The Challenge: Dirty XXX - It's a Dirty Game Folks

The best way I can describe watching MTV’s The Challenge is by comparing it to eating a deep-fried Oreo. You know it’s trash, you know it has no real nutritional value, but it just tastes so dang good that you can’t help reaching for another.

 Courtesy of MTV.com

Courtesy of MTV.com

Founded by Bunim/Murray Productions (the same company that brought us Keeping up with the Kardashians and Project Runway) The Challenge premiered on June 1st, 1998, and has been one of MTV’s longest running shows on the air. The cast is made up of contestants originating from other MTV shows, primarily Real World and Are you the One, and “vets” – contestants that have competed on The Challenge so many time it’s practically their full-time job (Johnny "Bananas", the unofficial Challenge king, has competed in fifteen seasons and won six). Challengers compete in various competitions as either teams, pairs, or individuals. The competitions themselves range between grueling feats of strength and endurance, impossible mental and strategical puzzles, and janky carnival games that are impossible to prepare for – no matter how physically fit. The winners of these competitions then vote somebody from the opposing side into a final elimination round where they must battle it out with the loser from the competition. The winner returns to the house, the loser goes home empty-handed. This goes on until there are three teams, pairs, or individuals left to compete in an ultimate Final, each going home with a cash prize. Now, take all of that and add a ridiculous amount of booze, hook-ups, and fights, and you get the basic premise of the Challenge.

Unlike most reality-television, the Challenge’s entire cast is based on faces the viewer knows and recognizes. They encourage their contestants to return again and again with various season themes that lend themselves to creating relationships in the house. For example, previous seasons themes’ have been Battle of the Exes (forces two contestants who’ve hooked up, been on a few dates, or had full and committed relationships with each other on the show to put aside their differences and work as a team), Rivals (same idea as Battle of the Exes, but the pair has gotten into some kind of argument with each other on past seasons), and Bloodlines (previous Challengers compete with a member of their family).

 Courtesy of MTVpress.com

Courtesy of MTVpress.com

The Challenge's thirtieth and most recent season premiered on July 18, 2017, with the subtitle XXX: Dirty Thirty. The premise revolves around putting the dirtiest players from past seasons in situations where they'll continually have to backstab each other, in order to create the dirtiest game yet. And believe me, nobody on cast or production would let you forget it. If I drank every time somebody said “It’s a dirty game” or “It’s the dirty thirty” or “You gotta play dirty to win”, I’d be on the floor passed out before they even made it halfway through the episode. In terms of actual dirty moves… I wouldn’t say the gameplay was significantly different than any other season. After all, nothing could top the finale of Rivals lll, where the aforementioned Johnny Bananas won a final with Sarah Rice by climbing a mountain together (and in many cases with her leading him), only to decide to take all of her money for himself, leaving her with the exact same amount of cash as the last place teams.

However, this season did have some particularly nasty behaviour, it just wasn’t game related. After a night of drinking (how most of these stories begin), the contestants participated in a fun rap-battle, playfully dissing one another. Or it was fun, until Jordan Wiseley, an incredibly talented competitor who’s won multiple seasons and was born with only one hand, chimed in, saying another contestant had “down syndrome face”. To the other contestants' credit, they made sure to let him know exactly how inappropriate the behaviour was. He apologized, and everyone forgot about it. Especially when a few episodes later, Camila Nakagawa, another Challenge heavy-hitter, took the behaviour that gets her frequently recast on the show too far. Nicknamed “The Camilinator”, Camila is known for her violent, incoherent outbursts, exacerbated by her drinking. One night, a clearly intoxicated Camila burst in on Leroy Garrett and accused the man of conspiring against her. Her accusations got louder and more aggressive until she began screaming racial slurs at the other contestant, demeaning him for the colour of his skin. For his part, Leroy handled the situation with grace. Camila was finally escorted out, only to return the following day, offering a hollow apology.

MTV has since tried to condemn this behaviour, but the fact is these contestants are continually cast and encouraged to behave badly. After seventeen episodes and two reunion specials (an extra four shows in total, this was the season that wouldn’t end), the viewers finally found out who the winners were. Jordan and Camila. They each won $450,000, the biggest prize in Challenge history.


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A conventional girl on an unconventional blog, Sophie’s been curious about alternate lifestyles since she first stumbled across an episode of Oprah exploring polygamy. A second year Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, Sophie loves reading, writing, and learning about different people and cultures.

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Sophie Gervais

A conventional girl on an unconventional blog, Sophie’s been curious about alternate lifestyles since she first stumbled across an episode of Oprah exploring polygamy. A second-year Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, Sophie loves reading, writing, and learning about different people and cultures.