Has MTV Overplayed the “Exes” Theme?

MTV has introduced twists to a lot of its reality shows, and it seems some twists aren’t so shocking any more. After 2 seasons of Battle of the Exes, and an entire Real World seasons centered around exes, has this theme been played out?


The first Battle of the Exes was a huge hit for MTV. While some of the pairings were stretches, it was surprising that production was able to convince some of these people to spend an entire season attached to their ex. This risk brought high rewards in terms of ratings, and when The Real World needed to be twisted up, MTV used its reliable exes theme to pump ratings into the show.

Real World Ex-Plosion breathed some new life into the series, and around that time MTV introduced the show Are You the One? that put 20 people in a pressure cooker to create drama, exes, romances, and more exes.

Then came Battle of the Exes 2 and Real World Skeletons (a show featuring some, but not all, exes as a twist) Neither of these shows produced major ratings. Unlike Rivals 2, the exes on Battle of the Exes 2 had real history (or, were as legitimate as the first season). Even though MTV put strong efforts into these seasons they were unable to sustain momentum.

Moving forward, twists don’t seem to be going anywhere, but does the Exes theme still have a place in the Real World/ Challenge franchise? On the Challenge, most of the existing exes who are both willing to compete have already been used. In terms of the Real World, bringing exes into the house does not bring the shock that it once did. Despite this, it seems likely that MTV will abandon this theme because there is no guarantee that other themes will bring success. So should we still see ex-based themes, or should MTV retire this twist?


  1. Some people who went on the first exes came thinking it was a duel. I think Diem only accepted it because she thought it was the duel.

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