I feel the need to explain what it is I love about this show. For starters, it’s about challenges, which is pretty awesome. They get to do all the cool things I would like to do, plus go to a ton of beautiful places like Jamaica (Battle of the Sexes), Australia (Fresh Meat, Acapulco (The Inferno), and currently Thailand (The Ruins).
The first season of the show that I had ever seen was Battle of the Sexes, a season which was poorly designed because the majority of the challenges, and the final challenge in particular, relied largely on physical strength that would give the men an obvious advantage.
A few of the cast members in particular were interesting.
From the women: First would be Ruthie from RW Hawaii who changed from the alcohol addicted wild child of her season to the zen “ninja jedi warrior” who completely fetes that even the experts said they could not replicate. Who wouldn’t think that’s cool? There was also Beth, the ever troublesome woman from RW Los Angeles. Veronica and Rachel (from RR Campus Crawl and RR Semester at Sea respectively) who are tough girls who like to be in control . And finally, to top off the more interesting females, Tonya from RW Chicago who seems to have been on EVERY challenge and is virtually always smashed and out of control. 8 out of 18 to be exact.
From the men: In truth the men had fewer interesting guys. The most remarkable was Puck, who got married mid season and liked to sport a machete. Colin was a bit of a leader and he had a cute moment with Ruthie at the end, but also not so exciting.
Then, in future seasons, we’ve seen the addition of cast members Coral, Evan, and Evelyn. Coral is just outrageous. There’s not really much of a better way to put it. She’s ridiculous. One minute she’s a leader the next she’s a target. You never know with her. Evan is strong and powerful and while he started out as a pretty lovable guy, he’s sort of become an arrogant jerk over the course of the seasons. And Evelyn is arguably one of the strongest women to ever compete. Physically and mentally (not because she outsizes anyone but because she’s scrappy and determined) she easily knocks out most of the women. I’d love to see her and Ruthie battle it out one day in a fair fight.
There’s also something about seeing them come back time after time, their relationships growing and changing from season to season. Friends become enemies, enemies become a couple.
Last season, the Island, was frustrating to watch for a few reasons: 1) It focused less on the challenges and more on the enormous amount of time they spent hanging out and fighting and 2) the power was given into the hands of a few people and everyone was too stupid to do anything (plus by the time they realized they could do anything it was too late).
This season the system is a little better. Three are nominated prior to the challenge from both the men and women per team. Then, the winning team chooses which man and woman per team goes into the elimination round. In this way, the power is divided a little more evenly. Additionally, all the arrogant guys are on one team, minimizing their power to within the rest of an already arrogant group (in the sense that the teams are divided Champions vs Challengers so all the Champions have won before not just a few). Tonya is still smashed. Evelyn is a little meaner (which is surprising since she dealt with so much bullying in the previous challenge that you’d think she’d be a little nicer). Wes decides to throw challenges in an attempt to force his team to vote randomly. (He should just prove he’s as strong as he claims so that they want to keep him around for his skills but it’s true that the guys are obnoxious and already form a core group coming in.) For some reason the cast members are represented with elephants. I don’t know why. Tonya throws herself in and she wants to fight Diem. Wes’s plan backfires and he “volunteers” himself. Then the debates becomes should Wes get to choose his competitor? That was the original plan, but that’s without considering the fact that he was obviously going to be thrown in because of his actions. Chet kind of looks like Wes so it’s funny that they’re going up against each other. In this season, the bank accounts are done individually and you only win your money if you last until the end of the show. The other detail, when you go into the elimination challenge, the winner takes the losers’ money. If the loser has any money. It’s shocking that Diem has never won a challenge before (she’s a cancer survivor who despite her fear of heights has really fought through a number of challenges).