Photo: ‘The Challenge: All Stars’
‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ sees the return of this once enormously popular series of reality television where contestants would compete in physical and mental challenges to win a large cash prize. This season of ‘The Challenge,’ brings back past finalist contestants in its earlier history in order to create one of the most dynamic and competitive seasons yet. By bringing back contestants that have not returned to the show in over a decade, this season trades youth for maturity without sacrificing the intensity that is reflected in the contestant’s desire and drive to earn the grand prize. Despite the show featuring an older cast, this change does not take away from the level of intensity that this series is known for, and each contestant is visibly committed to doing whatever is necessary to be the last competitor standing. ‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ succeeds in its fresh revamp of this legendary series for old fans but fails to fully captivate viewers that are new to this reality challenge show.
‘The Challenge: All Stars’: Past Series Finalists Return to This Season of This Athletic Game Show
In this season of ‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ previous contestants that made it to the final round of this show’s earlier seasons are asked to return with the chance of winning the entire competition and earning $500,000. With many of the competitors having joined the show in their early or mid-twenties, most of them are now in their late thirties and early forties in age. Despite many of the contestants being older and less likely to be able to compete at the same level of intensity as they had in their youth, they now bring a certain sense of wisdom and humility that was at times lacking in their earlier iterations of the show. Despite more than a decade having passed since the contestants were last on the show, they still bring the same adaptable and audacious mindset that they had when they were younger.
‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ with its choice of bringing back the legends of the show, makes a bold statement to its current audience. The series proves that instead of simply rebooting the series by bringing in fresh faces, its long and beloved history is just as important to it in today’s present. This is an ideal that is reflected time and time again throughout the series and it leads the viewer to appreciate the legacy that this show has created. ‘The Challenge,’ illustrates that although its challengers have aged to a level of maturity, this can and will not restrict them from pushing themselves utterly to their limits. This season more than any in the series’ past is about resilience, perseverance, and the courage of one’s own spirit in the face of all difficulties.
A Brutally Competitive Challenge
‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ is an insanely physical and at times brutal competition. This season with the final standing challenger earning a grand prize of $500,000, each contestant throughout the series makes a point of mentioning how they will stop at nothing to win the money. This show is one that tests each contestant’s limits and is certainly not one for the faint of heart. Whether the contestants are forced to wrestle a pole away from their opponent to the point of submission, or they are asked to take a thirty-foot plunge into ice-cold water, ‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ places each contender in a position where they are pushed out of their comfort zone and their physical and mental fortitudes are challenged. Although this level of physical and mental duress is uncommon to the world of television, it is nothing new for this ongoing series.
As the current season progresses so too does the level of difficulty and intricacy of the challenges that the contestants are required to compete within to remain in the running for the grand prize. Despite the hardships and challenges that each contender is required to endure, what stands out among all else in the show is the willingness that each person has to compete. What truly makes this show unique is not just the well-designed and distinct competitions, which are as entertaining as they are ingenious, but rather the resilience and determination that is visible in each of the contestants. Granted, the prize for being the last one standing is half-a-million dollars, but these previous finalists display a level of competitiveness and tenacity that enthralls the audience. This personal investment in the contestants by the viewer is ultimately what encourages them to continue binging this show in order to learn the final outcome of this season of ‘The Challenge.’
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Does This Series Stand Out Among Reality Television?
‘The Challenge,’ as a series, including this season of ‘All Stars,’ definitely stands out among reality television as a genre. What is most fascinating about this series is the level of competitiveness that each contestant brings with them when they join the show. With this season’s return of past finalist contestants, the series returns to its roots with a level of experience and wisdom that the show has not known before. What defines this series as unique to reality television is the amount of physical and mental exhaustion that all competing members are forced to endure. This series is not just about the physical performance of an individual but rather the social cohesiveness that each contestant displays. While social interaction and its part in how each contestant does is not a new feature of the reality television genre, the fact that most contestants have not seen each other in over a decade allows for new relationships to grow and previous ones to fall away.
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‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ does limit itself in its overuse of trivia and its connection to previous seasons. While its relation to its past is important, its inundation of information known only by previous fans of the show fails to fully attract new viewers. While ‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ relies solely upon past contestants which ultimately reflects its honor and admiration for those that have chosen to join and compete. Although, contradicting the show ostracizes its chance to fully attract newcomers that have never seen the show before with its overreliance upon unnecessary details about previous seasons. This season relies upon a vast amount of past information in its challenges and this leads to disconnection by the audience. ‘The Challenge: All Stars,’ while still displaying an adept series about determination and mental fortitude, fails to fully bridge the gap between its past and present.
Cast: Jonna Mannion, Darrell Taylor, T.J. Lavin, Nehemiah Clark, Laterrian Wallace, Derrick Kosinski, Kendal Sheppard, Teck Holmes, Mark Long, KellyAnne Judd, Meli nda Collins, Jemmye Carroll, Yes Duffy, M.J. Garrett, Brad Fiorenza, Janelle Casanave, Ayanna Mackins, Katie Doyle, Eric Banks, Jodi Weatherton, Aneesa Ferreira, Alton Williams II, Ruthie Alcaide, Jisela Delgado, Jasmine Reynaud, Tyler Duckworth, Cohutta Grindstaff, Casey Cooper, Syrus Yarbrough, Beth Stolarczyk, Tina Barta, Steve Meinke, Arissa Hill, Ryan Kehoe, Sophia Pasquis
Producers: Marlene Leyzaola, Joey Ortega, Claudia Elena Rodriguez, Katie Gallagher, Alex Sarne, Brad Tiemann, Joe Awgul, Kim Webster, Christopher Romero, Abigail Bunker, Lisa Fletcher, Kristopher Schwalenberg, Jakob Skrzypa, Eric Spagnoletti, Diego Amson, Justin Booth, Dan Caster, Mark Long, Jared March
Editors: Christopher de Barros, Wesley Post, Brian Matsunaga, Brandon Barbieri, Chris Conway, Gabriel Forster, Glen Gottlieb, Kara Torsney-Weir, Tyler Wong, John Barley, Mac Caudill, Tia Hoover, Klein Michael, Alex Rosenbloom, Kyle Schadt, Lauren Stava
By Thomas Jacobs
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.