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The Challenge



Reality show cast members face off in physical challenges.

What parents need to know

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.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byanimalloverclm April 9, 2008
Adult Written bykarissa1214 November 2, 2009


Adult Written byM&M1995 July 28, 2014

Action-packed, booze fest spin-off of "The Real World" is loaded with sexual content.

Past "The Real World" and "Road Rules" cast members compete in thrilling endurance and strength challenges that involve heights, water, contact sports, etc. all in an attempt to snag the jackpot prize. Much like The Real World, the contestants live together in a fancy abode, usually somewhere in South America or Europe. Each season has a different theme or twist, ranging from "Battle of the Exes" to "Battle of the Seasons" and "Free Agents." Expect the usual bickering reality shows bring, but now that there is a gameplay element, back-stabbing and alliances come into play too. The fights are more dramatic in The Challenge; punching, slapping, shoving are recurrent, but the contestants who engage in such behavior are met with serious consequences. The challenges the contestants take part in sometimes result in bloody injuries that require medical attention. Plenty of foul language and insults are thrown around. Multiple gay cast members participate in the competition. Flirting, kissing, sex, and streaking are present, and are usually done under the influence of alcohol (Genitalia and breasts are blurred, bare behinds aren't). The cast goes out to party on some nights and things get steamy. Other times they "get creative" and stay in the house, playing sexualized versions of Truth or Dare, putting on strip shows, and the like. Consumerism is tucked into the program which is annoying. When host TJ Lavin announces the reward for the winning individual or team, he mentions the brand. Unlike its Real World counterpart, The Challenge will leave you at the edge of your seat, cheering on your favorite cast members, and keep you coming back for more of the intense competitions and twists despite the iffy content. Therefore, The Challenge has more substance than The Real World. Teenage boys will definitely take a liking to the action-packed nature of the show, while the girls will enjoy the over-the-top bickering and arguments.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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