From roommates to rivals, and now teammates on MTV's 'Battle of the Seasons'

"The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons" continues an MTV staple but comes with cast animosities already established.
"The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons" continues an MTV staple but comes with cast animosities already established.
Posted: September 19, 2012

If you don't keep a pair of pruning shears handy around reality shows, they will begin to reproduce. So ABC's The Bachelor inevitably led to The Bachelorette and, while no one was watching, Bachelor Pad.

Same thing on MTV. The Real World and Road Rules cross-pollinated into The Challenge, a rowdy twenty-something competition show that recruited contestants from the aforementioned MTV reality staples.

This may have escaped your notice, but The Challenge, which returns at 10 p.m. Wednesday, has evolved into a remarkably sturdy franchise of its own, with different settings, twists and subtitles ( Battle of the Exes; Gauntlet; Fresh Meat) on each go-round.

None of which may prepare you for The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons, a fast-rolling ball of crazy that pits seven teams of former Real World housemates against one another in Turkey.

The basic elements are the same: These coed teams compete in taxing physical challenges, as on Survivor. Two losers face an even more strenuous elimination showdown in the arena. There's lots of strategy, and shifting alliances, and backstabbing.

Then at night, these beautiful battlers repair to the deluxe communal villa MTV has provided for them to drink the copious amounts of alcohol that MTV has provided.

The liquor, of course, obliterates inhibitions - not that these hyperactive narcissists have many to begin with - and with the cameras rolling, they let their lust and aggression run wild. See if you can figure out which is which.

More than most reality series, The Challenge is a voyeur's paradise. The sad part is how emotionally stunted these young adults are who grew up watching and emulating shows like The Real World and The Challenge.

What really kicks this 23d season into high gear is the contempt bred by familiarity. Usually, it takes an episode or two for the contestants to develop deep and abiding animosity towards each other.

With Battle of the Seasons, the cast arrives with a full set of resentments ready to unpack because they've already spent time in enforced proximity with their teammates (formerly housemates on The Real World) and were in most cases hoping never to see them again.

You want the Hatfields and the McCoys, MTV style? Just put Ashley Kelsey and Hurricane Frank Sweeney from Real World San Diego in the same building.

And the fact that Austin's Danny Jamieson and Melinda Stolp divorced each other recently - they should still be able to cooperate, right?

The producers also salt the deck with a few universal antagonists, like Wes Bergmann, who has carved out a curious career for himself as a Challenge villain.

You may ask yourself: where are the real pros at this game, guys like Johnny Bananas Devenanzio of Key West or Landon Lueck of Philly?

Don't worry. The people on Battle of the Seasons are evenly matched - with the same outsize levels of ego and inebriation. To the victor belongs the spoils.


Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.

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