Challenge: Total Madness

Is Ashley Truly a Challenge Shape-Shifter?

As one of the founding members of the Lavender Ladies, Ashley quickly became defined by her alliances on The Challenge. She worked with Shane, Amanda, and Sylvia on Invasion and Final Reckoning, then won both seasons. Seemingly cursed after stealing Hunter’s money, Ashley was eliminated first on War of the Worlds.

Then, she returned on War of the Worlds 2. All Lavender Ladies were gone, but Ashley worked with a new group of people. Cara Maria, Paulie, Kam, Leroy, and Ninja hard her back. Ashley made it to the final that season, and despite not winning, it didn’t seem like she was defined by the act of taking Hunter’s money.

On Total Madness, the Lavender Ladies are gone. Her allies from War of the Worlds 2 are gone. On episode 1, we see Ashley trying to make new friends with everyone on the season.

Johnny Bananas has recently taken issue with Ashley. Ashley is apparently untrustworthy and a “shape-shifter,” according to the man who’s aligned with his longtime rival Wes.  After hearing Bananas insult her character, Ashley tried to get Bananas sent into Purgatory. She failed, but it was fairly close. There was a moment during deliberation when Bananas was actually afraid he may be sent in.

The real question: is Ashley actually a shape-shifter? Can she mold to any alliance simple to benefit her game?

In many ways, Ashley is a shape-shifter. She successfully adapted to an entirely different game on War of the Worlds 2, but this was never at the expense of another alliance. While it is true that some Lavender Ladies (namely Amanda) disliked Cara Maria, Ashley had a friendship with Cara in the past. On Champs vs. Pros, they became close. Remember, Ashley turned to Cara on Dirty Thirty when she was overwhelmed by the game.

In fact, I think Ashley’s game is pretty straightforward. Step one: protect herself above all else. Step two: Have a defined alliances, protect them above anyone else. This explains why she voted Ninja into elimination on War of the Worlds 2 when she was on the chopping block, but could adapt back into the game with her alliance.

On Total Madness, she once again finds herself with no alliance. It’s not ridiculous to try and find allies in the game, though many people know her reputation. Some people will fault her for taking Hunter’s money, and other people will view her as a flip-flopper.

The truth of the matter, trying to vote Bananas into elimination is the least “shape-shifter” move she could make. Ashley drew a line in the sand and define her allegiance on Total Madness. Bananas is the real shape-shifter here. He’s working with Wes, therefore operating the game from multiple angles.

Of course, Bananas hasn’t done so hot on the past couple of seasons. I can’t fault him for taking a new approach to the game, but it seems a bit hypocritical to call Ashley a shape-shifter. Ashley needs to make new allies because all of her prior allies are gone. Bananas is making new allies because he’s taken an early flight home the past two seasons.


  1. Isn’t being a shape-shifter in a reality competition show a good thing? It’s a skill to be able to adjust, adapt, and form new alliances. In “Survivor” they brag about such moves on their resume when making their pitch to jury as to why they should win.

    1. I would argue it is, but The Challenge is different than a lot of other shows. Unlike Survivor, it’s expected that 75% of the cast will be returners each season. Loyalty and longstanding alliances have a place on The Challenge that you won’t necessarily find on Survivor.

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