WHY MTV'S THE CHALLENGE IS AWESOME

FKA "The Real World/Road Rules Challenge," the current season ends tonight and the show is just 💯. In a trashtastic way, of course. List inspired by @lenadunham's great Real World Successes list.
  1. First off, the premise is basically Survivor plus booze plus no old or ugly people.
    YMMV on the ugly part, but overall it's a house full of folks who were previously on a season of The Real World, Road Rules, or - new this season - Are You the One, a show I didn't watch but clearly should have. They compete in challenges by day, get wasted, hook up, and fight by night.
  2. The challenges are SERIOUS.
    A podcast I listen to called this show "America's Fifth Professional Sport" and they're not wrong. These folks have to run miles up mountains, jump from the top of a speeding truck onto another one, hang from buildings by ropes - it's some Fast and Furious kind of shit. My theory for why they shoot in various foreign countries is b/c it's easier to insure these insanely dangerous stunts. Yes, the contestants are (in large part) not very emotionally stable, but they're also badass athletes.
  3. The contestants take the game even more seriously.
    Tons of cliched talk about "it's just a game, I gotta look out for myself," and it all goes out the window as soon as someone puts you on the chopping block. Repeat offender and repeat challenge champ Johnny Bananas most recently put Jordan and Sarah on blast for throwing him and his partner into the final elimination round when he has done the same thing over and over and likely would've thrown them in had the roles been reversed.
  4. But, really, guys, these people are hard-core ATHLETES.
    Most notable this season is Jordan, who was born with only one hand but who has crushed every single challenge including ones like climbing walls and hitting things with a sledgehammer that would appear to really benefit from having two working hands to do.
  5. And did I mention they also get wasted and fight about hilarious things?
    Most recently, Johnny Bananas got mad at partner Nany for having six shots the night before elimination. Like somehow five would've been okay?
  6. And hook up?
    The partners this season are all people who used to hook up. The show is so incestuous that, after Leroy's partner was sent home for grabbing Jordan's junk (seriously), they were able to sub in a DIFFERENT contestant he had hooked up with to be his partner.
  7. People make a career out of being on Challenges.
    The prize for the winning team is something like 250K, and there are players who have won several times. Some of these people have never had a real job - they just run the Challenge circuit and do club appearances and stuff in the off-season. Also, some of the people on this show are like 40. Like, they were on Real World seasons back when that show made them have real jobs and stuff.
  8. And despite all this madness, real life sneaks in in surprising and truly moving ways. These people are a motley crew, but they do care about one another.
    This season especially, as we saw Diem - longtime challenge competitor, cancer warrior, and on/off girlfriend of adorable hothead CT collapse and be taken from the show. Diem always seemed so positive, even in the face of a disease she beat several times but kept coming back. Her romance with CT was messy and lovely and so, so real, and the pain the contestants felt about her death just as heartbreakingly real. RIP, Diem.