What 'Big Brother: All-Stars' means for the future of MTV's 'The Challenge'
CBS' Big Brother is back and much like most things in the year the year 2020, it's a little different this time around.
The 22nd installment to the franchise debuted on Wednesday, August 5, a month and a half later than its usual late-June premiere, with 16 past houseguests moving back into the Big Brother house for another shot at reality TV glory. Big Brother: All-Stars is just the second season of the series to consist solely of returning players, coming 16 years after the banner all-star season.
Over the last three years, Big Brother has unintentionally become a feeder system for MTV's The Challenge, a production that pits some of the biggest stars in reality television against each other in a series of extreme physical and mental competitions, all while living in a house together.
Originally formatted as a clash between the cast members of MTV's first two reality programs, The Real World/Road Rules Challenge has evolved into a diverse competition featuring participants from a wide variety of shows across the globe.
Over the last five seasons, 13 former American Big Brother contestants have debuted on The Challenge. No other show has had as many Challenge prospects over that stretch. With Viacom merging with CBS in late 2019, it appears that the Big Brother-Challenge connection is here to stay. But how will the structure and format of Big Brother 22 impact the future of The Challenge?
Well, first, challengers Da'Vonne Rogers (seasons 32 and 33) and Bayleigh Dayton (season 35) are currently living in the Big Brother house, and with whispers that The Challenge's season 36 cast is set to depart for filming any day now, it seems to be a pretty safe bet that neither Rogers or Dayton will be on.
Josh Martinez allegedly was cast for Big Brother: All-Stars, but tested positive for Covid-19 just days before contestants entered the BB house, so he should be available for season 36 as long as a similar set of circumstances don't occur.
Clearly The Challenge has benefited greatly from Big Brother's pipeline of characters over the last three years. Most recently, four rookies from Big Brother 20 debuted on the most recent season of The Challenge, Total Madness. But with no newbies appearing in the Big Brother house this summer, The Challenge's casting directors will have to search elsewhere for new characters.
It's entirely possible that after previously being passed over by The Challenge, some of Big Brother's all-stars will receive a second look from the showrunners this summer. Among the cast is Cody Calafiore, brother of three-time challenger Paulie Calafiore. Perhaps a Bloodlines-type season could be in the works in the near future? Though, I wouldn't expect many of BB22's cast to appear on subsequent seasons of The Challenge. Seven of the 16 houseguests are age 37 or above, which is much older than the average 25 year-old Challenge rookie.
Last summer's BB21 has yet to launch any of its cast to The Challenge and could be a source of untapped potential. Jackson Michie, Nick Maccarone, Tommy Bracco, Analyse Talavera and Kathryn Dunn all have been rumored to have been contacted by MTV casting since concluding their time together in the Big Brother house. Despite none of them appearing in Inquisitr's leaked cast for season 36, I would think that at least a couple of them will appear in future seasons, especially considering the reduced casting options from BB22. I'd also expect contestants from past seasons of Big Brother to be in play. BB18's Corey Brooks was an alternate for season 31, Vendettas and has since appeared on MTV's Ex on the Beach.
In addition to Big Brother, The Challenge has pulled cast members from Survivor, American Ninja Warrior, The Bachelor, Floribama Shore, Are You the One?, Love Island (UK), Ex on the Beach (UK) and other international shows. Perhaps a temporary Big Brother break could allow the series to strike gold in other places, searching deeper into the casting pools of other shows. For nearly 20 years, The Real World served as The Challenge's best farm system, pumping out dynamic characters and competitors, one after another. The Real World was canceled in 2017, leaving a gaping hole on the casting front. Big Brother stepped in and filled that hole. In 2019, The Real World returned, albeit streaming on Facebook Watch. It may be time for The Real World to step back in to the picture.
It's only a matter of time until the American adaptation of Love Island starts spring-boarding its participants to The Challenge, and with CBS serving as the home for Love Island, it shouldn't be long.
Historically when someone goes on a reality television show, they have been forced to sign an exclusive agreement with the show's network for a year and a half. This condition prevents the individual from appearing on other networks until their contract is up. Each Big Brother contestant that has debuted on The Challenge has had to patiently wait 18 months before going on The Challenge, but with the 2019 CBS-Viacom merger, this may no longer be the case. As a result of the merger, we should see even more contestants from CBS properties making a seamless transition to MTV in the near future, and it may happen at a much faster rate than it once did.
20 years ago, would anyone have predicted that the worlds of Big Brother and The Real World/Road Rules Challenge would be woven together as tightly as they are now? Certainly not. Once longtime competitors, the franchises have developed a beneficial relationship that should only get stronger in the future.