I’m 2015 and 2016, it looked like casting was moving in a new direction. Producers seemed to be aware The Real World was coming to an end, and they needed a feeder show to enhance the casting pool. At the time, MTV has also invested in the Are You the One franchise, and cast members started to transition onto The Challenge starting with Exes 2.
Now, we don’t get anyone from the franchise coming onto the show. It seems like the experiment ended as soon as it started to give us good cast members, and fans are left wondering why.
During their first season, the AYTO kids were met with a lot of dislike. John & Simone were competitive flops and a complete misfire. Meanwhile, Adam & Brittany became fairly likable. They won 3 eliminations and became a bit of an underdog team.
Then Bloodlines happened and we only saw two AYTO representatives. Both caused a bit of a splash, but neither lasted too long. The real overhaul came on Rivals 3. We started with 8 AYTO alumni, then the total went to 10 with Nelson & Amanda, then we saw Devin & Cheyenne return. It was a bit of a casting shock, especially when you consider that we had newbies from Bloodlines in the mix and one Real World rookie.
The over-saturation on Rivals 3 annoyed a lot of viewers, but it felt like Are You the One hit its stride on Invasion. Nelson, Amanda, and Hunter were central to the storyline that season. Whether or not you liked them, these cast members were able to intimidate the veterans. This would carry over onto Dirty Thirty.
While Hunter, Nelson, and Tori played big roles on Dirty Thirty, they also annoyed viewers by trying to eliminate veterans on the show. Some people liked this, but the were mostly annoying viewers. By the time Vendettas rolled around, it was clear the current casting pool couldn’t carry the show and allow the massive $1 million prizes.
What Went Wrong?
By the time Vendettas was filming, it was clear AYTO wasn’t big enough to carry the franchise. So, production cast from Big Brother and UK shows. This was a big risk, but it started to pay off. Ratings were strong this season and some European markets aired the season.
Are You the One didn’t bring the same potential, and even though Kam brought massive potential, the incoming class also brought problems.
This is likely why Final Reckoning only had one new AYTO cast member and focused heavily on Big Brother rookies. Then, War of the Worlds omitted AYTO and focused on a more international presence.
Throughout the past five seasons, we’ve only seen 2 new people from AYTO. Asaf (whose appearance on ATYO4 and Second Chances was ignored) and Amber M. To be fair, Amber actually made some waves on Double Agents, but she didn’t return on Spies, Lies and Allies.
What Went Wrong
The answer is really obvious in retrospect. AYTO just gave The Challenge contestants, but it didn’t bring in new viewers. Competitors from other US shows like Big Brother or Survivor could convert their fans into Challenge fans. International contestants bring the potential to have the show air in another nation. Are You the One does none of that.
While some AYTO Challengers have become fan favorites, it seems likely we’re done getting rookies from the show. Ratings have declined and the series has controversy behind it. Though it is coming back in an international format on Paramount+, so we never know. This could breathe new life into the franchise if it’s successful.