The Duel’s “simple” rules explained as Key West turns on itself and Tina punches Beth

MTV’s latest Challenge, The Duel, debuted last night, and with a new game come new rules. As always, those rules were easily explained by host TJ Lavin:

“Each challenge is going to be designated a male or a female duel day. A duel is where the competitors will be eliminated after every challenge in a one-on-one battle for survivor. Here’s how the duels work: Say it’s a male duel day. The man that outperforms all other men in that day’s challenge will be granted safety from elimination in the duel. Now, here’s the kicker. Instead of voting someone into the duel, he’ll be choosing one person to stick around. Now, that person he chooses is going to be the opposite sex. She’s going to be choosing another player of the opposite sex, and so on and so forth until there’s one man left. That lone soldier is going into the duel, regardless. Once that guy’s been determined, he’s then going to be choosing a player of the same sex to join him in the duel. He can pick any other guy except that day’s challenge winner. Those two are going to battle it out. That winner stays, loser goes home. It’s that simple.”

Yes, he really did say “it’s that simple.” Seriously, who got high and came up with that game structure? To his credit, TJ made it through the explanation without stumbling, although perhaps he had cue cards or an outline written on his hands. And about halfway through his explanation, I became convinced that the rules were designed to be overly complicated just because someone though it’d be funny to watch TJ try to explain them. He showed them.

Meanwhile, the first episode saw the first elimination of the series, and even though there are no teams this time, the new kids–the cast of The Real World Key West–were the first to face off. However, that wasn’t entirely because the rest of the cast hated them. In fact, they turned against each other. After the pick ‘em, Tyler was the last one standing, even though he was convinced that being gay would win him the love of every woman there.

Tyler then had his pick of every single guy to face off against in the duel, and he picked John from his own season. As he explained, “because this is the way you guys all wanted it, let’s go Johnny.” They faced off in a name that watermelon contest, and Tyler easily lifted 31 watermelons (thanks to the help of his friend physics, since the watermelons were placed in a wide, flat container that he had to lift just one end of for five seconds), sending John home.

Tyler told us, “He’s like my brother and I love him to death. For me to send him home, hurts.” Then John said, “There’s nothing that you could have done any differently.” How about selecting someone else to duel against, you moron? I’m glad I didn’t watch The Real World Key West season, because these people are ridiculous. But so are the old schoolers; the episode ended with a cliffhanger as Tina punched Beth in the face.

And to whoever cast Wes in back-to-back challenges, I hate you.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.