‘The Challenge’ EP Talks Difficult Contestants & Favorite Alumni

The Challenge: Total Madness season 35 cast photo

MTV The Challenge: Total Madness season 35 cast photo

A Challenge executive producer recently spilled a little tea about her time working on the show, including how some contestants treat it like it’s a job, how she thinks couples from the show might not last, and who her favorite alumni are. Here’s what she had to say.


The Difficult Contestants

EP Julie Pizzi appeared on the podcast “Reality Life with Kate Casey” recently where she was asked about good contestants versus bad contestants. Unfortunately, she did not name names, but she did offer a little insight into which ones are problematic.

“I think sometimes when we’re doing The Challenge I think there are certain cast members that have been doing it for so long that it’s kind of become a job for them and they complain a lot,” said Pizzi, adding, “I think it’s unfortunate because there are millions of people that would love to take their spot. … I just feel like sometimes when you’re in it and after 10 weeks of just go, go, go that they can become over it. But generally, most of the cast members, particularly the regulars that show up for The Challenge, do show up with a great attitude every season.”

But she added that there are some fan-favorite cast members that make life hard on production.

“I think there are certainly some cast [members] that the audience loves that might not be as fun to work with,” said Pizzi.

She also said that some of the couples that have come out of the show have surprised her and she’s not sure they’re going to be together long-term.

“Some of the couples surprise me. A lot of them are sort of current, so it would be unkind for me to name names. But some are not what you would expect. I don’t know that it isn’t partly the show and being part of that family that sort of keeps them [together]. And I don’t know what that looks like 10 years from now,” said Pizzi.

Someday, she should write a book and spill all the dirt.


The EP Also Picked Her Favorite Alums

When asked which contestants she adores and is really happy about their post-show success, Pizzi didn’t even hesitate to name Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, who first appeared on Real World: Back to New York and subsequently competed on five seasons of The Challenge, winning two of them, and Theo Vaughn, who first appeared on Road Rules: Maximum Velocity and subsequently competed on four seasons of The Challenge, also winning two. Pizzi could not say enough good things about both of them.

“[Mizanin] showed up knowing who he wanted to be in such a profound way … and I don’t know that people took him super seriously,” she said, adding, “I don’t know that people knew how damn smart he was and how calculating he was and how ambitious he was because he sure did make that happen in a big way. He’s such an incredible adult now. … he’s an incredible father and an incredible businessman and I’m really impressed with somebody who literally sought out to do something and really did it.”

She also said Vaughn showed up with “very little life experience” but he absolutely “lit up the screen” on MTV.

“He was so funny and I don’t even know if he knew then that he wanted to be a comedian. But he was special in a way — he would literally leave thank-you cards for the crew. … he would literally hand-write thank-you cards to every single crew member to thank them for the experience. He was really special and he has really grown into an incredible artist and a comedian and just a frickin’ great person,” said Pizzi.

She finished by saying those are two people from the show that she just thinks the world of.

The Challenge season 36 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.

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