Weird question, right? Who would have thought we would live in a day & age where we root for the villain! Our television shows are riddled with ’em. We openly root for the anti-hero. But let’s be real. An anti-hero is simply a villain we make excuses for. A villain we deem worthy of redemption… if they so choose. These are the Tony Sopranos and the Heisenbergs of the world. These are bad men who do bad things and we want one of two things: Redemption or Justice.
My favourite villains, and this will come as no surprise to those of you familiar with my
guilty pleasures, are the villains born on Reality TV. It takes more guts. It’s one thing to play the bad guy. It’s another to come onto a television production, AS YOURSELF, and represent yourself in a negative light. Some do it knowingly. Others are completely aloof to how they’re being portrayed. On the scale from Total Awareness to Total Ignorance the same key component applies. The reality player needs to be vulnerable. Funny enough, vulnerability is what we seek in both our heroes and our villains. The difference being, a great hero has a great rise, and a great villain has a great fall. There are some exceptions as we will see below. When you agree to participate in these shows, you’re aware of the beast. You know what the show represents, how editing plays a vital role in editing, and what people want to see. People being both the audience and the producers. And a great reality villain is someone willing to leave it all on the field and they’re doing it under their own name! They kick! They scream! They plot! They twist! And they do it all for the love of Reality TV! For the love of mindless self-exploitation! The love of… DRAMA!!!!
So what do I look for in a Reality TV villain? For this little experiment, I’ve broken it down to five qualities I adore in five of my favourite rogues (List in order of photos, left to right): Ambition, Intelligence, Charm, Vulnerability and Resourcefulness. Or, lack thereof.
WARNING: SPOILING RANDOM SHOWS YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN BY NOW
Devin Walker, “Are You The One?: Season 3, The Challenge: Rivals III”
Villain Style: Loveable Douche
Notable Quote: “At the end of the day, everyone in here has their own agenda, including me. But my agenda is so much smarter. So much better. I’m going to look like a hero and you’re all going to look like idiots.”
What I Saw In Devin: Devin is as unique as he is refreshing to the reality TV game. Devin made his first appearance on Are You The One? Season 3 where he, and 19 other people had the easy-peasy task of finding their perfect match. AYTO operates under the format of “we either win together or we lose together”. Enter Devin. A too-smart-for-his-own-good D-bag whose heart beats louder than his mouth. And trust me… he has a loud mouth. What makes Devin so interesting is not his flare for drama or the fact that if there’s shit going undisturbed, he will rectify that matter—no, what’s interesting is the fact that he’s a leader, a fighter, and essentially, on the side of good. What? Say that again? You heard me. He doesn’t fight for the bad guys. He fights against them. It was Devin who lead the entire cast of AYTO S3 to victory, even if it all came down to a coin flip. It was Devin’s tenacity and determination that lead the cast of 20 to getting their share of 1 million dollars. Woah, thanks Dev! Naturally, Devin was a shoe-in to be a rookie on The Challenge and his journey has been unexpected to the say the least. Him, and his “rival”, Cheyenne, were targeted early, eliminated, returned due to contestants quitting left, right, and centre, and lucked their way to the finals due to picking the white skull over the black skull, a twist specific to Rivals III. In the Challenge, his partner, who is some he has quarrelled with in the past, has been openly bullied by cousins Johnny Bananas and Vinnie Pineapples. Devin not only went to bat for his partner but unabashedly warred against the bullies, speaking his mind, and standing up for the little guy. The finale airs tonight, and the chances of them actually winning are slim to none, but they never backed down. They never quit. They kept fighting. How one villain can stand up and be the hero while still being a douchebag is beyond me. But he’s done it. And this is just the beginning. Keep your eyes peeled. Devin is going to become a staple in MTV’s The Challenge and I’d go as far to say he’s the next Wes. Now, if only MTV would hurry up and find the next Bananas so I never have to see that guy again. That’d be great. Devin was the embodiment of intelligence.
Ashley “Haze” Hazlett, “American Grit: Season 1”
Villain Style: Seductress
Notable Quote: “He couldn’t keep his eyes off me the whole time.”
What I Saw In Haze: Firstly, besides her modest beauty and fierce competitive side, I saw someone willing to make the tough choice for a good reason. American Grit glorifies American heroism so to have someone like Haze battle valiantly throughout the season only turn heel as the clock strikes twelve was a thing of beauty—and executed perfectly. During her time on the show, Haze found herself smitten by the aspiring pro-wrestler, Cam Zagami. Their blossoming romance was adorable. They were cute together. As an audience, we liked seeing Cam and Haze flirt, gab, and smooch. As the episodes went on, if you’re someone with an eye for edit, you may have felt the subtle grey cloud starting to form over their relationship. The inevitable scenario that they may end up against each other in The Circus or one of them would be up against the other’s teammate. The second scenario is the one that played out when Cam and Tabatha “The Roller Girl” Chandler were sent into The Circus. Cam, Haze’s sweetheart. Tabatha, Haze’s teammate. In the grand scheme of things, Haze would have been a worse person to go against her team. And a more civil decision would have been to simply let them duke it out and whoever wins wins. But that’s not the decision Haze made. Haze made the decision that was best for her game and it was to ensure that her teammate stayed in the competition and won the battle. There was a third competitor in The Circus, Tony, the one-man-wrecking-machine, but it should be noted that neither of them were going to beat him in this Circus. This guy was HELLA tough. So it came down to Tabatha VS Cam. Haze, in what really was a work of beauty, used Cam’s feelings for her to their advantage and made sure to stand forward, cheering on Tabatha, while Cam stood in the endurance competition, distracted by his lady love. She reassured her teammate over and over again, “He’s not taking his eyes off me, you got this, he’s going to drop, keep going…” That’s some next-level villain shit right there! Going against the man of her dreams for the greater good: the perseverance of her team. The one thing that softens the blow is that Cam and Haze… are still dating! This makes me even happier!
Besides the fact that Haze pulled off a shrewd and manipulative move in a game that’s about being honourable and heroic. Of course they’re still together! Cam’s a wrestler! A student of kayfabe! An appreciator of conflict. From a performance level, a competitive level, he had to understand the move. He even stated publicly on his Twitter that he wished she was eliminated earlier in the game so he could have gotten rid of his distraction. Game respects game. I need more Haze on my TV screen so make it happen John Cena! That’s right Cena!! I SEE YOU!!! Haze was the embodiment of charm.
Cassandra Shahinfar, “Big Brother Canada: Season 4”
Villain Style: Black Widow
Notable Quote: “I call myself a bitch. I’m a bitch everyday.”
What I Saw In Cassandra: As an intro to Cassandra I am going to simply quote her bio from a Wikia contributor on the Big Brother Wikia. Sums her game to a T: “Throughout the game, Cassandra has played a deceitful and cunning game by floating in the middle. She had connections with everybody in the house, and was able to talk to and convince anyone and everyone to make moves that better her own game. She was feared for her abilities as a convincing campaigner and her ability to sway people’s votes from week to week. Cassandra played a clean game until Week 9 when she was crowned HoH and decided to make a big move in the game by targeting and evicting Jared. The next week, she struggled and fought much harder to remain in the game by manipulating her fellow houseguests. In Week 10, she managed to defy the odds and survive eviction against Joel. Because of her ability to manipulate, her social game, and strategic gameplay, she is regarded as one of the greatest houseguests in the 4 seasons of Big Brother Canada.” Cassandra was a breath of fresh air! Initially, she came off as a potential-bimbo with very little game acumen, but quickly proved herself to be a feared competitor and an instant All-Star. She had a scare early in the game when she was put on the block for calling Loveita a “bitch”. Saying that it’s something she says all the time. Calls her friends bitch. Calls herself a bitch. What’s so wrong with calling someone a bitch? This would be a good time to mention that Cassandra’s humour carries her a LONG way. She has an undeniable flare with people. Heck, I like to think I could outsmart my way to the end but with Cassandra in the mix… I’d be scared for my life. Cassandra was the embodiment of resourcefulness.
Romeo, “America’s Next Top Model: Cycle 21”
Villain Style: America’s Next Top Witch
Notable Quote: “I was wondering if you guys can supply me with some supplies so I can make some voodoo dolls.”
What I Saw In Romeo: The self-proclaimed ‘America’s Next Top Witch’ came into Cycle 21 with guns-a-blazin’. Romeo, an icy Wiccan, came into ANTM21 “not having it”. He despised his competitors along with their false camaraderie, he openly disliked many of the other models often wishing the worst upon them and saw the entire show as a game. Now, this is where Romeo went wrong to begin with. He’s the only entry on this list that serves as a cautionary tale and not an example on what to look up to when studying great villains. Romeo had every ounce of potential to be a great villain. He had the attitude, the look, the character. He had it all. His biggest downfall? He went on America’s Next Top Model! It’s a show about modelling for f*ck’s sake! Romeo looks like he was made in a factory and born for reality TV. But he landed on the wrong show. And what happened? His emotions got the best of him, he butt his head against Adam’s during an altercation and was removed for physical aggression. He was second out of the competition, and not only gone too soon, but due to the nature of his exit, will most likely never be on reality TV ever again. It’s a shame because if he was on a show like MTV’s The Challenge, he would have been removed for aggression with still a lingering chance of returning to the show. The show itself revolves around competitors getting drunk and unruly so they’re used to their fair share of quits and removals. This past season alone has two Challenge vets and fan favourites, Camilla and Tony, removed due to their toxic rivalry with one another. Will this be the last of them? Probably not. What about Romeo? Well. He was on a bigger show, on a bigger network, with higher expectations. He wanted to play the game but the show wasn’t about the game. The show was about the show. If you’re an aspiring baddie out there… learn from Romeo. You can nail your stereotype all you want but if you’re not making the right choices, all those ingredients to make the perfect recipe can fall apart because it’s not cooked properly. Romeo needed a different platform to showcase himself and, you know, not headbutt people. Romeo was the embodiment of ambition. Albeit, failed ambition.
Zachary Storch, “King of the Nerds: Season 2”
Villain Style: Loose Cannon
Notable Quote: “You’re all talking about how being picked last is the nerdiest thing that can possibly happen to someone but I think that’s incorrect. I mean, the nerdiest thing that can happen to someone is not being wanted at all. And, right now, basically no one actually wants me here, and it makes me feel like the biggest nerd of all.”
What I Saw In Zachary: The irony of the best villain on this list being on a show about nerds is not lost on me. Rob Cesternino, quoted from Jeff Probst, to be “one of the greatest player’s to never win Survivor” is quoted to say that Zachary is “one of the best villains since Russell Hantz.” In the world of Survivor… that’s a HUGE compliment. Cesternino covers reality gaming galore and to say that he knows GAME is an understatement. The man is a samurai master when it comes to this shit. And the blessing he has passed onto Zach couldn’t be more correct. Zach completely alienated himself from the rest of the nerds, turning Nerdvana’s paradise into hell. He was aggressive, hot tempered, sensitive, and controversial. It didn’t take long for the entire house to hate on the guy, his bully tactics and intensity was like we’ve never seen before. Zach demonstrated a strange, and devious psychology that also came from a place of ignorance. Zach really was unaware of how he rubbed off on others and believed whole-heartedly that he was the victim in the situation. To top it all off… Zach was a complete beast. Winning battle after battle. Sending his own teammates home, one after another, until being eliminated by his only ally, Jack. Who was, at best, a reluctant ally. Zach was the embodiment of vulnerability.
What kind of villain are you? I’ve played a few social games to put myself to the test and one nickname caught on. Fellow competitors started calling me The Evil Teddy Bear. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.
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