Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Two Bullets For Bunim-Murray (Part Two)

Sorry for the delay. Between my job and sleep taking me on the weekends, I haven't found much time to write about the evils of Bunim-Murray Productions. I'll tweak this entry when I get home.

What is the best way to describe The Challenge in general? It helps if you're familiar with the story of Pinocchio, particularly the part where the wooden lad gets into mischief with other bad boys. They drink, smoke, generally act unruly . . . and then they transform into donkeys and get forced into labor. Of course, there are a few differences. For instance, women carry on as badly on the show. Also, nobody learns a lesson. And donkeys are cute creatures. Your average Challenger? Not so much.

It's hard to pick the high point of the show’s 28-season history. Maybe it was back in the pre-elimination era, when Real World/Road Rules Challenge was more of a traveling circus. The original Battle of the Seasons piped in voting drama, but the prevailing pairs wound up sharing their spoils with most of the departed teams. Battle of the Sexes? Anything with the detestable Puck Rainey cannot be considered a good thing, even when he bailed out halfway through. The Gauntlet introduced the win-or-go-home format that is in the DNA of the show today, and it yielded a great heroine in Sarah Greyson. But the finale was marred by Coral succumbing to a spider bite, leading to her team losing and Mike and Nathan pitching fits afterwards (logical in Nathan's case, since he knew this would be his final Challenge). My nomination for the last good season would be Inferno II, where the shrinking Good Guys team prevailed over the Bad Asses in the final. However, like I said previously, you have to remember Tonya struggling and her nasty female teammates heaping abuse. After that comes a blur of drama and turmoil, headed by TJ Lavin, the poor man’s Jeff Probst.

(Quick tangent: It sucks that BMP never found another host, because I find Teege to be so tiresome. Off the top of my head, the following would have made suitable replacements over the years: Melissa Howard, Coral Smith, Frankie Abernathy, Blair Herter, Timmy Beggay, Devyn Simone, and Rob Dyrdek. I know, Rob isn't in the Bunim-Murray Productions “family,” but he's probably the most entertaining person on MTV. Also, he could have whipped up a theme song for the show. And perhaps performed it as Bobby Light, his Eighties one-hit wonder alter ego.)

As of this writing, it looks like Johnny & Sarah will triumph in Rivals III, giving him an unprecedented sixth Challenge win. While I do not care to call him “John” like Abram did last season, I refuse to use his nom du famewhore. Sure, those two come off better than most of the Go Big Or Go Home cast, but they are grimy as hell. Sarah is the biggest disappointment this season. While she did not know she would be partnered with Johnny going into this season, she has shown regret at playing to win during Battle of the Exes II. She went as far as to apologize to him for her supposedly treacherous actions, as she and Jordan sent Johnny & Nany to their eventual doom. Never mind that those two had already been eliminated, only to be brought back in the lame web-exclusive “Battle of the Ex-iled” series. Worst of all, there have been no interviews of Sarah saying that she needed to appease Johnny for the good of their game. At best, she is a dog with a weakness for belly rubs. At worst, she is an embarrassment of a human being who would let Johnny luck his way to a win yet again.

Naturally, the rest of the cast has been crap. While the Are You The One? alumni are guaranteed to be represented in the finale (a first after three seasons), they still come off as unworthy of  getting more camera time. Devin & Cheyenne lost the first endgame, only to be brought back when the field began shrinking uncontrollably, with Leroy getting injured and Brandon punking out by quitting to be with his girlfriend (I doubt they’re still a couple). Since then, the AYTO pair have been picked for the Jungle five times, but they haven’t fall back into it. Then there's Dario, who was partnered with Nicole. After they won a mission, they had to pick two teams, one of which would have to face Nate & Christina in the Jungle. The obvious play was to send in Johnny and his idiot cousin Vince, along with their respective partners. While Nate & Christina would have been the underdogs in either endgame scenario, the thought of Johnny Fortune or Wince going home with nothing was appealing to most of the rookies and never-would-be rivals. Dario and Nicole weighed options and listened to opinions, including Johnny’s. Dario was determined to be the shot-caller in this round. Whom did he pick?

Cory & Ashley and Devin & Cheyenne.

Dario's rationale was that Cory was playing both sides, but it was still a stupid move. Before bowing out in the Jungle, Ashley called Dario a “bitch,” and I can't say that I blame her. I'm torn about what would be the better nickname: Dummyo or Bitchio. Once again. Johnny walked away as marked as a gang boss's moll, and that continued to suck. Also, he instigated a conflict between Tony and one-time partner Camila, leading to their ejection from the game. He expressed regret afterward, but I imagine him rubbing one out from glee afterward. Ditto Wince, once Johnny explained what happened.

The next paragraph is a little gruesome, so feel free to skip it. I figured out why other players love to ally themselves with Johnny, even at their own expense. It's because his ass is so delicious. Seriously, this show offers a clinic in salad-tossing, and these people are experts. They don't even bother with jam or syrup when they dive in. Does it taste like pie? Ice cream? Is it like the Everlasting Gobstopper, where you get many courses in a single bite? Maybe it's banana-flavored, giving Johnny his nickname. Sure, there are those that don't feel like partaking (Abram, Cara Maria, CT, Jordan), but they're in the minority. Aside from his ability to toast (Bill Simmons once invited him to a Grantland shindig for that purpose) and being Diem’s friend in her more painful days, is there anything good about Johnny? I don't think so.

You're probably wondering, “What about Wes? Don't  you like him?” No, I do not. There is an elitist air about him, like you'd know he would root against the Deltas while watching Animal House and for Alpha Beta in Revenge Of The Nerds. More importantly, Wes resembles Wile E. Coyote, perhaps the most hapless predator in cartoon history. How many of Wes's grand schemes to upend Johnny have blown up in his face? And when he interviews about getting the upper hand, you can mentally add a “Weston Bergman, sooooooooper genius!!” soundbite.  The guy has been sent into endgames on eighteen occasions, and he was picked or voted in all but three times. Never mind that hewon two-thirds of the win-or-go-home games. Sure, he's won two Challenges, but I figure he triumphed in The Duel because he got a headstart on Brad in the final mission, and he won Rivals II because karma decided to pay his partner CT for years of suffering. Last week, the main story shouldn’t have been about the first endgame between relatives (cousins Nany and Nicole), but rather Wes E. Coyote plummeting off the cliff yet again.

As Johnny & Sarah face off against a field as hapless as the dopes from Survivor: Redemption Island that Rob Mariano ran over for the win, we turn our attention to casting rumors for the next season. As you'd expect, most of the candidates hail from the bottom of the barrel, topped off by three of the biggest headaches from Real World: Go Big Or Go Home: Dylan, Dione and Racist Jenna (as opposed to Challenge veteran Poor Life Decisions Jenna). Sabrina's name has also come up, but she would probably be offered up as a  sacrifice to the dark gods these idiots worship. In a perfect world, MTV would pull the plug on this shitshow. Really, reruns of Ridiculousness would get better ratings. Alas, we are no doubt stuck with The Challenge until it inevitably collapses inside Johnny’s rectum.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Two Bullets For Bunim-Murray (Part One)

It's time for Bunim-Murray Productions to pack it in.

I am not the first person to suggest this, and I probably won't be the last. I'm guessing that critics have been finding chinks in the armor of The Real World as far back as 1993, when he second season couldn't measure up to the initial offering. Maybe the naysayers first took aim in 1994 with the casting of Puck Rainey, who remains the patron saint of reality media whores. Then there was the London-based installment in 1995, which only featured three Americans and had so little to do that BMP took away televisions from their houses in subsequent seasons. I put the last major peak at either New Orleans (2000) or San Diego (2004), depending on my mood.

The 31st season finished airing last month, and it has to rank  as one of the ugliest editions in the show’s history. Go Big Or Go Home was the third consecutive gimmick-laden season. Taking a page from its deceased sister show Road Rules, cast members were pressed into missions to determine their limits. Should they back out of those, they would be sent packing and replaced. With this crew, nobody was really tested. It got to a point where an eighth roommate – Dylan – was added to the show when it became obvious nobody would be eliminated. Things would have been bad enough, but BMP elected to set their cast in Las Vegas for the third time in the show’s history. And if you couldn't hate the show enough already, BMP sprung for hoverboards. Never had I wanted somebody to be engulfed in fire as badly as I did during GBOGH.

The cherry on top of the dung heap was a girl named Jenna. She hailed from South Carolina, which probably set off alarms to those who just ambled in here. She was also the second Mormon girl cast, a decade and a half after Julie Stoffer headed up the New Orleans cast. Unlike Julie, it didn't take long for her to wear out her welcome. She didn't see how racist she came across, especially to the two African-American cast members, Dean and Ceejai. Jenna's roommates tried their best to educate her. When she had to sit out a mission due to injury, the cast voted for her not to be kicked off. I imagine the producers breathed a deep sigh of relief, because she was the straw that stirred the noxious drink. Her season ended a short time earlier than expected, as Ceejai gave her the most deserved beatdown since Gladys pummeled Abe on RR: Latin America. BMP ejected Ceejai, then kicked off Jenna for her own protection. Normally, I would root for a six-on-one dogpile, but most of these people were just so repellent. Here's the breakdown:

1. Sabrina

Her “storyline” was that she had never met her biological mother. Had to deal with Jenna's drama when they had to perform an original song for a mission. She will probably never be seen on a Challenge.

2. Dean

He took to the hoverboards and “carnies” a little too easily, but he was an okay person otherwise. He’ll probably never appear on a Challenge.

3. Ceejai

Tried her damnedest to put up with Jenna before beating her up. Otherwise, she'd be in the second position. Actually seemed to regret her actions. Would probably be invited to a Challenge, but would decline for fear of BMP forcing her into a partnership with Jenna.

4. Kaliah

Big fat “whatever” with this one. Had a fling with Dione and couldn't get over that. She'd be lower on most other seasons. Would probably resurface on a Challenge.

5. Chris

I should like this guy, especially for renouncing his ties to the Mormon Church. It's just that he had to go online during the season to blab about Jenna's racist tendencies, and I find that it's better for viewers to find stuff like that on their own. We don't need friend-of-a-roommate info supplied to us. Also: if BMP hadn't made it a “mission” for Chris to tell Jenna about the “leak,” she never would have known it was him. He might do a Challenge, but I'd suspect the other players would take a “snitches get stitches” mindset and eliminate him early.

6. Dylan

When we first saw him, it was in a teaser for potential replacement roommates. He was shown at his college, stripping down and playing a “prank” on the teacher. I consider it more along the lines of a cry for attention. Bugged in so many ways, but especially for having a fling with Jenna and trying to write it off as manipulation after the fact. Dude, you tried to “stick it in crazy.” Be honest with yourself and others. He is probably bunking at BMP’s offices as I type this in anticipation of being on the next Challenge.

7. Jenna

She's a trainwreck that's visible from orbit. I shouldn't feel an iota of pity for her, but with a cast this horrible, I can't help it. Will probably do at least one Challenge, but if she doesn't poke her head above the Mason-Dixon Line, everybody will be better off.

8. Dione

Yes, I'm ranking this tool below the racist. There was just something about the freeloading “carny” that rubbed me the wrong way. I don't think BMP could have devised a mission he could fail, because he struck me as the type of guy that needed attention. I would've suspected him of dropping the proverbial dime on Jenna, but I didn't think he gave a shit either way. Also, I doubt he could read or write. If he doesn't become a Challenge mainstay,BMP will probably give him a spinoff with the rest of his loser friends. I hope somebody will explain this essay to him in a manner he can understand.

Against all logic, there is a 32nd season in development. It will be set in Seattle, which was the location of the show in 1998. That edition climaxed with the so-called “Slap Heard Around The World,” where the imbalanced Stephen smacked Irene as she was making an early departure from the show. She tried to out him before the fateful slap, and BMP rewarded her by editing her to look like a nutter. Had this incident taken place a few years later, during the reality television boom, the resulting backlash might have shut BMP down, if not altering their methods for the better. Instead, viewers are stuck with the bottom of the barrel between The Real World and The Challenge.

At this point, I would wait a few days before putting this post out there, as I'd wait for The Challenge to severely disappoint me yet again. I'd vent about Johnny getting his way, compare Wes to Wile E. Coyote, and talk about the irony that one of the show's biggest fans (Bill Simmons) has a program that premieres opposite it every week (Any Given Wednesday) on HBO. But there I found this post on Reality Blurred. It seems that a former contestant from Are You The One? is going to be cast on RW32. My thoughts on that registered as such:

"No. No. No no no no no!! NO!! God, no!! Fuck, no!!! WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?!?"

I know, these are thoughts that should be reserved for war, global famine, or a Trump presidency. Shit, I get steamed up about how The Amazing Race will feature 22 strangers in its next season. But I've had enough AYTO to stomach. Bad enough idiots from that show are dumped  on The Challenge. I don't watch it, and I shouldn't be subjected to those people living it up in an exotic locale after they lived it up in an exotic locale. And now BMP, in an attempt to stay relevant, is ready to drop these losers on their flagship program? Ugh.

I'll stop here. Once I've seen the latest Challenge fiasco, I'll further articulate my intense distaste towards Bunim-Murray Productions.