Grantland Reality Fantasy League: The Return of the Greatest Real Housewives of All

MTV The Challenge

“At least I don’t do crystal meth all night long in the bathroom, bitch.”

Ah yes, the return of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. That quote was from the “previously on” setup to this season’s Monday-night premiere and made me say to myself, “Oh yeah, I forgot that Kim was using hard drugs all last season!” And then, “Oh yeah, I forgot Taylor’s husband killed himself last season!” And then, “Oh yeah, Camille divorced Frasier last season!” And then, “Oh yeah, I totally have to add this show to the GRTFL.”

If you aren’t familiar with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, here’s a cheat sheet:

Adrienne: Maloof sister married to a plastic surgeon; need I say more?
Brandi: Ex-wife of Eddie Cibrian. People think that’s important for some reason. I Googled him; still unsure why it is important.
Camille: Kelsey Grammer’s semi-stripperish ex-wife.
Kim: Just got out of rehab. Spent a lot of last season in the bathroom.
Kyle: Kim’s sister. Did I mention that Kim and Kyle are Paris Hilton’s aunts?
Lisa: Always wears pink, moved into a new home because she had trouble finding her husband in her last home.
Marisa: I have no idea who this woman is. I watched the show this season and last and didn’t see her. Not kidding.
Taylor: I dare you to look at this woman and focus on anything aside from her surgically deformed lips. They look like the back of Marcellus Wallace’s head.
Yolanda: Former model and new cast member. She treats keeping house with the precision and passion that Deena treats day drinking.

All caught up? Good. As you know, whenever we add a new show we make up some dumb rules (shout to Emily Yoshida on these):

Cosmetic surgery procedures: 30 points
Inviting someone you openly despise to your party/trip: 10 points
Getting kicked out of/uninvited to a party/trip: 50 points
Any comment (joking or not) to someone about sleeping with someone else’s husband or someone else sleeping with your husband: 1 point
Actually sleeping with someone else’s husband: 1,000 points
On-camera purchase of anything for your child worth greater than $1,000: 5 points
Psychic/hypnosis consultations: 10 points
Gifting of adult novelty items: 5 points
Disparaging (non-joking) comments about someone’s pets: 1 point
Accusing someone of going to the tabloids: 25 points
Allison DuBois memorial e-cigarette smoking award: 15 points
Name Dropping (A List): 2 points
Name Dropping (B List): 4 points
Name Dropping (C List): 6 points
Name Dropping (Hilton): 8 points
Using your child to condescend to or insult a fellow Housewife: 10 points
Taking singing lessons: 10 points
Launching a new fashion/accessories line: 15 points

Then we divvied up the delusional debutantes:

Simmons: “I’m going to take Brandi, who is just a lying, promiscuous lunatic.”
Lisanti: “Camille, because I know who she is.”
Connor: “Yolanda. Rookies always get picked on.”
Kang: “How is Adrienne still on the board?”
House: “I select Taylor. Grieving can produce some powerful and unpredictable emotions.”
Jacoby: “I’m handcuffing Kyle and Kim Richards; that’s like having Moss and Brady in 2007.”
House: “I’ll take Lisa here, just because I like Ken.”
Kang: [Marisa by default]

Let’s be clear about one thing: I’m not like a child that only wants to play with its new toy. My first (and most passionate) reality-TV love is The Challenge. The Housewives may be catty, crazy, and combative, but they’re not nearly as catty, crazy, and combative as Zach and Frank from The Challenge.

Top Scorers

Zach (The Challenge, Lisanti), 20 points: Zach and soccer goalies have something in common — neither is a big fan of positive reinforcement. Have you ever tried to get someone to do something they didn’t want to do? There are a lot of different approaches: You can reason with them. You can incentivize them. You can manipulate them. Or you can do what Zach and Frank the Alcopsychoholic attempted this week on The Challenge: insult, disrespect, and belittle them until they are so fed up, they do it just to shut your face. Let me set the scene:

Team San Diego is comprised of Zach (the football meathead HGH-ish one), Frank the Alcopsychoholic (the Alcopsychoholic one), Ashley (the dumb one with a body so ridiculous both me and my wife gawk at it), and Sam (the one with the Mohawk who looks like a dude but isn’t a dude). The four of them have been tasked with memorizing a pattern, finding the pattern on logs, carrying the logs up a mountain, and then re-creating the pattern at the top. Nothing in that last sentence really mattered aside from “carrying the logs up a mountain.” I have never done it, but from the looks of it, carrying logs up a mountain is not a relaxing recreational activity. Who knew?

During their second or third trip up the slope, Sam started to fatigue. Crazy, right? Now, imagine what you would say if you were in the middle of Turkey, wearing an Under Armour T-shirt with your name on it and doing some stupid team challenge and one of your teammates started to flag. Something supportive, motivational, goal-oriented, perhaps? Ya know, the usual “you can do it, go get ‘em” bullshit you’ve been hearing your whole life? That isn’t what Zach and Frank the Alcopsychoholic did. They veered left. Way left (2 x 5 = 10 verbal fighting points):

Event No. 1: Sam starts falling behind and drops her log.

How a balanced, considerate human would react: “Come on, Sam! After a quick break, pick up the log and finish this with us. Only a bit more — I know you can do this! You’re a bad bitch!”
How Zach and Frank the Alcopsychoholic reacted:

Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “Sam, you’re going home if you don’t finish this. You know that, right?”
Sam: “I am bleeping exhausted, Frank.”
Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “I need you to stop complaining and try.”
Sam: “I am bleeping trying!”
Zach: “Sam, quit throwing a temper tantrum and WALK UP THE DAMN HILL!”

Which motivational technique is superior? In terms of motivating someone to carry a log up a hill, I am giving this round to “balanced, considerate human.” However, if you ever want to motivate someone to have a temper tantrum, Zach and Frank the Alchopsychoholic proved that one surefire way to ensure someone throws a temper tantrum is to tell someone on the cusp of a temper tantrum that they are throwing a temper tantrum.

Event No. 2: On the last trip up the mountain, Sam stops and looks like she is in serious physical trouble.

How a balanced, considerate human would react: “Sam, are you OK? Maybe we should rest up a bit. We will get this done, girl, I promise.”
How Zach and Frank the Alcopsychoholic reacted:

Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “Let’s go!”
Sam: “No. You are not going to degrade me just because we are in a bleeping challenge.”
Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “You are ruining it for all three of us! Let’s go! Stop being so selfish!”
Zach: “Pick it up, pick it up. You’re almost there.”
Sam: “I am going. Please, please, please.
Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “I AM JUST ENCOURAGING YOU! STOP WHINING! [Gritting teeth and using that “I am doing everything I can not to punch you” voice] WALK! WALK, RIGHT NOW!”
Sam: “Please lower your voice.”

Which motivational technique is superior? Again, I have to give this one to “balanced, considerate human being.” I also have to acknowledge Sam for her use of the word “please” in a high-stress circumstance. Not the first word that would come to my mind.

Event No. 3: On the way down the mountain, Sam is jogging, but a little slower than the rest of the team.

How a balanced, considerate human would react: “Sam, we are at the finish. All you have to do is lift your legs a little faster and let gravity to the work. You got this. We are literally steps away from the finish line.”
How Zach and Frank the Alcopsychoholic reacted:

Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “Get on my bleeping back, Sam! You’re slowing us bleeping down!”
[Frank the Alcopsychoholic reaches toward Sam to grab her. Sam pushes him away.]
Sam: “Get the bleep off me.”
Frank the Alcopsychoholic: “Bleep you, you bleeping lost it for us, you bleeping RUN! YOU FAT BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!” (For the record, Sam is not fat and she is running)

Which motivational technique is superior? Looks like a sweep for “balanced, considerate human being.”

Shockingly, Zach and Frank the Alcopsychoholic did not lead their team to victory and Zach ended up in the arena with Sam (10 points). They won, and Zach wore white leggings. It was easily the best high-pressure performance from an American man in white leggings since Brian Boitano in Calgary.

Sam (The Challenge, Kang), 20 points: Look, I just hashed out how Sam scored for verbal fighting (10 points) and challenge-winning (10 points), so I won’t bore you with that. But there was a very important event this week that must be discussed. This event involves CJ (the punter from the Cancun season who is now “the TOP Punting Instructor in Florida”), and Ashley (she of the body at which both my wife and I gawk). CJ has a misunderstanding about courtship and a male-female relationship. He believes in romance. Allow me to present CJ’s plan for wooing Ashley:

Step 1, the groundwork: Following her around, laughing at her jokes, expressing interest in her topics of conversation and being attentive.
Step 2, preparing the move: Going out by himself and picking a bouquet of wildflowers. Writing a note to her that reads, “Hey girl, I thank God everyday for giving me such a beautiful woman inside and out to share this experience with. Seeing that your favorite number is four, that is why I chose four roses and added an extra three because seven is God’s number and I was praying for his presence to be with you … ”
Step 3, the move: Delivery of the flower and the note.
The Result: “CJ is a great guy, but I came into this with nothing but The Challenge on my mind. With CJ, I look at him as a friend and that is probably about it.”

Now, I don’t blame CJ for his misunderstanding of effective courtship. It’s not his fault. For centuries it has been pounded into men’s heads that things like attentiveness, caring, flowers, and corny crush notes are the way to a woman’s heart. I know it seems counterintuitive, but I would present another three-step plan to woo Lady Ashley of Amazingassington:

Step 1, set the trap: Flirt with her heavily at first, then flirt with other women in front of her, then stop flirting with her altogether. Her confusion and self-doubt are your wingmen.
Step 2, prepare the move: Apply alcohol, but not so much that either of you are drunk. The desired effect is “loosey-goosey.”
Step 3, physical move: Just lean in for a kiss. There really is no smooth way to do this. None. You cannot wait until there is a blob of mustard on her lip that you need to wipe off, you can’t wait until she drops something and you two bump heads both reaching for it; these things don’t happen in real life. Just kiss her. The first one will be kind of weird, but you will know in a millisecond if it worked.
The result: Could go either way, really. No one has a foolproof plan for this type of thing; I have no idea what I am talking about; none of this is actual advice that should be, ya know, followed. That’s crazy talk.

Kyle (Housewives, Jacoby) 10 points: Hello, Kyle Richards! Where do I even start with you? Kyle Richards is the type of woman whose husband comes home from work, grabs her hand, and drags her outside to show her a Maserati with a bow around it waiting for her. She is pretty, her husband is pretty, her daughter is adorable, and she is very wealthy. All is well save the little detail that her sister is a recovering “alcoholic” and a complete and total loonball.

One afternoon, Kyle was with her adorable daughter adorably inviting Lisa to an event on speakerphone. (Inviting people to events is, like, 73 percent of the plot on this show.) Brandi, who was in the room with Lisa, chimed in mid-invite with, “Hey, Kyle, it’s Brandi.” Now, why would Brandi do this, knowing it forces Kyle to invite her (10 points)? Why would you want to go somewhere you are unwelcome? Does Brandi have a top that covers enough of her breasts that is appropriate for a child’s party? None of these questions have answers.

This wasn’t the only time during the episode when Brandi said something that defied explanation, either. Check this exchange out:

Kyle: “Yolanda? Meet Brandi.”
Brandi: “Hi.”
Yolanda: “Nice to meet you.”
Brandi: “Your ex-husband is Muhammad?”
Yolanda: “Yes. Small town.”
Brandi: “You know, everyone has slept with everyone, it’s all good. It’s all good.”

OK, I think I just found this week’s GRTFL Top Five! The following are the Top Five Possible Explanations for What Brandi Meant When She Said “You Know Everyone Has Slept With Everyone, It’s All Good, It’s All Good,” listed from “that doesn’t make any sense” to … well … “that doesn’t make any sense”:

5. Brandi has slept with Muhammad and is trying to defuse the situation.
4. Brandi is trying to make Yolanda feel comfortable by letting her know she is in the company of other promiscuous women.
3. Brandi is coming on to Yolanda.
2. Muhammad’s nickname is “everyone.”
1. Brandi has literally slept with everyone.

Look, let’s just move on. Trying to understand these women is like trying to understand Metta World Peace. You’re better off not overthinking it.

Frank (The Challenge, Simmons), 10 points: Frank the Alcopsychoholic went inappropriately nuclear in a bunch of verbal spats with his teammates and … and … nope, that’s it (10 points).

Deena (Jersey Shore, Kang), 5 points: Day Drinking Dionysian Deena started this episode crying her eyes out (5 points) in the wake of her second disastrous morning moonshine marathon. She has been so emotionally unstable (read: slammered) that Sammi decided to have a heart-to-heart with her. Sammi started her message to Deena by saying, “I am going to break it down. I am not being mean, I love you as a person, I love that you are happy in a relationship. I will always support you through anything because you are actually a very good friend to me … ”

If anyone ever starts a conversation with you by saying, “I am not being mean,” RUN. They are about to say something really mean. No one has ever said, “I’m not being mean, but you really make a mean mac and cheese.” People say things like, “I’m not being mean, but you look like the child of the Wicked Witch of the West and Donkey Kong.” Which, by the way, she kind of does.

Jasmine (The Challenge, Kang), 5 points: How the hell did no one get drunk on The Challenge this episode? I’ve said it before and I will say it again: When I am running Bunim/Murray, I am putting a sign in the Challenge edit bay that reads, “No episode leaves this room unless the cast got so drunk in it we have to send it to the lawyers.”

Jasmine, you used to be so much fun, punching mirrors, hooking up with Ty and then decking him. What happened to you this season? Now you just cry (5 points) — it’s like Shaquille O’Neal coming out of retirement and being a 3-point specialist. I feel like in an upcoming episode Jasmine is going to get inslopsicated, give the entire crew a lap dance, stab a Turkish policeman, and finally restore balance to the force.

Lisa (Housewives, House), 5 points: “Brandi is very honest: She says she wants to have sex with Ken. Ken is very honest: He says he wants to have sex with me. I am very honest: I say I want to have sex with nobody.”

Lisa and Brandi have a friendship that is entirely based on joking about the fact that Brandi wants to have sex with Lisa’s husband, Ken (5 x 1 = 5 points). Normally this type of thing wouldn’t be a source of humor, but Ken can barely move, carries a tiny dog around everywhere, and looks like a golfer on the Senior LPGA tour.

Abi (Survivor, Jacoby), -10 points: “I can’t think of a more complicated, more entertaining tribal EVER in my time with Survivor.” —Jeff Probst.

Jeff, don’t be so dramatic. It was way less “complicated” than it was “disorganized.” Here is a chronological breakdown of the chaos:

At Camp:

1. Everyone is going to vote out Penner.
2. Anyone who watches this show knows that this means Penner is going to win immunity.
3. Penner wins immunity.
4. Malcolm says his alliance is going to vote out Skupin.
5. Jeff goes so far as to tell Skupin he is voting for Skupin.
6. Blair from Facts of Life tells Pete that Malcolm has the idol. Pete feels this is a violation of his trust.
7. Blair from Facts of Life suggests blindsiding Malcolm.
8. I start getting a little confused.
9. Pete asks Malcolm if he has the idol.
10. Malcolm lies.
11. Pete and Jeff decide to vote for Jeff instead of Skupin.
12. OK, maybe not. Now I’m really confused.
13. Jeff and Malcolm decide to backstab Pete.
14. I wonder why Malcolm would backstab Pete. Malcolm seems so chill and he went to college with Rembert. REMBERT WOULD NEVER BACKSTAB PETE. WHAT IS HAPPENING?
15. Jeff tells Carter everyone is voting Pete.
16. Carter tells Jeff, “I thought they were sending you home tonight.”
17. Commercial break.
18. I wish I had Aqib Talib’s medicine cabinet, because I am going to need, like, a dozen Adderalls to even begin to understand what is happening in this show I have to write about.

At Tribal:

1. Malcolm calls out Blair from Facts of Life for snitching about the idol.
2. Blair from Facts of Life tells everyone the plan was to vote off Skupin.
3. Blair from Facts of Life then reveals her plan to backstab Malcolm.
4. I pause the show and spend 15 minutes trying to decide if I think Blair from Facts of Life is smart. I conclude only that I am not.
5. Abi tells everyone that Malcolm and Skupin were never part of her alliance.
6. Blair from Facts of Life tells everyone that Malcolm has an idol.
7. Malcolm breaks out his idol and threatens to play it.
8. Abi, for no reason, breaks out her idol. Seriously, there was no reason to do this.
9. I wonder, is Abi is somehow related to Camila from The Challenge?
10. Penner proposes Skupin and him joining, well, some alliance, — I am too dumb to figure out which one, though.
11. Blair from Facts of Life makes some sort of proposal.
12. I don’t understand the proposal.
13. Probst, sensing that the audience is perplexed, breaks the options down very simply.
14. I still don’t understand the options.
15. Abi puts a smiley face on her vote card (-10 points).
16. Jeff is voted out. [Ed Note: And makes a nasty comment about Obama on his way out the door!]
17. I have no idea what happened and write in my notes “rewatch this and make sense of it.”
18. I fail at that task.

Vinny (Jersey Shore, Simmons), -10 points: Time for this week’s “Actual Story Lines of the Week on Jersey Shore“:

1. Hot dog or hamburger?
2. Can Mike stop cleaning to put a shirt on?
3. Paula wears buttpads.
4. The girls are late for work.
5. Vinny brought a girl home from the club and did not hook up with her (-10 points).
6. Can JWOWW sell shot glasses to customers?

Tune in to Jersey Shore next week. Paula farts! I can’t wait.

Filed Under: Bravo, CBS, Mtv, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Reality TV, Reality TV Fantasy League, Survivor, The Challenge, The Decline and Fall of American Civilization

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

Archive @ djacoby