Grantland Reality Fantasy League: Fish Fights, Falling Stars

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We have an emergency. Something terrible has happened to the most legendary figure in The Challenge history. Alton has gone soft. Once, he was the most feared cast member ever. A man whose competitive fire was matched only by his freakish athleticism. Now, he’s … well … I have no idea what he is now, but I’m going try my damndest to figure it out.

Alton (The Challenge, Connor), 20 points: Do you remember the old Lil’ Kim? Like, Junior M.A.F.I.A Lil’ Kim? Like, “Pull out your nine while I cock on mine” Lil’ Kim? Well, she doesn’t exist anymore. That Lil’ Kim has been replaced by a designer zombie sex doll that looks, talks, and acts nothing like the Lil’ Kim we all fell in love with as the Bonnie to Biggie’s Clyde. The same thing has happened to Alton on The Challenge. No, he has not turned into a designer zombie sex doll, but he has become completely unrecognizable when compared to the psychologically and physically dominant athlete that dominated Challenges in the mid-2000s. He’s now unhinged, erratic, reclusive, and, worst of all, apathetic. How could Alton act so unAltony? He was either brainwashed using the Ludovico technique or he’s suffering from some sort of personality disorder. I figure the Ludovico thing is unlikely because it’s fictional, so I started intensely researching (read: Googled a couple times).

I am no doctor, I have no idea what I am talking about, but that won’t stop me from diagnosing Alton after four minutes of Google searches. Alton is suffering from schizotypal personality disorder. How do I know? Well, let’s go through some of the symptoms from WebMD:

1. “Dressing, speaking, or acting in an odd or peculiar way”
Um, this is what he wore to the after-show:


Hey, to each his own. You and I may find this outfit peculiar, but maybe Alton is ahead of his time. Maybe in four years we will all be dressing like disco-lumberjack-stoner-figure skaters. Maybe not.

2. “Being suspicious and paranoid”
Once Alton was universally loved and confident. Now he feels that everyone has turned on him. “Not only does the whole house hate me and I have a big ‘X’ on me, now my own team is questioning my head in the game. For the fist time I am the one that is the enemy.”

So, to summarize: He thinks everyone hates him and he is “the enemy.” Sounds pretty paranoid to me.

3. “Being uncomfortable or anxious in social situations due to their distrust of others”
First he explained to Sarah his fear of trips to the kitchen: “I can’t walk to the cooler without getting yelled at by one of these children (5 points) — so the arena is really my path outta here.” Then one night while the rest of the house was inside, Alton wanted to be alone so he went out to the driveway. To the rock climb. Instead of being inside with his peers, he would rather be rock climbing up six feet of rock over and over and over again. I would say those both count as being uncomfortable in social situations.

4. “Having few friends and being extremely uncomfortable with intimacy”
We have covered the whole loner weirdo thing he is doing, but it wasn’t always like this. He was in a burgeoning romance with “I can’t tell why she looks so much better this season but she does,” Sarah and once they started to get close he freaked out and moved all of his stuff out of her room without explaining why. This was all detailed on the after-show, and Sarah still seemed to have no idea how she went from “completing his picture” to him moving out of her room overnight.

5. “Tending to misinterpret reality or to have distorted perceptions”
The reality is that Alton asked that his team be put in the elimination challenge so he could go home because he “just wanted a free vacation” and “doesn’t need the money” (10 points). Then, when his team was put in the elimination challenge, he decided not to participate. None of this made any sense. Honestly, how do you lobby to be put in the challenge so you can go home, get put in the challenge, and then remove yourself from possible elimination?

As if this wasn’t a distorted misinterpretation of reality already, when CJ and Zach brought this up (5 points) he got in Zach’s face and told him he was going to hurt him. Anyone who thinks he is going to hurt Zach and isn’t carrying a bazooka is greatly misinterpreting reality.

6. “Having odd beliefs or magical thinking”
I am giving Alton a pass on this one. If I had dominated The Challenge with the grace and ease that he had in previous incarnations of America’s fifth professional sport, I would think I was pretty magical as well.

So, in conclusion, we have learned that Alton is a disco-lumberjack-stoner-figure skater with schizotypal personality disorder, and is basically a male version of Lil’ Kim. I think that makes Irulan Biggie Smalls and Sarah Lil Cease. Perfect.

Frank (The Challenge, Simmons), 20 points: Frank the Alcopsychoholic is dominating this season. As a no. 1 pick in the GRTFL draft should, Frank finds his way into the middle of every conflict in the house (5 x 2 = 10 points). There is a little part of me that thinks he is doing it for the cameras — but there is a bigger part of me that thinks he’s just a conflict-loving loon. His best work from this episode came during a kitchen argument with Dustin. (For those who don’t remember: Dustin was a straight, football-playing southerner who revealed a gay-porn past on Real World). This argument was like a well-orchestrated piece of classical music; it had early peaks, tension-building nuances in the middle, and glorious climax:

Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “I would love for your boy to come step to me. I would love to see you step to me in the streets, Dustin.” (Really? The “streets,” Frank?)
Dustin: “Don’t go there.”
Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “I would love to see it.”
Dustin: “I would love to knock your block off.” (Did he just say “Knock your block off”?)
Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “Then do it. I’m right here and I’m not afraid of you. Go ahead, Dustin, seriously, go ahead.”
Dustin: “You’d love it, wouldn’t you?”
Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “I bet you’re dying to get your hands on a man again!”

What a finishing line. So personal. So … perfect. I feel like if either candidate had just slipped that into one of the debates he would have won every single state.

Dustin (The Challenge, Simmons), 15 points: Sorry. The paragraph about Dustin scoring for that verbal argument (5 points) and winning a challenge (10 points) couldn’t be here this week. It is still reeling from Frank’s “get your hands on a man again” comeback.

CJ (The Challenge, House), 15 points: OK, this week’s GRTFL Top Five is the Top Five Questions I Need Answered About CJ, listed from “just wondering” to “I need to know the answer to this to move on with my day the same way I need to fix a bunch-up in my sock on the bottom of my foot”:

5. Did I really just read a website that called you “the top punting instructor in Florida”?
4. Were you actually on American Ninja Warrior?
3. Do you really think you would win a fight against Alton? (5 points)
2. If working out is “your life,” why did you puke during the Insane Games? (10 points)
1. Dude, why are you always wearing eye black?

Seriously, why are you wearing eye black in every episode? I have worn eye black before. It does absolutely nothing.

Nany (The Challenge, Simmons), 10 points: I give the producers of The Challenge a lot of shit in this column, so it is only right that I give them due credit when they pull off something as amazing as the Insane Games. What were the Insane Games? A series of stupid challenges that could only be the product of a very long meeting that involved the whole staff and a half-ounce of marijuana. Some quotes from this imaginary meeting:

“You know what? [Inhales from joint.] I always liked in Ben Hur when they raced in those chariots, can we do that? But like with dudes wearing stupid rubber horse masks instead of horses?”

“You know those cones that keep dogs from eating their own testicles? Let’s get those involved. What? I don’t know how, dude! I just want those cone things involved.”

“Have I ever told you that I have super-strong ears? Like, the strongest ears ever? Let’s do an ear-strength challenge.”

“I want them to sword fight. [Pauses for bong rip.] But, like [exhales] with fish.”

Oh yeah, Nany won the elimination challenge (10 points), but who cares? INSANE GAMES! If next year isn’t The Challenge: Insane Games, where they invite back the most insane people to compete in the most insane challenges, then the producers are either bad at their jobs or just out of weed.

Knight (The Challenge, Lisanti), 10 points: Knight puked too (10 points)? What is it with all this exhaustion puking? I WANT DRUNKEN PUKING!

Ronnie (Jersey Shore, Lisanti), 7 points: Ronnie got slammered while Deena was in the slammer (7 points and, ya know, ZING). Jersey Shore is so boring that I have created another weekly element to the GRTFL column that I may or may not forget to include every week. It’s called “Actual Story Lines of the Week on Jersey Shore”:

1. Will Ronnie hit a dart with a balloon?
2. Mike goes stroller shopping.
3. Can Snooki operate a wheelchair?
4. Does Jenni know how to use a cane?
5. The crew splits a bill at dinner.

Don’t miss next week: Snooki cooks!

Artis and Pete (Survivor, Jacoby and Kang), 5 points: Artis and Pete scored the GRTFL’s first “Accusing someone of eating more food than he/she was rationed” points (5 points each) and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Mike Skupin (the dude that burned his hands off in the Outback season) had three distinct, fascinating moments on the show this week:

1. When Pete and Artis called him out for eating too much rice and then Artis declared, “Mike makes horrible decisions, he is the most useless survivor ever to return and he needs to go home.”

2. During this stupid challenge in which they were all supposed to be fighting over this ball but devolved into them standing around a ball, Penner had his hand on a place on Skupin’s body that inspired Jeff to clarify, “To be clear, Penner is doing nothing illegal, he has his hand between Skupin’s legs. A very intimate way to play this game but totally legal.”

3. The standstill was ended when Skupin allowed Penner to have the reward food in exchange for his tribe’s rice. No challenge in Survivor history has been resolved in such a manner. Both tribes felt like they got screwed in the deal, which in the end is the best indication of a fair deal. To be clear, I don’t want Penner to starve to death because he traded all his rice … I just want him to come close.

Zach (The Challenge, Lisanti), 5 points: “Alton gets under my skin because he walks around thinking he is the greatest thing since sliced bread and he’s just an old fart that’s lucky he gets to call this home (5 points).” This is the Challenge equivalent of LeBron James dunking on Michael Jordan, tearing his jersey off, and spitting on him. Guard, changed.

J-WOWW (Jersey Shore, undrafted), 5 points: J-WOWW’s boyfriend Roger got involved in a skirmish at a nightclub. J-WOWW threw a drink in his face to calm him down and he pushed her to the ground. Neither of those last two sentences makes sense, I know. The best way to sum up their relationship is to carefully examine the teary statement (5 points) J-WOWW made when she hadn’t heard from him in the four days following the incident: “I have been with him for two years and I don’t even get a ‘go bleep yourself’ right now.”

I mean, Roger, two years together and you go four days without even telling her to bleep herself? What kind of boyfriend are you?

Katie and Carter, (Survivor, Lisanti and House), 5 and 20 points: Katie and Carter cried when they got letters from home (5 and 20 points) and Jeff Kent, recently retired professional baseball player, lost a challenge that involved holding a catching device in his hand and catching balls that were thrown to him. That would normally be weird, but he lost to Malcolm. Malcolm is athletic, likable, handsome, stony, and intelligent. Malcolm is the new old Alton.

Deena (Jersey Shore, Kang), 5 points: Deena cried when she got out of jail for dancing inslopsicated in the streets last week (5 points). She got her GRTFL points for the arrest last week, but this week we were treated to a Deena quote that should not go overlooked. As she was slammered running from the cops, she said, “I am running faster than you!” I watched it 10 times and I just laughed out loud as I wrote it. I might rob a bank just so I can get in a footrace with a cop and declare, “I AM RUNNING FASTER THAN YOU!”

Denise (Survivor, Lisanti), -5 points: Denise cried (5 points) and put another stupid emoticon on her vote card (-10 points). IF YOU ARE OVER 30 YOU CANNOT USE EMOTICONS! You just can’t. Stop it.

There’s no reality-TV podcast this week, but Juliet and I will be back shortly. Until then.

Filed Under: CBS, Jersey Shore, Mtv, Reality TV, Reality TV Fantasy League, Survivor, The Challenge

David Jacoby is an ESPN producer who somehow became a writer and editor for Grantland.

Archive @ djacoby