Oh lord. Lock up the booze and Scotchgard the couch, because another season of MTV's vomitously fun workhorse series The Challenge is headed our way. They've just released the trailer for the new season, and it looks like the usual belch of drunken squabbling and a hint of physical danger lurking in the air. Plus, y'know, the challenges and stuff. Which is great! Despite nearly everyone in the show's repertory company being a rum-chugging nightmare person, The Challenge has been solid television for a whopping twenty-three seasons.
Well, OK, the earlier seasons were a very different animal, all gentle and simple and goofy. It was the Real World/Road Rules Challenge at that point, back when both shows were fertile breeding grounds for camera-comfortable young folks. But then Road Rules was canceled, putting them down one feeder show, so the producers started adding some "Fresh Meat" contestants here and there while still relying on The Real World for the bulk of their casting. It's worked, well, beautifully. As the stable of Challenge veterans grows, with some players appearing in as many as ten seasons, relationships warp and corrode, rivalries and feuds thrive, and the show's strange sense of meta tension deepens like flavors in a cast iron skillet.