Thursday, December 10, 2009

Reality Rant: A Letter To Jonathan Murray

In the wake of another crappy finale for another crappy season of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge, I've decided that it's high time to explain to Bunim-Murray Productions' co-founder my frustration, and offer up my own solution.

Jonathan Murray
C/O Bunim-Murray Productions
6007 Sepulveda Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91411

Dear Mr. Murray,

I’ve been meaning to write to you for a while now. I’ve been watching The Real World/Road Rules Challenge for ages. I even recapped it for six seasons, which you can read on my blog at And I have to ask you a question, since your name is on top: Do you care anymore?

I just saw the end of The Ruins, yet another grueling season . . . not just for the players to compete in, but for true fans to watch. After untold weeks of drama, three of the biggest jerks wound up winning a sizable amount of money: Johnny Devenanzio, Kenny Santucci and Evan Starkman. The three of them have been a pain to watch since Fresh Meat. Watching them act like misogynists, especially around Sarah Rice, got to be tiring. Add that to the trainwrecks (Tonya Cooley, Wes Bergmann), the quitters (Casey Cooper, Evelyn Smith) the hotheads (Wes again, Brad Fiorenza), and the alcoholics (Tonya again, Katie Doyle), and it’s a recipe for disaster.

I’ve decided to take the initiative. In March 2008, I posted on my blog on how to improve the Challenge. I was frustrated by the events of Gauntlet 3, and I figured out ways to make your show better and more fair, without detracting from the drama. I thought that I was qualified, given how much detail I could pick up from the episodes. For instance: why was Jamie Murray put on the Rookies team in Gauntlet 2, even though he was on two Challenges? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to transfer Ace Amerson from the Veterans, because he had competed in four missions total at that time? Anyway, I’ve included my post with this letter. At the very least, I’d like to know what you think.

I’d like to call myself a fan, but you and the rest of Bunim-Murray Productions makes it so hard. At times, you still show quality product, like the Return To Duty special that aired last month. And The Real World: Washington D.C. does look to be more than fighting and fornicating. But I feel that the Challenge needs to improve, and quickly. Why? Because I don’t need another season of Evan and Kenny sublimating their lust for each other by belittling others and patting themselves on the back. And judging from the forums I visit, I am not alone.

Jason Borelli

PS: Could you at least consider replacing TJ Lavin as host? The man brings nothing to the table except for allegedly hooking up with female contestants. Ever consider Coral Smith in that role? I think you should.

I included the address at the top because I could never find a general e-mail address for BMP. Bottom line: If you're tired and dissatified by the Challenges, let 'em know how you feel, because it may be the only way they'll learn. And if Mr. Murray or anybody else from BMP responds, I'll post the results here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Reality Rant: A Challenging Proposal

Note: The following was written while I was at work. I did this a few weeks ago . . . with the season finale of Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Ruins airing on Wednesday, now's a good time to print this up.

I think the time has come to pass the hat around for the sake of Brad Fiorenza.

We've seen Brad compete in eight seasons of Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Each time, he leaves with next to nothing and a hard luck story. He's been screwed by veteran players (Battle Of The Sexes 2), screwed by fate and beaten by Abram (Inferno II) and watched helplessly as Eric nearly died, taking the Veterans team with him (Gauntlet 3). Brad has made it to the end of two versions of The Duel. First, he survived a climatic Duel with a psychotic CT, only to fail to overcome a headstart from Wes. Last season, he was forced into a rushed, impromptu team-up with Rachel in the final mission, saw his lead evaporate, and lost to an undeserving Evan.

Cut to The Ruins. Brad has watched his team -- the Challengers -- lose all but one mission. Sure, both teams have an even number of players, but the Champions have the advantage. Brad loses his mind, lashing out against Kelly Anne and Casey. I'm not 100 percent sure where the Kelly Anne hatred came from, but I know why Casey got it . . . because she's the most toxic person from team morale. She does jack shit in missions and is generally worse than Beth . . . and after recapping Gauntlet 2, I never thought I'd say that. Anyway, Brad gets drunk, starts acting like a meathead, and goads Darrell into a fight. Actually, he goaded himself an old-fashioned beatdown. His right eye was all fucked up, worse than Davis's face after CT smacked him around in Inferno III. Why was this stupid of Brad?

1. He got kicked out of the game, a black mark that probably wouldn't disqualify him from future Challenges, but it will be hard to wash off.

2. His $2,000 went to the pot for the final mission, along with Darrell's $31,943 and Tonya's $2,858, which got added after she smacked Veronica. And yes, I did visit Wikipedia for the exact figures.

2a. With the final mission pot getting sweetened, this guarentees a bigger payoff for the Champions, who have dominated the game. It wouldn't be so bad if there was a single redeemable person on the tea,m. Susie? She's devolved into bitchdom. Johnny? He's a weasel. Evan and Kenny? Deluded assholes who will more than likely win the game without going into the Ruins [which turned out to be true]. Derrick? He's gone from being a decent guy to a yes-man for the Axis of Ass and a pint-sized thug.

(Note: Yes, I heard that he went first into the mission with the crawling on the chain link fences over a great height mission. Yes, I understand that he tried to shake Sarah off because he thought Susie might throw the mission in order to get a Ruins date with Casey [which she did get in the very end]. But the way he was shaking the fence and pulling on Sarah's fingers? That wasn't very sporting. Wee D should be ashamed of himself.)

Never mind that we'll be in for yet another depressing finale. I think Brad is a decent enough guy. He might be a bit of a meathead, and his taste in women is questionable (Tori? Really?), but I always root for the guy. My first thought was that we should raise some money so that Brad could ease off the Challenges, since they're eroding what little of his brain is left. But I don't think Brad would accept charity. He'd want to earn the dough. So I came with an idea which can be summed up in two words: celebrity roast.

Think about it: What's the main draw in Challenges? It might be the grueling competition, random binge drinking and humping, and exciting endgames . . . but then there are the interviews where the players insult each other to the cameras. For example, Cora maybe an average competitor, but she's best known for lighting up whomever is displeasing her. That's why we love her. Well, that's why I love her. Anyway, we take the disrespect, put it at the forefront, and put a happy face on it. We bring Brad up to the stage, where his peers can make fun of him all they want, and we can have a good laugh. At the end, Brad can blast them back. All the while, an 800 number runs to raise money for Brad, so he can have enough to never come back to the Challenge again. I figure half of that would go to his favorite charity so he doesn't look like a total sad sack.

I think I'm onto something with this. Wouldn't it be worth it to raise some dough for Tonya, instead of watching her embarass herself over and over? She was so normal in Battle Of The Sexes and The Gauntlet, but her mind has been gone with subsequent Challenges. Ruthie seems like a sweet girl and more than merely the drunk chick from The Real World: Hawaii, but she's been doing worse with every season she's been on. And wouldn't you pay money to make sure somebody like Johnny never darkens your television screen again? Or Susie? Or Rachel? Hell, put Evan and Kenny in a joint roast, and they can finally afford the wedding of their woman-hating dreams. Yes, I still believe they're that into each other.

Sure, raising money might seem like wasting popular draws, but really . . . isn't Bunim-Murray Productions good at finding other mental cases? That's the whole point of next season of Fresh Meat 2, right? Besides, nobody should have to seek relief in the diabolical Russell over on Survivor: Samoa on the following day. After a night of yelling at the TV screen, seeing a little man make everybody's life miserable seems quaint by comparison.