The Challenge

Do We Need Same-Sex Pairs Again?

Can production ever get the format right?

With the premiere of Ride or Dies, we’re getting another partner season. This is likely the first season in a long time where pairs will stay together from start to finish, but we saw coed pairs on Spies, Lies and Allies and on Double Agents.

But fans have been noting that Ride or Dies would have lent itself to same-sex pairs quite well. After all, Bananas and Nany are allegedly exes, yet now they’re ride or dies? Clearly, Nany should have been paired with Kaycee.

And I do agree, this theme seems better for same-sex teams, but there’s a serious problem: Production has no idea how to do it correctly.

Omitting Rachel & Aneesa on Exes 1, we’ve seen two seasons with same-sex pairs: Rivals 1 & Rivals 2. And on those seasons, the weeks were divided into male weeks and female weeks. When it was a male week on Rivals, the women played a very minor role. They were competing for $2,000. When the grand prize is $300,000 (let alone $1 million), this seems trivial. On Rivals 2, production tried to spice it up by making the women vote for the men and vice versa. Arguably, this made the show more confusing, and it certainly didn’t make it more interesting to watch the women compete when the men were going into elimination.

We’ve also seen Final Reckoning, which had a blend of coed and same-sex teams. Again, production didn’t know how to make the competition balanced, and there were a lot of missteps. There was also Bloodlines, which was also a blend of teams, but that season had more twists that made it harder to follow.

With episodes being 90 minutes, it would be hard to watch half of the cast receive immunity. At least with coed pairs, everyone is eligible for elimination each week.

But is it time we have same-sex pairs again? I say yes, there are a lot of formats that would work with this casting style. I also can’t find a good way to make this work. Perhaps we’d just need to accept that half of the cast would have immunity every other week. Or, this might mean production would need to work to make more balanced eliminations that would actually allow male pairs to face female pairs equitably.

Regardless, I’m hopeful that same-sex pairs would bring us new competition, or another Rivals season. And any of these formats would be a welcome change of pace.

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