The Challenge

Is The Algorithm Ruining The Challenge USA?

So much for random.

Every Challenge has its twist. On The Challenge USA, it’s “the algorithm,” a buzzword that means production is going to manipulate partnerships each week.

Allegedly, the algorithm will rotate partners so no two players are paired twice until it’s mathematically impossible. But someone needs to check out this technology, because last week Angela was paired with Domenick for a second time. Meanwhile, Sarah and Ben were paired, which is quite convenient because they’re allies and the house is splitting. But more importantly, Angela hadn’t been paired with Ben and Domenick hadn’t been paired with Sarah.

Clearly, this system is drama-driven, not data-driven.

Both Tiffany and Cashel has alluded to the fact that this system isn’t random. And you know what: I’ll take their word for it. I really don’t think it’s random.

But here’s the thing: we’ve seen seasons like Rivals and Double Agents. If we let people pick their partners (like they did episode 1), we’re going to see a lot of alliances sticking together. Just like many seasons of Big Brother and Survivor, a majority alliance could dominate the game and pick off all the underdogs.

So production wanted to orchestrate some arguments, and create scenarios where the big dogs could be vulnerable. And really, I don’t think this is that bad. If one Challenger wants to avoid being paired with another person, they need to win and throw that competitor into The Arena.

The concept of the algorithm isn’t that bad. That is, until production tried to pull a fast one on viewers. Survivor, Big Brother, and The Challenge has dedicated fan bases that overanalyze every aspect of the show. Did production really think we wouldn’t notice.

The oddest part: They included Angela acknowledging the blunder. I have no idea why they’d do this. Perhaps they thought they were being tongue-in-cheek, demonstrating that they know this isn’t a perfect system. Either way, it added a layer of confusion and makes the show seem like its rooted in manipulation rather than skill.

This is why we can’t have nice things on TV anymore.

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