There’s something about MTV’s “The Challenge” that makes the reality competition series like no other — like one of those 1,000-year-old British soaps, the draw is that we’re still watching people we met on this cutthroat series as teenagers, still coming back as Challengers well into their late 30s.
Long time fan-favorites like Johnny Bananas, Cara Maria and Darell have risen to the top, and they’ve all stuck around. Somehow, competing on this long running MTV show has become their actual job, their main source of income — and they’re the first to admit how ridiculous that is, but also how blessed and thankful they are to be so lucky.
Few contestant are more beloved that Chris “CT” Tamburello — save Diem, his on-and-off again ex-girlfriend who passed away at 34 after her cancer returned for a third time, which devastated everyone who knew Diem, and was incredibly tortuous for CT.
The 36-year-old total beast of a competitor shied away from the spotlight, and went cold turkey from “The Challenge.” While he’d make a guest appearance as a tribute to Diem, or pop up on the after show as a mentor — even after MTV invited him back year after year, for his own personal and very understandable reasons, CT needed a break from the crazy competition series.
Now, the day has finally come and CT’s ready to return. Not to demo a challenge, but to remind viewers why we know the term “Bananas Backpack.” On Wednesday (Jan. 11), MTV officially announced he will be in the newest installment of the series, “The Challenge: Invasion.” This is the Christmas morning of MTV news, for us. We’ve been waiting for him to return for literally years — and now it’s actually happening and it seems to good to be true.
Fans are going to be ecstatic, but there will a small amount of people not so happy about this news — the contestants that have to compete against him. Season 29 of the show will give 18 Underdog competitors the chance to fight each other to move from living in “The Shelter” to “The Oasis,” a much more luxe living situation.
Taking place entirely in Thailand, the Underdogs will then be surprised with the daunting challenge of being pitted against the eight Champion competitors: CT, Johnny Bananas, Camila, Cara Maria, Darell, Ashley K., Zach, and Laurel.
Just the thought of going up against this group of seasoned champs will make more than a few of the following Underdogs do what host TJ Lavin hates more than anything: quit.
Good luck to Amanda, Anika, Anthony, Crazy but Love Her Ashley, Bruno, Cory, Dario, Hunter, Barbie Doll Beast Jenna, Kailah, LaToya, Marie, Nelson, Nicole, Shane, Sylvia, Theo, and baby daddy to two different mommies, Tony.
…You know, just by looking at this loaded cast list, it’s easy to see that the drama outside the competitions will run high. Hook-ups, bad blood, guilty backstabbers from cycles’ past… This is going to be, without a doubt, a fantastic season.
“The Challenge: Invasion” premiers on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.