Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League: A Way-Too-Early But Totally Necessary The Challenge Preview

MTV Johnny and Frank on The Challenge

The Internet is the best. Being old and dumb, I rarely discover the fun little corners of this vast web wasteland, but that changed last week when Juliet sent me a link about The Challenge cast leaking. The leak was posted on Vevmo, a forum site that always manages to figure out next season’s cast before anyone else.

I’d been on the site before, but I’d never taken a deep dive into the various threads. Well, this time I did, and I couldn’t be happier. There’s page upon page of discussion ONLY ABOUT THE CHALLENGE! It’s a community for people who are obsessed with Real World’s mutant child, people who really approach The Challenge with the level of care and analysis it deserves as America’s Fifth Major Sport.

It’s easy to get bummed out by the Internet. It’s a place where mean comments, creepy porn, identity theft, and idiocy run rampant. But finding something like The Challenge section on Vevmo can restore faith. At its best, the Internet connects people with similar interests and helps build communities. Well, The Challenge section of Vevmo is the lunch table GRTFL would choose in the digital cafeteria. It’s full of people who say things like this:

“Lex, size doesn’t really matter — see Derrick. Jonna’s not the ultimate puzzle person but I’d trust her with a puzzle over Cara. Jonna does have the “Endurance” crap as well” —KVM1977

“Jordans not. Jordan and marlon missed a great chance to flip the house if he sent in diem and aneesa over Theresa and jasmine. Could have made some serious alliances but they were coward and followed like sheep” —TheCloser

“I’d say Tonya in her prime was the hottest.” —Challenge 17

And people who Photoshop shit like this:


This online community approaches America’s Fifth Major Sport with the vigor it deserves, and discovering that inspired me to do the same. You see, we at GRTFL headquarters had been very busy getting ready for the new season of another major sport, but now that project is behind us, meaning I can turn my attention back to what really matters: The Challenge. So, using the speculative information on Vevmo, the format from Grantland’s NBA Preview, and, you know, my natural stupidity, I’ve decided to give the 25th season of America’s Fifth Major Sport a proper preview in the “Bill and Jalen’s NBA Preview” mold.

In order to do that, however, I have to make some assumptions. I’m assuming the wonderful people at Vevmo know what they’re doing when they piece together the cast based on inactive social media accounts. I’m also assuming they’re correctly speculating that this season will be a “Rookies vs. Veterans” format. Why am I so confident in anonymous message board posters? Because they’re the fucking best. They’re always right about this stuff.

Let’s do this.

Team 1: Veteran Men

The rotation: Eric, Ty, Brandon, Leroy, Chet, Johnny, and CT. This is a strong team held back by two heavy-ass sandbags. I don’t understand why Easy E is always on this show. He isn’t athletic, funny, dynamic, or interesting. I swear he has pictures of Jonathan Murray killing a baby. I just hope Easy doesn’t die during a challenge or disintegrate into a puddle of self-doubt after Laurel verbally eviscerates him again. As for Chet, I don’t even know. I think they keep inviting him back because he’s one of the few rational, articulate people on the show and they need him for storytelling in the interviews.

Juliet’s sneaky big question: Can perennial losers Ty, Brandon, and Eric elevate their games? In short: No. When CT was finally crowned last season, it felt right, because he has been a brilliant performer both socially and physically who hadn’t won because of a couple bad breaks. That’s not the case with Ty, Eric, or Brandon. They haven’t won for a reason. For Ty, that reason is his lack of likability; for Eric, it’s his lack of athleticism; and for Brandon, it’s his lack of sobriety.

X factor: Brandon. Since Brandon was a Fresh Meater, we really haven’t seen too much of him. This is a make-or-break season for him. I get the feeling this may be the last time we see Brandon on The Challenge.

Flashback clip: Remember the time CT carried Bananas around like a backpack? Of course you do. That doesn’t mean you won’t appreciate seeing it again:

Clairvoyant Jacoby: I see trouble for this team. Ty and Brandon don’t like each other, CT and Bananas are always at odds, and while Easy and Chet are great guys with whom to have a beer, they’ll snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in every challenge. Clairvoyant Jacoby sees this team being depleted early and suffering because of it.

Team 2: Veteran Women

The rotation: Jasmine, Aneesa, Jonna, Cara Maria, Theresa, Camila, and Laurel. Not exactly a powerhouse. Laurel and Cara Maria can hold their own physically, and Camila has proven herself a worthy competitor, but this team’s athletic ability ends there. This roster just doesn’t have the depth to compete against … oh, wait. The Rookie Women aren’t athletic either? OK, cool, the vets will be fine, then.

Juliet’s sneaky bug question: Will Laurel stick around because of her athleticism and despite her alliance with Cara? Good question. Laurel is my favorite chick on The Challenge. She’s athletic, attractive, and isn’t afraid to completely air someone out and bring that person to tears (ask Easy or Cara Maria). However, if you track her YouTube Channel, you learn that she also really enjoys dancing around her apartment in a sports bra, singing Miley Cyrus, and hanging out with Cara Maria. Cara Maria has really struggled on The Challenge without Abram. Last season she came in as a replacement player, and then, for whatever reason, everyone turned on her. So will Laurel’s alliance with Cara be Laurel’s downfall? I would say yes, because they seem to have a real relationship outside of The Challenge, but … no. In the words of the great Johnny Bananas, when it comes down to it, “All is fair in love, war, and Challenges.” I see Laurel voting Cara into an elimination challenge and then fake-crying as Cara walks off a loser. Then I see Laurel dominating the female competition.

X factor: Camila. She can be the voice of reason while mediating an argument, or she can also be a demon-possessed banshee trying to kill anyone and everything in her path. The rate at which she oscillates between the two is astonishing … and very fun to watch. Oh yeah, she also sings on YouTube while wearing a hat that says “Camila MTV.” She really needs to decorate her walls.

Flashback clip: In this one 15-second clip, you will see Camila curse death upon Bananas, attack a lounge chair, and zombie-walk into a pool:

Clairvoyant Jacoby: I see Laurel dominating. There isn’t a girl who can withstand Laurel’s physical prowess, and no human could withstand one of her verbal eviscerations. (My favorite line from that assault on Easy is when she slammer-stammer says, “Remember when your penis made it in a vagina? It didn’t.”)

Team 3: Rookie Men

The rotation: Preston, Johnny, Dustin, Zach, Cohutta, Frank, and Jordan. Now, I wholeheartedly trust the Vevmo crew and everything, but they’re really stretching the definition of “rookie.” I mean, at this point I expect to see Zach and Frank on these things as regularly as CT and Bananas. That aside, this team boasts depth the vet squad simply does not. Jordan and Zach are straight-up athletic freaks. And don’t sleep on Frank’s sneaky buffness and terrier rage. Dustin, Johnny, and Cohutta aren’t exactly liabilities. The elephant in the room is that physically, Preston is a little less CT and a little more Paris Hilton. While he shares Rajon Rondo’s face, he does not share Rondo’s catlike quickness and wiry strength. Methinks Preston will exit early and the rest of this handsome bunch will prey on the dregs of the top-heavy veteran men. It really is a handsome bunch, now that I think about it.

Juliet’s sneaky bug question: How will Frank and Dustin work together on the same team? Frank is a smart guy, but he’d make a terrible world leader. Whenever Frank is involved in an argument, he goes nuclear. Nany, Zach, CT, and others have all felt Frank’s wrath, and Dustin and Frank have a checkered history based on the fact that Frank is not shy about bringing up Dustin’s checkered history. You see, pre–Real World Las Vegas, Dustin occupied another house outfitted with cameras. This house was called Frat Pad. The residents were all guys. They were often naked. They were often filmed while naked. When Frank brought this up to Dustin, Dustin replied by saying: “Do you wanna get street, bitch?”


The whole thing was more cute than scary, but this type of incident is not great for team chemistry. Frank and Dustin will either work awfully together, divide the team, and be the only thing that keeps this deep roster from winning it all, or they’ll fall in love. One of those two.

X factor: Cohutta. Cohutta’s likability was overshadowed by Isaac’s on his season of Real World, which isn’t really fair, because no one looks likable next to Isaac. I mean, the dude got naked and swam in the fish tank; that’s hard to top. But Cohutta was super fun and charming, and his last name is Grindstaff. Yes, Grindstaff. He could be a uniting force or a wallflower; it remains to be seen. Remember his girl from that season, KellyAnne? What she lacked in brains she more than made up for in body. I wonder what happened to her. Oh wait, no I don’t, because I just spent five minutes Googling her. Here she is dressed as a marijuana plant:


Flashback clip: Jordan is easy to love: He’s physically disabled, competes like Kobe Bryant, and is no fool. But every once in a while, when Jordan starts to really charm me, I have to remind myself that he used the n-word and monkey noises in an argument with an African American woman, and that is not cool:

Clairvoyant Jacoby: I see this team winning. This team may not have a single person who can hold a candle to CT in terms of strength or athleticism, but when Preston goes home early, the sum of the rookie team’s parts will become greater than that of the vets. Like the 2013 Red Sox, the rookies are consistent from top to bottom, have largely good chemistry, and will eventually prevail. I hope they recognize these similarities and all gain 20 pounds and grow beards.

Team 4: Rookie Women

The rotation: Devyn, LaToya, Nia, Jemmye, Jessica, Emilee, and Nany. Oh no, this team is a mess. I had to Google LaToya, and when I did, I immediately remembered her from the very forgettable St. Thomas season. I also learned that her last name is Jackson. HOW DO YOU NAME YOUR CHILD AFTER LA TOYA JACKSON? That aside, Devyn, LaToya, Jemmye, and Jessica don’t have the toughness needed to complete a final challenge. Emilee, Nany, and Nia probably don’t, either, but I’m being nice to them because I find them attractive. It’s hard to think of a challenge at which Laurel couldn’t single-handedly beat this team.

Juliet’s sneaky bug question: Can Nia’s hurricane-ness be leveraged to elevate the team? When Hurricane Nia landed on Real World Portland, she behaved as if she were auditioning for The Challenge. Let’s not forget that she was the catalyst for the most violent fight in the history of Real World:


Like Andrew Wiggins, Nia has a lot of potential for greatness, but also a lot of questions. When will her book about dating athletes come out? Can you prep for The Challenge exclusively by using a booty belt? Why isn’t she in jail? Will she order a hit on one of her housemates on The Challenge like she did on Real World? How will she manage her weave with all of the water challenges? This could really break a lot of different ways.

X factor: Emilee. I can’t lie, I’ve been keeping a digital eye on Emilee Fitzpatrick. She’s underrated physically, she’s super fun, and she’s from Massachusetts. I’ve always hoped she would pop up on The Challenge. I love Hooters waitresses who OWN the fact that they’re Hooters waitresses, and I really love women who can make Ray Allen jerseys sexy:


Flashback clip: It’s easy to forget how INSLOPSICATED Jemmye used to get on her season of Real World. As a reminder, I have this clip for you. It’s amazing how in one minute and 12 seconds of television, Jemmye manages to assault a telephone, get naked, nearly drown, and end up in tears. Let’s hope she has some of this in store for this season of The Challenge:

Clairvoyant Jacoby: I see tragedy in store for this team. Clairvoyant Jacoby sees Nia attempting murder … multiple times … with weapons … and succeeding.

Your Brief Survivor Update

Now that we’re all fired up for the season, it sucks that we have to wait 10 months to watch the damn thing. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Survivor happened this week, and it was a pretty damn good episode! Here’s a very brief scoring breakdown: EVERYBODY CRIED.

OK, here’s a slightly less brief scoring breakdown:

Kat (Survivor, Yoshida), 20 points: Kat REALLY believes that her poor performance on a reality-TV game show is going to ruin her romantic relationship, so she cried all episode (20 points). For real. In real life. That’s what she thinks. Check it: “I feel like Hayden will be embarrassed that I’m here and didn’t play better or try harder. He’s going to be so upset. I don’t want him to be ashamed of me because I really care about him.” How did we get here as a species?

Hayden (Survivor, Lisanti), 40 points: Hayden, the boyfriend Kat is so concerned will leave her because she sucks at Survivor, acted A LOT like a dude who would leave his girlfriend because she sucks at Survivor. First, he didn’t switch places with Kat when he had the chance. Second, after Kat expressed her concern that their relationship might be impacted by her performance, he reassured her like this: “… [pause] … that’s not the case. Our relationship is going to be fine.” If anybody ever tells you that something is going to be “fine,” that person is lying to you. I promise.

Laura B. (Survivor, Simmons), 10 points: I can’t believe this Laura woman. After her tribe lost the Immunity Challenge, she went, sobbing (10 points), to the only man in the tribe and was all, “We all decided that we were voting you out so just, you know, chill and enjoy the rest of the afternoon before we vote you out.” Then, of course, she was voted out. So dumb.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. We’ll be back next week. I’m thinking about weaving Shahs of Sunset into the GRTFL. Only because I love Reza. So, so much. Enjoy the weekend.

Filed Under: CBS, David Jacoby, Mtv, Reality TV Fantasy League, Survivor, The Challenge, The Decline of American Civilization, The Real World