Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League: An Absolute Embarrassment of Survivor and Real World Riches

MTV The Real World: Ex-Plosion logo (MTV)

I. Can’t. Take. It. There’s. Too. Much. Reality. TV. Tremendousness.

Seriously, I don’t even know where to start.

OK, that’s a lie. I totally know where to start: When MTV drops its “Real World will never be the same ever forever, forever ever, forever ever ever” official season trailer, that’s where to start. Saying “I don’t even know where to start” is just something people say. The truth is, so much good stuff surfaced this week that I have to save some for next week. The Bachelor cast bios are now on, and next week’s GRTFL will include a full breakdown of all the fitness models, former NBA dancers, opera singers, and — wait for it! — “free spirits.” Yes, some poor lass actually listed “free spirit” as her occupation.

We also got a top-10 Tribal Council on this week’s Survivor, which I’ll discuss in a bit. But before we get to that, how about a waaaaaaaaay too detailed breakdown of that Real World trailer? Way, way too detailed.

Frame-by-Frame Real World: Ex-Plosion Trailer Breakdown

(Full disclosure: I wrote this before MTV posted the cast bios online, but that’s OK, because it’s more fun when I don’t know these people’s real names, origin stories, or career goals. Also, I’m too lazy to rewrite this.)

Time stamp: 00:00-00:05

What happens: The trailer opens with, what else, shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. An attractive young woman tells us: “This is not like other seasons of Real World.” Then we see the cast dressed as firefighters, riding across the bridge in a convertible fire truck.

What it means: The bridge tells us they’re in San Francisco; the sound bite tells us there’s a format twist. The convertible fire truck, though?


Well, that’s either an indication that their fake job this year is working at a fire station, or it’s the producers saying: “These people are so deplorable that the only thing we can do to make them likable is put them in firefighter uniforms. Everyone comes off great in a firefighter uniform.”

Time stamp: 00:05-00:13

What happens: A young man announces that “every girl here is hot.” Then we see the female cast members posing for a photo shoot. Then the young man tells us that “everything is smooth sailing” as a couple makes out and the entire cast poses for pictures.

What it means: Young people take too many pictures of themselves and NOT EVERYTHING IS SMOOTH SAILING.

Time stamp: 00:13-00:28

What happens: A big ol’ graphic says: “Until … their exes move in.” A group of people invades the house, to the shock of the “cast.” Then a young man asks, “Why is my ex-girlfriend here?” Then we get split screens of all five couples and a puzzled young lady saying, “It’s seven strangers picked to live in a house, not seven strangers plus their exes.” A more puzzled young man follows up with a “What the bleep?”

What it means: Anyone who reads this column already knows about the twist, so let’s take this time to make some superficial, baseless, judgey proclamations about each former couple. It’s only right:

Former couple no. 1: Boring Girl and Party Guy


At first, she enjoyed his outgoing personality, inflated ego, and neon-heavy wardrobe. Over time, however, she realized that he really just had a going-out personality, an inflated consumption habit, and the wardrobe that only a construction worker should wear.

Former couple no. 2: This is what happens when a generation has Snookie and The Situation as role models


They met as children at Los Angeles’s elite Mirman School for Gifted Children, where, as the top two students in their class, they started a friendship fueled by competition. They were selected to lead a team of scientists on an expedition to Brazil to study the medicinal properties of rare plant species in the rain forest. That’s when their relationship turned romantic — and complicated. As the top scientists in their field and mere juniors in high school, the romance turned to rivalry and the relationship fell apart. Oh, wait, sorry, I got confused. They met when they woke up naked next to each other on a mound of empty cans and bottles.

Former couple no. 3: He totally cheated


I was just goofing around about the whole school-for-gifted-scientists thing, but I’m 100 percent serious about this one. I realize I’m making this call based on one frame, but c’mon: Dudes who wear mesh hats and leis cheat on their girlfriends. It’s a fact.

Former couple no. 4: The perfect match


I want this couple to work it out. These (community) college sweethearts have been together for two years but decided to “take a break” when he told her he was going on Real World. I want them to work it out because I feel like they’re balanced in terms of attractiveness, intellect, and interests. I know this because, well, I looked at this one picture.

Former couple no. 5: The same-sexers!


After a body shot these two held their lime-slice transfer for a solid two seconds, but they told producers they’d dated for a year so they could be on the show. I’m all for it.

The other two former couples? They don’t exist. I guess some people won’t drop everything and go to San Francisco just to move in with an ex and a dozen strangers on national TV. Weird.

Time stamp: 00:29-:00:37

What happens:

Blonde Chick: “I got my ex-boyfriend here, I got my friend with benefits here.”

Bearded Botanist: “I just got done having sex with you and then you go and have sex with somebody else?”

Blonde Chick: “Oops.” [And then she makes this amazing “oops” face:]


What it means: I have a new favorite Real World cast member, and her name is Blonde Chick.

Time stamp: 00:38-00:45

What happens: Some girl asks “Was it really worth it?” under shots of photos of couples being burned in trash cans; some dude goes all aggro with “I was with HER” under slow-mo shots of balloons bursting, and then he screams “I don’t want you here!” at a door frame; then a bro finishes the section with a “Y’all showing up ruined this entire thing.”

What it means: This is the “love triangle” montage, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Why put people in a house and hope there’s drama and tension when you can guarantee it? I’m excited for the dude-who-sleeps-with-his-roommate-and-then-his-ex love triangle, I’m excited for the chick-who-sleeps-with-some-other-chick’s-ex-boyfriend love triangle, and I’m REALLY excited for the chick-who-sleeps-with-some-dude’s-ex-girlfriend love triangle. I’m all for Real World morphing into Change of Heart.

Time stamp: 00:46-00:57

What happens: Neon-hat-wearing Party Guy twirls a pool stick and announces that “the whole game is changed now.” Then, the same dude appears in a two-person confessional interview with his ex, Boring Girl, who says: “You’re dating Jamie in front of my face; does that not make me look like a fool?” Then some other chick says “I want her to understand that you have a girlfriend” to Neon Hat Dude. Then Boring Chick hops on the phone and says “You better believe that I will ruin his life.”

What it means: This is clearly a case of Neon Hat Dude breaking up with his (boring) girl right before going on Real World, meeting a chick on Real World who has tattoos and sex toys and stuff, hooking up with her, and then watching it all fall apart when the boring ex moves in the house. This is the exact scenario that the producers wanted when they conceived this format. I LOVE REAL WORLD: CHANGE OF HEART. WHERE IS CHRIS JAGGER?

Time stamp: 00:57-01:05

What happens: Cliché alert! Jersey Shore Guy is dancing in the club with some chick. He has lipstick on his cheek:


Then his ex gets teary and says “You get numbers in front of my face; do you know how that makes me feel?” Then some other chick is super-pissed and yells at Jersey Shore Guy’s ex, saying “Let’s see how the house feels without Ashley here!” And then Ashley (I assume she’s the ex) responds with a solid “Leave or we will all vote you out tomorrow, bitch!”

What it means: This looks like a second dream scenario for both the audience and the producers. Note the difference, though: When Neon Hat Guy’s ex finds him hooking up with someone else, she dedicates her life to ruining his. When Jersey Shore Guy’s ex finds him hooking up with someone else, she dedicates her life to ruining the girl. This is what I like to call the Conundrum of the Cuckolded: When you discover that your lover is cheating on you, are you angrier at your significant other or at the person with whom he/she cheated? Reason, intelligence, and rational thought indicate you should be more upset with your lover, which is exactly why I love the situations that play the other way. Shout-out to you, Jersey Shore Guy’s ex.

Time stamp: 01:05-01:11

What happens: GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Neon Hat Guy is on the phone with someone and he says “She … took a pregnancy test.” GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Then they show the test box in the garbage, then they show Blonde Chick (still my favorite one minute and 10 seconds in) telling some other chick “She … is pregnant.”

What it means: OUR FIRST REAL WORLD BABY! THE REAL WORLD SPAWN HAS FINALLY COME TO SAVE US ALL. ALL HAIL THE REAL WORLD SPAWN! Also, it means there will likely be some discussion of abortion, some media-reaction controversy, and some disappointment if this is all about the house dog, Sally.

Time stamp: 01:11-01:17

What happens: Jersey Shore Guy is on the phone, and someone tells him “I have bad news for you.” Then we see three shots of him crying and being cared for:


What it means: Every season has a bummer-from-back-home moment. This season’s appears to be whatever Jersey Shore Guy learns in this phone call. I feel bad for him already. Sorry, Jersey Shore Guy, I hope it works out for you.

OK, let’s lighten the mood:

Time stamp: 01:17-01:22

What happens: Lesbian make-out!


Under that shot we hear a woman declare “You only get one second chance.” And then the “This is the end of the trailer” music starts and the chick comes back to educate us some more about, you know, life and stuff: “What happens in the past, it defines us.” And then … oh wait, that wasn’t the “This is the end of the trailer” music.

What it means: Um, well, there isn’t really much to take away from this other than a vague life lesson from a 20-year-old.

Time stamp: 01:22-01:25

What happens: Fight montage! We see:

A guy getting pushed to the ground:


A girl smacking a guy in the face:


A solid skirmish:


A quick shot of an off-duty NFL official in jeans and heels breaking a glass bottle on the street:


A nice “I’m going to throw all your shit out of the house while I’m calmly sucking on a lollipop” combination move:


What it means: GRTFL points. Lots of them.

Time stamp: 01:25-01:37

What happens: Jersey Shore Guy is eating a sandwich while Blonde Chick (still my favorite) is in the kitchen, wielding a knife:


Blonde Chick: “You are pushing me to a level of insanity.”

Jersey Shore Guy: “Don’t wave that knife around while you’re talking to me.”

Blonde Chick: [Dances while waving knife:]


Jersey Shore Guy: “You’re insane!”

What it means: We will likely have our first baby and our first murder on the same Real World season. There’s nothing more real than the circle of life.

All things considered, this franchise needed a little something to help it stay fresh, and I think it got it with this format tweak.

There’s a lot of exciting shit on the horizon for GRTFLers as we usher in 2014. Next week I’ll be doing a deep dive on those aforementioned Bachelor bios, so get excited, or something.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about this week’s Survivor, which featured one of the best Tribal Councils in the history of the franchise. I know saying that is a bit like a late-night TV host saying “We have a great show tonight!” but I really mean it this time. They. Drew. Rocks.

Survivor Scores

Tyson (Survivor, House), 20 points: The episode begins with Hayden arriving at the beach after Caleb, the Silent Bob to his Jay, got voted off. Hayden congratulates Tyson for the great move, then announces that everyone in Tyson’s alliance must like second place, because that’s where they’re going to end up if they keep Tyson around. It was a desperate, emotional move on Hayden’s part, but also smart and grounded in truth. Tyson is dominating this game and has a cult-like following. Granted, his followers are just Gervase and Monica, but what his contingent lacks in size it makes up for in commitment. Tyson nicely explains how he’s handling being a target:

“I am threat no. 1, and everyone knows that. And I know that. I’m just trying to play the game, trying to get to the end. And I told myself when Rachel [his loved one] left that if I was going to stay I had to get to the end. So [starts to cry] that is the only way it would be worth it for me to stay here and not go in when I could have saved her. So I have just been fighting and clawing and I’m so close. And I still feel like it’s getting pulled out from under me [crying kinda hard now] and I hate that feeling because I have worked too hard to get here.” (20 points)

Tyson has worked hard. He sits with a solid alliance of four (loyal followers Gervase and Monica, plus Ciera) poised to vote out the remaining two, Hayden and Katie. This is not lost on the tribe. Heading into Tribal Council, Tyson et al. are planning to vote out Hayden. And Hayden knows it. Faced with sure elimination, he takes a big swing. With the aid of sneaky shit-stirrer Jeffy P, Hayden launches an anti-Tyson campaign aimed solely at flipping Ciera to his side to end the vote in a tie, with three votes for Monica (Hayden, Katie, Ciera) and three for Hayden (Tyson, Gervase, Monica). Again, with the aid of sneaky shit-stirrer Jeffy P, Hayden tries to convince Ciera that she’s “number four” in her current alliance, and that all she’s doing by voting with them is delaying her inevitable demise. It didn’t help that after all the “number four” talk, Gervase labeled Ciera “number four” when counting out the members of his alliance.

Ciera faced a very interesting decision that’s still confounding me: Should she flip? Let me offer up the two scenarios:

Scenario 1, Ciera flips: There wasn’t a single person sitting at home who wasn’t rooting for her to flip, just to make the viewing experience more dramatic. If she flipped, there would be a re-vote, and the re-vote would result in another tie. “BY THE RULES OF SURVIVOR,” Ciera, Katie, and Tyson would “draw rocks” to see who goes home. The net of the whole thing had four potential outcomes:

1. 33 percent chance Tyson draws the white rock and goes to redemption. Mission accomplished.
2. 33 percent chance Ciera draws the white rock and goes to redemption herself. Oops.
3. 33 percent chance Katie draws the white rock and Ciera is left on the outs with only Hayden as an ally.
4. 1 percent chance Monica freaks out, screams “I am staaaaarving,” and eats all three rocks.

While I wanted Ciera to flip and pursue this course of action, I feared it wasn’t the right play.

Scenario 2, Ciera votes with the Tyson alliance: If she stays the course as the “number four” in her alliance, she votes out Hayden, has a 100 percent chance of staying, and thus puts herself in position to later make an “if you take Tyson to the finish you will lose” play to break up the alliance. Also, the longer she stays, the closer she is to having her mother back on the tribe and swaying the numbers in her favor. Remember, Ciera’s mother, Laura, is the mother fucking Michael Jordan of Redemption Island. She. Does. Not. Lose.

So what did Ciera do? She flipped. It made for great television, but unless someone in the comments can convince me otherwise, I don’t think it was her best play. Regardless, it was absolutely riveting. I don’t pretend to have Cochran-level knowledge of Survivor game theory, but methinks Ciera made a mistake. Regardless, I love the move, love how decisive and assertive Ciera was when she made it, and now want her to win the whole thing. Who isn’t going to vote for the former teen mom, spawn of the Michael Jordan of Redemption Island? I would. I am curious to know what you think about her decision, though, so please comment below about how my logic is flawed. It won’t be the first time.

Don’t forget to listen to the Right Reasons podcast. This week was a fun one. And check back next week for the annual GRTFL Bachelor Bio Breakdown. Enjoy your weekend.

Filed Under: David Jacoby, Jeff Probst, Mtv, Reality TV Fantasy League, The Decline of American Civilization

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

Archive @ djacoby

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