The Challenge

TV review by
Jill Murphy, Common Sense Media
The Challenge TV Poster Image
Reality show cast members face off in physical challenges.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Yelling, cat fights, ganging up on each other, gossip, drunken hook-ups, arguments.


Brutal physical challenges; pushing; fights often break out between contestants.


Housemates hook up; indications of sex; heavy kissing; most challenges require players to be in bathing suits.


Heavy bleeping of four-letter workds; "bitch" is commonplace in each epsiode; contestants talk down to one another.


Each challenge is sponsored by a commerical product (TVs, cell phones, travel companies).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A lot of alcohol usage. Viewers don't always see the contestants drinking, but they're often intoxicated in front of the camera.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that fighting, sex, screaming matches, physically brutal challenges, drinking, smoking, and trash-talking are all standard practice during the challenges. Contestants involved in this reality/game show are from past seasons of MTV's Real World and Road Rules. Issues that cast members had on either of those series often carry over into this one.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybetteroptions September 27, 2020

Bad choice of players

From a racist to a porn star.....they need to choose their players more carefully.
Adult Written byDave M. May 23, 2017

Bring back TJ instead of the new moron from Wwe.

Get rid of this new host. He is horrible and makes me not want to watch anymore. Hopefully he's only here for this one season tops....
Teen, 15 years old Written byanimalloverclm April 9, 2008

What's the story?

THE CHALLENGE is made up of former MTV Real World and Road Rules cast members. The contestants are divided into two teams that face off in physical competitions ranging from painting a blank canvas with their bodies to racing head to head in a rickshaw relay. At least one contestant is eliminated at the end of each episode. The last three players from each team compete in a final mission at the end of the season to win $300,000 in cash and prizes.

Is it any good?

Teens will be interested to see once-famed Real World and Road Rules cast members come back in a more-competitive setting, but parents need to know that the series, like its predecessors, emphasizes sex, partying, and conflict. Past rivalries, new loves, and old flames add to the drama, and there's no shortage of love and hate among teammates and competitors. All parties involved come across in a negative light as they struggle with teamwork, creating alliances, and backstabbing one another. Disrespect and fighting is not only expected, but tolerated by the producers of the series.

For all the effort these reality TV alums put themselves through, the prize seems small. But many of the stand-out members have been invited back for other challenges or to participate in other off-shoots of MTV programming -- keeping them afloat on the celebrity D-list.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why there's so much tension among the contestants. Do they handle their differences appropriately? Has life in front of the camera affected their behavior? Is there pressure to act a certain way? Why do some reality TV "stars" keep going back for more punishment on other shows? Is fame really that addictive?

TV details

  • Premiere date: June 1, 1998
  • Network: MTV
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: DVD, Streaming
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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