Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League: Jeff Probst Does His Best T.J. Lavin Impression

CBS Survivor Challenge (CBS)

Good news: The Challenge is coming back! Bad news: There’s nothing but shitty reality TV on right now.

Full disclosure: I’m just vamping until the return of Grandma’s favorite arranged marriage/divorce vehicle, The Bachelor, returns, but I need some lowbrow programming to highlight in the meantime. With that in mind, I popped in an advanced screener of MTV’s Big Tips Texas. Well, not only is this Coyote Uglier, Canal Street barmaid bullshit not worth writing about every week … it’s not even worth writing about this week only.

Juliet and I address the undressed ladies of Big Tips Texas on the podcast this week, in case you want that in your earballs. Right now, however, there’s still one GRTFL staple of starvation left in the rotation: Survivor. And this week’s episode was loaded: Colton bolted, Jeffy P did his best Teej from The Challenge, and Tyson was almost amputated in a pillow fight. Yep.

Let’s look at some scores.

Tyson (Survivor, House), 55 points

All Tyson has to do to keep his girlfriend safe is give Jeff Probst the nod. A simple nod, and Tyson would head to Redemption Island instead of Rachel, who’d go into the Immunity Challenge worry-free. Instead, Tyson okeydoked his own girlfriend. His exact words were:

Tyson: “It’s up to you.”

Rachel: “You have a better chance in this game right now, I think you need to stay with your tribe. They need you.”

Tyson: “Are you sure?”

But what he meant was: “Hell no I’m not replacing you, I didn’t fly to the Philippines and starve myself for a week so I could get sent home by a game of dominoes.” Tyson is the second dude this season to watch his lady walk off into danger when he could have prevented it. He’s also the second dude to sob (20 points) his way through the interview afterward and sit around sulking:


Instead of replacing his lady on Redemption Island, Tyson went into the Immunity Challenge. The Immunity Challenge was a pillow fight that Jeffy P somehow tried to sell as a sumo match:


The pillow fight got a little too intense for Tyson during his turn, and he heard a pop. Unless it’s “champagne and campaign” related, hearing a pop (15 points) is never a good thing. Ty Ty got pushed off the platform, and suddenly he was in the water being treated by the medical staff (20 points):


This has to be the GRTFL Questionable Moment of the Week, right?

Why did the medical attendant even go in the water? Does Tyson’s shoulder injury prevent him from walking? If he hurt his shoulder, why is she trying to snap it off like that? Is it me, or does Tyson have low nipples? Is this a local medic, or does she travel with the crew? She’s been on other seasons, right? Do the crew members have as good of a time as I imagine they would on this show? I bet they work 40-hour weeks and get paid so much that they only work seven months a year. Seriously, why is she in the water? Do the crew members do all of the challenges before the cast, or after? I would totally pillow fight the shit out of my colleagues for hours after everyone left. Doesn’t Tyson’s armpit shadow kind of look like a cliff diver? No? You’re crazy.

Eventually, the amphibious caretaker returned to dry land, and Tyson’s shoulder settled into his buff sling. But he probably would have lost his arm had his cupcake talisman not protected him. Oh, you didn’t know he had a cupcake talisman? He claims to have bought it in a gas station, but what gas station sells magical cupcake belts? I mean, look at this thing:


Do you see the heart on top of the icing? Tyson is killin’ the Survivor belt buckle game.

Marissa and Brad (Survivor, Litman and Lisanti, respectively), 5 points

GRTFL Super Scorer Caitlin Mangum was all fired up about Brad “Not Daunte” Culpepper, so she wrote up this section as a message to mankind:

Brad “Not Daunte” Culpepper: “We’re playing Survivor, babe.”

Marissa: “Fuck you Brad Culpepper.”

Guys, allow me to let you in on the female psyche for a second. Women hate to be called “babe” in the heat of an argument. “Babe” is OK when it’s in the context of “Hey babe, can I bring you a cocktail?” It’s not OK when an unidentifiable ex-NFL player who hasn’t showered in a week is slinging “babes” at you like hacky sacks at a Dave Matthews Band concert.

Such is the case with Marissa and Brad “Not Daunte” Culpepper. As the tribes convened for the Redemption Island Challenge, Brad “Not Daunte” Culpepper launched off on a soliloquy about how difficult it’s been to decide whom to vote off their quickly dwindling tribe. Marissa chimed back that it should be easy since Tadhana needs to vote off its weakest players. That’s when Brad “Not Daunte” Culpepper spit out the “babe,” to which Marissa responded as only females know how to respond:


She pointed a disapproving finger while using Brad’s full name and a gratuitous curse word (5 points). Bottom line: Don’t patronize a woman when she’s tired, dirty, and hasn’t has a carb in more than a week.

Colton (Survivor, Jacoby), 60 points

Right as Marissa’s finger-pointing “fuck you”s were lobbed in Not Daunte’s direction, Crazy Colton regressed to a toddler tantrum. If you don’t know already, Colton is an evil, Southern, gay man. Now, my editors can’t find a way to edit that out, because those aren’t my opinions, they’re all facts. Colton is from Monroeville, Alabama, (Southern), he came on the show with his boyfriend (gay), and he’s super fucking evil (evil).

Anyway, at camp, Colton had once again found himself on the social outskirts of the tribe. Amid Marissa’s and Brad’s escalating argument at the Redemption Island Challenge, Colton found himself on the outskirts of the camera’s interest, so he did what all good reality stars in need of a little airtime would do: He threw a toddler tantrum. First, he started crying (20 points). Out of nowhere. For no reason. In the middle of Not Daunte’s and Marissa’s fight. Reluctantly, Jeff turned his attention to Crazy Colton:


Jeff: “And now Colton, you’re crying. What are you crying about?”

Colton: “I don’t want to be here anymore. At all. And I’m sorry. I can’t do this.”

Jeff: “So, Colton, you came back a second time because you said, ‘I’ve changed, I’ve grown, and I want to show everybody.’ You are now doing the exact opposite.”

Colton: “I don’t care about this tribe.”

Jeff: “Well that’s clear, because you’re punishing them by costing them a tribe member in a game about numbers in which ultimately you may merge.”

Colton: “Well maybe that’s the best move for me.”

Jeff: “A very selfish move.”

Colton: “Well …”

Jeff: “Admittedly a selfish move?”

Colton: “Admittedly. But maybe it is the best one for me.”

Crazy Colton then tantrumed his way over to his boyfriend and sat sideways on his lap. Then Colton, like a frightened 4-year-old, leaned in for a snuggle:


This is when Jeff went straight to T.J. Lavin’s corner and set up shop. Irrationally hating quitters is what T.J. Lavin does best. But Jeff, you’re better than this. I mean, you don’t see T.J. Lavin running around in blue button-up shirts from stores that sell kayaks, do you? You don’t see the Teej throwing both his hands in the air announcing challenge victories, do you Jeff? Then why must you hate quitters so? Hating quitters is all T.J. Lavin has, man. And if you are going to hate quitters, don’t be so damn eloquent about it, because it makes T.J. look bad:

Jeff to Colton’s boyfriend: “You know, Caleb, lots of people like to watch adventure. It doesn’t necessarily mean they really should get off the couch, and I am now convinced Colton is the guy who never should have gotten up off the couch. We brought a quitter back, and we got a quitter again.” (10 points for making Jeff raise his eyebrows.)

Note: At that moment, everyone watching the show was on his or her couch considering whether he or she is a “couch person” or an “adventure person.” We are all couch people. If you’re reading this sentence, you’re a couch person. Just admit it. You have never shopped at a store that sells kayaks. It’s no big deal; couch people are smarter and kayaking is boring after four minutes anyway.

Jeff wasn’t done shaming Colton, though. As Colty turned to leave (30 points), Jeff dropped another bucket of indignity juice on him: “You can keep your buff. I won’t give you the honor of throwing that in the urn. We keep that reserved for people who compete.” Shots. Fired.

Laura (Survivor, Simmons), 5 points

As Laura found her footing on the floating sumo platform thing, she stood facing her daughter. She started to lose her shit (5 points):

Jeff: “Laura, we haven’t even started and you’re crying. What’s the emotion?”

Laura: “That’s my baby, and to hurt your own child intentionally, it’s never fun.”

Laura, you don’t have to murder your daughter and eat her, you just have to push her in a pool with a damn pillow. This is Survivor, THIS ISN’T THE HUNGER GAMES. Pull yourself together, jeez.

I think next week I’m going to take Top Chef New Orleans on a date to see if there’s any chemistry there. I love me some Padma. I’ll let you know how it goes. Enjoy the weekend.

Filed Under: David Jacoby, Mtv, Reality TV Fantasy League, Survivor, The Decline of American Civilization, Top Chef

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

Archive @ djacoby

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