Ah, MTV’s The Challenge, the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. The show has always been a hotbed of toxic masculinity and misogyny. But now, karma is coming. And she’s a real bitch.
All season long, we’ve watched as Paulie wielded his power over the house like the egomaniac he is. He’s deemed himself the new king of The Challenge and essentially banished anyone who didn’t bend the knee.
We’ve watched as he’s threatened Jordan and claimed to be the strongest on the show. He’s the man of the house, no one else. We’ve seen him roll his eyes at “emotional” Josh, calling him a coward for crying, and bashing his supposed friend.
Paulie is the epitome of toxic masculinity.
Misogyny? Check. Emotional repression? Check. A need to exert his dominance? Double-check.
But, after finally reaching the finals, after playing “a near-perfect game” (his words, not mine), Paulie is finally feeling being knocked down a peg.
The boy is pretty much dying on the final course. He can barely walk, let alone actually compete. As Zach (not exactly a model of modern masculinity either) pointed out, Paulie is essentially dead weight at this point and will probably be taken away on a stretcher.
After watching Paulie swing his dick around all season long, it’s extremely satisfying to watch him face his own humanity. Not that I would ever wish serious harm to anyone. And it’s completely understandable that anyone, no matter their athleticism, would gas out in a final. That shit is hard. But watching him struggle does bring about a certain pleasure. The self-declared “man of the house” can’t nearly live up to the reputation he tried to make for himself this season.
Paulie is certainly not the only toxic male of the house, and definitely not the first Big Man on Campus to fall apart in a final — far from it. In Rivals, we watched as Kenny had to quite literally carry Wes on his shoulders and in Battle of the Exes, CT basically died on a snowy mountain. There comes a time when nearly everyone in the game has to face their own shortcomings.
Of course, at this point, the finals are only halfway done. And if we know anything from watching the show, it’s that you can’t predict the future. Paulie could certainly make a full recovery and end up with a win.
Hopefully, this experience will have a lasting effect on Paulie and he’ll rethink his ways. But I’m not holding my breath.
The Challenge finale airs on Wednesday, December 11.
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Feature photo by MTV
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and The Challenge. When she’s not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her taking an absurd amount of photos of her tuxedo cat Tom.