Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Challenge: Exes Preview

I never understood why the show "Two and a Half Men" did so well during the Charlie Sheen era. I would catch up a couple of episodes here and there, and while not totally awful, the show never seemed like it was worthy of the "most watched comedy" status that it has earned. I think that's how KOBEsh feels about my high praise of The Challenge, labeled a professional sport by Bill Simmons himself. To the Mambino CEO's rather slight dismay, it is the most popular Mambino topic to date, and it's not even close. He likened it to the Thriller album; it sells copies every week. And so here we are.

Last season, "Rivals" was so good that I felt like it deserved its own space. But every once in a while, MTV puts forth a cast that contains too much of their B-squad. "Exes," premiering this Wednesday, is one of those seasons. Despite that, the lists to the right and to the left have forced my hand. Below is a preview of the new season, starting Wednesday, January 25th at 10:00pm ET.

First things first: since I do this mainly for the eyes of people who actually know me, I'll begin with an overview of this season's game format.
-26 players; 13 couples
-Each episode is a challenge that pits every couple against each other. The duo that comes in last is automatically sent to "The Dome," a battlefield in which they will fight (sometimes literally) another couple for the right to stay in the game. This other couple is chosen by the twosome that wins the main challenge. So, to stay out of the Dome, you must either win the main challenge, or be on the good side of the couple who wins the main challenge.

As for the show's connection to sport, let's just say that the final challenge in every show for the past couple years will be more battle-tested than anything you'll ever do in your life. Take a look at an excerpt from last season's Final Challenge:

There's really no point in predicting who's going to win. At some point, host T.J. Lavin will "shock" the remaining players left in the game by sending a text to house-approved cell phones. Whoever is in possession of the phone at the time will be contractually obligated to say the full brand name of the mobile device ("Hey guys, I just got a message from T.J. on my T-Mobile Sidekick II!") before announcing the "game-changer," and all hell will break loose. So I'll just rank the contestants based on who I'm excited to see MTV exploit.

Nate Stodghill and Priscilla Mendez

The first rule of The Challenge is that rookies always get the short end of the stick. Since these two kids are the most recent MTV alumni, the only way they'll advance is if they win every single competition. In Nate's Real World season, the sight of fireworks on July 4th (seriously) brought him to tears, as he remembered old friends who committed suicide (makes sense). He then wasted much of the season promoting his new suicide awareness website, The Living Memoir, which looked like an excuse for him to throw parties and get hammered. Classy move.

Dustin Zito and Heather Marter

These two losers (they self-proclaimed themselves "Ken and Barbie") are also Challenge first-timers. They are also the only couple that is still currently together; their breakup occurred within their Real World season when Heather learned of Dustin's past. Umm...he used to be a gay pornstar. Yikes. If I were running MTV, I'd want them to last as long as possible just so the Challenge vets can rip him to shreds. Offend as many people as possible; it's the American way.

Tyrie Ballard and Jasmine Reynaud

On "Rivals," Jasmine declared that she had a serious boyfriend at home, which in MTV language, means, "I'm about to cheat on my serious boyfriend at home." Tyrie was the (un)lucky beneficiary of Jasmine's actions. But when the players learned that they would be teamed with exes, Jasmine was said to be regretting her decision to participate, presumably because of some problem with Tyrie. Please. Like you'd have anything better to do.

Rachel Robinson and Aneesa Ferreira

The one same-sex couple. I'm curious to see how MTV takes it easy on them, especially since Aneesa is more unathletic than she is loud.

Mark Long and Robin Hibbard

On a Simmons podcast, a former cast member revealed that Robin used to be Derek Jeter's sidepiece. I guess even someone as baller as the Captain can be forgiven for such transgressions: Robin's voice is lower than mine, probably from the 200 cigarettes per hour ratio she's working on. She also has the mental stability of a young woman who has been embarrassed on television by a man ready to sign up for his AARP card. Oh wait, that actually happened. Mark Long was on the FIRST Road Rules, back in 1995. That was 16 years ago, long before MTV poisoned me. Just when you thought he hung em up, Mark has Julio Franco-ed his way back into the game.

Dunbar Flinn and Paula Meronek

There is nothing more fun to watch on The Challenge than when Paula Walnuts cries. I detailed it in the Rivals Finale post: it's when you're so exhausted from crying, but you continue to cry anyway, only you can't really breathe, so the whimpers come in waves and pauses. Fascinating stuff. However, the likelihood of this happening is tough to project. Sure, she and Dunbar hate each other...great. But Paula won Rivals last season, so maybe the hunger isn't there anymore. If this is a season free of Paula crying, we could be in for a huge disappointment.

Wes Bergmann and Mandi Moyer

Mandi was the girl who revealed to CT that she would like him to choke her in bed (am I a freak or is that a little tame? Freak? Okay, let's forget I said anything.). When CT didn't take the (jail)bait, Wes was all too kind to snatch sloppy seconds. How romantic.

Abram Boise and Cara Maria Sorbello

With Abram not participating in the Rivals edition, Cara Maria brought a pillow to last season's Challenge. She dressed said pillow with Abram's clothes. She's one of those goth chicks that apparently has a huge following, since there are a couple of stalkers people who come to Mambino every week looking specifically for her. Her ex-dude, Abram, sports tattoos that look like a small child took a crayon to his body. Let's move on.

CT Tamburello and Diem Brown

Diem previously had ovarian cancer, and broke up with CT to focus on her "career." She's the good-natured girl next door. On the other hand, CT entered the Tyson Zone by threatening to eat someone a couple of years back. I hope he's hungry this season, but if the previews for Exes suggest anything (they don't), CT might tone it down this time around, as those feelings look like they're coming back.

Johnny Devenanzio and Camila Nakagawa

If all the people who participated in The Challenge rode the short bus to school, well, at least Johnny would sit at the front. His weasel tactics are impressive enough to make you think he's legitimately intelligent, but that's before you realize that you're subconsciously comparing him to the reading-at-a-4th-grade-level opponents he is up against. Camila is Brazilian; can't you tell from her name?

Also playing: Leroy Garrett and Naomi Defensor; Ty Ruff and Emily Schromm; Vinny Foti and Sarah Rice

As echoed by friend of the blog Kingraj, can anybody please tell me why Kelly Anne Judd is not playing, and hasn't been seen on The Challenge in ages? Goodness, this show needs a serious infusion of eye candy.

Rumor note: Noted Challenge stalwarts Kenny Santucci and Evan Starkman are conspicuously absent from Exes. A team of Kenny and Johanna Botta, as well as Evan with Veronica Portillo, would have been entertaining, but the interwebs have speculated that both Kenny and Evan are not on the show because of a pending legal matter. Tonya Cooley has alleged that both Kenny and Evan used a toothbrush shall I put her, during "The Ruins" season in 2009. Let's hope this is a frivolous lawsuit.

I get that you guys may not like sports. Your Google searches tell me so (know that I, too, would like to know what the hell is that growth on Abram's chest). But on the chance that you do find an interest in sports, please give some charity to some of our favorites of the past week.

State of the Garden: Half Empty, Half Full

Speak of the Devils: New Jersey at the 3/4 Mark

Goodbye Clipper Darrell: Another Example of the Classless Clippers

Chris Bosh: Indispensable More Than You Know

Why Tony Parker is Underrated

UCLA Reaction: Howland and Guerrero Must Go


  1. I think ty ruff (for name alone) and his narcisitic tendencies needs to be explored in depth. Especially since his f-buddy on the show, is probably the most athletic girl. Should be a heated one since he threw a 5 foot plant in her bad last season.

    also no lesbian exes? Can someone spell discrimination? Either way im pumped for what will most likely be the best thing on TV.

  2. Totally forgot about the plant in the bed. Damn. And Rachel-Aneesa is the same-sex combo they chose; I would have preferred a Rachel-Jenn duo though.