‘The Challenge’ is a top-rated MTV game series whose contestants are often picked from other well-liked shows on the network. Shot across various continents, the participants go up against each other in extreme challenges, trying to avoid elimination. While the cash prize is an incentive, viewers often tune in as they are invested in the participants’ stories.
In fact, Jonathan Murray, the co-creator, said as much in a Rolling Stone interview. He stated, “With The Challenge, you’ve got cast members who viewers have grown up with. They’ve watched them as they’ve been through various phases of their lives: marriages, divorces, health threats, getting thrown off the show, getting back on the show. It’s the longest-running soap opera on TV.” With such a high degree of viewer engagement, the question naturally arises whether ‘The Challenge’ is real or scripted. We are here to put all doubts to rest.
Is The Challenge Scripted or Real?
While ‘The Challenge’ is listed as a reality game show, the series focuses more on the game show aspects rather than what is expected from reality television. Wes Bergmann, the show’s alum, has spoken about it on the ‘Bachelor Party’ podcast. He stated, “We are not reality television. Our show does not do any of that. They started as documentarians, and they are still documentarians, they just happen to be really, really good, entertaining documentarians. I have never found myself in the position where the most important storylines aren’t being told in as fairly of a way as possible.”
Wes might be confident about the show’s authenticity, but fans have naturally questioned the nature of rivalries. After all, the staple of reality television’s entertainment comes from accentuating the animosities, which result in drama and drive up viewer ratings. However, the show’s developers have addressed this as well, telling E! News, “Because they have so much together time, that they generally get in fights. Or if stuff is going to come to a head, it’s going to come to a head on the days that we’re not out doing a challenge. Those are the days that sometimes the best drama happens.”
Dan Caster, MTV’s producer and vice president of series development, backed it up, saying, “There are always cameras.” Since the contestants are continually strategizing, competing, and looking at various angles to avoid elimination, tensions often run high among participants. While ‘The Challenge’ strives to be authentic, some things are different in real life compared to how it is portrayed on camera.
For example, participants seem to be having a party, staying at a beautiful home with a pool, gym, and nearly unlimited alcohol. However, the truth is that they have to follow an extensive set of rules to remain a part of the series. No information can be leaked on social media as it would hurt the ratings of ‘The Challenge.’ Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, an alum, also revealed that alcohol is provided conservatively to prevent participants from getting boisterous and putting others at risk. Moreover, those who show up for challenges drunk are eliminated.
‘The Challenge’ seems to be real for the most part, and even the sleuths at Reddit have reached a similar conclusion. Naturally, there are some embellishments, but they are kept to a minimum in the MTV series.
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