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I'm not sure if people are still keeping fish in barrels anymore, but it would take a real jerk to walk up and start shooting at them. That's why you MIGHT be tempted to point at this clip from MTV's The Challenge and make some kind of brave statement about the intellectual shortcomings of reality TV characters and/or young beautiful people in general. But come on, we aren't that basic, are we? And in defense of The Challenge cast, what many of them lack in rudimentary knowledge they make up for with "street smarts," which is a term I just came up with, do you like it? Their social intuition and ability to both vent anger and pursue happiness with extreme efficiency gives them a measure of intelligence most of us will never have.
That being said, this week's episode of The Challenge featured one of the more amusing indictments of the American educational system ever broadcast. There's a reason most of The Challenge's competitions come down to brute strength. Whereas Survivor peppers its challenges with puzzles and mind-games to give the less jockish contestants a fighting chance, The Challenge's castmembers are already pretty evenly matched in the brains department. So this week's episode was a rare treat: T.J. Lavin asked basic trivia questions and two wrong answers resulted in a plunge into the drink. Suffice it to say, outrageously incorrect answers abounded.
Longest bone in the body? "The bone on my thighs." The most populous country in the world? "Asia." The third U.S. President? "Roosevelt." The name for a five-sided shape? "Hexagon." The official language of Australia? "Dutch."
It's truly saying something that enormous flesh golem Zach outsmarted all the guys, but it's much less surprising that Devyn beat out the girls. She's always seemed almost next-level compared to other castmembers in both her pin-up girl looks and borderline graceful personality. That meant Zach and Devyn were in charge of sending two challengers into the arena and they settled on Swift and Theresa. The Theresa thing was the episode's biggest surprise in that she had been Devyn's closest friend in the house. But in a truly amazing sequence Devyn was intimidated into choosing Theresa over Laurel after Laurel drew up a hit list right in front of Devyn and implied that Devyn's name would be moved up should she cross her. The fact that Laurel drew the list with blue Crayola marker made the scene no less terrifying.
In the arena Camila ended up pulling the women's Kill Card while Jordan pulled the men's. (How much did you love when C.T. flipped a blank and walked away without so much as looking at it, then cryptically referred to a "system" that he was using? C.T. is truly mystical sometimes.) Anyway, the competition was that really tough-looking tug-of-war-to-ring-a-bell one and Jordan handily beat out Swift, which is NOT a pun, because I am not Johnny Bananas. Like a true villain, Bananas made no fewer than three derogatory remarks about Jordan's hand throughout the episode (including a "joke" in which he decided that Laurel was pregnant with Jordan's baby and it would probably be born with one hand). Sure, Jordan is cocky and rubs everyone the wrong way, but come on. Bananas also compared Jordan's win over Swift to a guy hooking up with "a fat chick," i.e., an easy feat and nothing to brag about. So, you know. Definite villainy going on there.
In a weirdly pathos-packed moment during the women's finale, Camila couldn't get any traction against Theresa, so she ended up clinging to the sand sobbing only to finally give up. Longtime viewers of this series know Camila can be emotionally volatile at times, but usually it's an angry feistiness, not the truly worrisome sobbing she kept breaking into throughout the episode. Is Camila okay? She didn't seem okay in this episode, so maybe it's a good thing she got out of there. But maybe the stress was getting to everybody, because even the victorious Theresa walked sobbing back to her friends afterward. Despite how fun this show can be to watch, it's moments like these when it becomes clear how hellish this experience must be. Like, these are seasoned reality professionals and if they can't take it, who can?
But yeah. The colorful characters of MTV's The Challenge probably didn't score as high on their SATs as you or I, but man, what we wouldn't give to have had a fraction of their social experiences. Shoot as many barrel fish as you want, but I'm not eating 'em.