carrying weights and make several stops to solve relatively rudimentary puzzles. The team who finishes first heads back to the house and the other team head home. The game really starts getting interesting once the players have been whittled away and cast members start cannibalizing their own alliances.
Reality television is serious stuff and these guys act as if they’re heading into battle. There’s talk of recon missions and soldiers and enemies and betrayal. I have never seen my peers (and it saddens me to think that these people are, in fact, my peers) so worked up about something so utterly irrelevant.
If you’re not watching it, you’re probably saving a couple hundred brain cells every week, but you’re also missing out on some of the finest unintentional comedy television has to offer.