The new season of Real World/Road Rules Challenge begins this Monday. Twelve BMP alumni compete alongside a dozen newbies of various shapes and sizes. And you might be expecting me to break out dossiers on everybody involved, take a few jabs at host TJ Mirra, and get set for a seventh season of recapping. Well...no. I'm done.
The notion came to me a few weeks ago, when MTV.com put out their site for Fresh Meat Challenge (actually, it's Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat, but that's too clunky for me). As I was going over the bios of the new kids, I thought to myself: "Do I have to do this again?" After some soul-searching, I made a decision. This season, I'm going vegetarian.
In the beginning, I had fun. Television Without Pity had decided to no longer recap the Challenges. Made sense at the time, since the show only aired once a year. Before Battle of the Sexes debuted in January 2003, I had established myself on Reality News Online. There was a vacancy on the Challenge beat, and I went for it. Yes, I was a wannabe. I know now that I'd probably suck as a TWoP recapper, since I'd make a horrible moderator on the forums. But back then, I was happy to recap at RNO.
My stint as a Challenge recapper covered Battle of the Sexes, The Gauntlet, The Inferno, and Battle of the Sexes 2. I'd like to think that I was at least among the top ten recappers on the site. I wasn't as prolific as my peers, but I did my job and did it well. Every time and point was chronicled, every memorable quote was transcribed. Sure, I took a lot longer than the others to send in my recaps, but I felt it was worth it to get the episode from every angle, and snark upon those who deserved it.
The bottom fell out during BOTS2. At that point, I was feuding with most of the staff, including my boss. See, we had a Yahoo Group forum, and I would voice my opinion from time to time. And at times, they objected to it...sometimes to a ludracious degree. I felt that Stacie J. got shafted by Donald Trump and the Apex Coven on The Apprentice, they thought I was as crazy as her. I objected to Pamela's firing...bringing up the reference about her having a penis, which she joked about in the first episode. Suddenly, in the eyes of one recapper, I hated women. Just like that. Another said that if I met Eric Nies, Mark Long or Julie Stoffer, not only would I not rip them, but I'd ask for their autograph. Basically, this little pissant called me a phony. And I didn't answer back because I wanted to keep the peace. Even when somebody was on my side of an arguement, it usually went, "Jesus, I agree with Jason!" Suddenly, I was the Lydon LaRouche of RNO, a whipping boy for the elitists.
I should have quit. While I knew that I could piss people off, I never woke up one morning and decided to treat them like that. So I stayed online, hoping things would blow over. But five days after the BOTS2 reunion special, I got an e-mail from the boss, saying my services were no longer needed. The head honcho brought up the feuding, the lengthy process and the increased negativity in my recaps. In my defense, I had to deal with Eric Nies every week. You'd be grumpy covering that asshole every week. He also cut out the last part of my recap, where I said I'd have the readers' backs. I ended up putting that with my Inferno II preview.
I ranted. I raved. It took three weeks to write back to the guy, enough time for some of the anger to dissipate. I was made to be the bad guy, and I hated it. I decided to go it alone by starting this blog. Sure enough, RNO gave my old beat to the jackass who called me a phony. Worse, he started out by ripping my recap style in his first two paragraphs. That was enough motivation for me to cover Inferno II here. I knew that I could do a better job recapping than him. In the end, he quit after one season, begging off the Challenge and The Amazing Race for good. Also, he rooted for Beth, which no sane person should do under any circumstance.
So what changed between The Gauntlet 2 and today? Well, I've started writing again. Last year, I was doing freelance work for Staten Island Media Group, which published the Register and Source, two weekly newspapers. Things were going well...the editor said that if there was an opening, she would reccomend me. One day, I went to the office to pick up an article...and found out that the company was going out of business. After a little struggling, I managed to get in good with two publications. I feel that I'm getting back into the writing groove, and the recapping might get in the way.
On another note, recapping isn't as fun for me anymore. Every week, I'd record an episode. When I found free time, I'd play the tape. Then I'd take notes. Stopped the tape. Rewind. Play. Take notes. Stopped the tape. You get the idea. I'm thinking I'd be feeling like that even if I had a DVR. And even though I would be recapping sixteen new faces (the twelve newbies plus the four idiots from RW: Austin), I'll just be recapping the same drama. Tina will get under Tonya's skin, Wes will act like an asshole, Shane will wear some crap-ass "Where's Rachel?" t-shirt, etc. After a while, the thrill is gone, even with the snarky commentary from the likes of Coral, Darrell and Theo.
Don't get me wrong...I'll still watch the show. I'll post about it on the TWoP forums. And from time to time, I'll vent in here about, for example, how Eric makes fat guys look bad just like Donell did. But I won't buy a new tape, and I won't record the episodes. I saw Mark Long and TJ Lavin host the preview special, and I don't feel the need to keep count of how many "you shouldn't have retired!" jokes TJ read off the cue cards. Also, he has the worst facial hair now. Why should I subject myself to that?
This might not be the end for me. I could always recap the next season. Hell, I might run Who Wants To Be a Superhero? over the coals for your pleasure later this year. But I'm pulling away from the table and sending this plate of Fresh Meat back to the kitchen.