Sunday, January 01, 2017

Battle of the Sexes – Women’s Midterm Review

Happy 2017! Here's a post from March 17, 2003. That's a full teenager between then and now. I find this a little depressing.

We’ve covered the men, now it’s time to take a look at what the women have done in the first half (or so) of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes.

If you turn on Battle of the Sexes, odds are you’re a huge fan of drama. While the men have been sorely lacking for the most part, the women have been delivered. Fans of Survivor: The Amazon can compare Jaburu with the Women’s Villa. Who’s a bigger spoilsport: JoAnna or Ellen? Which troika is more toxic: Heidi, Jenna, and Shawna or Emily, Christina, and Anne? 

Just as we took a look at the men yesterday, let’s take a look at the women now, beginning with those who are no longer competing.

Julie Stoffer (RW: New Orleans)

When did I start to hate her? Back in her season, she played the token ingénue, the Mormon girl who was looking to expand her horizons. Then came Extreme Challenge. I think once she knew there was no going back to Brigham Young since she (gasp!) lived with boys, she started to exist for the cameras. When Ayanna got kicked off for beating Christian up, Julie took it the hardest, making a big stink about bringing her back. She cheated in a rappel race against Emily, which led to animosity between the two women. I think the breaking point for me came during the tightrope mission. Christian was hundreds of feet in the air, walking on a rope attached to a bungee and no net below him. He’s trying to get across and win the mission for his team, and there’s Julie on the ground, screaming “BUNGEE, CHRISTIAN!” She wasn’t the best sport, but she got a share of the $110,000 pot that the RW team won.

She became a lot more self-absorbed. Former cast members have told stories on how she slighted them. The worse came when she wrote something online that pissed Melissa off, something that smart people just don’t do. Julie’s various acts of shadiness were covered on Melissa’s web site.
After Melissa’s tirade, Julie tried to convince several ladies that Melissa was wrong in bad-mouthing her. Please notice that these women were from RR, and might not have been in the loop. Her chumminess with Ellen just validated her as a world-class drama queen. On the up side, Ellen’s inability to pick her legs during Sergeant Says got her and Julie eliminated. I’m convinced the only way Julie would have stayed is if the Inner Circle was made up of RR women. Instead, the first IC had two recent RW alumni (Amaya and Aneesa), one from Boston who pled ignorance (Genesis), and Melissa herself. Julie was toast.

I’ll say it again: if Julie had stayed, the show would have been a lot more painful to watch. Now, we don’t have to see her try and be genuine while pimping her White Stripes wannabe band. Sadly, Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray probably still have her phone number, and she’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice for any occasion.

Memorable Moment: The look of confusion on her face as Melissa gave her the business. Priceless.

Beth Stolarczyk (RW: Los Angeles)

From current phonies to old school, we have Beth. Last year, Beth brought her feud with Norman over to Cancun, along with her utter lack of self-awareness. Seriously, you look into her eyes, and there’s nothing there. Worse, when she was eliminated, so was poor Jon Brennan, whose only crime was being her partner.

The good news for Beth? She wasn’t the first person voted out, and David E. made her look sane. The bad news? She got voted out before a pregnant woman. Aside from a gripe towards Ruthie about not getting the Ion Lifesaver, I thought Beth had improved. Then I read Colin’s recap. It turns out that Ruthie had been suffering from numerous maladies and was dying in the bathroom. At that moment, Beth poked her head in and asked if she could have the IL. Worse, Beth had treated Ruthie like garbage in the past. So once again, what went around came around.

Memorable Moment: Griping about not getting the IL. I can imagine Norman and Becky watching at home, high-fiving each other.

Gladys Sanabria (RR: Latin America)

Why was she here? It was one thing when Belou brought her baby daughter to Battle of the Seasons last year. The little tyke wasn’t clinging to her mommy’s tummy the way Gladys carried her unborn child. Sure, the appearance money was good, but was it worth it to jeopardize the kid’s health? After getting a sympathy Ion Lifesaver for not being allowed to play Dead Man’s Drop, Gladys finished in last after three events, and was mercifully booted.

Last September, Gladys was part of a cadre of former reality show contestants who appeared on Extra regarding their negative experiences. While I appreciate Gladys coming out into the open about her miscarriage and smacking of Abe, I wish she didn’t do it alongside the likes of Cara Nussbaum (RW: Chicago), Sean Rector (Survivor: Marquesas), and Mike “Boogie” Malin (Big Brother 2). The same goes for Eric Nies; as much as I respect his right to get some syndication money, he shouldn’t be in the same crowd as those losers.

Oh, and I regret never calling Gladys “Happy Butt” once in my recaps. I just never found the time.

Memorable Moment: Revealing her pregnancy to the other women. Suddenly, Christy’s deafness isn’t such a big deal.

Jisela Delgado (RR: The Quest)

Why was she back? She didn’t carry her weight on The Quest. She underachieved in Battle of the Seasons. Now she came back, did four missions, and got voted off. In summary, it was a typical Jisela performance.

Once again, ropes and cords were her Kryptonite. She didn’t last long in Dead Man’s Drop and Breath Hold Bungee. She probably wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds on the stirrups course in the next episode. The only positive for her was that she only blew up the one time, during Tree House. While I like her a lot better than Ellen (her teammate on The Quest), I hope I don’t see Jisela on another BMP show again.

Memorable Moment: Cursing out Jonny Moseley during Tree House.

Amaya Brecher (RW: Hawaii)

The die-hard fans will never forget all the dumb things Amaya did during Hawaii and Challenge 2000. I was surprised that she came to Battle of the Sexes, given that the haters would have to reload. I’m guessing that she went with Melissa, who had become buddies with her.

After triumphing in Sergeant Says, Amaya fell to the back of the pack. Because she had a cousin dying in a hospital back home, that was enough to convince the Inner Circle to send her home. My only beef was that she should have opted out early; her dropping of a ring during Seven Rings of Saturn earned her and Tonya zero points, sending Tonya to the bottom for the rest of her stay. Still, Amaya carried herself with more grace and dignity than in her two prior BMP stints.

Memorable Moment: Winning Sergeant Says, even as it took all of her energy to do it.

Rachel Robinson (RR: Campus Crawl)

Poor Rachel. She has the determination and the will, not to mention a strong body. But she revealed herself as an underachiever, starting with the time she got outwrestled by Irulan during the RW/RR dustup in Las Vegas. Then she screwed up Sergeant Says, getting two points to start. Slowly, she began to claw her way upwards, earning 101 points after six missions.

During Tree House, she and Ayanna completed the mission. While Ayanna ran to help the others, Rachel had walked off, because one of the rules was that touching any other house would result in an automatic disqualifcation and zero points. Ellen didn’t get that memo, and pushed for Rachel’s expulsion in the Inner Circle.

Rachel’s farewell was a sad one. The Inner Circle had passed on Aneesa, Tonya and Christina to vote out. Then Emily brings Rachel up and proceeds to bad-mouth her. Suddenly, Rachel was the Great Satan. Emily hated her since she reminds her of girls who mistreated her in high school. Ellen was probably still sore over Tree House. Ruthie figured that Rachel was the only person they had to question. Custer faced better odds at Little Big Horn.

Memorable Moment: Her pep talk in the first episode, about how the most bad-ass girls were picked to compete.

Aneesa Ferreira (RW: Chicago)

Aneesa was easier to digest than on Chicago. Sadly, after her third place finish in Sergeant Says, she slowly slid to the bottom. Around the time of Rachel’s ouster, Aneesa approached Ruthie in regards to sabotaging Emily. This was a questionable move, given Ruthie’s nobility. For her scheming, she was kicked off.

The only reason I could think of that Aneesa would confide her plan in Ruthie. I have heard that Aneesa had gotten close with Rachel. Either Aneesa wanted to avenge Rachel, or maybe she wanted to get kicked off so she could go home and reunite with her.

Memorable Moment: Ellen is crying about how Puck mistreated her, and there’s Aneesa, covering her bare breasts. Out of all the drama being whipped up, Aneesa just wanted to be comfortable.

Tonya Cooley (RW: Chicago)

Tonya had nowhere to go but up. She had been one of the most isolated cast members in RW history. For goodness sakes, the other cast members made up a song about her in the car! Behind her back! I didn’t think she’d be healthy enough to compete, given her kidney problems, but she gave it her best, even after injuring herself in Seven Rings of Saturn.

The big news was that Tonya had become popular. Lori pointed out that Tonya nursed several of the women while they were sick. I noticed she was wearing the same shell necklace Theo had worn, and they hugged a few times, despite their conflicted history. And I can forgive her friendship with Ellen. Recently, somebody pointed out one reason Tonya was so nice, something I don’t feel right in divulging here. I hope that it’s because of what Lori said, that Tonya knew that her negative portrayal on Chicago was all her, and she sought to right that.

Memorable Moment: Playing People Mover with Aneesa, she was supportive of her, despite their prior differences.

And now, let’s look at those still in the game:

Christina Pazsitzky (RR: Australia)

I’m still a little upset that she bought Julie’s anti-Melissa spiel. She hasn’t gotten much camera time, but it’s clear that she’s tight with Anne and Emily. Her objection to “Battle of the Opposite Sexes” was ill timed, given that she already had one event where she scored no points. Now she’s in last place, 37 points behind Anne. Even if she wins the next event and Anne gets zero points, she would still remain at the bottom.

Memorable Moment: Calling Melissa and her friends in the Inner Circle an “evil cheerleader cult.”

Anne Wharton (RR: Northern Trail)

Anne made an impact early in the game, making the Inner Circle twice. She had been in the middle before objecting to “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” dropping to ninth overall. Given her tendency of getting hurt, I’m surprised she’s been unscathed.

One thing that bugs is her hatred of Veronica. In one Inner Circle, she tried to sell Ruthie and Ellen on getting rid of her over Beth. Why? Doesn’t “Stolarczyk” mean “dead weight” in English? Anne comes off as one of Emily’s cronies who follow her mistresses’ orders without question. She actually calls Veronica a “huge pool of negativity” in the next episode. It just doesn’t make sense.

Memorable Moment: Going into a “What has Veronica done for me?” rant at the Inner Circle. Penny Ramsey would be proud.

Ayanna Mackins (RR: Semester at Sea)

We haven’t gotten the full Ayanna experience yet. What is it? Let me put it this way: when I saw Ghandia scream and throw wood into the water, I thought she was Ayanna’s aunt.

Two fits have been edited out: her fight with Aneesa after Rachel was voted out (as chronicled by Lori), and the time she almost punched David E. for spitting on her, but she backed off, not wanting to get kicked off again. Her unwillingness to potentially get naked pushed her to pass on “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” dropping from fifth to eighth, this after winning 71 out of a possible 72 points in the prior two missions.

We did see a tender side in Ayanna, as she and David B. got cuddly. I have to admit, they do make for a nice couple. As insane as she may appear, Ayanna does have a very soft side to her.

Memorable Moment: Singing after she completed Seven Rings of Saturn. “WE ROCK! WE ROCK! WE REALLY REALLY ROCK!!”

Emily Bailey (RR: USA)

Emily is supposed to be the hard-luck heroine, the Susan Lucci of the Challenge. She competed in Extreme Challenge, but the RR team wasn’t as good as its predecessors, and she got a share of $40,000. The next year, she teamed with Timmy on Battle of the Seasons, staying in the Inner Circle in the preliminary rounds. Luck wasn’t with the team in the winner-take-all final mission, and she lost out on a $50,000 share. So she came back for a third year, resembling a boxer looking for the big break.

Something is different this year. While Emily had taken questionable stances in past Challenges, she was a rival to some hated cast members, such as Julie and Holly. Remember when Chadwick was bitter about getting voted out of Cancun, and he e-mailed Emily, saying she was the devil? I should have known something was up when she questioned Melissa’s guts in not announcing Julie’s ouster. The normal reaction would have been, “You mean I don’t have to share a villa with the girl who irritated me so much?”

After starting off with two points, Emily jumped to fourth place after three missions, making the Inner Circle after Seven Rings of Saturn. She had said she didn’t want to gossip, but she talked smack about Amaya and Veronica. Her hatred of Veronica is a mystery. Everybody knows that Veronica holds Emily responsible for getting booted in Seasons, but Emily’s attitude is unknown even to Lori and Melissa (the chroniclers of the show). In the next Inner Circle, Emily brought up Rachel, and proceeded to slam her verbally, going so far as to call her a “toxic teammate.” Lori and Melissa had few complaints about Rachel, making Emily more of a villain. And when Rachel was giving Ruthie and Ellen a piece of her mind, Emily was elsewhere, trying to avoid the drama.

In the boycott of “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” Emily had the most to lose. If anybody really needed to know that stripping was not mandatory, it was her. But she didn’t play, and Veronica took her place in the IC. Worse, her boyfriend didn’t join her, leading to a temporary rift between them. Given their competitive natures, I know what James and Emily see in each other. But Emily was dreaming that James would face elimination by not playing. She is 28 points behind Veronica for the final IC spot, and Veronica is itching to pull the trigger. Don’t count out Emily prevailing in the end.

Memorable Moment: Holding court at the Inner Circle from hell, where she wasn’t going to be happy unless Rachel was gone.

Genesis Moss (RW: Boston)

If you’re wondering who Genesis is, you’re not alone. After making the Inner Circle with Aneesa, she dropped to the bottom. Since there were five girls boycotting “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” that pushed Genesis from ninth to sixth, and in a position to get some camera time. I hope that happens, since I got a few puns with Genesis the band that I’m dying to use.

Memorable Moment: Saying that she didn’t know Melissa wanted Julie gone for personal reasons, even though Melissa was practically carrying a sign saying that.

Lori Trespicio (RW: Back to New York)

Here’s another lady with little camera time. You can’t get worked up for Lori. Last year, she was supposed to be teamed with Mike for Battle of the Seasons, but she didn’t make it after the September 11 attacks. Lori and Mike? Not exciting. Coral and Mike? Very exciting.

Lori’s main contribution has been recapping the episodes on her web site, dishing a lot of dirt in the process. The key is to just read her recaps, as opposed to the rest of her site. Some of the posters found her eulogy of Mr. Rogers to be in bad taste, and she posted a fairy tale about the love of koalas that was inspired by the love of her boyfriend. Some would think it cheesy, except the boyfriend is Kyle Brandt, the uber-tool from RW: Chicago, so the story makes people nauseous. She also strikes me as something with skin as thick as paper, yet she feels the need to fire back at her detractors. Lori, calm down. You don’t have to bare your soul all the time.

Memorable Moment: I can’t think of one on camera, so I’ll go with something from her recap. During the protest by the other contestants that wanted Puck to stay, Lori remained on the bus, since she didn’t care either way.

Melissa Howard (RW: New Orleans)

Remember when I said that I’d be taking her side all of the time? I’m sticking with that. For instance: how come the editors pin the process of the Inner Circle voting being a popularity contest on Melissa? All she did was to get rid of one of the most obnoxious people in Jamaica, and she gets hammered for that. A few of the contestants smacked her around in interviews, and the word “MElissa” started to pop up on TWoP. News flash: Julie was going to leave anyway. Having Melissa in the Inner Circle was a bonus.

Since then, we’ve seen little of Melissa, even as she remained in the front of the pack. I guess the editors need her in confrontation mode, as opposed to the super-funny Melissa I knew and loved during her season. You get glimpses of that: bouncing up and down with Ellen after Seven Rings of Saturn, making some weird arm movements after completing People Mover, and screaming in joy after getting a question right during “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.” Even when she skipped Puck’s wedding, we got more of Ellen and Tonya boycotting the ceremony than her.

I’m surprised she’s still in the game. Winning Sergeant Says with Amaya was improbable in itself; even she admitted on her site that she had no business coming in first. She hung tough during Freeze Your Butt Off, even as she suffered greatly for her 33-point effort. Happily, her recaps have been informative and funny, especially the one where she was joined by Coral. Perhaps when the field things out a little, she’ll get some exposure.

Memorable Moment: Winning Sergeant Says. Watching the episode, I was floored by her and Amaya’s outstanding effort.

Veronica Portillo (RR: Semester at Sea)

Veronica is tainted by the past, having plagiarized a paper from Ayanna and “borrowed” a shirt from Pua during her season. I can’t explain why else Emily and Anne have it out for her. According to Lori and Melissa, Veronica had been nothing but friendly to the others. It’s logical that Veronica would hold Emily responsible for voting her out last year, and it makes for a good story. You can imagine Veronica taking a cue from The Princess Bride, chasing Emily with a sword, shouting, “My name is Veronica Portillo. You forced me out of Cancun after two days. Prepare to die.”

Veronica has been in the Inner Circle twice; both times, she wanted to put the hammer to Emily, but Jisela and Tonya’s departures took precedent. She did express regret at voting Jisela off, whom she befriended last year. Either there’s a part of the story that Lori and Melissa aren’t telling us, or Veronica has made a huge turnaround in her attitudes.

Memorable Moment: In the last Inner Circle, where she gleefully brought up how James didn’t join Emily in boycotting “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.”

Ruthie Alcaide (RW: Hawaii)

Who would have guessed that the one-time problem child would blossom into a fiery competitor? After her performance in Dead Man’s Drop, she held on to the top spot for seven missions, locking her position in the Inner Circle. She has served as the conscience of the women’s team. When Rachel was voted off, you could see the look on Ruthie’s face in her interview, a look that screamed, “Maybe I didn’t do the right thing.” While Ellen blathers on about how she tries to be a savior, Ruthie does it without words.

The only chink in Ruthie’s armor is her inability to be deceptive. On more than one occasion, she expected the people around her to be truthful. So when Aneesa talked to her about sabotaging Emily, Ruthie reacted badly. I’m guessing that as good as she is athletically, she wouldn’t last a week on Survivor.

Memorable Moment: What else? Dead Man’s Drop, checking her watch while hanging upside-down.

Ellen Cho (RR: The Quest)

Let’s get this out of the way. Ellen is one of the best athletes on the show. Her determination makes her tough to beat, and the perfect teammate. In the past three missions, she got 107 out of a possible 108 points, putting her in the lead on the women’s side.

What is the down side? It’s her personality. Ask anybody who watched The Quest and they’ll tell you that Ellen bugs them. She got into a huge fight with Coral during the Casting Special. She showed off in an endurance course, endangering herself in the process. She got into a bizarre relationship with Adam, even though he gave her so much grief. In a blind date, she got so drunk she almost got run over. She felt the need to play “Who’s Got It Worse?” with Sophia, who had not come out to her parents. The whole time, she was annoying and condescending. When I heard that she wasn’t allowed to join the Back to New York cast in MTV Studios during New Year’s Eve 2001, I laughed. Hard.

She hasn’t changed much. Her inability to pick her legs up during Sergeant Says got her and Julie booted, and was enough to send her new best friend home. Ellen felt slighted that Rachel wouldn’t help her in Tree House, and she pushed to vote out Rachel over Gladys. But she got selective amnesia later on, allowing Emily to make her case to send Rachel home. Ellen would later cry about that, saying that Emily had played her. As Emily moved herself to be the main villain, some of the heat has been taken off Ellen. Remember the looks she exchanged with Ruthie as Emily talked smack about Veronica?

Ellen’s main mistake was trying to fight Puck. After David E. left, Puck needed somebody to torture. They argued about his wedding getting moved to Jamaica. She cried about how he threatened her with violence, yet those who witnessed the exchange said that Ellen was exaggerating. After announcing Rachel’s elimination, Puck threw up in front of her, on purpose. Ellen got the last laugh, as Puck left to be with his family.

The bottom line for Ellen: she has to be a good teammate. If she takes the attitude down several notches, we would have a halfway decent person.

As for the ladies, they must take advice from the departed Tonya: vote off the last place scorer, no matter what. While one or two women might be forced to depart after a sub-par mission, it would be for the good of team harmony. And right now, they’re playing all the wrong tunes.

 Once again . . . notice I'm being nice to Rachel and Veronica. That doesn't become an issue for me in future editions. Meanwhile, I gave Christina grief, including botching her last name (which I corrected). Funny enough, she wound up moving into comedy, appearing twice of Last Comic Standing. While she didn't last past the primary stages like Theo Von (or "Vonkurnatowski," if you want to be anal), at least she tried her best. I don't know if I've heard her act on XM. I did catch her on Not Safe with Nikki Glaser in a segment about "pegging." To say that it's not work-safe is an understatement.

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