A Moment In Challenge History: Vol. 2

Jenna and Her Cousin Brianna Share a Family Moment

Life is nothing if not an endless string of moments. Some moments change your life, like quitting a job or falling in love. And sometimes they’re simply a minor annoyance, like stubbing your toe on your bed frame in the middle of the night. But certain moments gnaw at your memory until they’ve tattooed themselves on your brain, and it just becomes a part of you. For a Challenge fan, this is one of those moments…

It would be hasty of us to jump in. We need to set the scene. To understand everything surrounding this seemingly small moment, we need to ask some important questions and take a look at the characters involved.

Where Are We: Bodrum, a port city on the Southwestern coast of Turkey.

When Are We: Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

What Season: Battle of the Bloodlines

Important Characters: Jenna and her cousin Brianna

Notable Supporting Characters: Nany; Nany’s cousin Nicole; Brianna’s boyfriend’s ex girlfriend with short hair; Aneesa

Brief Description: After a night out, Jenna’s cousin Brianna reaches her breaking point and skeletons surface from the cousin’s real life comes crashing to the surface.

A few key questions one may be asking themselves right away. What does Bloodlines mean? Why is Jenna’s cousin there? Why is Nany’s cousin there? Why does hair length of a current boyfriend’s ex girlfriend matter? But before we dig too deep into these questions, let’s explore exactly what Bloodlines is.

There’s a couple points important points to parse out before we begin.

  1. There is one personality trait that connects every single cast member to ever appear on an episode of The Challenge with the exception cast members on only one season. Battle of the Bloodlines.
  2. Only two seasons in the modern era of this show have been truly different. The Island and Battle of the Bloodlines.

On The Challenge, all of the greats share something with all of the worst. From Landon all the way down to Mike Mike, there is one and only one common thread among them all.

They all want to be on TV.

Now a lot of people “want” to be on TV. But to actually audition, sign up, and choose to go, you really want to be on TV. That takes a certain type of person. You can be as normcore as Danny or as eccentric as Tonya, but to actively want to be on a reality television show carries with it a certain specific personality trait.

I’ve met some pretty wild, unpredictable, out-there people in my travels. They would all make for spectacular entertainment if somebody stuck a camera on them 24/7 for a few months. But those people had less than zero desire to appear on an MTV show. In fact, for most it would have clashed directly with their moral compass.

So that brings us directly to number two.

The Island deserves it’s own blog post to list out the differences between that season and a normal one. But if you haven’t seen it, I’ll just simply say they were trapped on an island and there were no daily challenges, eliminations made no sense, and Dunbar spent roughly seven episodes mansplaining protein to everyone.

But Bloodlines remains different because it took the common thread between everyone who’s ever appeared on the show and shattered it over it’s knees.

None of these people wanted to be on TV.

There were some, like Vince and Nicole, who were completely comfortable with the cameras and more than likely were psyched to use this as a stepping stone into…well into whatever it is reality TV people do in their free time.

But for the most part, Bloodlines introduced the world to a bunch of people who had no desire to be on TV. Which was as mind bending to watch as it must have been to experience.

This is a bit of an aside but I couldn’t figure out where else to shoe-horn this in. I just wanted to give some perspective as to how highly I view Bloodlines.

There are five stretches of reality television in my lifetime that I consider to be as exhilarating as any scripted drama could be at it’s peak…

5) Everything that aired after Bananas took the money and ran on Rivals 3.

4) The night the woman named Something pooped on the floor during an elimination on Flavor of Love.

3) The last nine minutes of Arie’s season of The Bachelor

2) The original airing of the episode of Bloodlines when Abram finds out Cara Maria cheated on him. Complete with cutting mid-episode to him absolutely losing his shit backstage as the episode was airing, and then going straight to the After Show as soon as the credits rolled. I did everything I possibly could to find it online somewhere, but those that saw it live know exactly what I’m talking about.

1) The span of scenes on season two of Jersey Shore from the minute Ron leaves the house single to the night when J-Woww and Sam fight about The Note.

When you take a deeper look into Jenna and her cousin Brianna through this lens, it’s easy to spot the differences.

Jenna oozes “I want to be on TV” energy. Brianna, um, does not. She got more and more comfortable throughout her time on TV, but right away it was clear the whole thing made her uneasy. Her shoulders were constantly hunched as if she’s hiding from something but refused to buy in to any of it. The juxtaposition of those two things led a discomfort you could feel watching at home.

Understanding the uneasy undercurrent weaving it’s way through Bloodlines is important, because it plants the seed that will eventually blossom into our Moment. Let’s crank the microscope over towards our heroes Jenna and Brianna, and find out who they are, how they got here, and what led them into this Moment in Challenge History.

It is shocking that Jenna had even gotten this far.

I’m going to start with that. Hard to believe for newer viewers, but Jenna is the shining example of “you don’t know until you know” when cast members show up. She was a complete zero as Club Rat Jay’s ex-girlfriend on Real World: Ex-plosion. If you missed it, Ex-Plosion started off like any other Real World season, until halfway through most of the cast mates had exes show up to live with them in the house to stir up drama.

And it mostly worked (while unfortunately also being the beginning of the end for the Godfather of reality television). Except the problem was all Jenna really accomplished during her time on camera was cry and eat chicken nuggets.

When I found out she was cast on Exes 2, I was apoplectic. Out of everyone on her cast (which included future Challenge mainstays Ashley and Cory), I’m not kidding when I say she was the last one many fans would have picked.

Yet, the lesson as always, nobody knows nothing. Jenna rode her lay-up card all the way to the Final where she was sent home because of their refusal as a team to drink a supes gross looking murky fish juice beverage.

One thing she consistently had going for her the entire season was how completely unlikable her ex boyfriend Club Rat Jay was in every way possible. She was like the Staten Island Mother Theresa in contrast to him.

Also important, on Exes 2 she met Zach. This doubles as the moment Jenna found herself in the beginning of a dark, twisted rom-com that she’s still stuck in to this day.

In an early season scene that put their blossoming love on display, Zach challenges Jenna to stump him. Why? Good question. I think he was trying to show off as a way of flirting. Hard to say for sure , but the following occurs in real time…

……..?

Zach does the sweet thing here and doesn’t correct her. Although it is possible the question floored him completely and he began questioning everything he ever knew…

…and where did you get that information from Jenna?

Sensing she was digging herself into a hole, Jenna did the best one could ask someone like Jenna to do in that situation. She doubled down and showed her work…

And it was at that moment when Zach fell in love. He knew for the rest of their lives, he would always mentally have the upper hand. It’s everything he ever wanted in a life partner.

On her way into Bloodlines, Jenna was running on a high. After experiencing a Final she now had a taste of the entire game, found herself a new hunk of man, and was eager to be free of Club Rat Jay for good and scratch the competitive itch that we had no idea was lingering under the surface.

Brianna was a civilian who worked at her Dad’s bakery who happened to have a semi-reality-TV-famous cousin.

She went into Bloodlines having possibly seen the show, and whatever details regarding what she was walking into that Jenna poorly attempted to explain to her on the flight to Turkey.

Starting off the season, TJ Lavin greets the cast and states the obvious, that ultimately they would be tied to the family member they got a ride to the airport with. But true details involving money and game play rules were kept under wraps, and he sent the gang off to their villa to party and drink cheap wine and liquor out of clear unmarked bottles.

Things were pretty standard as far as first night shenanigans goes. Tony hooked up in a bathroom, Camila got mad about something un-important, and we got quick snippets introducing us to all the brand new faces across the board.

The opening daily challenge forced the contestants to get their hands dirty, literally, as they had to climb up a mud hill and fill up a bucket of water. Seems simple enough, yet Jenna and Brianna found themselves in dead last.

Who’s fault was it? Hard to say. Let’s check in with Cory, our reporter on the scene. Cory?

That checks out.

This also marks the first of many times Brianna regretting agreeing to do this just so Jenna would leave her alone about it.

Based on their poor performance, Jenna and Brianna headed into the season’s first elimination. In a cross-fit fever dream rope competition, Jenna disposed of a surprisingly game Christina. An Are You The One? dud whose Challenge legacy to this point was hooking up with Tony who had a pregnant girlfriend back home. Better to die a hero than to die a villain type of ending, to be sure.

On the next week’s daily challenge, the cast put all those hard, focused hours of off season training to good use and competed in a bug eating competition. Nobody seemed psyched, as the goal was the chew up and spit out as many live grasshoppers as one could while the other partner sat in a box with two very friendly snakes.

Some enjoyed it more than others. Take Cory’s cousin Mitch for example…

Check out Dario getting after it in his box. Hurry, while he’s awake!

Let’s play a quick game. I’m going to give you two guesses as to how Brianna took to this, but I bet you’ll only need one.

Are you ready?

Okay, guess…

To be fair to Brianna, she wasn’t the only one who had some issues with this one, and I gotta be honest I don’t know how well I’d do either. That being said, the bar was low.

She only had to spit one bug into that tube. Just one, that’s it.

And yet she couldn’t even bring herself to attempt it. Jenna had to watch, helpless, begging her cousin to just give it a whirl. She wasn’t happy. She stood there, head in a box, surrounded by super gross snakes, and watched her team finish in last place again. Due to her awful partner, again. Due to a challenge out of her control, again.

Jenna, your thoughts?

Jenna was pissed and Brianna was questioning some of her life decisions. This duo was off to an auspicious start. But before we experience this Moment in Challenge History, let’s do some housekeeping. Together, we dive deep into the details of this moment including some awards and what to look for.

  • For making the most of your screen time.

There’s four distinct people doing a whole lot here, so on the surface this award seems difficult to hand out. But let’s peel back the onion a bit. Jenna and Brianna are the main characters here so they’re out, and Nany, while making the most of her time, is really just being herself. In fact, I’d go as far as to say she’s the only rational one in the room.

That leaves our winner as Nany’s cousin Nicole. That’s not Jamal Adams taking Jenna out of the screenshot above, that’s Nicole, sensing the situation was getting out of control and offering her services as a body guard. Five seconds earlier she was doing her best to calm Brianna down. Not a lot of people in the history of humanity go zero to sixty quite like Nicole.

  • For stirring the pot.

If deep seeded regret on both sides was the kerosene soaked rag, Aneesa was the blow torch that set this whole thing in motion. While out at the club Aneesa takes it upon herself to question the way Brianna handled herself eating grasshoppers that afternoon.

It’s like, true. How, like, can you hang out with someone who wouldn’t even chew a live grasshopper?

Not to mention the most egregious sin of them all…

Not every episode of the Challenge can possibly be watched, not even by the most meticulous fans of the show. DVR is all of our best friends. There are dozens of reasons one can have to not be plopped in front of a TV. But even if you were, you still may have missed this episode while it originally aired, because you’re an important person and life happens. Here’s what you might have been watching instead…

VH1 was airing the highly anticipated season finale of Couples Therapy Season 6. Scott Stapp and his wife re-kindle things (ugh, finally) and Carmen and Adrien finally tie the knot. I’d put the last names of Carmen and Adrien, but even the most ardent celebrity jock sniffers wouldn’t have any idea who they were.

Or you could have been tied up in the latest shenanigans on ABC’s Nashville. The IRS hits Luke with a letter that says “lol ur manager stole money from u btw u owe us 40 million”. Rayna and Markus kiss but Rayna tell Markus that they can never be anything. Then later that episode Deacan proposes to Rayne, despite his obvious jealously of Markus.

Wild stuff.

If you were looking for something a bit lighter, you may have been tuned in to Celebrity Food Fight on the Food Network. Although you probably weren’t, as the mere existence of this program is pretty much buried in the crevices of the Food Network’s online presence.

  • For regrettable fashion statement

The clear winner: Brianna’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s haircut

This is the reason given for why Brianna’s boyfriend is dating her. Because his last girlfriend got a haircut. No, seriously.

While it’s true on one hand you don’t want to be with someone who’s that shallow, but on the other hand it’s a tough look for the ex to send a selfie like ‘hey babe you like my new haircut’ and the response being ‘we’re breaking up’.

This was obviously a huge issue back home that I imagine involved a lot of poorly written late night text messages between these two because, as you’ll see, Jenna had that one locked and loaded in her back pocket ready to go.

  • When Nany is the voice of reason, you know you have a situation on your hands.

When Nany of all people is looking at you like that, you know things have officially gone off the rails.

  • It’s heart-warming to see that even with these tensions bubbling beneath the surface, based on their outfits Jenna and Brianna clearly sat and got ready together mere hours before all of this.
  • This Moment in Challenge History can be explained with three letters. T.M.I. These two dig deep into some family stuff that’s not really that fun to joke about, so I won’t. But once you get past that, this has gotta be the funniest argument in the history of the show. Full stop. End of story. Send all your hate mail. The head-scratching one liners are both endless and relentless, and I won’t even attempt to break them all down. Just sit back and enjoy.

Back to the house we go, where a deliberation and voting takes place that is inconsequential entirely to our heroes. After a stressful day of bug eating and back stabbing, the gang is ready to let loose. They head out to the club to take shots and dance to house music. Look at these crazy kids, havin’ a blast. Here’s Tony’s brother Shane and Aneesa’s cousin Rianna letting dancing to what I’m sure was awesome Turkish house music.

Here’s Nany getting the fuck after it, per usual…

Brianna, how fun is this?!?!

Womp womp womp.

Brianna’s disdain with this situation is clear. She wants out. Aneesa, sensing blood, heads over towards Jenna to rile her up a bit about her miserable cousin. Jenna complains that she’s being smug and arrogant. Refusing to assimilate to the group.

The night continues and the drinks keep flowing. But once back at the house, Brianna utters some of the most famous words in Challenge history. Many have stated it over the years. Some more serious than others, but there are no Challenge related phrases more loaded than this one…

Whether you’ve seen this clip once, a hundred times, or this is your maiden voyage, all the details matter. Now that the questions have been answered and the stones have been turned, you’re ready to experience this Moment in Challenge History.

Thanks for reading! Check back next time for Volume 3 coming soon! If you have any suggestions for future Moments in Challenge History, please feel free to comment below. Happy Challenge watching!

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Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective. Inquires: WillaMediaManagement@gmail.com -Twitter: @TJsAirhorn