To my beloved The Challenge,
Since the eighth grade, I've been a self-proclaimed reality television junkie. American Idol, The Amazing Race, The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, and Top Chef were my solace and entertainment after a hard day of algebra, history, and middle school drama. But no other show has captivated me quite like you, The Challenge (formerly The Real World Road Rules Challenge) on MTV.
It all started with season sixteen, The Island. After finishing up my first season of The Real World, the Hollywood season, I stared at my TV, feeling lost. What would I do until the next season of seven strangers, picked to live in a house, to stop being polite and start getting real? And then a preview of a new, upcoming reality show caught my eye. It looked suspenseful, dramatic, sexy- everything I wanted in reality television. It was The Island. And a few weeks later, I tuned into the premiere.
I was hooked. You were everything The Real World had been and more -- you had these super-athletic adrenaline-pumping competitions that I could only dream of doing one day. As the weeks progressed, I spent my nights when The Island wasn't on catching up on the 15 seasons I had missed. And boy, had I missed a lot. I lapped up every delicious, drama-filled episode like a kitten with her bowl of milk, one after another. After The Island came Duel II, The Ruins, and more. I anxiously awaited your every new season, even after I had stopped watching Real World. I was a Challenge girl, devoted to you through and through.
Now, a few episodes into Rivals II, the 24th season of The Challenge, I'm heartbroken to admit that I'm losing interest. I'm no longer glued to the edge of my seat, waiting for every new obstacle and shouting match. Instead, I find myself more interested in washing the dishes or playing Mah Jongg Tile Match online while I watch. Why is it that I'm slowly giving up on you, my favorite show of all time?
Simple. I'm growing up.
Your original show was, at its core, about the challenges in each episode. Sure, you showed the drama, the romance, the rivalries -- and they were epic. Now, you're becoming a second Real World, focusing more on the psychopathic tendencies and screaming matches of the competitors than on the athleticism and insanity that goes into the physical competition. It's very, very hard to watch, especially since I'm only getting older.
I grew up watching "the second generation" of Challengers -- names like Diem Brown, Johnny Devenanzio, Evelyn Smith, and Kenny Santucci come to mind. They were only a few years into their challenges, and they were champions. They knew how to play the game using their combined smarts, how to make alliances, and how to win. Watching them was a pure delight. But now, the third generation has entered, and many of my favorite competitors have begun to appear less and less on the show. The ones who do return are only getting older, more out of shape, and clearly more desperate for money than ever.
The new generation of Challengers comes out of the new seasons of The Real World -- the seasons I never watched. These are kids my age who know how to create classless, idiotic drama. They're not athletic, they're not gracious competitors, and they don't know how to get through a half-mile swim or hike without whining. (Granted, I can't do that, either, but you don't see me on MTV, do you?)
You have evolved into a new Challenge for a new generation, for the kids who are just discovering their appetite for reality TV like I did eight years ago. I think, just like my favorite competitors hang up their jerseys after seven or eight seasons, I pass the torch on to the new generation of viewers and end this relationship somewhat amicably. Frankly, watching people my age throw temper tantrums on television just isn't endearing to me. I'm sorry, my darling Challenge, but it's not you, it's me. We both need to see other people.
P.S. If Evan Starkman comes back for another season and he's single, give me a call and I'll take back everything I said. He's delicious.