Fear Factor is back even though I never knew it was gone. Fear Factor seems like one of those shows that would run forever like Law and Order and The Price is Right. Fear Factor seems like it is all about asking people to face their fears. In all actuality, the show is about making the viewers’ skin crawl and close up shots of girls in sports bras. Now that the show is back on Tuesdays at 10pm on MTV, I can only assume there will be more of both.
This week, the show debuted what the new MTV version would look like. To me, the only difference was I had to watch the lead-in from The Challenge, which was garbage. For two minutes, I was forced to watch two young ladies, amped up on red bull, try to get a not-basketball in a trash can. It was demeaning to them. It was demeaning to me. My greatest fear would be that I would be forced to watch a whole season of The Challenge.
The real show begins when the new host, Ludacris (LUDA!), explains that the challenges are designed and tested by extreme professionals. You can feel the first pun coming when he looks at that camera and says, “They are extremely Ludacris.” In the first five seconds Ludacris does a name drop. I would expect no less. The new host goes on to explain that there are four teams, three challenges and one winner.
There is something about Ludacris that I can tolerate, nay welcome(!), as the new anchor of Fear Factor. Surprisingly, he’s a great host. Ludacris’ best quality is that he is extremely encouraging. This week, he yells “I know it’s hard but you can do this!” I need Ludacris’ encouragement in my life. While there are many things I appreciate about Ludacris (one of them is that he spells the word mouth, “mouf”) my new favorite is that he is more encouraging than an entire section of Hallmark cards.
But, the host isn’t what makes the show. The best part is the contestants. It takes a rare type of person to sign up for Fear Factor. Needy people sign up for The Bachelor. Nerdy people sign up for Jeopardy. Nutty people sign up for Fear Factor. This week we had siblings from New Jersey that wanted to start a fashion line, a weird brother/sister duo that had an odd energy about them, two brothers who WONT SHUT UP about how their Dad “trained” them for this and twins. The twins were comedy. One was vocal about how they were going to win so she could go to Dental/Dance school (I couldn’t tell which) but failed to mention that she is literally scared of everything. Viewers show up for the creepy challenges, but stay for the weirdo contestants.
As Luda says, the contestants are competing for “50 racks.” To win, they need to get through all three challenges: “Beat the Beast” (alliterative and literal), “Face Your Fears” (also alliterative and literal) and “The Final Fear” (alliterative and extremely literal.) This week, the contestants were covered in cockroaches and millipedes that went straight for people’s mouf. (It seemed like Ludacris just learned the word millipedes. He was living for saying, “Here comes the millipedes!”) The second challenge forced contestants to face their claustrophobia fears. One sibling had to lie chained to a slab in a morgue while the other was vacuum sealed like a pack of hot dogs. There is nothing fearful about this challenge for me. The task is to simply lay there. These contestants have no chill. Don’t they know 50 racks are on the line?
The final challenge is to escape from a shark cage (with no sharks). The task was meant to simulate being trapped under ice. The contestants are allowed two holes for breathing as the cage is lowered into a cold pool on some production lot. Throughout the entire challenge, Ludacris is freaking out more than the contestants. He genuinely thinks that one of them is about to drown. It’s somewhat disturbing. He’s the host. I don’t feel like he’s confident that they’ve vetted these challenges enough.
I like Fear Factor because I feel superior to the contestants as I watch. I would totally be more chill. I wouldn’t waste my breath screaming at my partner. I wouldn’t complain about the millipedes in my mouf. I would get those 50 racks. But, the world will never know because I’m deathly afraid of snakes, I know my limits and I wouldn’t be caught dead/petrified on national television in a sports bra.