Remember the good ole days when you’d go home after school and tune in to Carson Daly and “Total Request Live”? Remember when MTV actually showed videos and played tons of music? It seems like it’s been forever, but for better or worse, the channel referring to itself as “music television” is now largely a reality TV channel. In the case of some of the garbage they’re showing, it’s definitely for the worse. I mean, you can’t possibly tell me anything coming out of Spencer’s mouth on “The Hills” doesn’t make you think of the “Billy Madison” line: “At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.”
However, there is one show that’s always held a soft spot in my heart. Through its many incarnations, the “Real World/Road Rules” challenges never fail to entertain, and despite my original hope of avoiding getting sucked into the new season, I couldn’t help but get hooked on one of the weekend marathons MTV loves to run. So how does the “Gauntlet III” compare to “Gauntlets” and “Infernos” of the past? Well, considering three different couples from three different sexual orientations hooked up in the first 10 minutes of the season premiere, MTV’s latest installment seems to be right on par with previous editions.
In case you’re not familiar with the concept of the “Real World/Road Rules” challenges, here’s how they work. Teams of former cast members from MTV’s original two reality shows battle it out in ridiculous-looking, meticulously planned physical challenges to see which two contestants will face off in a head-to-head challenge, with the loser going home – thus ending their attempt at 15 more minutes of quasi-fame. At the end of the season, the two sides face off in one final challenge, with the winning team splitting $300 grand. The key to any of these shows is to get the craziest cast possible, and this season’s cast definitely fits the bill. If you’ve caught glimpses of the cast members on their previous shows, the best part of these challenges is always the first episode, where you can immediately tell which guys prepared for the show by hitting up their local steroids dealer – at least half of the guys, by my count – and which girls got ready by getting breast jobs – a total of three. Speaking of the cast, I’m pretty sure I saw M.J. from “Real World: Philadelphia” at Naan Stop the other day, so if anyone can confirm or deny this, I would greatly appreciate it.
MTV came up with the concept of these all-star challenges several years ago, and by this time, the producers have definitely perfected their craft. By putting a bar in the cast’s house, they’ve assured a season full of fights, arguments, hookups, swearing, blurred nudity and shaved heads – because apparently meatheads shave each other’s heads when they get drunk, although I probably should question some fraternity members for confirmation on this one. In other words: all the stuff that makes good television. The producers have also mastered the art of MTV’s trademark interviews in front of a green screen while a random ocean scene or city skyline flashes by in the background. If you’re familiar with this concept, you know these “random” interviews provide some of the best unintentional comedy on television, like the time Brad the frat boy responded to getting a wedgie by screaming, “Congratulations son, you’re a meathead, but don’t ever put your hands on my underwear again.”
Yup, it may not be classy, but MTV is doing just enough to keep viewers entertained for an hour every Wednesday night. Sure, the music channel doesn’t really show music anymore, but with plenty of kids our age still willing to lose their dignity on national television, I think we’ll all be able to survive without our daily Carson Daly fix.
Daily Nexus sports editor Alex Pavlovic auditioned for the Real World once, but was disqualified after producers found out his IQ is over 100.