Johnny Bananas Says ‘The Challenge’ is “Somewhat Painful to Watch”; Blames Significant Drop in Ratings on Show’s Constant Twists & New Faces

“Thank God I have 5 other jobs to fall back on.”

Just a year ago, The Challenge: Total Madness was pulling in record-setting ratings, ultimately securing a 36th season of the MTV competition series; however, viewership for the current season, “Spies, Lies and Allies,” has dropped significantly, and ‘Challenge’ vet Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio believes he knows why. 

During a recent episode of the Challenge Mania podcast, the seven-time champ told hosts Scott Yager and Derrick Kosinski a ratings drop was “putting it nicely,” claiming the show is “making a rapid descent towards extinction and it’s somewhat painful to watch.” 

That’s saying a lot coming from someone who was turned into a human backpack on TV.

With viewership at 1.51 million, “Total Madness” was the highest-rated season of ‘The Challenge’ in eight years. (The season was also the most recent one to feature Johnny.)

As for Season 37’s ‘Spies, Lies and Allies,’ Episode 5 brought in just 591,000 viewersShowbuzz Daily reports.

According to Heavy, Johnny– who has 20 ‘Challenge’ appearances to his name– believes the show has been a success for so long due to its “simple concept.” 

“It’s so easy,” he said. “You’re paired up with a rival, you’re with an ex, you’re a good guy or a bad a** or whatever, easy to understand. The format was easy even if you never watched the show before… I feel like what they’ve done is now they’ve gotten away from that and now everything’s a twist. Every five seconds, here’s a twist.” 

I think it’s safe to assume Johnny has appreciated SOME of the twists.

Johnny also said the show was making a mistake by bringing on so many rookies each season, many of whom are from foreign reality shows that the U.S. viewers have never watched. 

“I get what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to expand the brand globally, but I think the mistake they’re making is like, ‘The Challenge’ fans, the fandom… who have followed us and watched us grow up through the years, they don’t want to meet new people,” he said. 

Hardcore ‘Challenge’ fans watching the anonymous rookies getting kicked off one-by-one…

Recently on his own podcast, Death, Taxes and Bananas, Johnny welcomed his former rival Wes Bergmann to talk about the current season of ‘The Challenge’ and the “veteran alliance” strategy the returning competitors were taking. While Wes called the strategy a “brilliant” one, he had less complementary things to say about the Season 37 veterans themselves. 

“I think that they’re all idiots,” he said. “They’re running around with facial expressions as if they had invented something that had never been done or used before. You f**king idiots. We have been trying to explain this to you for the last five years that this is how the game is supposed to be played. But you narcissistic ego, attention-seeking people just have to deviate from that plan to get clout.”

” …almost as cute as when we started doing it five years ago.”

Johnny also criticized the current “veterans.” 

“Act like you’ve been here before,” he said. “I’ve always said this. When you execute the perfect move or the perfect strategy, you kind of keep it to yourself.” 

While Johnny may not be a fan of the current direction ‘The Challenge’ is moving in, he still hopes to see the series continue. 

“I don’t want it to go away,” Johnny said, despite not appearing on Seasons 36-37. “I look at ’The Challenge’ like family and like my kids. I spent a decade-and-a-half of my life putting sweat, toil and tears into this and I wanna see it be successful.” 

RELATED STORY: Alyssa Giancone– ’The Real World: Skeletons’ Star & Fiance of ‘The Challenge’ Star Tony Raines– Undergoes Surgeries After Sustaining Gruesome Injuries During Hurricane Ida

(Photos: MTV; Instagram) 

8 Responses

  1. Not a huge fan of Bananas but he’s absolutely right. I’ve watched the Challenge for 15 years and I’m so disappointed with what direction they’ve gone with it in the last few seasons. It’s a completely different show now.

  2. He’s not wrong though. If it weren’t for CT I probably wouldn’t care to watch it at all anymore. So many new faces and most people have no clue they are and could care less about them. It will be sad to see the show go, but hopefully the OG show will take off and will continue to get to see our old favorites.

  3. I enjoyed the original Challenges when they took people from the Real World and Road World. Back then social media wasn’t as big (if at all) so the Challenges were kind of a way to keep up with some of the people you *knew* before.

    I haven’t watched in years, probably stopped around the time Johnny started. Now it’s just some of the older crew and a whole lot of “rookies” that are piggybacking on thier already established reality show fame (most are coming from other franchises, like Big Brother, Amazing Race, etc). Making reality TV a primary source of income isn’t the best idea.

  4. Between TM, The Challenge and the VMAs..

    No ones watching this shit anymore. Sports and awards shows are very low priority these days as well.

  5. This stupid shit is still on TV? Johnny Bananas aren’t you like 45 now? Partner, kids, pets? Nothing besides this bullshit that you can see is irrelevant and unwatched?

    Ugh. Good luck.

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