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Will The Challenge USA 2’s merge change the trajectory of the game?

Will The Challenge USA 2’s merge change the trajectory of the game?
The blue team on its way to victory in The Challenge USA 2 episode 7's challenge (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

The Challenge USA’s boys had a plan to knock out a Survivor girl that most of the house joined in on. How well did that go?

Let’s hear from Josh, painful as that always is. “Honestly this is not what I wanted,” he mumbled after Big Brother’s Tiffany was selected to play against Survivor’s Michaela. “It’s just a big hit for the Big Brother squad.”

Yes, that plan backfired, though it still protected 1) men and 2) OG Challenge players, so I think they’re all just fine with the outcome, especially those who’ve made a career out of getting concussions on MTV.

Tiffany, however, was not. She turned to the cast after being selected and said this:

Come on, friends. Y’all always want to make it a girl’s day. So keep staying up there. Keep continuing to come back and kiss everybody else’s ass, because y’all scared to come down here and play. Keep kicking the women out. It’s not the women that are whooping y’all’s ass. It’s the men y’all scared to go against. So I hope you’re happy tonight.

Guess which moron decided that was about him? “Tiff, I don’t appreciate that, man. I have nothing but your back in this game,” Josh said.

They yelled back and forth a little, and Tiffany told Josh, “You got so much energy? Get your ass out here and play.”

I am going to miss Tiffany, and wish The Challenge’s format allowed for her to compete against Josh. Though I am also glad Michaela stayed in the game—not only as redemption from her last season, but since she, too, seems to irritate our mealy-mouthed friend.

A person wearing a helmet clings to the top of a pole, in a squatting position
Tiffany competes in The Challenge USA season 2’s episode 7 elimination challenge (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

How did we get here? Wes switched teams last week, and despite having won, decided to gather the house and play some tiny violins for them. “It’s just disappointing,” he told everyone. “I want you to give me a chance.”

Fessy said, “I know people aren’t about to buy this shit,” and the editors hilariously cut to Alyssa S. buying this shit: It’s “very endearing,” she said.

Michaela, however, was not. “Gonna move down to the dungeon now?” Michaela asked Wes, referring to the room where Josh and Bananas study for the GRE together.

“Michaela, what did I do to deserve the way that you treat me?” Wes asked, continuing the sad dog routine. “I don’t treat you bad at all. What have I done to you?”

I love Michaela giving that exactly zero energy to his nonsense: “I don’t know why you’re pretending to be sad,” she said.

In an interview, Wes pointed out that he voted for her, so she does have a reason to be irritated with him, though she doesn’t know it was his vote.

Wes then explained what’s happening in the game: “She’s so anti-Challenger, which makes Michaela a huge threat.”

While Wes’s minions managed to coordinate a Survivor vs. Big Brother showdown two episodes ago, that came back to bite him in the last episode, though he obviously won his challenge.

The OG Challenge people, despite being outnumbered and threatened, manage to keep attention on others.

That was true this episode, and its events—except for the random draw at the end—were quite straightforward and predictable.

People wearing blue jump up and dow and celebrate; to the right is a large, angled game board with tires placed in rows, with white letters on them
The blue team celebrates its ability to spell words on The Challenge USA 2 episode 7 (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

The challenge, “Wreck & Roll,” put two team members in round metal spheres. They had to roll around, knocking over columns with tires on top; each tired had letters; those letters fit into a 5×5 grid of letters, creating 10 words.

I found myself wondering why I don’t find the same tedium of Survivor’s obstacle course + puzzle format in these Challenge games, and I think it’s because here, the physical component is often tough enough, and the puzzle part easy enough, that it rarely comes down to an even race at the puzzle. Also, The Challenge doesn’t keep reusing the same puzzles.

To make the physical challenge more difficult, the production attached circular boards on either side of the tires, one with the painted letter, preventing players from grabbing onto the inside and carrying it. Oh, and they had to carry them up a hill.

Bananas told us that he’s a “Scrabble champion. But I just play with my nieces and nephews.” Perhaps that experience helped, as blue pulled out an easy win.

Yet the blue team also had more people—seven people compared to five on each red and green—which made the first half easier. Based on that alone, the outcome seems rather predictable. Why didn’t extras have to sit out?

Back at the house, Josh told us he’s “plan into motion to target two strong Survivor females.” Oh, except not Michele, Cassidy, or Desi. Michele made it clear she’s playing everyone and has no allegiance to her fellow Survivor alum. “I can’t really play with everybody,” she said.

“I can pit two girls against each other,” Josh told Fessy, “we knock out a girl.” (I really hate the infantilizing use of “girl” that these dumb boys often use.)

Meanwhile, we had some nice moments with Tiffany, who lamented her poor performance so far, and got a warm pep talk from her friends. “Maybe they’ll find a challenge and I’ll be good at it,” she said, which was touching and also sadly did not come true this episode!

Blue met and talked about how uncomfortable they were saying other people’s names. This I don’t feel comfortable saying their name is a fascinating way to verbally distance themselves from their task.

The names blue said were Michaela and Tyler, which was telegraphed all episode by the focus on Tiffany, and on Tyler and his showmances.

Tyler was told he was a pawn, and said he wants to “do my pawn duties”—though he was open to the idea of being selected, because then, he said. “I can go to the blue team, because the blue team is so strong.”

Upon seeing her yellow ball, Tiffany immediately said, “Josh, I’m sure you’re behind this one.”

“Why do you think I’m behind it? I didn’t make that move so it’s not fair for you to be like Josh you’re behind it,” he said, gears grinding hard. “People wanted to target a strong girl.” Yes, people.

“Josh, don’t come at me with your foolishness,” Michaela said. Ha!

In the episode’s grossest scene, the cast went to a bar, where Bananas and Wes—”our drunk uncles,” as Alyssa described them—decided to convince Tyler that he had to kiss Alyssa to save himself. Wes said something about matchmaking and lovemaking but I blacked out.

“We need to make something happen that hasn’t happened yet,” Bananas said. Alyssa was in on it and fine with it, which makes it level less horrifying, but still, gross.

Also gross, the way Wes described it: “We will do everything in our power to make it a girl day,” he said, “if you kiss her at this bar in public.” (There’s that language again: “a girl day.”)

A person holds on to the top of a pole that's tilting to the right, and reaches for a purple box with purple balls in it
Michaela was sent into The Challenge USA 2 episode 7’s challenge, and unlike last season, easily won (Photo by Jonne Roriz/Paramount)

The house voted, and awaited the results. “I just hope I don’t have any balls,” Chris said, and then continued “…in the hopper.”

Votes went to Tiffany 2, Monte 1, Alyssa S. 1, Josh 1, Cory, 1, Chanelle 4.

For some reason, the editors had to cut to dumb Josh saying, dumbly, “instantly I know she [Chanelle] was the one that voted for me” because she didn’t make immediate eye contact with him. Josh really does know everything, except for one small thing: that he’s nowhere near as brilliant as he thinks he is.

Tiffany was randomly selected, and their game, “Top Heavy,” was played during a heavy rain. On sway polls, they grabbed balls and shot baskets. The first to 10 won.

Michaela found a groove quickly, and eventually, Tiffany finally got a basket. “I feel like an elementary school player up against LeBron James,” she said.

But Michaela already had 9, so Tiffany was out and Michaela was back. “I want to defect to the blue team, and I’m going to take Tori and put her into danger,” Michael told us.

“I got decisions to make,” Michaela told TJ Lavin. “Not really,” he said. A TWIST?! No way!

“Now, there are no more teams,” he explained. “The next challenge is going to be an individual challenge.”

Such a dissolution of teams was, of course, inevitable; I’m just sad Michaela did not get her prize. Hopefully she can make it a boy day and get that child Josh out next.

I’m not convinced that the teams dissolving will change the the power the OG Challenge guys seem to have right now. There are no solid Survivor or Big Brother alliances, as they’ve been effectively playing individual games while spread across teams.

What will be interesting is learning how the game changes. How will the two nominated players be chosen? Will the house still vote anonymously for possible competitors? Will there still be an element of randomness? Those things have kept the game from becoming as predictable as last season became, so I hope they stay in some form.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

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Happy discussing!

Bad Mitten

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

"Yet the blue team also had more people—seven people compared to five on each red and green—which made the first half easier. Based on that alone, the outcome seems rather predictable. Why didn’t extras have to sit out?"

- I don't feel like going back and re-reading your prior articles for this season, but I feel like this is your first time bemoaning teams not being even/extras not sitting. This seems particularly relevant given just the prior episode, Wes used the Green team having fewer players to his advantage (they had less people, so less weight to carry in that prior challenge). In that case, the challenge benefited the team with less players and there was no complaint, but this one benefited the team with more players and yet we get the grip this time. - That's just the nature of the beast with the challenge and team seasons. Sometimes the challenges are going to benefit the teams with more people, sometimes they are going to benefit the teams with less people (this has even happened in finals of the MTV version). This show has never been about people sitting out.


Tuesday 12th of September 2023

@Bad Mitten, Can you think of another show that sits out players so teams are even? Me either. It was an obvious reference. Most fans of reality shows would have gotten it. Instantly. A good writer shouldn't have to hold your hand and spell it out for you like a thrid grader.

Bad Mitten

Saturday 9th of September 2023

@Christopher, well I’m certainly not a first time reader and I wholeheartedly disagree with you. That potentially being a “tongue in cheek” reference to survivor doesn’t even make any sense. Sure they sit people out in survivor, but there’s nothing “tongue in cheek” about that reference.


Tuesday 5th of September 2023

@Bad Mitten, It it was a tongue in cheek reference to Survivor. Even if I were a first time reader I would have probably picked up the tone of the post and put two and two together.

Bad Mitten

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

"Though I am also glad Michaela stayed in the game—not only as redemption from last season" - This should probably read as, from her last season (Michaela did not compete on the last season of the Challenge USA or the MTV version, her MTV version appearance was a couple seasons ago)

Andy Dehnart

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

Good point, since it was not the actual last season of either show! Thanks.