''This year, I will not schedule an entire four months of my life around watching The Challenge in real time and then texting my only…
Credit: MTV

A year can be measured in two periods: time when a season of The Challenge is airing and time when you can speculate what a new season of The Challenge will bring. With the announcement of a 25th season on Wednesday, we have officially entered into the more agonizing latter half.

As I’m sure T.J. Lavin follows my life as closely as I follow his, I think I’ll take this opportunity to draw out what a perfect 25th season of The Challenge might look like, before filming begins this fall. I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me by complaining, but I do want that hand to deliver the best season of The Challenge yet. It is it’s Silver Jubilee, after all.

Game + Cast + Competition = Dream 25th Season

I dreamed a dream of the perfect Game:

“The Duel” — The first choice for the next season has to be a Duel. Much like SNL, and probably the government, The Challenge is entering a time of restructuring. Long gone are the days of roaming gangs of vets and cowering rookies. There’s no one Johnny/Evan/Kenny alliance to rule them all. The tension is palpable amongst the community of Challenge contestants, and they want a game they can win on their own merit (well, most of them – I imagine, like, Jasmine doesn’t want that). They want a Duel III.

“Fresh Meat” — If not The Duel, then it’s time for some new blood up in this Bunim/Murray production. With the shaky-at-best alliances that have been built over the last few seasons, “fresh meat” stand to come in, mix things up and gain some power. Fresh Meat eliminates the Real World filter and makes room for a few more great athletes. Plus, it’s fun to watch the scales fall from their eyes as they realize, yes, these people are that crazy.

“Friends and Family” — If it’s good enough for Survivor, it’s good enough for The Challenge. (This rule does not go both ways.) I need to know if Zach’s siblings are mutant-huge too. I’m dying to meet any family member of Jimmye’s. Dying. If the contestants were allowed to bring a friend or family member, but *twist* not allowed to be on the same team, that would be ideal. Bonds tested. Families torn apart. Yes, yes, I’m there.

I dreamed a dream of the perfect Cast:

Season 24 had a great premise (Rivals II) but a notable divide in athleticism. Get rid of the riff-raff: Devyn and Eric are fun and all, and I’m glad they found a fleeting love on Battle of the Seasons. But The Challenge is a professional sport. (Well, it’s some of these people’s profession, at least – except Wes.) This is not a place for the ill-equipped Bunim/Murray. There are enough great contestants that still get drunk and act like post-apocalyptic maniacs (e.g., Camilla-nator), that we don’t need to mess around with Trishelle anymore.

The Best: Can we please compile a season with Evelyn, Laurel, and Emily all in the mix. They’re already freaks and the competition between them would just elevate it; in addition to a great girls season, we might just find a new Wonder Woman. On the male side, I think Wes and CT have one more in them, and their recently developed bromance needs more exploration.

The Vet-iest Vets: Oh yeah, I’m pushing for Gauntlet-era-Darrell, I’m pushing for Fresh-Meat-II-Landon. While they’re dusting off the Rolodex, give Susie and Ruthie a call. They’re probably running international non-profits or something, so they should have flexible schedules and plenty of need for extra funds.

The Glue: I want a win for Sarah. Everyone likes her and I can’t watch her break down anymore because she has to leave early. Just give the girl a puzzle and solo-game/partner she can work with, and let her play! Tack on Paula and Leeroy for atmosphere and comedic effect.

Newbs: How much fun was it watching Jordan and Marlon almost make it to the end? Bring them back immediately, limit Jordan’s word output, increase Marlon’s, and we’ve got a great season. Speaking of the Portland season, where the H is Hurricane Nia? Girl looks like a professional volleyball player and I know Bunim/Murray is salivating over the opportunity for another death-threat-by-hairdryer situation. And where’s that Noor kid from Fresh Meat II that was a freakish athlete. Everyone can take a few weeks off work for $150,000. Get him back!

I dreamed a dream of the perfect Competition:

Better Challenges and Jungles/Gulags/Duels: I don’t want TJ to fake out Cara Maria with threats of being electrocuted while climbing a rock wall and solving for Pi. I want to watch Cara Maria get electrocuted, climb a rock wall, and solve for Pi; I want to watch CT wear Johnny Bananas like a backpack; I want to watch Nany get catapulted into a murky body of water because she doesn’t know how to spell “onomatopoeia.” In Battle of the Exes, the finalists had to stay overnight in Iceland with only their partners and life dreams to keep them warm. This time, take away their partners (and/or their life dreams).

So, TJ, if you’re reading this, I have one overall request for season 25: just kill it, OK?

Episode Recaps

The Challenge

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