Tonight, MTV’s 15th Challenge season, The Gauntlet III, concludes at 10 p.m. ET. With this latest season, the series that once was more entertaining than its parent shows seems to have finally jumped the shark; at the very least, it’s just been remarkably boring. This season appears to be little more than an excuse for the cast to get drunk, hook up, and fight but in completely uninteresting ways. Oh, and there are some lame competitions that have nonsensical, unfair rules.
As to the alcohol, which is key to making the show entertaining, “the cast is given discretionary funds to use for whatever they want — which is usually alcohol,” TV Guide reports. “Then they elect a cast mate (this season it was Coral) to take alcohol orders and get a ride from a crew member to the nearest liquor store.” In addition, “[p]roducers don’t monitor alcohol consumption.” However, executive producer Scott Freeman told the magazine that “if it gets out of control or if anyone goes too far and is in danger of hurting themselves, then we’ll step in. But that hardly ever happens. They kind of police themselves.” Clearly, that works well.
The game’s new structure this season appears to have been devised by someone who was drunk, as it doesn’t reward the two teams for winning challenges and offers little incentive to participate actively. Thus, the “veterans”–who now include people who started their lives on Challenge shows like increasingly obnoxious ass Evan Starkman, who seems convinced that the world loves him and his borderline misogynistic rantings–have been throwing challenges to get rid of female players.
Evan tells TV Guide, however, that the male veterans aren’t as evil as the show has suggests. “Casey, Paula, Evelyn, Diem and even Robin were all in on throwing these challenges. Some of the girls on our team showed up and couldn’t even walk a mile. [We’re playing for] real, life-changing money and these people who are standing in the way of a big paycheck need to go home,” he said.
Meanwhile, eliminated cast member Beth Stolarczyk has been posting to her MySpace blog about the game. Love her or hate her, her posts are thoroughly entertaining deconstructions of the production, her fellow cast members, and her own performance. After being voted out, she wrote, “The truth is that I lost on purpose because I wanted to leave. I knew the veterans were being greedy and didn’t want to play like a team. They were not motivated by winning the game through any concept of sportsmanship or fair play; they were simply motivated by greed and the power of money. I didn’t want to be a part of that kind of challenge. … Their greed was toxic and I wanted no part of it.”
Whether or not you believe that, she adds, “I wouldn’t be paid anything more to stay longer, and I knew when it was all said and done, the veterans would lose. These are things I said in my interviews with production at the time, which, of course, were not shown during any of the episodes.”
In her writing, Beth beats up on the people who beat up on her: “I’ve been asked if Evan made fun of me to deflect the fact that he is losing his hair and doesn’t want anyone to notice. Perhaps he does. Evan, everyone notices you look already look forty and that is scary. You are not fooling anyone by wearing all of your hair forward. What will you look like when you are my age? Seen any recent pics of Jeff Conaway? Pathetic. I hear Hair Club for Men is calling. You even threw your friend Coral under the bus to look cool on camera. Some friend you are. That is behavior only a horrible person would resort to,” Beth wrote.
Beth has also written about other players and the editing, and after an early episode, criticized the game’s stupid rules and challenges. About the second challenge, which left the teams oddly unbalanced and basically ensured a rookie win, she wrote, “I’m not entirely unhappy that the veterans lost. At this point, sending any veteran guy leaving is OK by me; but, pardon me if I would like it all to seem a little more honest. I know what the guy’s plan is for us; we all know. Was there some overall worry that there wouldn’t be much of a show if the veterans won every mission? What would happen at the final mission, would they just give the veterans their check and then show highlights for an hour? It’s a tough call. The show needs to be entertaining, but also it needs to be consistent. I don’t think we were.”