“The winner of this bracket,” I told coworkers on Monday, “is going to be the person who’s thirsty enough to engage with it the most.”
On Friday morning, Johnny Bananas—an 11-seed—advanced to the final of the Best Reality TV Character Bracket, joining his fellow Challenge star, 2-seed Chris “CT” Tamburello.
I didn’t make that prediction in a negative way—thirst is an essential quality in great reality TV characters, a foundational ingredient. What is it, if not thirst, that compels someone to take a loogie to the face in the name of earning the affection of Flavor Flav? Or to agree to live in a small Jersey Shore house with seven other guidos? Or to sign right back up for another competition after being dominated and embarrassed on national TV? Without thirst, there is no reality TV. In a way, it’s quite fitting that the Reality TV Character Bracket has come down to a matter of who was thirstiest.
Throughout the week, Bananas has proved himself worthy of such a title. He’s tweeted smack at Lisa Vanderpump and Kris Jenner; he’s gone to war with Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. Even before polls were live on Friday morning, he was activating his fan base. And it paid off: Up against the disruptive Gordon Ramsay in the Final Four, Bananas won convincingly in the on-site poll (60-40) and squeaked by on Instagram (53-47), which was enough to negate his loss on Twitter. Johnny Bananas is a great reality TV character because of his dogged persistence, his ability to move mountains for his own gain, and for the mere fact that he just wins. Uncoincidentally, all of those qualities were applied to his Cinderella run in the bracket. Since Monday, he’s made it his mission to win this thing, and now he’s just one matchup away.
That last matchup, against CT, will be the toughest of them all. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of what happened the last time these two met in an important elimination:
The Bananas Backpack may be all CT needs to garner more votes. (Speaking of thirstiness, CT is on the opposite end of that spectrum; it appears he did not realize he was demolishing an online competition until a few hours ago.)
But the other issue for Bananas is that, to this point, he’s had the Challenge family behind him unequivocally. Even past enemies like Ashley Mitchell and Wes Bergmann have come out in support of his quest. Now that he’s going up against a fellow Challenge castmate, will that support be splintered? Will all of the Challenge alums who were riding for Johnny now be forced to pick sides? Oh, please tell me they’ll be forced to pick sides! (Seriously, I would love for this bracket to become a plot point on the next season of The Challenge.)
There’s only one thing left to do: Find out who the best character on The Challenge—and, therefore, in all of reality TV—is. The polls are open now; you can vote on here, on Twitter, and on Instagram until midnight ET tonight.
Which character should advance?
This poll is closed
(2) Chris "CT" Tamburello, ‘The Challenge’
(11) Johnny Bananas, ‘The Challenge’
Come back tomorrow morning to find out whether Johnny’s persistence prevailed, or if CT once again put him in a backpack.