Ever since the Challenge got labeled with the term “America’s 5th Major Sport”, MTV has made a sharp focus on making sure that daily challenges look as cool as possible so that the trailers look badass and give a sense of legitimacy outside observers of the show. Sometimes though, they jump the shark too much with the designs of certain daily challenges thinking only about the visuals rather than the practicality. I will note, if they do a daily challenge where players try to jet-ski over a pool of sharks, I’d very much support and enjoy it. Back to my point, though, MTV keeps trying to one-up itself by adding gimmicks to certain challenges and eliminations, losing sight of the fact that long-time fans of the show grew up with simple and fun challenges. Simple is a term that can be said to put someone or something down, except when watching a sport or competition, having an innate understanding of what is going on in front of you is paramount.
What spurred this article out of me is the most recent Spies, Lies & Allies daily challenge (from Episode 2), in which players dropped “gems” from a helicopter to their teammates peeking out the sunroof of a moving car. This daily challenge was so unnecessarily extra. It took a hell of a long time to get all 16 pairs to go, we didn’t even get to see the full performances of half the teams, and because the players competing were inside two speeding objects at different heights at once, the camera-work was sloppy. Boring and hard to watch is not a great mix. This daily challenge was basically an egg toss with helicopters and cars, except an actual eggs toss would have been way better to watch. Imagine Josh or Nelson with literal egg yolk on their face, rather than the metaphorical version that gets served to them in every verbal altercation they get into? The memes would be aplenty.
Now let’s take a stroll down memory lane to look at the most recent daily challenge duds:
Road Kill — Double Agents
Last season on Double Agents, players competed in a daily challenge where they wrestled their opponents on top of a moving semi-truck and attempted to knock them off the platform onto a net on the outside. It looked fantastic in the trailers. We got some cool moments in the episode; however, visually, any challenge on a moving vehicle with the cameras trying to focus on multiple subjects becomes an eyesore to viewers. Getting to watch players wrestle 1 v 1 is a dream for fans. They did not need to be on top of a truck, and had it been in a more safe arena; then maybe we don’t lose two players for the entire season to injury in this daily challenge.
Another minor nitpick is that the winner got decided by the fastest team to dispose of their opponents, whereas a tournament/elimination format would have been far more enjoyable.
Kickin’ Ass — Vendettas
They had a hilarious human hamster ball daily challenge on Free Agents. Challenge Production tried to recreate the magic by doing a similar challenge on Vendettas, except they put the players on mini springboard stilts and added a soccer element. Talk about taking a great idea and just ruining it. The players were not good enough to play a regular soccer game, so putting them in stilts and a bubble is a total mess. Visually, trying to figure what was going on during the daily challenge was exceedingly difficult in part due to the bubbles/amount of players on the floor from falling.
There is nothing wrong with just reusing the same daily challenge. They reuse classic eliminations all the time.
Knock Out — Invasion
When the trailer for Invasion came out, we all saw the Champs playing the Underdogs in a game of rugby. It looked epic. Then the actual game was a 6 on 4 match-ups, which led to the Underdog Women sweeping the Vet Ladies by a score of 3 to 0 and the Underdog Men sadly only beating the Vets 3 to 2. The uneven number split for all of Invasion made the daily challenges rough watches, and this was the most egregious. No matter what happened, the Underdogs were not coming out of this daily challenge looking good.
How would I have fixed it? Play 4 on 4 and sub out 2 Underdog players each round. Simple.
Modern Trivia Challenges
From Battle of the Exes 1 to Bloodlines, MTV had trivia figured out and locked down. You miss 1 or 2 questions, and then you get shot or dropped into water. The questions are free-response, no bells and whistles, just answers questions and hold on for dear life. Recent seasons have ruined trivia by adding multiple-choice options, the question themselves being easier, and then adding unneeded elements of sabotage. If someone is the best trivia player, let them earn their win. Leave politics to the voting going in on the house.
Multiple choice trivia fucking blows, and you don’t get free responses like Johnny Bananas saying that the language of Australia is Dutch!
Car Crash — Vendettas
Hopping from platform to platform over water always makes for a fun daily challenge. It is entertaining to watch players both succeed and wipe out in these types of challenges. Generally, the issue with this format of challenge is they are super dangerous when players have zero body control of their falls. Uncontrolled rapid falls into the water have resulted in ruptured spleens, hernias, and some gnarly fucking bruises.
The Car jumping daily challenge from Vendettas looked the coolest and, inversely, was also the most dangerous. Cara Crash was a damn near impossible daily challenge. The only two players to complete the daily challenge were Nelson and Zach, and they were the first two to compete. They broke the back windshields of the cars in the process, leading to both players needing medical attention for cuts. It forced production to halt the daily challenge and adjust the next day by lubing up the cars. The daily challenge was impossible from there. Watching everyone fail was not fun in this case; it was painful to watch. Leroy got knocked unconscious, Bananas took on a decent hip injury, and after falling, Natalie Negroti let out a gruesome growl as if she had gotten stabbed multiple times. The solution to fixing this daily challenge is to make something much safer. Create platforms that players can safely jump onto? Is that too difficult?
If you enjoyed the article, and wanna listen about one of the Worst Designed eliminations ever: