Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Battle of the Sexes - A Midseason Review

Like I said in the last recap, MTV gave Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle Of The Sexes the week off on March 10, 2003. I figured that I needed something to do, so I wrote about the season to that point. Reviews of the men's and women's teams will be forthcoming. As you'd expect, most of the material here is recycled from my prior recaps and posts I made on Television Without Pity's forums. Yes, I was a wannabe, and I will happily admit that. Anyway, this was posted on March 15.

With about half of Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes behind us, and without a new episode this past week, Jason thought now would be a good time to look back at the highlights (or lowlights) from the first part of the season.

So, I've exposed myself to Real World/Road Rules: Battle of the Sexes for the past nine weeks. Oddly enough, it hasn't damaged me the way I thought it would. Yes, I have told Julie, Ellen, Puck, and Emily to shut up several times. Sure, I cringed when Melissa nearly froze herself stiff sitting on a huge chunk of ice. But I like the half-hour format, as opposed to the days I spent transcribing and writing recaps for Dog Days. By the way, could somebody tell Animal Planet to rerun the damn episodes, so I can record them all on one tape?

This past Monday, MTV aired a special episode of Diary, pre-empting BOTS. With a war impending, it was a good move to show life in Kuwait. Now try and balance that with airing Fraternity Life and Sorority Life. And trying to force a chicken to lay one last golden egg in The Osbournes. And shelving Clone High, the first animated series not to reek since Celebrity Deathmatch and Daria. Still, I did appreciate the week off. Seeing how there might not be a "halfway there" special like last year, I'll go over the highlights, in chronological order. In separate articles coming within the next few days, I will also review the men and the women, discussing what we've learned about them and going over some memorable moments. Now, on with the highlights:

1. Julie vs. Melissa: Best Friends For-never

Once again, I have to confess that I am a fan of Melissa. So it pained me to see her go after Julie and look like a bitch in the process. If you're outside the Bunim-Murray alumni loop, let me put it in simple terms: Eminem wishes he were as slim and as shady as Julie. Since the editors feel that an angry Melissa is the only kind worth airing, they made Julie look like the victim, which is total bull. If Julie had stayed, it would have been a disaster. Can you imagine a Julie/Ellen/Emily triumvirate? Girls would've been swimming from Jamaica to avoid that. Bottom line: you don't ever have to see Julie again, and that's a good thing. Unless you're a fan of Blind Date, then I'm sorry to tell you that she might be popping up there, even though she has a boyfriend.

2. David E. vs. Puck: When Lunatics Fight

Part of me thinks this was staged. BMP couldn't find an eighteenth guy, so they call David. He gets in a fight with his neighbor Puck, who proceeds to spit water on him. David, enraged beyond all belief, wants Puck to leave, going so far as to call executive producer Jon Murray to bitch about it. Once Murray comes down and boots Puck, darn near everybody protests, and Puck's let back in.
If this wasn't staged, then I have to forever doubt David's intelligence and sanity. Getting Puck kicked off should have been a piece of cake. But he ends up blowing it, says something about how Jesus Christ couldn't spit on him, and leaves the show. In Colin's recap, it turns out that David did spit on Puck during the filming of the opening credits. Then he spat on Beth, and Ayanna almost killed him because some of it landed on her. Can you believe Puck and David are over 30? It's a good guess that might be their combined IQ.

3. Amaya & Melissa: Miracle at Montego Bay

This isn't about girls triumphing over guys in Sergeant Says, the Simon Says game with a military flavor. True, the men didn't give their counterparts any chance of winning. No, this was about the two girls nobody, not even me, expected to triumph: Amaya and Melissa.

Amaya is the voluptuous beauty who got injured repeatedly during Challenge 2000, while Melissa stands less than five feet and can be twirled by the stronger contestants. I get the feeling that they were here because the other was here, much like Danny and Kelley on Battle of the Seasons last year. By paying attention to the drill instructor, they outlasted the other 17 pairs to win. This wasn't the United States beating the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Games. No, this was along the lines of having Angola beat the U.S. Dream Team in 1992. As a bonus, we got the wild celebration afterwards. Definitely one of the best highlights of the year thus far.

4. You Can Handle the Ruthie

When I heard Ruthie was on this show, I figured her coverage would come down to half the people there giving her drinks, and the other half knocking the drinks out of her hand. The lack of teaser highlights during the preview raised my antenna, much like JoAnna Ward was barely on the Survivor: The Amazon preview DVD. In other words, I thought Ruthie was going home early.

Cut to Ruthie in Dead Man's Drop, hanging onto a bar with her legs, having all the time in the world. And she checked her watch while upside-down. Suddenly her antics on Real World: Hawaii were starting to fade away. She had come to play, leading the other girls for seven straight events before getting overtaken by Ellen. Not to mention Ruthie gives the best confessionals. Something about her voice, her eyes, the smile on her face. She's a lock to make the final team at the end of the season.

5. Puck vs. Ellen: There Are No Winners

Everybody knows how big a pain Puck can be. Well, almost everybody. After Puck drove David away, he needed a new target. Enter Ellen, who obviously has never watch a single episode of RW: San Francisco. Once she objected to Puck moving his wedding up to hold it in Jamaica, he had a new playmate. He jeered her, threatened her, and even went as far as puking in front of her. Oh, and according to Melissa on her site, he kept referring to her as "Janet," as in Janet Choi of RW: Seattle, another Korean-American.

However, anybody who has seen Ellen on RR: The Quest knows that she isn't easy to sympathize with. In one instance, she came from the Men's Villa blubbering about how Puck was going to kick her ass just for asking if she could get a pair of scissors. Much to my lack of surprise, the guys said that she exaggerated greatly. With Puck's departure, Ellen is now free to do what she does best: help vote people out of the game, and then cry about being manipulated.

6. David & Ayanna: Woo Woo Would You Be Mine?

So far, we've had only one spark of romance on the show, between slightly crazy Ayanna and noted playa David B. It could have been worse; I saw a picture of him hugging Ellen. There would have been no love for him had he hooked up with her. Listening to David talk to Ayanna, it's hard to believe this is the same guy who once slept with a woman and never got her name. Sadly, David underachieved in four missions and got booted by the Inner Circle, making the romance last for one episode.

7. The Wedding Of The Century Of The Week

Sometimes you see a UFO, sometimes you get a snapshot of Bigfoot, and sometimes you get to see Puck act like a decent human being. With his fellow contestants and his son looking on, Puck tied the knot with Betty. Despite the absence of a few ladies (Ellen in particular), the ceremony went off without a hitch, and Puck looked good. Of course, the good will on my part did not last that long.

8. Frozen Out

After sitting on ice for over three hours, something happens to your brain. In the Women's Inner Circle, each member passed on somebody to eliminate from the game. Ruthie wanted to keep Aneesa around for morale, Ellen had gotten chummy with Tonya, and Emily wasn't about to kick Christina off. All three then focused on Rachel. Suddenly, the strongwoman from RR: Campus Crawl was the worst player ever, the muscular incarnation of Satan.

When the Inner Circle made their announcement, it was as if a bomb had been dropped. I think Dan's jaw is still on the ground. The guys heckled the Inner Circle and cheered Rachel on as she blew a gasket. As Emily avoided the fallout, Rachel and Ayanna had words for Ellen and Ruthie. Then Ellen started crying about getting played by Emily, even though Ellen had been hell bent on voting Rachel off a few days earlier. This wasn't a highlight for the women.

9. Puck Goes Berserk

Actually, this was a mild outburst. Upset that he couldn't see his wife, who was detained in Jamaica for not having her green card, Puck tore up some equipment and left the show. BMP had to make it more dramatic, by implying that he had broken a window and put holes in the wall, which he hadn't. On another level, Puck stunk for planning on an early departure, not caring about the grand prize, since he could make more money off the suckers… I mean, the college lecture circuit.

10. No Skin? No Win

In an effort to make things more interesting, BMP introduced "Battle of the Opposite Sexes," a game show where wrong answers would (apparently) force contestants take off an article or clothing. Or that's what some of the women wanted you to think. According to Lori, stripping wasn't the way to get points. On her web site, she added that a wrong answer would give a player the option to give back a token. That does explain how Jake, Blair and Shane stayed in the game despite being naked.
But that was lost on a quintet of ladies: Emily, Anne, Christina, Ayanna, and Tonya. They formed Club Zero and took the night off, taking what they felt was the moral high ground. It was a rough night for Emily; not only was she nudged out of her place in the Inner Circle by Veronica, but her boyfriend James didn't join her in boycott. She was able to settle things with him, but it remains to be seen if she can climb back to the top.

So what's in store for the next few months? By my count, seven more elimination rounds before the final teams of three are set to compete. Keep tuning in to RealityNewsOnline for analyses of both the men's and women's teams, as well as a proposal for the next Challenge.

Man, I was into the Puck/David conspiracy even back then. Apologies for speculating on that in 2016. And I'm not prepared to take back my opinions, even though I more or less forgave Emily for her shabby treatment of Rachel and Veronica while I watched The Gauntlet later that year. And Julie would wear out her welcome in three more Challenges. I'd like to thin she's grown up and gotten smarter in general, but back then? Forget her.

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