I think we can all agree the pandemic sucks. I’m trying to be a glass half full type of person during this time in order to make the best out of the situation. I’m using this time to stream endless amounts of movies and television shows. Furthermore, I’m excited to announce that I’ve reunited with an old friend from MTV. It’s a show from my childhood that I grew up with and it happens to be the unofficial “fifth major sport of America.”. The show I’m referring to is The Challenge. We took a break for a few years, but just I’m back just like Al Pacino in The Godfather Part III.

For those that have never watched, The Challenge is a reality tv game show that pits contestants from reality shows like The Real World, Ex on the Beach, and Big Brother up against each other in a series of physical and mental tasks. In simpler terms, MTV sticks a bunch of drunk idiots into a house and forces them to compete for money. It’s one of the “OG” competition reality shows. It even debuted before Survivor, which is a fun fact you can share at your next trivia night if we’re ever let out of the house again.

I started getting into The Challenge around 2005 with The Inferno II and The Gauntlet 2. These shows featured stars on the tail end of their reality careers like The Miz, Theo Von, and Jamie Chung while Johnny Bananas, Derrick Kosinski, and Evelyn Smith were just getting their first taste of the competition. The Challenge used to be the perfect mix of physical and mental competitions to go along with house drama and hookups. However, as the years went on, the show started to focus more on the latter instead of the former, so I stopped watching after Rivals III in 2016 aka when Bananas became the most legendary Challenge player of all time.

Fast forward to last month. With sports off the air, I needed some athletic programming back in my life. Enter The Challenge: Total Madness. I’m happy to report that Total Madness has been pretty good so far. If I had to describe a perfect episode of The Challenge, it would include four components: A challenge, house drama, spicy hookups, and an elimination. Besides one or two episodes, this season has stuck to that format.

Total Madness has given us a few noteworthy moments with the biggest occurring when Jay beat the iconic CT in an elimination. Jay defeating CT in an elimination is a bigger upset than the “Miracle on Ice.” Unfortunately, “Dad CT” was out of shape and couldn’t correctly tie a knot so that sent him packing.

The key twist to this season involves the elimination itself. In order to qualify for the final, contestants must win an elimination. There have been seasons where contestants can avoid eliminations, make the final, and win the prize money. Just look at Rogan last year, who won never went into an elimination before winning the final. In my opinion, that’s bullshit so I’m happy this stipulation was put into place.

The only downside to this season is the cast. In terms of storylines, this cast has a flair for the dramatic, which can be both good and bad. Bear trying to win over Kailah while plotting to ruin her relationship is hysterical. Bananas and Wes are secretly teaming up, which is a nice wrinkle. Nany throwing a cup of noodles at Aneesa was equally funny as it was disrespectful.

That being said, it’s hard to root for the majority of these people. Maybe it’s a “me problem,” but I dislike 50% of the cast. Plus, I’m indifferent about 35% of the remaining members so that doesn’t leave a lot of room for my rooting interest. If I had to narrow it down to my top 3, it’s Bananas, Jenny, and the nicest person in the house, Big T.

I can’t wait for our first “This Changes Everything” moment. It’s the highlight of every season. For those interested, my Top 5 Favorite Challenge Contestants:

  • Alton
  • Johnny Bananas
  • Derrick
  • Laurel
  • Paula

It pains me to leave CT off the list, but he would be my sixth man.

Enjoy watching America’s fifth major sport!

What’s your top 5? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

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