Gone are the days of Real World and Road Rules. We now have rookies coming from all over the world, and from multiple channels.
When the Challenge: Double Agents cast was first leaked, they were super confused on the casting decisions. Now that we have the official releases, people are still confused.
As someone who has been critical of the series for years, I think casting decisions tell us a lot about MTV’s direction with the show. Let’s take a look at all of the new recruits, and try to understand what production is trying to do.
Amber is our first Are You the One? Debut since Chuck on Final Reckoning (aside from Asaf, but he received no recognition). It seemed like MTV was moving from AYTO, but Amber represents a unique population. She debuted on the sexually fluid AYTO season, and production probably wanted some LGBTQ+ representation on the show. She’s a fan of the series, but her show wasn’t a huge success. Instead, it was popular in a niche community and may generate some interest.
Our only Big Brother debut this season debuted on Big Brother six years ago. She was someone who lost the show because of poor alliances becoming the subject of attention for multiple guys. Apparently she was in the running for Big Brother: All Stars, but securing her from The Challenge may bring out a lot of potential. I believe production will continue to pull from Big Brother, but they’re going to focus on the young and beautiful.
On Total Madness, we had no UK debuts. On Double Agents, we have a couple of newbies while other international Challengers are taking the season off. Gabby is the only white rookie this season, and comes from the show Love Island. Many fans have speculated that she was cast to replace Georgia. She’s a bit of a UK celebutante, being in tabloids for her love life and earning a spot on Celebrity Big Brother UK.
Coming off of Survivor, Natalie was super successful. She won a season and came in second on her second season. While her appearances on Amazing Race were not as successful, she is a strong political player. Big Brother has helped make The Challenge more competitive and Jay was a successful Survivor transplant. Production probably wanted to up Survivor’s influence with Natalie.
Mechie is a bit of a player and kind of looks like a bad boy. After appearing on Ex on the Beach US 3, he confirmed that reputation. With Cory on his best behavior, production probably wanted Mechie for some hook up drama. After all, he did “date” Blacc Chyna.
The way I feel about Nam’s debut is akin to my feeling on Asaf. He should have come onto War of the Worlds, as he represents a unique country. Nam is from Germany, though he appeared on the American Netflix show Ultimate Beastmaster. This means he’ll be a physical strength in the game. He is also the first Asian male to appear on the show since Noor on Fresh Meat 2 in 2010.
Coming from Shipwrecked UK, production has mostly had positive results from the show. Bear and Big T came from the show, as well as War of the World 2’s Sean. Liv is super young, at only 21 years old. She claims to be confrontational, and she may fit in with the rest of the dramatic UK transplants.
Now, we are in the WTF tier. Lio is a WWE wrestler, looks like a bit of an oddball, and doesn’t have a reality TV background. Why is he on the show? Probably to make the show more competitive and to attract a different audience. The Miz has a wrestling and reality TV background, and WWE falls into the pseudo-sport category with The Challenge. We see The Challenge called the “fifth major sport,” and having other athletes will build that reputation.
Lolo is an olympian, but she has circulated around the reality TV circuit for the past few years. She did Dancing With the Stars, Celebrity Big Brother US, and Champs vs. Pros. So, she does have some Challenge background and is clearly competitive. She will make the show seem much more competitive, but she’s almost too strong for the show. She symbolizes a strong shift away from The Real World/ Road Rules background and a focus on make the Challenge a sport.
Joseph is a rapper and appeared on America’s Got Talent. Why is he on The Challenge? No one knows. He used to race dirt bikes, and he is in shape, but she doesn’t have a resume built for The Challenge. My only guess is that production wanted to get attention from NBC viewers. Otherwise, his appearance on The Challenge makes no sense.
Overall, the rookies are primarily focused on two things: diversity and competition. Many of the newbies are people of color with some people having other diverse identities. We also see some strong competitors in the mix, whether physical or political. It will interesting to see how these people compete. Some will rely on strength while other might sleep their way through the game. Regardless, production is testing the waters here. You might argue that they’re introducing too many new elements at one time, but they’re certainly trying to incorporate a lot of new people into the mix.