The Challenge Double Agents: Mid-Season Awards — Mean Girls Edition

If you sent a text message to ten of your friends right now with a simple question, “name the first poet that comes to your mind”, how many of those ten would say Shakespeare? Probably a lot right? In 1585, this would have seemed impossible. Bill Shakespeare was a medium talent. Merely just another playwright, nowhere near the legendary status he’s reached 450ish years later. Why does this phenomenon happen? The words never changed, just the calendar. So it hard to say for sure, I’m more than likely not smart enough to be able to figure it out on my own.

A thousand years from now, when society studies the pop-culture artifacts left behind by this current time in history, I believe four things will be thought of as absolutes.

1) Just like Shakespeare, future societies receiving inane hypothetical text messages from their friends asking name a rapper, they all will only be able to name Young Thug

2) Homer Simpson will be thought of as the standard for what every American male was like, all the way down to the four fingers.

3) They will look at Charles Barkley as the sage of our time. His words will be quoted endlessly while they all wonder why more people didn’t listen to him.

And,

4) The greatest film society ever produced will be Mean Girls.

Now, I’m sure you’ll disagree with most of not all of that scribble scrabble I just wrote. But that’s sort of the point. Let’s say it’s the year 1585. You and I are broin’ out checking out some new play opening down the street called Macbeth. It’s pretty decent overall, we’ve had a few fermented wines and I’m feeling a little loose. I turned to you and said “this Billy guy, homie who wrote this, he’s gonna go down in history man” you’d have reacted as flippantly as you did when I just tried explaining to you that Young Thug is important.

At this point you’re probably wondering, what the fuck does any of that bullshit you just made me read have to do with The Challenge? Fair point. I just felt it was necessary to establish the importance of Mean Girls and the impact it has had and will continue to have on generation after generation who views it.

One of the main reasons for my hypothesis is because Mean Girls is an endlessly quotable movie. Some of these lines can be recited in almost any social function (lol remember those?) and be completely understood. If one of your friends becomes committed to an ugly hat, they’re really just trying to make fetch happen. Shouting “she doesn’t even go here” at just about any awkward interaction is a stone cold lock to get you a laugh. Most of us quote this movie on the regular without even knowing it. It’s become a part of the social vernacular.

With all that being said, I’m going to dust off (is it dusting off or just stealing? It’s hard to tell these days) an old Bill Simmons gimmick and hand out Double Agents Mid Season Awards as quotes from the movie Mean Girls. If that seems confusing that’s okay, because this is nonsense. But you’ll pick it up pretty quickly I promise.

On to our first winner!…

Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die! Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up, just don’t do it, OK, promise? OK, now everybody take some rubbers.”

To The Challenge Gods: For providing us with the most virginal season of all time. To recap how bizarre this chasteness is, let’s take a peek at how quickly this itch has been scratched on prior seasons: On Total Madness Nany and Asaf hooked up episode one. On War of the Worlds 2, it took Rogan and Dee two-thirds of an episode to make it happen. How about the first War of the Worlds? Nany (God, she’s the best) made out with Chase five minutes after getting to the house.

I could keep going, but I’ll spare you. You get the point.

“Why should Caesar just get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar, right? Brutus is just as smart as Caesar, people totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar, and when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody because that’s not what Rome is about! We should totally just STAB CAESAR!”

To Leroy: For hatching the “get rid of all the former champs” plan with Kam. On his last dance, it’s great to see Leroy being done watching the Caesar’s of The Challenge rule while he enjoyed the ride happily stacking bad luck along the way.

Brutus no longer. Leroy is finally applying himself to the game. Shine on superstar.

“Hey, you guys! Happy hour is from four to six!

Um, is there alcohol in this?

Oh, God, honey, no! What kind of mother do you think I am? Why, do you want a little bit? Because if you’re going to drink I’d rather you do it in the house.”

To Mature Nany. This season Nany took a few steps back from her standard pantheon performance level. She’s still a first ballot Hall of Fame lock, but her lack of production in the meltdown/hookup/general messiness area has been troubling to watch. It’s led me down a dark path, considering her mortality for the first time in a decade, wondering to myself if maybe she should strap her wagon to Leroy’s and ride off into the sunset.

“Half the people in this room are mad at me, and the other half only like me because they think I pushed somebody in front a bus, so that’s not good.”

To Fessy. Getting a Gold Skull is a requirement, yet the way he did it made things stickier for himself than I think he ever imagined. Taking out perceived friend Nelson, and playing dirty while doing it, is something you’d think would play well in a game like this. But unfortunately for the Biggest Brother, the ebbs and flows of public perception are a fickle bitch.

“She thinks she’s gonna have a party and not invite me? Who does she think she is?

You’re right, hon.

I like ‘invented’ her, you know what I mean?”

To Wes: For getting upset at the everyone in the house for pulling a move that not only would he have eventually pulled on all of them, but a move he damn near invented.

He’s always been much too loud about his accolades (duh), and rightfully assumes a level of respect in the house he’s definitely earned. But to expect Leroy and Co. to not have their guard up and just lay out for him was a little short sighted. Add his little speech on the way out, preaching against playing the game to win, and it’s clear Wes needs a bit of a break.

“Finally, Girl World was at peace.

Hey, check it out. Junior Plastics.”

To The Itty Bitty Small Committee. The Challenge is leaking entertaining women. A lot of the recent usual shit-stirrers have either aged out to start their real life like Theresa, are too focused on winning like Nany, or are out wandering in the wilderness somewhere like Dee.

One downside to raising the level of competition is that you naturally lower the level of messiness.

That’s why the development of The Ambers and the other’s in the non-competitive bracket like Gabby and Liv is crucial moving forward. The desperate need for fresh blood is lingering behind the scenes like a cancerous mole. If the Challenge Gods aren’t careful, it’ll eventually catch up to them.

“What do we even talk about?

Hair products!

Ashton Kutcher.

Is that a band?”

To Lolo and Nam. Are they hooking up? Are they dating? Does anybody really care? I’m not really sure and I doubt either of them are either. Off camera, there’s probably a lot of Lolo going around cornering people asking them if Nam has said anything about her. Which is juxtaposed by Nam not saying anything at all. This later proves beneficial for Nam when Lolo approaches him in the closet, for the 50th time, and asks the forever unanswerable “so what’s going on with us”.

No wonder Nam’s been performing so lackluster, he’s fucking exhausted.

“She doesn’t even go here!”

To Joseph. Let’s wind back the clocks for a second. When Chase walked into the house on War of the Worlds (did you expect not one, but two Chase references when you opened this article? He’s lasted longer on this page than he did on the show) he exuded an air of inferiority simply because he came from The Bachelor. Obviously there’s been contestants that originated from straight up dating shows in the past, but there was something about The Bachelor that carried with it a few too many negative connotations.

When Joseph arrived at the house and went around handing his reality television CV to his new roommates, having America’s Got Talent stamped in bold letters at the top put a target on his back immediately. Similar to Chase, it almost didn’t matter what he did while he was there, he just didn’t belong.

Once you get that far away from home, people start to look at you funny. And The Challenge may just have been the wrong gas station to stop and fill up at.

“So, uh… how was your summer?

I got divorced.

Oh. My Carpal tunnel came back.

I win.”

Shout out to old heads Aneesa, CT, and Darrell for holding it down. Their success this far into the season is a win for everyone. It gives the Challenge Gods more courage and leeway to give some of those gone-too-soon contestants (like Theresa, more on her in a bit) their third and fourth chances to come back to the show.

Allowing characters the opportunity to hang around and have their maturation process take place over the course of decades is a rare card for a television show to have in their arsenal. The different stories and emotions told and processed on this show are something impossible for entertainment ventures to purchase. It’s pure sweat equity at it’s core.

Being able to watch Aneesa, CT, and Darrell for two-thirds of my life at varying intervals is an opportunity I genuinely cherish. They are three people I would never know in real life, or probably ever have the opportunity to cross paths with. But thanks to Bunim-Murray I can say I know a perpetual grad student from Philidelphia, a Golden Gloves boxer from Oakland, and a Masshole from outside of Boston as well (or better, in some cases) as a lot of people that are actually in my day to day life. I think that’s pretty cool.

“That is the ugliest effing skirt I’ve ever seen.”

To this season’s eye ware situation:

Good God. Warby Parker is probably rolling their grave right now.

“Gretchen, I’m sorry I laughed at you that time you got diarrhea at Barnes & Nobles.
And I’m sorry for telling everyone about it.
And I’m sorry for repeating it now.”

To Theresa’s political prowess. It was as bad as ever. Some of us are natural salespeople, and then there’s Theresa.

Luckily for her being bad at playing politics on The Challenge has absolutely nothing to do with raising a family and living a successful, fulfilling life. So I guess she dodged a bullet there.

“So that’s against the rules, and you can’t sit with us.
Whatever. Those rules aren’t real.
They were real that day I wore a vest!
Because that vest was disgusting.”

To production: For channeling their inner Whose Line Is It Anyway and making up the rules this season completely on the fly. Watching TJ communicate the behind-the-scenes production chaos with a straight face has been the most memorable aspect to this season so far.

They’ve been scrambling since the first elimination! Sure, maybe the first week was planned to be a women’s day all along, and who got voted in had no effect on the outcome. But, what most likely happened was the producers saw CT and Wes got voted in first, realized that was a terrible idea for their television show, and switched to Ashley vs. Natalie (which to them was a win-win either way) at the last minute. Speaking of…

“Never in my 14 years as an educator have I seen such behavior. And from young ladies. I’ve got parents calling me on the phone and asking, “Did someone get shot? I oughta cancel your Spring Fling…..Now I’m not gonna do that because we’ve already paid the DJ, but don’t think I’m not taking this book seriously.”

When TJ scolded the boys for their performance in the flying-cargo-net-full-of-shit-over-freezing-water-in-the-rain daily challenge and let his disappointment wash over them, they rightfully got their act together. The subsequent two daily’s after that were full throttle effort by the group.

But that night during the elimination, when he dropped the bomb that the votes of the boys who didn’t participate were tossed out. I thought to myself wow, what an interesting twist. I hope they keep…*fart noise*. Their “punishment” amounted to nothing and the results remained the same.

The Challenge, where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

You really showed them Teej.

“ Hey, how was school?
Fine.
Were people nice?
No.
Did you make any friends?
Yes.”

To Lio. He showed up, made some friends….and that’s about it.

Leaving for real life reasons is never something I’ll clown on, so I’ll pump the breaks. But one has to wonder if choosing to leave on your own is the one thing that angers the Challenge Gods the most (outside of straight up quitting, of course). But as the great Meek Mill once said, there’s levels to this shit.

“ Yeah, I like math.
Eww. Why?
Because it’s the same in every country.
That’s beautiful. This girl is deep.”

This one goes to the season’s greatest moment and an arithmetic equation no Challenge fan will ever forget.

So what is 8x9, Josh? Asking for a friend. Speaking of…

“Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Regina George?”

*Fessy, Josh, and Amber M. sheepishly raise their hands*

Shout out to Devin, for being the meanest Mean Girl that The Challenge has seen in years. His disdain for Big Brother folk echoes the fan base more than some would probably like to admit. Fessy, Josh, and Kaycee aren’t bad people by any stretch. I’m sure they’d be a pretty fun crew to go out to dinner with assuming they’d put their phones down for two seconds.

But Sans-Bananas-Devin has been the only one who seems to understand that being shady, lying to everyone, and carrying yourself like you’re above it all might work on Big Brother. But on The Challenge you get exposed, and being aloof suddenly becomes a weakness. Everyone’s gotta push their chips into the middle eventually on this show. Devin’s just doing the lords work forcing Big Brother to actually play the game.

“I’m sorry that people are so jealous of me…but I can’t help it that I’m popular.”

In the novel Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut, the main character and his sister are brilliant, precocious little kids. But to their parents, the doctors, and everyone else they act like dullards. Mispronouncing words and doing everything they can to come across as stupid. This leaves the adults who don’t know any different to essentially leave them alone, allowing the narrator and his sister free reign in their families mansion.

Somehow, someway, Ashley needs to go back in time and never again mention how good at puzzles she is. Being too good at your job can have unintended consequences . For one, it makes it harder than you’d think to get promoted. But as it pertains to The Challenge, and for Ashley specifically, it makes it so any individual competition from here on out will be like walking to school uphill both ways in fifteen feet of snow wearing cardboard shoes.

This time around she even got two cracks at the egg, and yet no yolk to speak of. Ashley’s not pulling a Theresa and settling down to start a family any time soon, so it’s only a matter of time before we see her again.

“She knows everything about everyone.
That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.”

To CT. For being the biggest gossip queen in the house.

It’s mostly happening off camera, but if you’re paying attention, CT seems to be the spout from which all information flows. Our most glaring piece of evidence comes courtesy of Theresa, who had no concern for future Challenges and might have been the only one playing Double Agents for Double Agents, adamantly telling anyone who would listen that CT’s a snitch. But when you’re not only the oldest guy in the house and you’re, you know, CT, you get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to High School level drama.

“I saw Katy Heron wearing army pants and flip-flops, so I bought army pants and flip-flops.”

To the black turtle neck/gold chain crew. It’s hard for me to pinpoint whether it’s a bit or not, but Josh, Fessy, Mechie, Kam, and I’m probably forgetting someone else have at various different times worn the same exact outfit.

Fessy for sure thinks he looks cool. Josh for sure thinks he looks like Fessy. Mechie may or may not have been Ninth Green at Nine’d. But Kam I can’t figure it out. It’s possible it’s coincidence. It’s equally as possible she has a more devious sense of humor than I thought.

It’s also possible I’m thinking way too much into this. Full transparency, my biggest issue is simply that a normal night out for me in real life means sporting a black v-neck and a gold chain. Not exactly the same, but close enough for me to question my entire wardrobe. Okay, moving right along then…

I gave him everything! I was half a virgin when I met him.

Do you wanna do something fun? Wanna go to Taco Bell?

To Big T. She’s done a masterful job reconciling with the clashing dynamic of CT being one of America’s great athletes and her being, ya know, Big T. It came crashing to head during the mud-pit-wrestling-match daily. CT was dominant, but with Big T forced to carry half the weight, they lost before TJ even blew the horn.

But her dedication to positivity through it all is a shining beacon of light amongst the most cynical group of people on TV.

You know who’s looking fine tonight? Seth Mosakowski.

Okay, you did not just say that.

What? He’s a good kisser.

He’s your cousin.

Yeah, but he’s my first cousin.

Right.

So, you have your cousins, and then you have your first cousins, and then you have your second cousins…

No, honey, uh-uh.

That’s not right, is it?

That is so not right.

To Nicole. For never ceasing to amaze me on how incorrect a grown adult can be about something. On the second episode, before swimming across ice cold water to retrieve ice blocks to then break back on the beach, Nicole is worried this task may be more difficult that it looks. So she voices her concern.

This of course leads to some follow ups from her fellow cast mates. Unsurprisingly, when she cites her work, she digs a little deeper…

Nicole was gone much, much too soon this season.

Her name is Cady. Cady Heron. Where are you, Cady?

That’s me. It’s pronounced like Katie.

My apologies. I have a nephew named Anfernee, and I know how mad he gets when I call him Anthony. Almost as mad as I get when I think about the fact that my sister named him Anfernee.

“If there’s anything I don’t like, it’s fake bitches. And I feel like you fall into that category.”

It only took nine weeks, but The Ambers finally broke. I knew they wouldn’t be able to hold out forever. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, two people with the same name simply cannot co-habitate successfully. So to solve this problem, last week Amber M. came in hot with the reality TV line of the century. It reads like something straight out of an Aaron Sorkin fever dream.

God bless this television program.

Regina George… How do I begin to explain Regina George?

Regina George is flawless.

I hear her hair’s insured for $10,000.

I hear she does car commercials… in Japan.

Her favorite movie is Varsity Blues.

One time she met John Stamos on a plane…

And he told her she was pretty.

One time she punched me in the face… it was awesome.

To Kam: For exhibiting all of Regina George’s best qualities, and leaving all the worst ones for Devin. The ability to run the house on this show without being an absolute piece of shit along the way has proved to be much more difficult in the past than it sounds. So let’s give Kam credit where credit is due. I’ll be honest, I didn’t exactly envision Kam to be the alpha dog in the house halfway through. But the transition was so smooth it’s not hard to believe that I missed it.

Thanks for reading! In case you missed it, you can find my Episode 9 Recap here. As well as my Moment In Challenge History Series; Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3. Be sure to check back Tuesday when I preview Episode 10 where I go through What To Look For. As always, Happy Challenge watching!

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective. For inquires: brianbatty14@gmail.com