Have you ever watched a movie, told others it was bad and then find yourself re-watching and loving it on cable? Not because the movie is so bad that it’s good, the movie simply has parts that draw you in and the movie itself is kinda good. The Baywatch movie is a perfect example, it was extremely dumb and made me feel like I wasted my six dollars (feel bad for anyone who didn’t get matinee price). However, it has a good looking Zac Efron, beautiful girls in swimsuits, funny moments, awkward interactions, and a plot you really don’t have to pay attention to. The movie is good because it does not take itself too seriously and is easy on the viewers. Rivals 3 is kind of like the Baywatch movie.
During its airing, fans collectively dismissed Rivals 3 and even labeled it the worst season in Challenge history. As someone who re-watches the Challenge habitually, Rivals 3 has become one of my go-to re-watches. It has hit a point where, personally, I rank Rivals 3 higher than Dirty 30. This sounds insane because Dirty 30 had legends such as Bananas, CT, Darrell, Derrick, Jordan, Cara, Veronica, Camila, and a whole group of new generation players who had developed into pseudo-All Stars like Nelson, Hunter, Tony, Amanda, Ashley, Kailah, Tori, and Jenna. Meanwhile half of Rivals 3’s final six teams were lay-ups: Devin/Cheyenne, Dario/Nicole, Nate/Christina. Yet, Rivals 3 hit incredible highs for a season with a weak cast, while the most relevant moments on Dirty 30 were lowlights coming from Camila.
I want to highlight some things that made Rivals 3 a good season while also examining the glaring flaws.
Incredibly Creative Challenge Designs
For a show called “The Challenge”, the daily challenges mostly suck. Watching people try to balance over heights or swim under water can get boring fast. When producers actually take the time to think out fun and creative daily challenges where athleticism or balance are not the only requirements, we have more fun watching and more players are given an opportunity to win or shine.
The Soap Bar challenge of Rivals 3 had some safety concerns for the female competitors, but it is without a doubt one of the most memorable challenges. Watching co-ed rivals hump each other on a soap bar synced to some hilarious music made for a hilariously awkward situation, but also a bit of fan service. This is the type of light-hearted challenges they would have in the early seasons and the ones that bring in a person who would never watch the Challenge. Among my casual challenge-watching friends, the soap bar challenge ranks highly.
Likewise, the Up All Night challenge was humorous and competitive because we saw teams pushed to their mental limits while being distracted by a dude on fire, a mariachi band, and an iguana named Alberto. It proved challenges can be difficult and fun. The teammate trivia and the laps of judgment challenge were also great challenges. Laps of Judgment where players had to make choices like eat a birthday cake or go naked was both an endurance challenge and a test of decision making skills.
Rivals 3 Daily Challenge Cons: They had a couple of the worst challenges as well. One egregious challenge was when players rolled on a mini cart off a cliff and tried to grab flags before falling. This resulted in Nate and Christina winning which should never happen. Rivals 3 also had a challenge where players had to jump onto a giant punching bag and then jump from the bag and try to grab some flags on the other side. Only Wes and Bananas succeeded in this challenge and it was boring to watch, maybe it was the talent level that held this daily back.
Actually Fun Eliminations That Required Different Skill-Sets
I don’t know about you guys, but I am a firm believer that blind soccer should be an elimination every season. Watching people run around and try to play soccer while blindfolded is never not entertaining. When Amanda/Nelson faced Jamie/KellyAnne in the icebath puzzle challenge, players were put through some icy cold pain and also forced to think on their feet on how to solve the puzzle. Nate and Christina outlasting Ashley and Cory in the Spun Out is one of the weirdest upsets in Challenge history especially considering it is the only time Ashley has been eliminated in a legitimate season.
The most underrated elimination ever is Shattered Dreams, a game where two players had to coordinate how they use a spool and battering ram to break through small windows in a wall. This took a high level of accuracy, teamwork, and precision, yet Wes and Nany made it look easy. This would be a much more fun elimination if you had two evenly matched teams.
Rivals 3 Elimination Cons: There was not a bad elimination this season, only a lack of them due to the amount of teams who quit, were injured. or were disqualified.
Rivals 3 Color Palette and Graphics Editing
This season’s graphics were impeccable. Compared to a season like Invasion that had an ugly blood orange in confessionals or Vendettas that was a bit too red, Rivals 3 was visually appealing. They also choose to put the players in nice jersey colors. Red, Blue, Forest Green, Navy Blue, and Black are the colors used for this jerseys, it gives a good overall balance.
Rivals 3 Episode 1
In the first episode players arrive in the house in a staggered entrance where each person introduces themselves and at the bottom of their confessional they have a graphic labeling their challenge history. This is the perfect way to introduce your cast to first time watchers of the challenge and it is cute to see your favorite labeled with their accomplishments.
I am not saying Rivals 3 should be considered a great season, it should not by any means. At the same time, I do not believe it should be bunched in with the Island and others as one of the worst seasons ever. Rivals 3 sucks because the entire second half is Johnny and Sarah completely dominating the game with the eventual moment of Johnny stealing the money from Sarah. However, there are many great elements in that season that allows the show to hit highs that simply are not in other seasons. I would take a season like Rivals 3 over Dirty 30 because Rivals 3 has a better ceiling despite having a lower floor.
Challenge Fans should give this season a second chance.