The Challenge 2022 Angst Ratings
Doesn’t it feel like forever ago since Spies, Lies, & Allies ended? Challenge fans have been spoiled lately, and are going to be even more spoiled soon enough. But for now, it feels like we’re untethered and drifting off into the void.
So to fill that emptiness, I’m going to go through a handful of the most prominent challengers and rate them from 1–10 on how angst-y they currently are. Not, ya know, angst-y in real life. But in the Challenge universe. Who’s getting fidgety, and why?
So pour yourself a drink, put on your resting-rags, relax, and let’s dive deep into the psyche of some of our favorites…..
Cory — 7/10
MTV’s mid 2010’s Golden Boy looked like he had reached the end of his rope as he walked off the set of Spies, Lies, & Allies. His hardened strategy of laying as low as possible, leaning on his friends in key situations, and generally staying out of the messiness was exposed and laid bare leading to his first taste of adversity since Tony ate his leftovers.
How did he respond? He lost to a super Hot Spaniard in a tug-of-war contest. He never once looked like his heart was in it all the way, and the Big Brother conglomerate swallowed his game whole.
He’s now nine seasons in, and still no closer to winning one than he was nine seasons ago. His slot in the Final was pre-written in his mind,and in all reality if/when he does come back he’s got as good of a chance of any for that to finally come to fruition.
His resume is hefty, but that one last victory, that so-close-I-can-touch-it championship remains out of reach. I’m sure it’s not keeping him up at night, but one day he might look back and wish that it finally happened for him.
Too bad that damn CT guy is still around.
Nelson — 8/10
On Spies, Lies, & Allies, we last saw him sitting on the ground, head in his hands, receiving a pep talk from Mr. TJ after losing to Kyle during an in-Final elimination. We all felt his heartbreak permeating from our TV screens. You can just tell that he wants it so bad, and yet time after time he finds himself banging his head against the ceiling of his own abilities. He’s dealt with some bad luck along the way, to be sure, but so many of his misgivings are entirely self-afflicted.
Can he win one of these one day? Maybe, maybe not. If things break right exact right way, with the right partner or team, and CT sitting at home watching like the rest of us instead of leaving him and everybody else in his wake yet again, why the hell not?
But for now, I think he needs to worry about snapping his losing streak before he worries about winning the big one.
Tori — 8/10
I almost wonder if being “Tori from The Challenge” is breaking her brain a little bit. I don’t know who Tori is. I’ve seen her Are You The One season and every subsequent season of The Challenge that she’s participated in, and yet I’m still convinced I’m watching a character from a poorly written play rather than a real person the entire time.
Which is fine. It’s not her responsibility to share with me/us who she really is. Her life is her life and has nothing to do with me. But that’s not really any way to get the fans behind you. Like, really behind you. Not just the fleeting feeling of fandom.
But comparing her to Nelson, who’s as open a book as they come and wants to win just because he wants to win, it’s fairly clear that being able to say she won is the driving force behind her on-show behavior.
All that said, she could’ve easily won at least twice by now if the Challenge Gods didn’t get in her way. And her abilities are (and shouldn’t be) never really in question. Sometimes the cards just don’t fall your way.
Nany — 4/10
Her time’s running out.
I’m maybe the last Nany fan left out there, and even I can see her usefulness to this show eroding with every passing episode. She’s evolved into Mature Nany now, long gone are the tequila-fueled antics of the past. They’ve now been replaced by...well…nothing really. She’s turned in a Challenge platitude machine, more similar to a football coach on an uninspired Netlfix show rather than anything worth watching in this dynamic environment.
Can she ever really win one of these? Similar to anyone else, with the right setting, on the right team, yeah why not? We last saw her losing to her girlfriend Kaycee in the same elimination that knocked out Nelson. But unlike with him, the feeling of dread was nowhere to be seen.
Instead of “ugh, not again, not like this”, rather, it was more of a “welp, that was bound to happen eventually.”
But that’s the thing, winning has never really been a priority for her (she would probably disagree). Sure, it would be a nice dessert at the end of a delicious meal, and she’s never going to give up or simply not try at something. But for us Nany truthers out there, winning isn’t why we pressed play on our DVR’s.
Mature Nany isn’t what we’re here for either, so now we’re just left drifting off to sea on Nany island. Lonely, sober, and muted hoping we don’t get attacked by a Narwhal along the way.
Fessy — 9/10
Somehow, someway, over his three season run, this charisma vacuum has become not only a central character, but someone who can get the fanbase talking just by merely existing.
Do I get it? Not really. He’s become a polarizing figure in this universe without trying. Or at least without looking like he was trying. If I had to guess, this level of animosity was never his intention. But in a world full of try-hards, maybe his not-trying-at-all attitude carries with it a sort of gravitas.
But in the Challenge Universe, nothing Fessy does is going to matter without a win. The Big Win, more specifically. Eventually, if the losses/excuses (what’s really the difference with him anymore?) keep piling up, his schtick is going to become tiresome and even less interesting than it already is.
Josh — 9/10
Close your eyes and imagine a world where TJ is standing on top of a mountain somewhere in some beautiful location on some country I’ve never been to and saying “Josh, you are the winner of The Challenge!”
I know, I know. It’s hard for me to imagine too.
What’s the saying? Even a deaf squirrel eventually hears a nut?
But in the right season, with the right cast, with the right team, with the right format, with the Challenge Gods shining their good-luck light directly in Josh’s eyes, it really could happen.
He’s goofy, uncoordinated, probably too emotional for the atmosphere, not a natural athlete, and simply doesn’t posses the jene-se-quois swagger one needs to excel in this high school cafeteria-esque setting.
But stranger things have happened.
Most fans were sick of Josh before he even got started, and in another universe somewhere Alan’s wrist stayed intact, and we probably never see him again.
But now we’re five seasons into watching a most likely supremely likeable in real life human occupy a space in the Challenge universe that most fans would agree probably belongs to someone else.
But that’s not up to us. The Challenge Gods keep filling our bowls with serving of Josh whether we’re still hungry or not, with seemingly no end in sight.
Kaycee — 5/10
Lemme run some stats by you…
— 3 seasons, 3 Finals
— 14 Daily challenge wins
— 3 Elimination rounds, 3 elimination wins
— 1 Challenge Championship
I’m pretty sure I just described one of the most dominating forces this game has ever seen. And yet, does anyone actually think of Kaycee that way?
Towards the end of the underrated movie Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the titular character is at the end of his rope, and his fellow bandmates confront him about his drug-addled antics and let out all of their deeply harbored slights and emotions at him. With Tim Meadow’s character repeatedly hitting him with the accusation of never paying for drugs, “Not even once!”
That scene reminds me of Kaycee. Not the drug-addled antics, but the “Not once!” punchline.
Because amid her on-paper dominance, NOT ONCE has she ever been in any trouble of being sent home. NOT ONCE has she had the scopes of the house trained on her. NOT ONCE has she had to beg, plead, scratch, and claw for her spot in the house. NOT ONCE has she found herself swimming in shit like most challengers find themselves swimming in constantly. NOT ONCE!
But if nobody cares about any of it, does it really even matter? Does it really even matter that this woman has completely dominated this game in a way most (probably all) of the greats could never say that they have? On a spreadsheet, her challenge career looks like Godzilla showing up in New York City.
If I didn’t look her Wiki page up before typing all of this out, I would have never realized how truly overwhelming this run has been. And The Challenge is my favorite thing in the world. I probably care just a tad too much about it. Some would say I need to get a hobby or a life or all of the above. And to them I would say, yeah you’re probably right.
So why hasn’t Kaycee made any impact on me? I have more hot takes and thoughts about Jasmine and Adam Royer than I do about her.
But maybe that’s the point? Maybe she’s just doing exactly what you’re supposed to do to have success in this world. Maybe being the human embodiment of motel art is the best possible way to go about this.
Well, maybe not. They are filming a TV show after all.
Johnny Bananas — 7/10
The face of the show, whether you like it or not.
He walked away on top, winning Total Madness for his seventh championship and finally shaking the lingering demons of how Rivals 3 ended. Sailing off into the sunset on a banana boat as the unquestioned Greatest Of All Time, laughing at both the haters and the fans as he went.
But now, after two completely dominating seasons by his only true rival, CT, his G.O.A.T. status is up in the air. With every passing season he sits out, and every victory CT piles up, his crown is slipping from his head the same way the O’Doyle family slipped to their deaths on a banana peel. Nobody has a more outsized impact on the game, whether his physical presence is there or not.
Take War of the Worlds 2 for example. His merely being there, and more specifically who was aligned with him, still mattered to the game weeks after he was gone. The line in the sand is drawn immediately upon his arrival, regardless of who’s wielding the Sharpie.
But you have to imagine that sitting at home like the rest of us watching the show he put so much sweat equity in pushing forward flounder a bit (this is subjective, but I feel like mostly everyone reading this will agree with me) while he’s gone, plus seeing his CT monopolizing the hardware has to be getting him at least a little bit antsy.
The Fans — 8/10
The Challenge world has been turned a bit upside down, and there is little to no clarity whatsoever as to what exactly is going on outside of educated guesses and rampant speculation.
Soon there’s going to be roughly one hundred and seventeen different versions of The Challenge to consume, and overall that’s a really good thing. As much Challenge as I can get, yes please and thank you.
But some people like to have things neat and tidy. And this War of the Worlds experiment (or at least the roll-out of it) simply isn’t that. Trying to decide if All-Stars counts the same as the regular show has been a difficult enough Rubik’s cube to compartmentalize for those Type-A personalities out there, and now there’s really no way to tell how it will all settle in together.
The fabric of The Challenge is being stretched about as far as it can go, but I have to imagine the Challenge Gods have sewed the seams together tightly enough to ensure it all makes sense in the end. I’m not one to worry about things that haven’t happened yet (cue every single person who’s ever known me well raising their eyebrows)….okay fine. Maybe I am that person. I can go from stubbing my toe to having to get my entire leg amputated within the span of milliseconds in my own brain. But shockingly, I’m not feeling that way towards, ya know, whatever the hell this all is.
The tsunami is coming, it’s best to just grab a margarita and stand on the beach waiting to get wet. Nothing we can do about it now.