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'Challenge' Rant

One Fan Confesses to an Obsession With MTV.com’s ‘Real World/Road Rules Fantasy Challenge’

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I’m no gambler, but when I first heard about MTV.com’s Real World/Road Rules Fantasy Challenge, a counterpart to the network’s RW/RR Battle of the Seasons — the laff-a-lympics (airing 10 p.m. Mondays) that pits representatives from different RR/RW incarnations against each other in challenges and Survivor-style elimination — that all changed. This was a game I could — nay, would — win.

The Internet contest (grand prize: a Saturn SC2 Coupe) works like rotisserie-league baseball. You pick a team of four men and four women and accrue points based on their weekly challenge scores, as well as in categories like fighting, hugging, and, the foundation of quality reality TV, bad-mouthing.

After a decade of watching these shows with an intensity one usually devotes to, say, a life, I know the freak-out habits of all Worlders and Rulers intimately. I felt cocky about my roster, which included the explosive RW Miami’s Flora (she of the epic boyfriend battles) and RR 10’s Jisela (who crashed the RW New York set for more camera time). Both were no-brainers for combustibility points, as was RW Seattle’s slap-happy Stephen (right). I put Belou (left) from RR3 (who tried to stab her teammate with a fork) on the bench; she now has a baby, and I couldn’t risk maternal maturation.

After the first episode, my whole world crumbled. Jisela fulminated as predicted (71 points!), but Flora was dead silent, earning nothing. Maddeningly, childbirth had released a rage hormone in Belou, who screamed things like, ”They want me to run with my baby? F — – them!” My team ranking: 47,324.

Thus began the weekly ritual of roster stress. I can’t concentrate on Fridays, so concerned am I about rejiggering my lineup for Monday’s show. I soar with the highs — subbing Belou in just before she throws a fit over someone critiquing her child-care style — and plummet with the lows, as when I foolishly took out Stephen for a game day…which he spent bitching and winning.

By week five I’d climbed to 12,974th place, an insurmountable deficit with only 11 episodes left. It’s not so much losing the car that crushes me. It’s the disorienting unpredictability of the contestants, who heretofore have proven each season that they are, in fact, the most predictable people on earth. A world where Flora isn’t a psychopath is not a real world I want to live in.