If the last few seasons of “The Challenge” seemed a bit different — and a bit too focused on confusing twists and themes — don’t fret. MTV’s upcoming 38th season is heading back to basics.
“I think in the past few seasons, even going back to ‘Total Madness,’ they’ve been kind of tough themes to follow — like, who’s a liar, who’s a spy and who’s an outlier? Historically, what does the best for us is simple concepts where we can pick our winners and pick our horses and watch it unfold,” veteran player Jordan Wiseley said on the latest episode of the “Reality Rundown” podcast. “Casting wise, we went back to our roots. You have to cast outside of the pool to expand the show. I understand what we’re doing. We’re the best competition show globally, we have to bring in those new people. But we have a diehard fan base. We have the best fans in the world, so you’ve got to honor that and I think we did that with Season 38.”
The “Real World” alum added that the new season, themed “Ride or Dies,” returns to the “classic ‘Challenge’ feeling,” which includes great competition mixed with drama.
That said, it was Wiseley’s most difficult yet, especially since he didn’t have much down time after traveling to Ukraine to lend a hand in any way possible amid the war.
“I did 47 days in Ukraine. Came back, took two days to rest. I was on set eight days in the desert for a scripted project coming up. Then I went to Mexico to try and relax a little bit the day after we wrapped. The first day in Mexico, sitting on the beach relaxing, I get a call, like, ‘Can you leave in five days?’” he said. “The thing about going into 38, what made it so difficult mentally, was know this was going to be Tori [Deal] and my first season back together.”
Wiseley and Deal previously got engaged on “The Challenge” but broke up in November 2020. Ahead of “Ride or Dies,” they hadn’t spoken in a year and a half. When Wiseley got the call, he asked executive producer Julie Pizzi whether Deal would be there so he had “five days to prepare” as much as possible.
He also knew going in that their reunion would be a focal point of the season and even the marketing around it; as he guessed, it’s a big part of the super-trailer that MTV released.
“That is what terrified me. I felt like, it’s ours, and we already gave so much to the show. They were there from the beginning and through everything so I do understand the audience feels like they’re a part of us as well, but it’s just something that I wanted for us,” Wiseley said. “We leave with closure but the way we get there is such a rollercoaster.”
Still, the show was tougher than his six previous seasons, both mentally and physically.
“The competition is as good as it’s ever been. There were no layups. The rookies were good — their size, their speed, their strength coming in. And they’re smart,” Wiseley said. “Mentally, I was just drained. Physically, I was not in good shape and it was a physically demanding show and mentally, I was just not ready for that.”
“The Challenge: Ride or Dies” premieres on MTV Wednesday, October 12, at 8 p.m. ET.
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