The Challenge: War of the Worlds USA has been met with a lot of criticism. It’s not all bad, but a lot of long-term Challenge fans are frustrated with some of the decisions. Most notably, the decision to ignore actual Challenge veterans.
But let’s try to look past that. Now that we have the cast, the decision makes a lot of sense.
I can see two sides of the coin here. On one side, people don’t understand why this show needs to use The Challenge name when it doesn’t include any Challenge alumni (beyond TJ). But if this CBS tournament existed and didn’t associate itself with The Challenge, everyone would just call it a clone. With that understanding, I can’t be that mad that the show falls under the Challenge umbrella. It’s another pillar in the franchise, in addition to the main series and (hopefully) All Stars.
We also see people from Big Brother, Survivor, and other shows jumping from CBS to MTV. Not only do reality stars want to stay relevant, but viewers seems to be willing to watch. Vendettas, the first Challenge with BB players, received better ratings than Dirty Thirty. Clearly, something is connecting, and CBS would be silly not to take advantage of it.
To be honest, this type of show should have happened decades ago. Think back to early 2008 when there was a Hollywood writers strike. CBS responded with an infamous winter season of Big Brother (BB9). That would have been an optimal time for The network to have a Big Brother vs. Survivor competition. And yes, during that era people were eager for that type of show.
It took more than a decade for CBS to take any type of action, and they probably only did that because they realized MTV was going to force the change. Slowly, The Challenge was acquiring more people from CBS and Survivor. Much like the current Challenge, there are many places to source prospective cast members.
It’s overdue, and there might be some branding concerns, but this new Challenge is exciting. If the competitions are solid, we’re dealing with a lot of strategic players. Plus, there is an audience that will love this show. If you’re a fan of MTV, you’re not wrong to have some reservations. People who are fans of CBS reality shows have every reason to be amped for the show.
Now that we know the cast, we can start to analyze it like we would for any other Challenge season. To me, the show feels very much like I Love Money on VH1. The show had a couple of the biggest names from its feeder shows, but there’s also a lot of people who seem like they were pulled from the B-list. This is especially true when we look at the Big Brother picks. There’s some serious recency bias, and most of the people who define the show are absent.
But, this also gives us an opportunity to turn familiar faces into legends. Most likely, this is going to be a fun reality show. There is some disappointment with the casting, but let’s not pretend that CBS reality shows don’t have some great cast members. They’re likely to put on a good show, then we’ll have a second, worldwide competition to look forward to. A