The Best Episode 1 Hook-Ups in MTV Challenge History
Episode 1 of a new Challenge season means new opportunities. Players can prove their worth by putting up a dominant performance in the first daily challenges; think of Joss on Vendettas or Jenny on Total Madness. They can earn their stripes by getting the first elimination win; think of Jenna on Bloodlines or Natalie on Double Agents. They can also get into fights like a Young CT. Or, players can pursue one of my favorite Episode 1 pastimes, the hook-up that sends waves through the house and all of social media.
In this article, I’m going to breaking down some of the best hook-ups from premiere episodes. If sex/implied sex occurs between two people, it generally takes priority over make-outs. Some omissions for different reasons from the list are Nany & Asaf (Total Madness), CT & Anastasia (Rivals 2), Dee & Rogan (WOTW 2), Jodi & Adam (Gauntlet 2), and many others that just came up short.
Ashley Mitchell & Jamie Banks on Rivals 3
One of my favorite night one hook-ups in Challenge history has to be Ashley and Jamie on Rivals 3. The hook-up came from out of left-field and immediately thrust two people into a bit of a spotlight. To preface, Ashley was a shocking casting for Rivals 3. Ashley only lived in the Real World house for about 2.5 episodes before getting voted out. She had such an abbreviated run on Real World and was not cast for either of the two Challenge seasons filmed directly afterward. Ashley was an interesting casting choice. Meanwhile, Jamie had won Battle of the Bloodlines but primarily lived in the shadow of his cousin Cara Maria, and if anything, people knew him more by the name “Cuzin” rather than being Jamie.
The actual hook-up itself occurs during the middle of a heated fight between Tony Raines and Simone Kelly. Ashley sees all the noise and commotion as her opportunity to hook up without anyone noticing. She leads her and Jamie to the bathroom; unbeknownst to her, Sarah Rice saw them walking to the bathroom, Leroy then peeks through a window as they are hooking up, and now the whole house is watching them christen the bathroom together. Jamie’s smile when he gets caught, and Ashley finding out the next day and laughing it off in her confessional are the cherries on top. Such a fun way to start was a pretty meh season.
CT & Shauvon Torres on The Duel 2
If you want to talk about moments that precede disaster, there is none greater than CT and Shauvon’s hook-up on the Duel 2. A single CT entered the house, saw new rookie Shauvon, and they decided, hey, we both want to have sex with each other, so let’s go off somewhere and do it. Even though CT wanted to have sex, he did not want Diem to be aware of the encounter. When they finished, he tried to play it off and be discrete. Unfortunately, Shauvon’s sex moans, messy hair, pulling up her pants, and then emitting a “what-what?” yelp, while the two of them reeked of we just had quick messy sex energy made what the two did ever so apparent. Adam King heard from others about their hook-up, then scattered over to Diem to squeal like the rat he is, and then… well, a spilled beer plus a punch to the face and then a race around the house leads to one of the most explosive fights/moments in Challenge history.
Tony Raines & Christina LeBlanc — Battle of the Bloodlines
Gosh, what a fucking mess this one was. Tony came onto the Challenge as a rookie with a pregnant girlfriend at home. Within 12 hours of being in the house, he decided to forget about said girlfriend and venture into a bathroom with Are You The One Rookie Christina LeBlanc. The craziest part about this hook-up is that Christina was initially trying to make her move on Stephen Buell (Thomas’s twin) and got rejected. Thus, Tony cheated on his pregnant girlfriend with someone who he wasn’t even their first choice. As I stated at the beginning of this passage, this was A FUCKING MESS.
Brad Fiorenza & Britni Thornton — Vendettas
After a ten-season break and a divorce to former Challenge Champion Tori Hall, Brad Fiorenza returned the show, not with a whimper, but with a bang. He showed up and promptly found himself in a showmance with the much younger Britni Thornton. They went from flirting during the first daily challenge to making out by the pool to moving themselves upstairs to the bathroom to go at it like rabbits. My favorite part about their hook-up is Brad’s cheeky ass smile as he leaves the bathroom following their dalliance. At that moment, they looked like teenagers, which was a bit of a weird look for Brad as a divorced father of two.
Jasmine Reynaud & Tyrie Ballard — Rivals 1
So Tyrie and Jasmine didn’t have sex until Episode 2 of Rivals 1. Their Episode 2 hook up is a hilarious moment that involves a bathroom (classic) and Tyrie taking one of Tyler’s magnum condoms. However, their episode opening encounter and make-out are essential to note because the whole episode, Jasmine keeps mentioning she has a boyfriend at home. By the end of the episode, they are clearly an item. Jasmine almost would have been better off just pretending she was single rather than telling us a thousand times; then again, that would not have made for good reality tv, and if Jasmine does anything, it is making good reality tv.
Wombo Combo of Brooke LaBarbera & Evelyn Smith and Tyler Duckworth & Ryan Kehoe — The Gauntlet 3
The Gauntlet 3 had a plethora of hook-ups/showmances that began episode 1. Notably, some were Brad & Tori, Frank & Jillian, Paula & Derek M (she also hooked up with Adam King), and Bananas & Casey. While these hook-ups/showmances got mentioned, we did not necessarily see them getting too hot and heavy in the first episode. The hot make-outs we did see were same-sex hook-ups between Brooke & Evelyn and Ryan & Tyler. Looking back, these on-screen hook-ups were highly progressive for the period, and the fact they were happening and the same simultaneously next to each other is fucking cool.
Showing this stuff on TV is critical as same-sex hook-ups as depicted on TV was still not common yet, and the fact this happened on “Reality TV” gave it added an edge of depth. It was not scripted; it is something real people do every day. Gauntlet 3 was a Pre-Glee world! The Challenge has somewhat lost its LGBTQ representation over the last few years. Only one gay male got cast between WOTW 1-Double Agents (Sean Lineker), and he only lasted 1 episode. We haven’t had a same-sex male hook-up on the Challenge in over 8 years! Even the same-sex female hook-ups always seem to end up on the “shit they should have shown” rather than them just showing us the good stuff.
Johanna Botta and Kenny Santucci — The Island
Easily the hook-up that completely shifted the direction of the Challenge going forward. After her break-up with Wes, Johanna came onto the Challenge for the first time single and found herself in bed with long-time friend Kenny Santucci. They shared some impassion kisses; however, that is not what matters; what happened in the seasons after is what does.
This moment sparked the fire and began the rivalry between Wes and Kenny that would go on from the Ruins to Fresh Meat 2 to ultimately their partnership on Rivals 1. While Rivals consisted of 14 different pairings, the big money pair they built the season around was Wes & Kenny. Their storyline and bickering led to massive viewership numbers and then influenced how MTV would cast seasons going forward and how people would play the game. People would start fake and real beef just to get cast for future rivals’ seasons, and MTV gave us five iterations of the format in a 12 season span (if you include Vendettas/Final Reckoning). You have to commend Johanna Botta’s power. The Challenge would not be what it is today if not for her.