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The Season Of The Challenge Fans Feel Was Terrible In Every Way

Over two decades after its premiere back in 1998, MTV's competitive reality series "The Challenge" is still going strong to this day, with its most recent season (titled "Spies, Lies, and Allies") wrapping up in December 2021. The premise of the series — and the rules every contestant has to follow – might seem relatively simple at first, as contestants are forced into various head-to-head competitions and challenges against one another, all while the threat of elimination looms over their heads. Yet, perhaps the reason that the series has managed to last so long is because of the drastic changes in scenery, tone, and structure that come with each season.

The various challenges the contestants (who are often competitors from other reality series) must face will always change dramatically with each new season, usually following a specific theme that is indicated through that season's title. Not only do these challenges change each season, but so too do the locations. Through the last three seasons alone, "The Challenge" has filmed in Croatia, Iceland, Czech Republic, and the Austrian Alps. Similarly, the team format shifts wildly from season to season, sometimes forcing contestants to pair up in teams of two, or fend for themselves solo, or form up into two teams of twelve.

Considering the fact that the series has lasted an astounding 37 seasons thus far, it's clear that the show's constantly shifting landscape has been a big hit with fans throughout the years — though surprisingly, there is one season of "The Challenge" that fans almost universally despise, primarily because of how it changed the show's original premise.

Fans absolutely hate The Island

The season in question is Season 16, "The Island," which aired from between September and November of 2008 (via IMDb). As implied by the title of this season, "The Island" took place on Colón Island in Panama, and the season forced the cast to survive on the island in a manner akin to the reality series "Survivor." Despite the fact that the radical changes within "The Island" are a great example of why the series has lasted so long, fans on Reddit seem to agree that it is far and away the worst season of the entire series.

"The Island was just the worst on all aspects," wrote u/jodecicry4u. "Competitively, socially, politically. A flop. That final was beyond abysmal." Other users chimed in to agree that "The Island" represented a noticeable drop in quality compared to other seasons, while still others claimed that it was simply an unoriginal rip-off of "Survivor," and that the format itself simply didn't fit "The Challenge." 

"Late 2000s they were definitely trying to ride the latest survivor-esque ride and see if they can just get a hit with 90% environmental drama sprinkled in with some eliminations," wrote u/SithLawdy."

Perhaps the most jarring difference between "The Island" and other seasons of "The Challenge” is the complete absence of the eponymous challenges that are (normally) the most important part of the whole show. "They didn't even have challenges!!!" emphasized u/PonderingWaterBridge. Considering the fact that a show called "The Challenge" completely abandoned the core concept of their series, and instead focused on survival and eliminations, it's easy to see why so many fans hate this season.

Even cast members have nothing good to say about The Island

The immense format change within "The Island" not only aggravated fans of the series, but some of the competitors as well. "Not only did it take away The Challenge spirit of competition, it was so traumatic for cast members that I think it warded off some good people for future seasons," asserted u/ResponsibleFudge8701. 

During an interview with Inside Pulse, recurring "The Challenge" cast member and "The Island" participant Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio addressed the uncomfortable and tense environment of this particular season – particularly in regards to the lack of food on the island. "We were eating twice a day — four ounces of fish and a bowl of rice, which for me is nothing," Devenanzio explained. "There was always a lot of tension surrounding the food."

"It sucked pretty bad," said fellow cast member Kenny Santucci during an appearance on the Mike Lewis Podcast. "I lost 30 pounds in a month ... you have zero energy, you're depleted, you feel terrible." The lack of food and the isolating nature of "The Island" caused plenty of the contestants to become unreasonable, and agitated — to the point where some cast members even plotted to steal food from the production team (per Entertainment Weekly). Indeed, these comments make it abundantly clear that many cast members have no fond memories of this season whatsoever.

Although it's clear that the constantly changing landscape of "The Challenge" has allowed it to survive far longer than most reality series, the dismal fan and cast response to "The Island" perhaps proves that too much of said change is still a bad idea.