The Challenge: Rivals II Episode 7

This week’s episode of The Challenge: Rivals II is an interesting beast. Sure there was some tacked-on drama in the beginning between Aneesa and Diem, but there was also a pretty hilarious challenge followed by some made-up drama revolving around Frank (huge shocker) and one of the closest, craziest Jungles I’ve ever seen.

Four minutes into the episode, we were already at the challenge which usually means it’s going to be completely insane or there’s going to be some significant fighting later on (especially considering we’re a handful of episodes away from the finale). Instead, the challenge was just funny and worth spending some time on.

Called Blind Leading The Blind, the pairs were shackled together, blindfolded and tasked with going through a bamboo maze. The catch? They had electric dog collar zappers attached to them. Now, you’d think this form of yard-control would be utilized to keep them from leaving the course, but instead they get zapped when they’re going the right way, something some teams seemed to forget in the process of the game. It sounded like each team was going to have the course to themselves at first, but since it was hot one team of each sex went at the same time. Oh, also, they had to finish in 30 minutes.

Ty and Leroy had control of the order after winning the previous challenge, so they went with CT and Wes and Diem and Aneesa to go first. CT and Wes actually did pretty great, with Wes taking control. Diem and Aneesa basically just followed their voices — or cries of pain, really — all the way to the finish line earning them both quality times. It might seem like going first would be a disadvantage, but considering the teams can’t see the course ahead of time and you get to watch everyone else writhe in pain through this course, it actually seemed like a bonus to me.

Cooke and Cara Maria were up next along with Jordan and Marlon. The guys jumped out quickly as Cara Maria begins to lose it. The guys are doing well, but then get tricked up. Both finish, but not quickly. Leroy and Ty went after them alongside Paula and Emily. The ladies do really well, but the guys get turned around and head all the way back to the starting line. Ty eventually took over and got them to the finish.

Frank and Johnny tear through the course and get a really great time while Nany and Jonna huddle together a few feet away from the beginning for the entire 30 minutes. It’s a really hilarious situation because they’re gesticulating wildly about not wanting to get shocked which actually puts their collars closed to the walls, leading to more shocks. Awesome.

Finally, two teams I almost completely forgot about, Preston and Knight and Camila and Jemmye went. Essentially, Camila drags Jemmye — and then Preston and Knight — through the course and across the finish line. For the women it came down to Jemmye and Camila and Aneesa and Diem with the latter team coming away with the win. Oh, hey, THAT’s why they focused on them in the beginning. One of these days I’m going to start seeing the Matrix on these things. Today was not that day.

For the men, the winners were between Johnny and Frank as well as CT and Wes. As it happened, the former team got the W while the last place spot went to Ty and Leroy over Marlon and Jordan. Back at the house the women are talking about voting for Knight and Preston again because they’ve already been voted for. This is still pretty sound logic considering how few teams are still around and how useless those two are in everything but breaking sticks over people.

Johnny talks to a group of the ladies about their plan which he disagrees with. He wants to throw Jordan and Marlon into the Jungle because they want to keep a weaker team like Knight and Preston around to beat/throw in later on. Frank jumps in, reminding them that Jordan and Marlon admitted to breaking their word in the voting last week. Meanwhile, Jordan’s in the other room hearing all of this.

Out in the kitchen, Jordan makes an offhanded comment to Frank asking how the campaign is going. For whatever reason, this sets Frank OFF. He keeps circling around and then yells at Jordan, saying he and Marlon wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for him (not sure how that works). Frank then says that Jordan’s afraid of him before running away from him and slamming a door in his face. All the while, Jordan just stands there eating pudding.

Cut to the actual voting. Everyone except Jonna and Nany vote from Marlon and Jordan. They threw out Preston and Knight’s names, though I don’t see that coming back to haunt them. After that, there’s more yelling. Jordan keeps talking about getting screwed over by Frank and Frank keeps getting INFURIATED by these wild accusations which are completely founded, by the way. Frank just keeps going after Jordan who, while certainly instigating things, isn’t getting physical whatsoever or being overly rude or mean like Knight would be in a situation like this. He just wants to walk to a different part of the house and Frank just keeps getting in his face. I’m actually surprised it took this long for Frank to snap and show this group his insane-ness.

The Jungle is Last Chance which we first saw in the first episode. This is the one where one player blocks while the other one is on offense, trying to run through and rings a bell on the other side. Best two out of three wins. Leroy and Marlon square off on D with Ty and Jordan running. Marlon played Division One football in college. The first round is really close with both runners getting to the bells at nearly the same time. The video tape shows that Jordan, in fact, got there first.

The second round was much more one-sided with the entire group getting clumped up at one end and Ty popping through, easily hitting the bell. With everything all tied up they line up for the third attempt. This one looks like it’s going to go Ty and Leroy’s way right off the bat, but it gets more complicated. Ty’s right there by the bell, but Marlon’s all over him. At the same time, Jordan’s trying to get around Ty which doesn’t look easy. The episode cut to a commercial showing an ominous bell ringing. What are we to think! As it turns out, Jordan got away from Leroy and took a flying leap through the bell. Bam, they won! Were I a more excitable person, I would have been cheering from my seat, possibly standing.

Before leaving Leroy tells the camera that he loves Ty like a brother now. Good for them. Back at the house Marlon says that they’re gunning for Frank and Johnny now. Getting rid of them actually seems feasible at this point, but not completely easy. Depends on who gets sent home on the women’s side next week for sure. Anyway, Preston tells Jordan that Frank was freaked out when they won. We end the episode with Frank talked to a room full of women explaining that he’s going to start letting his inner beast out. Johnny’s in there and then tells the camera that Frank might be shooting them in the foot with this crazy person talk. Will it matter? I doubt it, there’s a scene they keep showing of Frank and Johnny running with Camelback-type backpacks which HAS to mean they’re in the final. Thanks for keeping the suspense alive MTV!

The Challenge: Rivals II Episode 6

After last week’s hilariously dumb episode of The Challenge: Rivals II, we were treated to one of the least interesting of the bunch so far. You know how some episodes focus on a lot of house tension and how difficult it is for a group of people getting along together in these crazy situations? Well, this one was about how clueless Theresa is about, well, pretty much everything.

She starts the episode off complaining about Diem…to Diem’s partner Aneesa. She then switched gears and said much of the same with her own partner Jasmine. Theresa’s the kind of Challenge contestant who apparently doesn’t understand how the show works. She thinks it’s clever and original to say things like, “No one’s got my back but my partner” and “Everyone here’s out there for themselves.” I understand that you can get caught up in the augmented reality of these shows when you’re filming, but how can you possibly stand letting yourself say such mundane, silly things as if you’re spitting gold from your gaping maw every time you open it?

Oh, Jonna and Jordan are kind of talking or something. You can tell this is semi-important because immediately after showing them hanging out, we jump right to the challenge called Frenemies which is basically The Newlywed Game, but with one teammate suspended 30 feet in the air over water. Half the women are asked to answer questions and are then hung up over the water. The other teammate then has to guess how the suspended player answered the question. After getting two wrong, you fall. The first team to hit the water automatically goes to The Jungle while the last one is safe. You know, the usual.

Since it’s a women’s challenge, they go first. Theresa gets to pick the order and places Diem and Aneesa at the front of the line. We start off with a pretty mundane “What’s Your Best Body Part,” question that stumps a few people. The problem for some of the teams is that, since they’re still rivals, they’re not on the same page with just about anything. As such, it’s not a big shocker when Jemmye gets the first and second questions wrong and Camila falls, dragging them both into the Jungle. Later questions include “Who’s The Biggest Fake Still In The House?” “Who Needs The Most Attention In The House?” and “Who’s Most Likely To Get Arrested For Indecent Exposure?” As it turns out, Emily and Paula are still super-in synch and won for what seems like the millionth time, beating Cara Maria and Cooke by one question.

For the men, the questions are different which made this nearly complete waste of time slightly entertaining. CT lets Wes fall because he doesn’t want to answer “Which Girl Is The Trashiest?” Smart man. Leroy and Ty wind up walking away with the cash and control of the order in the next episode. In theory, this challenge would have created a lot of bad blood, but it didn’t really seem to play out that way. Sure Jemmye was surprised when several people called her fake and said she needs attention, but overall, it’s not like everyone went back to the house shellshocked.

In fact, the game had almost no noticeable impact on the rest of the episode because everything was so focused on Theresa trying to get the guys to vote Diem and Aneesa into the Jungle both because she doesn’t like Diem, but also to deflect votes from herself. I mean, I get it, on some level Theresa knows she’s got no real game or business being on this show and she loves attention, so she spends as much time as she can being loud and causing a ruckus, but it winds up not doing much of anything, even though she thinks she’s got Jordan and Marlon on their side. And yet, I still had to suffer through an episode with this fool talking to me for the majority of the run time.

Let’s cut to the voting. For some reason, Leroy and Ty kick things off by throwing in Diem and Aneesa. They’re followed by CT and Wes who vote for Theresa and Jasmine literally in unison, which was amazing. Johnny and Frank stick to the plan they’ve been going with since the beginning and go for Cooke and Cara Maria. Then, when it’s up to Jordan and Marlon, Jordan does this whole speech and eventually tosses Theresa and Jasmine’s names out. This is hilarious because Theresa is shocked that someone on one of these games could be shady, but as Jordan explains to camera, Diem and Aneesa have had their back since day one, which trumps a silly little alliance talk that went down a few minutes before voting. Smart play, gents!

To avoid any possible anger or wraith, Knight and Preston completely deflect by voting for Nany and Jonna. So there it is, a Jungle of Jemmye and Camila against Theresa and Jasmine. Could this be any more of a “battle of the useless?” This season seems particularly lacking when it comes to female teams who can actually compete.

Anyway, the Jungle is called Catch 22. Both members of the team are running on treadmills and need to throw one of 22 balls to their partner. That catcher not only needs to snag the ball, but drop it in a nearby barrel. If you fall into the water (of course there’s water, mud more accurately) you’re done and the other team can keep going until they either beat the score or fall in the water themselves. Whoever has the most balls in the barrels wins.

At first it seems like Theresa and Jasmine are doing well, but Jasmine proves what we all assume: she’s got very little physical skill and winds up tripping and falling into the muck. This gives Jemmye and Camilia the opportunity to take the advantage which they do. In the second round, Jasmine starts throwing way too many balls, which makes Theresa fall. Once again, the other team surpasses their ball count and walks away victorious.

Again, this is a battle of who could care less. I don’t buy what Ty said to camera about this time offering Paula and Emily a run for their money. There’s just no way. They might be more physically capable than I thought, but they both lose their cool quickly and still seem to hate each other. Then again, there’s probably only going to be two more female eliminations (if my finger-counted math is right) and this game still has teams like Jonna and Nany who, well, are right up there with Theresa and Jasmine.

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 5

Wow, you guys. I’ve watched more seasons of The Challenge than I can count and I’ve never seen one with such wildly stupid voting as this one. Of course, it’s far too early to get into that just yet, so let’s hop right in. The top of the show featured two interesting bits of news. First off, Leroy and Theresa are hooking up. Not a big deal in and of itself, but they do it right over Wes who hooked up with Theresa on Fresh Meat II. Because of this, Wes changes rooms, so Johnny creates a Wes effigy and people write silly things on it like “Low Self Esteem,” a hilarious statement when you think about it. Still, this causes some tension between Wes and Leroy, Leroy thinks Wes needs to be a man and talk things out, but Wes has the best line. “Leroy’s a trash man, he’s used to picking up another man’s garbage.”

Later, Zach talked to his mom and found out that his sister had a baby. Everyone was good and healthy, but he was getting weird and angry. He was also feeling sick which lead to a bit of a tantrum on Zach’s part where he yelled at people and slammed the door on one of the camera man. In a strange move, Knight sidled up to him and instigated him into doing stupid crap like breaking things instead of doing what Frank suggested and going inside to wait for the doctors (who didn’t really find anything wrong with him, by the way).

With the shenanigans over, it was time for the challenge. It was a pretty good one called Frog Smash where one team has to try and run across a beam 30 feet over the water while all the others are in these large swings trying to knock them off. You’ve also got to stay within two swings of your partner during the process.

It was a men’s day, so the ladies go first. Cooke and Cara Maria go up first with the former making it and the latter falling. There’s some kind of alliance between Cooke and Cara Maria, Nany and Jonna and Jasmine and Theresa, so they talk about not swinging on each other. Diem and Aneesa doesn’t know this and also decide to let them run across. So, absolutely no one swings on Jasmine and Theresa so they make it across with a quickness. When Paula and Emily go, Paula falls and Emily winds up running right off the end which doesn’t count as making it. Diem also falls pretty quickly, but Aneesa makes it and holds on. Camila books across followed by Jemmye, but not close enough. Finally, Nany falls off just from looking at someone swinging in her general direction.

For the guys, Trey and Zach are up first. Zach falls up a few steps from the starting line, Zach does better but still falls about two swings from the end. Leroy does an amazing save, slipping at one point, grabbing onto a nearby rope and pulling himself back up…only to fall off the other side. Ty does his own gymnastics moves to get to the end only to run right off at the very end. Marlon and Jordan both make it, but Jordan was way out in front. There’s talk of letting Knight and Preston through. Zach and Trey make a deal with Johnny and Frank to swing on Knight and Preston in an effort to make them have a worse time than Zach and Trey. Preston falls and Knight makes his way across only to fall off at the very end. This is more important because Zach’s pissed at Johnny for not keeping their deal. No one swings on CT and Wes, so they have a nice stroll. At the end it’s Frank and Johnny who only get swung at by a few teams and both make it.

TJ explains after the festivities that  Camila and Jemmye would have won, but Camila went way out ahead of her partner, so the win actually went to Theresa and Jasmine. For the guys, Trey and Zach were the clear losers while Wes and CT had the obvious best time. Once again, I’m a little bummed that the set up of this game means that the winners actually play no role in the rest of the episode. It’s like getting the most excited about the Bronze Metal basketball game at the Olympics instead of the Gold/Silver match.

As far as vote talk goes, Zach tells Frank point blank that he doesn’t trust Johnny and wants him gone. When Frank points out to him that that means he’d go too, Zach tells him that he doesn’t care. Oddly, later when he’s talking to one of the women, Zach says he doesn’t want Knight and Preston thrown in because Knight’s his pal. Huh?

Earlier in the episode, before the challenge, Diem and Wes had a little chat about voting Leroy and Ty into the Jungle. Wes had his reasons while Diem understood that there were basically four teams ahead of hers that they had relationships with.

All of which brings us to the stupidest round of voting I’ve ever seen in the history of The Challenge. Seriously, you guys. This is bonkers. Theresa and Jasmine vote first. Theresa explains to the camera that she’s going to vote for Leroy and Ty. Yes, the chick votes for the dude she’s sleeping with. So then Cooke and Cara Maria are up and they vote for Frank and Johnny because that’s what Zach said he wants. Camila and Jemmye then vote for Marlon and Jordan because they’re rookies (and a safe vote at this point). Nany and Jonna go for Leroy and Ty because they think the next two teams are going to vote differently. They apparently don’t know that Diem already talked to Wes, so she votes for Leroy and Ty, seemingly against Aneesa’s wishes. At this point, it’s over because Leroy and Ty have three votes to every other teams’ one. Emily and Paula vote for Knight and Preston and completely avoid being the bad girls.

Bang. So, because Theresa doesn’t understand the nature of this kind of voting (it’s like dominos many times, one vote leading into another) and because she comes off as a generally foolish person, she winds up helping to send in her bang buddy. Of course, she can’t take responsibility for any of this and starts going around telling others that they screwed up, including Diem. Diem says she stuck to her plan and isn’t there to fix others’ mistakes. True that, Diem. Meanwhile, Wes and CT are practically falling all over themselves laughing at this. I’m with them, it’s hilarious.

The Jungle is called Break On Through. There’s two three-story towers each with a section you can break through using a particular tool. You’ve got to take turns breaking through the barrier, get down to the ground, smash through a door and then ring a bell. Ty and Trey are assigned to go first, but as my wife pointed out, Zach smashes through the first thing and then cuts through a barbed wire barrier before Trey can smash through a glass one. Leroy has a lot of trouble getting through the wire, but they both wind up on the ground floor going at the door at the same time. It looks pretty close, but then, BAMMO, Zach and Trey ring the bell.

In a fit of crazy-person rage, Zach yells things and throws his helmet at the crowd, nearly hitting Jordan in the face. When TJ gets everyone calmed down, he lines the contestants up and says that Zach and Trey clearly got through first, but…commercial. When we come back, he points out what my wife noted about Zach. Essentially he broke the rules and that’s that, they’re actually getting sent home. Zach tells him he’s wrong, but the leave anyway. It still happened, though, we saw it on the tape.

So that’s what happened, gang. It was a wild episode packed with craziness. Leroy hooked up with Theresa again before the end of the episode and already said he forgave everyone, but there’s still got to be some bad blood between them and Diem. Theresa’s still pissed at her for sure, so now she and Aneesa have at least one male team looking to take them out. There’s also going to be some more beef between Wes and Leroy potentially.

There are three things that surprise me about this season. First, the rivals don’t seem to dislike each other very much at this point. Aside from comments made to camera, the actual title of the show doesn’t seem to be coming into play very often. Second, some of the biggest powder kegs on the season haven’t blown up. Wes is generally keeping his cool. CT is too. So is Paula. What’s happening?! Looks like things are set to go up later in the season — I’m particularly interested in what looks like CT jumping in to defend Wes after Johnny pushes him — but at this point, things are relatively tame. Lastly, there is still an obscene amount of fat to cut when it comes to these teams. Guys, Knight and Preston are still there. So are Jonna and Nany. What is happening?!

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 4

I don’t usually like to front load these posts with all the Challenge: Rivals II details, but I just have to point out that the two major fights in this episode revolved around one person supposedly writing a wrap about another and a third person throwing a condiment on a fourth. Seriously. Adults were flying off the handle about poorly crafted flows that might not even exist and ketchup.

That first conflict stemmed from a night out at the club that kicked the episode off. There’s some flirting between Jonna and Jordan as well as something between CT and Nany that is, of course, shot so that Diem’s also literally in the picture. At some point back at the house, Jemmye tells Nany that Diem wrote a rap about her. This seems to equate to something like, “She bludgeoned your cat with your mom,” in Nany’s head because she gets all up in Diem’s face. Diem’s like, “Uh, look at me I can’t rap.” Jemmye claims she heard it in the bar. My wife and I looked at each other during this and said, “Can you believe we’re watching two adult women argue about a rap that no one heard or saw?” The next morning, Johnny and Leroy actually did write a rap about Nany and posted it in the kitchen. Hilarious.

Jemmye and Leroy have a thing going on. Wes sees this and immediately jumps in to sew seeds of destruction. He brings up Leroy and Knight to Jemmye who says she wants to get down with Leroy and she says that she’s not worried about doing it with Knight still there. The editors then cut to Knight wading in a pool drinking wine out of what looks like a square vase of some kind.

The challenge, called Stumped, was pretty bonkers. There was a bamboo maze and the team had to go through tied not only to one another but also to a 25 foot pole. Teams got disqualified after 20 minutes. Whenever they throw something like that in, you assume it’s going to take a long time, but far fewer people got DQed than I expected.

Since it was a women’s day, let’s gloss over the guys. Every team but Knight and Preston finished. Knight fully placed the blame for this on Preston after initially saying that his partner was in charge. Nice play, there. It basically translate to, “I know we’re not going to finish this, so I’m going to put it all on this guy.” It boggles my mind that they’re still in this game. Oh, Jordan and Marlon won for the guys which means they get to chose who goes in what order next time and get some cash.

The first two teams of women to go up were Nany and Jonna and Cara Maria and Cooke. Neither looked particularly competent out there, but both eventually finished. After that it was Aneesa and Diem along with Theresa and Jasmine. Aneesa and Diem killed it pretty quickly as you might expect. But, Theresa and Jasmine could just not get coordinated — partially because Jasmine’s arms are like a T-Rex’s compared to her partner’s — and wound up getting DQed. Finally, it’s down to Emily and Paula as well as Jemmye and Camila. The latter team winds up getting off to a great start, but Camila winds up losing it as Emily and Paula blow past them and finish. The remaining team got the two minute warning from TJ and it looks like they’re getting the axe, but they pull it out at the very end. Of course, Theresa and Jasmine are going in and it’s up to the men to figure out who will go up against them in The Jungle.

The decision making time was kind of weird this time around. Most of the guys seemed okay with the same strategy Diem talked about last episode which is to keep sending in the same team to piss fewer teams off overall. Wes seemed to think this wasn’t a great way to go, but didn’t really present an alternative to camera. He and CT did talk to Cooke a bit who went around to the guy teams seeing if they’d vote in Diem and Aneesa instead. Ty seemed receptive to the idea, but Zach looked at her like she was insane saying something like, “Why would I rock the boat when I’m in a pretty good spot right now?” She came back with something silly along the lines of, “Because it’s the right thing to do!” Laughable. Still, it seemed like she might have swayed something or other.

As it turned out, Cooke’s stumping didn’t do much of anything. Diem says she talked to everyone as well, but we didn’t see it (we didn’t see a lot of seemingly important elements revolving around her this episode now that I think about it). Anyway, five of the teams voted for Cooke and Cara Maria while Ty and Leroy once again did a throaway vote of Nany and Jonna which I think is part of their plan, distract with a weird pick that can’t possibly sway voting.

After the voting, Jemmye’s drunk and running around. She steals Cooke’s shorts and Knight smacks her on the butt, which was out of line. Jemmye got in his face, so to get her away from him, he sprayed ketchup on her. As it happens, Jemmye has a phobia of the condiment. This sounds as ridiculous as it sounds, but she ran away screaming out of the room only to come back in with a trash can which she threw in his general direction. The fight went off and on, but was mostly verbal. Leroy saw all this and said he’d rather not get into it with Jemmye because she’s drama-central. The next morning he lets Theresa paint his toenails.

The Jungle was pretty interesting. The women walked into the arena to see a large metal gurney hooked up to several different car batteries. This looked suspect to me from the beginning. I assumed a lot of it was window dressing. Adding to the atmosphere was the fact that TJ was standing there in a crazy leather or rubber apron. He explained the game called, Can You Take It? which would pit members from opposite teams strapped to the gurney with 400,00 megawatts of electricity running through it. Whoever lasted longer without quitting won. Best two out of three got to stay. He even announced who was going against each other and asked if they were ready to start.

After a quick commercial break, TJ explains that this is all a gag and that both teams get to stick around. I was actually embarrassed that I didn’t see this coming because it was so obvious. Then again, we’ve seen these game-makers send these kids into a semi-gas chamber for yucks. Back at the house Cooke and Cara Maria are pissed as are the other top dog female teams. Not really sure why. What does it change? They won their previous Jungle and it changed nothing for them, why would this change anything?

As it began, the episode ends with a club scene. This one’s got a good deal of dancing and flirting but the focus is different. This time, Diem decided to take the advice CT gave her earlier in the episode and went out without a wig, bandana or hat on. I know I don’t know any of these people personally, but I felt really happy for her that she was able to get past that hurdle. Now CT needs to stop flirting with other girls, they need to work through their crap and form a mighty Challenge Union!!!

Reality Rundown: Summer Camp, Below Deck & Catfish: The TV Show

usa-network-summer-camp

Well gang, it’s summer, so you know what that means: there’s not much to watch on TV if you don’t like reality shows. I was thinking about doing one of those “What We’re Watching” posts I do from time to time, but since it’s 95% “non-scripted” shows, I figured a Reality Rundown would make more sense. There were a few weeks in the beginning of the warm season there where nothing of interest was on, but thankfully a swath of shows we dig have premiered to help fill our evenings.

One such program is USA’s Summer Camp. I stumbled upon this one a few weeks back as it was debuting, which seemed like auspicious timing. Also, for a guy whose been fascinated by camp going back to the days of watching Salute Your Shorts and Camp Nowhere (there’s even a Camp Movie category over there on the right) this was a pretty easy sell. The idea here is that a large group of adults are taken to a camp and broken up into teams based on sex. Every episode each team choses a captain who will pick two of their own players to go up for elimination should they lose the daily game (like this week’s guess-whoe’s-kissing-you contest). Those two people then go to the other team, plead their case and either get to go or stay.

What I dig about this show is that it’s just plain goofy fun. The contestants aren’t overly scummy — something I’ve found with a lot of other reality shows of this nature — so you can enjoy most of them. It even seems like the producers were going for “likable” instead of “dramatic” when putting the group together, which is a nice change. Even though it’s not similar thematically, the show kind of reminds me of Beauty And The Geek which I remember enjoying for the first season. At the end of the day, Summer Camp‘s like your third light beer on a hot day, it serves its purpose, but you’re not going to remember the details by the next one.

Below Deck - Season 1

 

I don’t know about you guys, but Bravo seems to go in waves of putting out shows I actually enjoy. The beach was pretty dry there for a while and then they came rushing back hard with a group of shows we like Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Million Dollar Listings New York, Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis and newcomer Below Deck.

Deck follows the adventures of a charter yacht crew as they take on new guests every week. Each employee has varying levels of experience in the field, so you get a mix of the basic job reality show tropes where some people are just doing their job really well and others are dealing with all kinds of new experiences. For the most part, this is a pretty interesting group of characters, many of whom have surprising back stories that keep getting revealed as the series progresses. I will say, though, that the last episode got on my nerves a bit with how much some of the employees complained about the guests. Granted, the clients were super douche-bags, but you’re working a luxury yacht, you should pretty much expect daily piles of BS from entitled weirdos who think the world revolves around them. Of course, this inability to cope has lead to tons of drama that might even lead to a crew member getting thrown overboard next episode.

catfish-the-tv-show-1

 

Two years ago I watched a documentary called Catfish about a guy named Nev discovering that the young lady he’d been chatting with online was actually a married woman with kids. In my review of that movie, I actually said, “To me, the movie felt more like a show that would be on the Learning Channel or Discovery about weirdos who lie on the internet. ” I must be psychic because now it’s exactly that, but on MTV.

Catfish: The TV Series finds Nev, his pal Max and their film crew traveling around the country helping people find out if the folks they’ve been talking to on the internet are who they say they are. We watched most of this show’s first season, but more casually than now. These days I get excited every time a new episode is on. I like how this show makes delusional people face reality. That’s not always easy for them, but I think it’s important to not live in a completely fictional world of your own creation. The craziest part to me is when the people asking for help are pretty sure they’re being lied to and still go on with their online significant other. Heck, the guy on this week’s episode was living with his girlfriend while talking to his longtime online girl! It’s just crazy.

I will say that Catfish is right on the edge of the kinds of reality shows I can watch. “Trying to make people see through their delusions” is a subgenre that also includes things like Hoarders and Intervention, which are just too real, sad and unnerving for me to watch. I know that love can be just as addicting as anything else and that betrayal is a very difficult feeling to deal with, but it seems a bit softened by the show itself, something I attribute to Max and Nev who seem to be getting more and more skeptical with each episode. Good for them because we’re getting close to the point where folks are going to be scamming them just to get on TV.

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 3

Well, this was quite the episode of The Challenge: Rivals II. We had castmates leaving, more than two getting sent home, new hook-ups, a pretty intense challenge, two big fights and a Jungle with surprising results. The episode kicks off with a tryst between Marlon and Derek. If you remember from Marlon’s season, he told his housemates that he was bisexual, but since the season didn’t air before Rivals II started filming, the others had no idea what was going on. Jordan tells them the story we heard, so word of him being bi gets out.

Marlon doesn’t care about any of this until the whole group is playing a game where you pull a name out of a bowl and have to act like that person until the others guess correctly. Leroy gets Marlon’s name, but doesn’t really know him well enough to play the game. Wes says he’ll do it, but Knight gets word of whose name is on the paper, so he gets up and simulates oral sex on Wes before quickly saying, “It’s Marlon!” This is the equivalent of dragging a needle across a record and stops the party dead. Before you know it, Marlon and Knight are about to get into it, with both of their partners trying to hold them back for fear of getting sent home themselves. This puts Preston in a bad place because, as a gay man, he’s defending a guy who’s at the very least insensitive (and possibly a downright homophobe). But, hey, it’s for money, right? During all this, Jemmye made me laugh pretty hard when she said she’d pay money to see Marlon knock Knight out. You can put me down for a five spot too.

Marlon walks away to cool off and eventually finds himself back outside talking to Aneesa who says she can relate to him coming out in front of a group like this that’s not always great at not being jerks. For some reason, Aneesa talking to Marlon off to a side bothers Trishelle who starts complaining about it. Jemmye comes over and tells Aneesa this and then a-whole-nother fight breaks out. There’s a lot of yelling and, at one point, it looked like Trishelle was going in to hit Aneesa, so she put her arm up and maybe-sorta close-lined Trishelle a bit. As Aneesa said, she didn’t hit her though, so she’s good to stay.

Trishelle wakes up the next morning and starts packing, telling Emily she’s leaving. Emily relays the information to Trishelle’s partner Sarah who looks bummed but not overly shocked. Trishelle seems to leave pretty quickly and later on TJ shows up at the house asking everyone to get together. Turns out, Cara Maria was the only woman on the bench they had and Sarah got sent home (just like she did when Vinny acted a damn fool during Battle Of The Exes). I’ve got to say, this move surprised me because you’d expect with a concept like Rivals that production would have a number of potential fill in people. How crazy would it have been to bring Laurel in this late in the game?

Anyway, that wasn’t happening. Instead we cut to the challenge which was called Mind Over Splatter. There’s this bonkers structure hanging over water (of course). They’ve got to climb up a rope ladder one at a time and then travel down two ropes while straddling them, but they’ve got to do this part in pretty close proximity. You’ve got 10 minutes to finish. If one person falls from the ropes, the other person has to stop and wait for the other to get back up on the structure, re-climb the rope and then go from there.

You  might remember from the last episode that Wes and Preston dropped out of a female challenge because they didn’t want to do stuff. TJ said they’d be penalized this time around and that turned out to be not only a 30 second penalty, but they also had to go first. And they gave the craziest show because Knight and Preston flipped over so they were dangling upside down. Knight wound up falling into the water and finally getting back on the ropes. They got a few feet away from the finish with very little time left and then Preston wound up falling making them the team to beat in order to avoid the Jungle automatically.

The rest were pretty standard. The teams, which alternated between sexes, all finished and all seemed pretty equal with one another. Highlights included Marlon and Jordan flipping over, but still killing the rest of the course and pretty speedy performances by Zach and Trey, Frank and Johnny and Marlon and Jordan, but Frank and Johnny walked away with the victory as did Emily and Paula.

This time around, Diem explains her group’s plan: continue voting for Robb and Derek in an effort to not make any other teams upset. At first this sounded dumb to me, but after thinking on it, it makes more sense. You’ve got to vote for someone, so why spread around the anger you’ll cause by voting people in? When it comes back around to you, a team like Robb and Derek will only have one vote and something like three or four teams to vote for, so the odds are in your favor. Well played Diem.

But, everyone’s not in on the plan. Diem and Aneesa, Emily and Paula and Camila and Jemmye vote for Robb and Derek. Meanwhile, Marlon and Trey get votes from Nany and Jonna and Cooke and Cara Maria while Leroy and Ty get a vote from Jasmine and Theresa. Now, this seemed goofy and odd, but I think it might actually be a good plan these two teams have worked out. In the last voting session, Ty and Leroy voted for these ladies which seemed like a complete throwaway, this time the women “got them back,” but it’s possible this is all just a nice game of misdirection, especially because they did their votes in the middle or towards the end. Well played you sneaky folks.

We then move on to what might be one of the best Jungles/finals of all time called Snapper. When I saw the big red circle on the ground I groaned, thinking this would be another one of those finals where dudes try to smash each other out of a box. But, oh no, that’s not the case. Instead, each person is blindfolded, wearing bells around the ankles, given movement clues by their partner and handed a colorful stick. The goal? Break that stick over your opponent. It looked like the goofies Star Wars cosplay in the world and there’s nothing wrong with that.

First, Robb went up against Preston. This one went by pretty quickly once they got close to each other with Robb just wailing on Preston like a snake. They got the first point. Then Preston and Knight developed code words and a pretty solid idea: stay low. Derek got close to Knight, but he was doing all these crazy motions and wound up getting Derek in the leg. Finally, it was done to a battle between Robb and Knight. Robb had some trouble squaring off in the correct direction, but Knight was doing all those crazy moves and wound up sending Robb and Derek home.

I was stunned. I’ve made my opinions about Knight pretty clear. I think he’s an emotional terrorist who knows how to hit buttons. In other words he’s a bully who relies on his words because he usually doesn’t have the physical presence to actually be good at these games. It’s time for that jerkstore to be done with these things.

Anyway, I’ve noticed a few things about this season that seem noteworthy. First off, the rivalries all seem pretty dead, right? All the fights we’ve seen are between non-teammates and it looks like the supposed enemies are getting along well. That’s kind of boring and defeats the point of this season, right? There’s also a weird let down that comes immediately after a team wins the challenge because right after that, they’re no longer important. In other Challenges, the winners would be safe but also have a hand in figuring out who would go in. Now, the focus shifts immediately away from the winner to the folks of the opposite sex trying to figure out who they’re going to toss in. It’s a bit anticlimactic and also shifts the focus of the challenges from “Who will win?!” to “Who will lose?” which feels strange to me. Ah well, like I said, I enjoyed this episode for the most part and am always curious to see what happens next.

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 2

Last week I went the live blog route when it came to the season premiere of The Challenge: Rivals II, but I think I’m going to go the play-by-play route tonight. The episode kicked off with a fun little maneuver by CT, Johnny, Theresa, Anastasia and someone else I missed all dressed ninjas throwing water balloons at the rest of the group who are sleeping in the air conditioned living room. This didn’t explode like you might have thought, but even more surprising was the fact that CT and Johnny did something together.

A big source of drama this episode came thanks to the Diem-CT-Anastasia love triangle. As we learn throughout the episode, CT basically wants Diem to tell the other girls like Anastasia to back off. He wants her to make it known that she wants to be with him. He’s basically playing games with her and using Anastasia to prove his point…and get his rocks off.

Actually, that leads to another point of conflict in the episode and one of two fights. CT’s in a room talking to a group of people including Derek, Trishelle, Frank and Knight. Frank and Trishelle tell him that Anastasia’s been telling people they slept together. CT says it’s hokum, but it doesn’t stop there. Frank starts getting in his face for some reason and a fight is pretty close to breaking out, though both CT and Frank tell the camera they know the game: punch someone, get sent home. Frank and CT start pushing back and forth and CT’s shirt gets ripped, but that’s about it because Knight decided to jump in and basically stop the whole thing by wrapping Frank up and bringing him to the floor. This tension ends with Johnny trying to talk his almost-in-tears partner down.

All of this brings us to the episode’s challenge, bawdily called The Triple X Games. But before getting into that, TJ Lavin reveals Cooke’s partner will be none other than Cara Maria. I figured it’d be Heather, the only other female she actually had problems with on her season. Instead, she got partnered with a person that apparently no one else on the cast likes. You guys, they didn’t even clap for her when she came out, it was crazy. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a cavalcade of complaints about her thanks to a quick talking head montage.

The Triple X Games were broken up into two parts: Woody and Ball Gag. For the first, you and your partner are joined at the crotch with a saw and have to cut through a log. The winning team gets a five second head start with each subsequent team getting one. With the second part, one partner stands with the other one facing them, but upside down and attached to them. You’ve got to get up from a position on the ground, run through an obstacle course, pick a ball up off a stick, drop it down to the other play and pop that ball into an periscope-esque pipe sticking out of the ground.

Since it was a woman’s challenge day, the fellas went first. Right off the bat, Wes wound up quitting, so he and CT were disqualified. Wes and Preston wind up finishing first, but before the second round can begin, Preston says he doesn’t want to dangle in front of Knight’s junk and bails, so that’s one more team out. CT actually picks Knight up and runs a good deal of the course with the others until TJ tells them to bounce. Zach and Trey wind up winning and walking away with the money.

Then it was the ladies’ turn to see who would wind up avoiding elimination and who would be going straight to The Jungle. Nany and Jordan wind up finishing the Woody portion first, but the real treat here is watching Camila go at this thing like a cougar with her first stud and editing that with Jemmye talking about how ridiculous her partner is.

Even though they won a five second head start, Nany and Jonna can not get their poop together and actually stand up. This apparently wound up being a problem for Jessica and Anastasia AND Jemmye and Camila who wound up rolling over one another between obstacles in an effort to not come in last. It was basically a three-way battle for second to last with the rookies coming in last. Oh yeah, Emily and Paula won.

Before heading back to the house, CT drops a bombshell on the two teams of quitters: a penalty will be assessed at the beginning of the next challenge. BOOM. As far as I can remember, that’s never happened before. Back at the house, CT, Wes and Diem are talking about who the guys are going to vote in. Diem — who pretty much always plays safe/scared — wants to throw in newbies Cooke and Cara Maria because they’re new, but CT and Wes think it might make sense to ally themselves with a strong team like that who might stick around for a while and be able to help them with votes down the line.

Voting itself wound up being only slightly interesting, which tends to be the case in these early episodes when the rookies are still around. Most of the newer teams vote for newer teams, so Cooke and Cara Maria got sent in, but the surprise was that Trishelle and Sarah got two votes, mostly for popping off against CT earlier in the episode. So, that’s that, but afterwards Sarah tries to talk some sense into Trishelle, asking if she’s really there to compete, which apparently is the case.

At this point, the Anastasia-CT-Diem triable comes back into play when Theresa explains some of the history between CT and Diem to Anastasia who finally realizes she’s just a pawn. This plays out the next morning when CT comes into her room which sets her off. Anastasia slapped him several times, threw his glasses and kicked him in the butt. Once again Knight was there to stop someone from going after CT (does he think this will help him somehow? is he training for bodyguard school?). Ana lost it, but to be fair, CT just kept pushing her on purpose which isn’t cool.

With that, we’re at The Jungle which is called Hanging By A Thread. Both teams hang down from swings that are part of this large apparatus. While upside down they’ve got to cut through a super-thick rope with tiny hand saws, thus making the opposite team fall into the water. However, before getting to that, Anastasia has a minor medical freakout that sounds an awful lot like dehydration (shock upon shock considering how much wine flows in the house, right?). While waiting for her to get back in action Cooke actually pees into the water they’re supposed to fall into should they lose adding another reason for them to win.

Once the game actually starts, it seems like Cooke and Cara Maria have the lead because they’re attacking this thing from opposite sides. But, their intense movements have started them rocking which — if we believe the editing — allows Anastasia and Jessica to catch up a bit, but it winds up all being for naught. Team C cuts through the rope and we say goodbye to the ladies from Real World Portland. I don’t see these ladies as having anything close to a shot at these things down the line, but I bet we’ll see at least one of them again (a CT/Anastasia Battle Of The Exes team would be funny).

As one ill-conceived “love” dies by way of realization and poor sawing skills, another one between Sarah and Trey starts heating up back at the house. What starts as some couch flirting very quickly turns into shirt-off, straddling time in what they seem to think is a closet area without cameras, but are clearly mounted way up in the top corner.

All in all it was a pretty good episode, packed with all the kinds of craziness you expect from these things: fighting, “romance,” interpersonal drama, etc. The funny thing about this season is that I keep forgetting about some of the more fiery characters who don’t seem to be causing any trouble just yet. It’s still pretty early, but I expected Jasmine, Camila, Ty and Trey to get into it a little more by this point. Maybe next episode!