In the middle years of The Challenge, there were a lot of big names who never quite got a gold medal. One of the more notable names is Jenn Grijalva, an alumnae from Real World: Denver. She quickly became notable for her feisty attitude and ability to perform. While she had a few notable successes on field, she had just as many disappointments. Over the course of her six seasons she made four finals. Every time she was in the final she came in last. Is she to blame? Or is she just a victim of circumstance.
The Inferno 3
When you look at Jenn’s track record, there often seems to be a sense of entitlement. She was prone to throw rookies into elimination to save herself. Perhaps this comes from her experience on The Inferno 3. Jenn quickly became the scapegoat on her team, being sent into the first three female Infernos. She beat Rachel and Colie, admittedly not the strongest competitors, but she went into battle ready to fight. She then lost to Susie, but she left her mark on the show. Jenn may not have been the strongest girl, but she did display her spirit as a fight during her first season.
Jenn’s second Challenge was The Island. She’s most noted for flirting with Rachel this season. In her single face-off she lost, but gained a key by being allowed to stay on the island. She then made it to the final but lost. Perhaps her social game was good because she made it to the end, but not that good because she wasn’t picked to sail in the stronger boat.
The Duel 2
The other season where Jenn didn’t make the final, and most noted for her continuation of a “relationship” with Rachel. It also seems the Jenn was low on the social totem pole because her partner kept changing. She had Ryan, Nehemiah, then Eric, but she only kept changing partners because she staying in the game. Jenn won the Push Over Duel twice against Katie then Kimberly, the latter girl being significantly bigger than her. She then lost to Diem in the same game. While Diem was a good competitor, this was her only elimination win ever.
Fresh Meat 2
Fresh Meat is where we’d see a turning point for Jenn. She was no longer an underdog, and she was riding the middle of Wes’s alliance and Kenny’s alliance. This “double agent” role meant allowed her to feel protected in the game. She got into fights this season, most notably with Mandi, and kind of skated through the game. She almost made the final without seeing an elimination but was sent into the final Exile and won. This seems pretty good, but she and Noor were not considered much of a threat. The did win one mission, but they ultimately came in fourth in the final and won no money.
When you look back at the Blue Team on Cutthroat, they were stacked. Bananas, Emily, Derrick, Jenn, and Theresa were all solid. So what happened? The team only won twice and every single male on the team was eliminated. This meant Jenn and Emily ran the final as a duo. They lost, but Jenna was the only member of the Blue Team to never see an elimination. Once again, she got to the end and finished in last. However, this is the only season where she actually got money, so there’s that.
Jenn’s final season is perhaps her most notorious. She made the final again. She avoided elimination again. She came in last in the final again. In fact, she didn’t even finish the final, mostly thanks to a case of food poisoning. On this season she was noted for bullying Cara Maria and getting into various fights with the then-rookie. She also only won a single challenge where she allegedly cheated. While her performance this season was decent, it was not a strong representation of her personality.
Best or Worst?
Jenn really lies somewhere in the middle. She’s far from the best competitor physically, but she has one of the most unique social games we’ve ever seen. She is aggressive and argumentative, the type of girl you don’t want to piss off. Still, she had a lot of allies who would protect her. She was in with the popular crowd at the time, and this allowed her to skate to the end multiple times. Maybe The Inferno 3 and The Duel 2 hardened her, but she really evolved into a malicious player in the game. To be honest, in her later seasons her social game was on of the best I’ve ever seen.
I’d love to see her come back. She’s improved her physical strength and seems to be much more capable of performing. Some of her friends still compete, and I doubt she’s lost her aggressive mentality. I think her return could be an interesting one, and she certainly wouldn’t be afraid to intimidate some of the bigger competitors in the game.