Category Archives: Culture & Music

Are You The One? Mean Girls: Are The Ladies Being Too Hard On Geles?

What do you get when you put 11 women under one roof? In the case of Are You The One?, a little drama and a whole lot of cattiness.

On tonight’s episode, Geles suddenly found herself ostracized by the other ladies, a move that surprisingly hit after she received a taste of her own medicine at the wild Turn-Up bash.

Here’s what happened: The former Texans cheerleader lost it when her ex Anthony kissed her BFF Zoe, so she turned right around and pursued Uche’s no-match boy toy Clinton. Quipped Uche, “Why do you have to go talk to every single person that has a connection to somebody else just to make Anthony jealous?”

In Geles’ defense, she strongly feels the dreadlocked model could actually be her perfect match after bonding on their getaway date — but she’s also torn over Michael (yes, Audrey’s Michael). Mere hours after it was revealed that Audrey and Michael were no more (that darn Truth Booth, at it again), Geles swooped in and the two made out during confessional. While Geles immediately told Audrey what went down, A’s wounds were still fresh, and she wasn’t about to cut Geles any slack. And neither were any of the ladies, including G’s bestie.

Said Zoe: “I wasn’t even letting myself enjoy the kiss with Anthony because it might hurt Geles, so for her to do the same thing and be totally hypocritical about it and to not even apologize? I think that’s really bitchy.”

An angry Audrey even tried to kick Geles out of the room while the girls were getting ready, dubbing it “not a safe area,” while Jada called her “real shady.” It kind of brought us back to this iconic Mean Girls moment:

All Geles wants to do is play the game and leave with a little “money and love.” Are the girls going a little too Regina George on Geles, or are their words warranted? Comment with your thoughts (or some of your fave Mean Girls GIFs), and find out what goes down with Geles next Wednesday at 10/9c.

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Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter Responds To Rape Accusation

In a statement issued Wednesday (November 22), Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys denies Melissa Schuman’s recent accusations of rape. Shuman, a member of the former girl group Dream, alleges that Carter raped her in 2002. Earlier this month, she wrote about her experience on her blog. The post, which includes the passage below, recounts her alleged assault in vivid detail.

He was relentless, refusing to take my no’s for an answer. He was heavy, too heavy to get out from under him. Then I felt it, he put something inside of me. I asked him what it was and he whispered in my ear once more, ‘it’s all me baby.’ It was done. The one thing I had held as a virtue had been ruined. I went limp, turned my head to my left and decided I would just go to sleep now. I wanted to believe it was some sort of nightmare I was dreaming up.

Carter, meanwhile, firmly denies these accusations and claims his 2002 encounter with Shuman was consensual. In the below statement to Vulture, he wrote he’d never “intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm.”

I am shocked and saddened by Ms. Schuman’s accusations. Melissa never expressed to me while we were together or at any time since that anything we did was not consensual. We went on to record a song and perform together, and I was always respectful and supportive of Melissa both personally and professionally. This is the first that I am hearing about these accusations, nearly two decades later. It is contrary to my nature and everything I hold dear to intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm.

These accusations come on the heels of many, many similar allegations of sexual assault and misconduct across the entertainment world, from industry mogul Harvey Weinstein to Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick. Shuman wrote that she “lost interest” in pursuing a music career shortly after performing with Carter. After hearing about a second possible victim, Shuman felt it was time to share her story.

“I feel I have an obligation now to come forward with the hope and intention to inspire and encourage other victims to tell their story,” Shuman wrote. “We are stronger in numbers. If you are reading this and you have been assaulted, know you don’t have to be silent and you are not alone. I know it’s scary. I’m scared.”

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What Really Happened At Standing Rock

On Thursday, November 16, 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota. We should have seen it coming. If we had listened to the environmental activists and indigenous people who have put their bodies and well-being on the line for years — and, most notably, at Standing Rock reservation last year — to adamantly warn us about the environmental dangers of pipelines and their tendency to leak, we would have.

Activists have protested pipeline constructions for years, but gained little media attention for doing so until 2016, when thousands gathered to speak out against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which they claimed would pose not only an environmental and economic threat to the nearby Standing Rock Sioux tribe, but would also cut through their sacred land, putting it at risk. The DAPL would run more than 1,800 miles beneath land spanning from North Dakota to Southern Illinois — and notably beneath Lake Oahe, which is sacred to tribes near Standing Rock, like local Lakota and Dakota people. It was estimated to eventually transport more than 520,000 barrels of oil per day.

The media representation of this movement, however, often failed to fully describe the complex, harrowing, and incredible experience of the predominantly young activists on the frontline. Here’s what actually happened over the past year at Standing Rock, according to Andreanne Catt and Lauren TwoBraids Howland — two youth leaders who witnessed it all firsthand and gave their account to MTV News. They are leading the movement forward.

At left, Lauren TwoBraids Howland and, at right, Andreanne Catt

May 2016: Contracted workers begin to clear a path for the pipeline, although final approval for construction isn’t given until July. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe sues the federal agency that granted the pipeline’s final permits, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to try to halt pipeline construction. Activists begin to mobilize.

Andreanne Catt: I didn’t tell anybody I was leaving — I just hopped a bus to Standing Rock. I only had a purse and a blanket and I just decided I needed to go.

Standing Rock [camp] was a home to all of us: [the protesters] were all family. All the happiness at camp made us stick together; it made us hopeful, it kept us all in high spirits.

The frontlines were a whole different place and a different story. The frontlines were scary.

We never used the word ‘protest’ because it wasn’t an ‘us and them’ thing. We called it ‘protecting’ because that’s what we were doing — defending the land, people, and water using non-violent direct action. We stressed non-violence throughout.

Summer 2016: Over 30 young people from the Standing Rock Reservation run 2,000 miles across the proposed path of the pipeline to ask then-President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to protect their home from the DAPL.

Lauren TwoBraids Howland: When the youth came back from running, they formed the youth council and were then told of a prophecy. Seven generations ago, a medicine person prophesied that seven generations from then the youth would rise up and help defeat a black snake that would come through the land. It would be the start of a new time and a new era and we would be the fire starters. The generation after us would keep the fire going.

Rezpect Our Water


September — October 22, 2016: The peaceful protests turn violent in early September and on October 22, the police make their first mass arrest.

Howland: On October 22, we were on a prayer march. [Police officers] surrounded us — they corralled us. I was trying to negotiate with one officer when another officer came up behind him. He hit me with the baton a few times and fractured my wrist. I was still able to get a little boy who had been separated from his family and a few other women out.

Catt: When they charge you with things like being part of or starting a riot or conspiracy to burn things – that stays on your record. When you’re trying to apply for school or a job, you can’t really say, ‘I was at Standing Rock doing that.’ My brother was arrested, a lot of my friends were arrested, and they’re finding it really hard to find a job and a place to live because of these charges. It can ruin your life.

Seven generations ago, a medicine person prophesied that seven generations from then, the youth would rise up and help defeat a black snake that would come through the land. It would be the start of a new time and a new era and we would be the fire starters.

October 27, 2016: During a raid on sacred ground, hundreds of officers evict 142 people camping directly in the path of the Pipeline, slapping some with rare federal charges.

Howland: They pulled [protesters] who were in ceremony out of the sweat lodge during their prayers. They dismantled the lodge, arrested them, and had them sit on the road for a few hours while they continued the raid. Men were wearing basketball shorts, women skirts. They were freezing. [The sweat lodge] is like our church — it was like going into a church and arresting people for praying.

The people who were arrested that day were charged with the same felony charges, including conspiracy to endanger by fire. When they were arrested, they weren’t put in jail cells. They were put in dog kennels. The temperature in the jail was about 40 degrees. They had already been outside, freezing for a couple hours. Health problems came out of that.

Catt: There was also constant surveillance. Helicopters and airplanes constantly flew over. Nobody ever talks about the things they did to mentally break us down like that.

Getty Images

November 2016: After the raid, a group of protesters donates needed supplies to the police.

Catt: The county had sent out a list of donations that they needed for police on the frontlines. The youth council bought and donated every item on their list. When we went to the police department to deliver them, they wouldn’t let us inside to drop anything off. The whole department went into lockdown. We were just carrying supplies. We waited outside and prayed for them. They eventually opened the door and let us put the supplies on the ground.

November 21, 2016: In the most violent attack yet, the police spray Standing Rock protesters with tear gas and water hoses in freezing temperatures. 

Howland: After they sprayed us, the cops threw concussion grenades. They didn’t roll them on the ground — they were deliberately throwing them into big crowds, at our faces. Sophia [a protester on the ground], who was 20 at the time, got her arm blown off by a concussion grenade. She threw her arm up to protect her face and the grenade exploded on her arm and blew off a big chunk of her arm. Her bones were showing.

Another concussion grenade exploded next to Suzie [another protester]. Shrapnel hit her eye and blinded her.

The county denies using grenades that night or at any time during the protests.

December 4, 2016: The Obama administration blocked construction of an important segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline and required the company behind the pipeline to make an “environmental-impact statement” and study alternate routes for the pipeline.

Howland: A lot of our council members were in the line of fire. A lot of us are experiencing PTSD from being in what felt like being at war with the U.S. government again. We not only experienced our own trauma, but carry historical trauma with us. The suicide rate among Native American people is far higher than the national suicide rate. Add PTSD from Standing Rock on top of that. We’ve already lost a few protectors to suicide.

Catt: The International Indigenous Youth Council has been working on starting a hope campaign where protesters can come together and get [psychological] counseling and do a job fair for employers and landlords that support water protectors.

Getty Images

January 25—June 9, 2017: Trump cancels the Obama administration blocking order in January, soon after his inauguration. Months later, oil begins to flow through the pipeline. “It’s up, it’s running, it’s beautiful, it’s great,” Trump said on June 9. “Everybody is happy, the sun is shining, the water’s still clean.”

Catt: You can’t lead a movement with anger. It really takes a lot of discipline to not be angry at the government or Big Oil or the colonizers because we’ve been oppressed by them our whole lives. And it’s still happening today. As indigenous people, as a member of the LGBTQ community myself…youth have the mindset that it’s okay to be angry but you can’t take it out on [your oppressor]. You must be kind, generous, and pity [oppressors] instead of being angry at them.

You can’t lead a movement with anger…it’s okay to be angry but you can’t take it out on [your oppressor]. You must be kind, generous, and pity [oppressors] instead of being angry at them.

June – October 2017: In June, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, noting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately assess the pipeline’s environmental consequences when it first approved its construction. The ruling does not require the pipeline to fully shut down, though. The Tribe filed a brief soon after arguing that the pipeline should be shut down while the best path forward is being decided. In October, the Court rules that the pipeline can continue operating until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ new environmental review is completed — which will take until April 2018.

Catt: It’s time for the people who have been in the movement forever to take a break. It’s time for the youth to take over. Standing Rock was just one fight, and it isn’t over. There are so many more fights out there.

Howland: We’re still here. We’ve been here resisting for over 500 years. It would be cool if the larger movement started including us in their resistance.

To support Lauren, Andreanne, and other young protecters, check out Seeding Sovereignty, the organization for which they both serve as youth organizers.

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Did Miley Cyrus Inspire The Cover Art For N.E.R.D.’s New Album?

It’s been seven years since Pharrell, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley graced the world with a full-length project. Luckily, that is soon to change: This morning, N.E.R.D. dropped the cover art and release date for their upcoming album.

N.E.R.D.’s No_One Ever Really Dies drops December 15 and sports a cover that’s a tad reminiscent of Bangerz-era Miley Cyrus, an album that features production work from Pharrell. The rollout for No_One Ever Really Dies has been fun and a little chaotic: We were first treated to a killer Rihanna rap verse on the single “Lemon,” and then N.E.R.D. performed their album in full for attendees at this year’s ComplexCon.

It’s hard to say where N.E.R.D. will take us — or where No_One Ever Really Dies will take N.E.R.D. The brash, funk-infused, pre-pubescent angst of 2002’s In Search Of… influenced a generation of musicians from Tyler, the Creator to Lil Uzi Vert. While subsequent releases like 2008’s Seeing Sounds fully embraced the growing electronic scene’s influence in popular music, an album with two Kendrick Lamar features and an appearance from André 3000 holds a considerable amount of promise for a rap-heavy hold.

Here’s the alleged tracklist:

1. “Deep Down Body Thirst”

2. “Lemon” ft. Rihanna

3. “Voilà” ft. Gucci Mane and Wale

4. “1000” ft. Future

5. “Don’t Don’t Do It” ft. Kendrick Lamar

6. “Kites” ft. Kendrick Lamar and M.I.A.

7. “ESP”

8. “Lightning Fire Magic Prayer”

9. “Rollinem 7’s” ft. André 3000

10. “Lifting You” ft. Ed Sheeran

11. “Secret Life of Tigers”

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Josie & The Pussycats Are Way More Than A Fictional Band — Just Ask Kay Hanley

Kay Hanley didn’t expect to be moved to tears when she sang songs from Josie and the Pussycats in concert for the very first time. Then again, she didn’t think she’d ever play those songs for an audience, let alone one that had waited over 15 years to hear “Three Small Words” live, away from their screens.

The Pussycats’ insatiably catchy pop-punk single is the most vivid anthem from the movie, and one that shines with killer performances from Rachael Leigh Cook, who played Josie onscreen, and Hanley, who served as Cook’s vocal double. But on September 26 at the Ace Hotel Theater in Los Angeles, it was the crowd’s reaction to “You Don’t See Me,” a ballad bursting with the stuff of middle school love notes, that reminded Hanley just how much people loved the 2001 cult classic.

“People started screaming, and crying, and, like, singing every single word,” she recalled. “I was wearing in-ear monitors so I couldn’t hear people singing along with the other songs. I found out later that they were — really loudly. But when we were playing ‘You Don’t See Me,’ I could actually hear the crowd singing, and I was just like, ‘What is actually happening right now?’ Who knew?! The whole thing was really moving to me. I had no idea.”

What’s happening right now is a major resurgence of appreciation for Archie Comics’ resident punk-rock prom queen — and the lasting power of her character. At the Ace, Hanley — along with the actresses who played the Pussycats onscreen, Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, and Tara Reid, as well as writer-directors Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont — drew a capacity crowd for a screening of the film and a spirited Q&A with everyone above. The soundtrack was recently pressed to vinyl, so the reunion sprung up from the music, and a performance from Hanley and the band is ultimately what had many attendees (and Hanley herself) tearing up.

Hanley came to prominence as the lead singer of Boston rock outfit Letters to Cleo in the ‘90s, and was no stranger to the major soundtrack game by the time Josie and the Pussycats presented an opportunity. Letters to Cleo’s tunes underscored scenes from The Craft, Melrose Place, and other films and TV shows before 10 Things I Hate About You carved out a place for them in Hollywood thanks to their boisterous covers of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me” and Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind” in 1999.

Their debut full-length album, 1993’s Aurora Gory Alice — which Letters to Cleo recently pressed to vinyl as well this fall, along with 1995’s Wholesale Meats and Fish and 1997’s Go! — got tons of MTV love, too: The video for its single, “Here & Now,” was worked into regular rotation, and “I See” played over the end credits of a Daria episode in the animated show’s third season.

“It was kind of the golden age of soundtracks,” Hanley said. “Soundtracks really were their own character in the movies! It was a completely different vehicle for finding new music, and a lot of those music supervisors had killer taste in music. Not only did it become a vehicle, but a really credible one.”

That’s definitely true of the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack, as the original songs enriched the characters who played them. (Unlike the film, which faltered at the box office, it was a hit from the jump, and achieved gold status after selling 500,000 copies.) Hanley initially auditioned to sing for Valerie or Melody, Dawson or Reid’s characters, but a casting shakeup on the soundtrack side led to Hanley singing for Josie. “We did band camp together,” she said of working alongside Cook. “We would just go into a dance studio that had a whole wall of mirrors. We’d get guitars or microphone stands and just practice singing the songs, so she could see how my mouth moved when I was singing, and I could see how she moved.”

Her stage experience helped Cook flawlessly portray a budding rock star, and it didn’t hurt that she’s been a fan of Josie since the Pussycats first hit the pages of Archie Comics in 1969. Hanley’s musical life mirrored Josie’s, as she was 17 when she began collaborating with friend and guitarist Greg McKenna, with Letters to Cleo’s lineup firming up in her mid-20s.

Now, with Riverdale putting a new spin on Josie and the Pussycats, Hanley — who’s heard nothing but great things about Ashleigh Murray’s take on the tenacious teenaged rock star, and plans to start binge-watching the CW show soon — is glad to see that little has changed, in that young women especially still see themselves in these characters who continue to pick up guitars and blow people’s minds.

“I was an Archie Comics freak,” she says. “All of those characters might as well have been real to me; they were as real to me as television characters. I went into the newsstand and bought the comics — if there was a special Jughead one, I’d buy it. I was into it, and I think a lot of kids felt that way. The fact that all of these iterations come out every decade or so, a brand new expression of the comics, it just speaks to the strength of those characters and that world. They’re relatable but endlessly interesting. The politics of teenage relationships, like, that’s everything.”

“I’m almost 50 years old, and I still have those kinds of politics in my life, navigating those relationships,” she added. “It never gets easier. We can all relate.”

As Hanley did on the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack, Murray’s Josie leaves her mark on adored hits, like Kelis’ “Milkshake” or Blondie’s “I Feel Love” — she’s able to leave her mark on Josie’s legacy, too, by lending her crystalline voice to original songs that fans love as much as the covers.

And though some cat ears brought them together, it’s clear to see that the women who brought Josie to life are the ones who keep her alive — and keep audiences coming back for generations.

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In Defense Of Stranger Things‘ Sweet, Sensitive Will Byers

It’s sometimes easy to forget about Will Byers, the quiet, hapless kid at the center of Stranger Things. He’s not as forthcoming (or foul-mouthed) as Dustin, or as charismatic as Lucas. He’s not a natural leader like Mike, and he can’t flip a van with his mind like Eleven. He can’t even top Max’s Dig Dug score. So when he’s not being used as a human vessel for the Mind Flayer, he mostly tends to fade into the background.

To be fair, it’s not really his fault. Throughout the eight-episode first season of Stranger Things, Noah Schnapp’s Will was little more than a mawkish phantom. The middle-school misfit’s mysterious disappearance haunted everyone — his anxious mother, Joyce; his introverted older brother, Jonathan; the local police chief; and his best friends and fellow outcasts, Mike, Dustin and Lucas. As such, we mostly learned about Will through the people he left behind. The main takeaway? Will Byers is not like most boys coming of age in Hawkins, Indiana, in 1984. And it’s not because of his fondness for The Clash.

He’s deeply sensitive, so much so that his estranged father Lonnie used to call him “queer” — a slur that followed him into middle school. He’d rather draw than play baseball, and he frequently seeks solace and solitude under the makeshift canopy of Castle Byers, his own private fort in the middle of the woods. He’s the sweet, thoughtful member of the Party, the one who told Mike he rolled a seven when he could have easily lied about it. (Turns out, he can’t even lie when he’s being possessed by an evil entity.)


Will Byers has been through hell and back on Stranger Things and he doesn’t deserve your hate.

But in Stranger Things 2, Will’s compassion, made tangible by Schnapp’s standout performance, becomes his hidden strength. He’s fragile, but he’s not weak. He’s fearful but still fighting. (Let’s not forget that he survived a week in a parallel dimension hiding from a predatory monster, completely alone. Talk about resilience!) This is evident at the end of Episode 3 (“The Pollywog”), when Will attempts to tell the Shadow Monster to “go away.” He could have kept running, but he didn’t. He tried to face his fears, even if the outcome was the literal worst case scenario.

In a society that tends to valorize toughness, Will’s deep-seated empathy is refreshing. Patriarchy often perpetuates the notion that in order to be “strong” you must fight back, stay in control, and never show your emotions. But Stranger Things subverts this idea of traditional masculinity, giving us a group of scrappy young heroes who do things a bit differently. Will cries. He relies on others. He’s vulnerable. But he’s also complicated and tenacious.

So, no, Will Byers is not “the boring one.” He’s challenging societal norms one paranormal day at a time in the 1980s, and he deserves some respect. Don’t believe me? Here’s more proof:

  • “Crazy Together: His Friendship With Mike”

    One of the best scenes in Stranger Things 2 happens in the Wheelers’ basement following Will’s harrowing episode on Halloween night. It’s a particularly vulnerable moment for both Will and Mike: Will doesn’t know if his visions of the Upside Down are real or just cruel remnants of last year’s trauma, and Mike still feels woefully aimless without Eleven, 353 days after her disappearance.

    But Mike, ever the protector of the Party, reassures Will with a smile: “Hey, well, if we’re both going crazy, then we’ll go crazy together, right?”

    It’s such a tender moment, one we don’t often see in depictions of young male friendship. The parallels between Stranger Things and coming-of-age staple Stand By Me have never been subtle. The final line in the 1986 Rob Reiner classic reads like Matt and Ross Duffer’s initial Netflix pitch: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”

    Will is doe-eyed Gordie Lachance to a tee — a quiet bundle of insecurities with a golden-colored heart. But in scenes like this, it’s Mike who fully emerges as Hawkins’s own Chris Chambers. He doesn’t shame Will for crying; he supports him. And when Will later voices his fear over spying on the Shadow Monster, rightly suggesting that the monster could very well spy back on them, Mike delicately takes his best friend’s hand in his own and promises, “We won’t let him.”

    It’s the kind of earnest promise only a best friend could make.

  • His relationship with his mom

    After suffering so much physical and emotional trauma (his father’s abuse, his narrow escape from the Upside Down, and his invasive body-swap with the Mind Flayer), Will has every right to be angry and cynical. But he’s not. Whereas Eleven expresses her trauma through anger — it even fuels her powers — Will internalizes it, choosing only to open up to the people he feels closest to, like his mom.

    Joyce Byers is a profoundly anxious, albeit intuitive, woman who doesn’t discourage her sons from expressing their emotions, the good and the bad. In fact, she even pressed him to recount his painful visions of the Upside Down in detail. In one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the season, Will bravely tries to explain how the Mind Flayer attacked him in Episode 4 (“Will The Wise”):

    “I don’t know, it came for me,” he cries. “And I tried. I tried to make it go away, but it got me, Mom. I felt it everywhere. Everywhere. And I still feel it.”

    Later, when Will can’t articulate what he’s feeling, Joyce pushes him to draw all of his dark, manic thoughts onto paper. For Will, his art is an emotional outlet, and Joyce does more than support it — she encourages it.

  • He’s a Bowie

    Turns out, coming back from the dead doesn’t make Will an overnight sensation. In fact, it only makes him more of a freak. In Season 1, he’s tormented by the school bully and called a “fairy,” and in Stranger Things 2, he’s “Zombie Boy.” Enter Jonathan with a bit of crucial brotherly advice:

    “Being a freak is the best, all right?” he tells Will. “I would rather be best friends with Zombie Boy than a boring nobody. OK, look, who would you rather be friends with, [David] Bowie or Kenny Rogers? It’s no contest. The thing is, nobody normal ever accomplished anything in this world.”

    Perhaps Zombie Boy is Will’s Ziggy Stardust, an otherworldly identity he can one day claim without fear or shame. After all, who else can say they died and came back to life? That’s a superpower in and of itself.

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Do The Champs Have This Challenge Season In The Bag?

Where The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars is concerned, Season 2 looks like it might amount to a little bit of history repeating itself.

On tonight’s premiere episode, 10 Challenge legends including CT, Johnny Bananas and Emily squared off against a roster of 10 celebrities that ranged from Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson to NFL icon Terrell Owens (and, naturally, Riff Raff). And at first glance, Wes — who competed on the show’s first season against the likes of Lolo Jones, Kam Wimbley and more feared athletes — predicted the newest batch of Stars would be much less of a threat than the first.

“When I’m looking at the opposing team this season, I’m far less intimidated than I was last season,” he said. “This is just too easy.”

It might have seemed like flagrant bravado at the time, but once the two teams finally squared off on the battlefield, Wes’ words proved to be pretty prescient.

In “Tow Truck,” show host, WWE superstar and former Challenge giant Mike “The Miz” Mizanin told the game’s 20 players that their first mission would test their strength and would task each team with pulling one of two semis (that’s 21,000 pounds per team) across an inclined course. The first team to get their respective truck to touch a finish line would be named the day’s winner, and a designated MVP from the winning team would earn $5,000 for his or her charity.

Instantly, The Stars came out of the gate with a lead thanks to a commanding performance from T.O., but the wheels only remained in motion for so long, and very quickly, The Champs caught up.

And then, they began to make a mockery of their opponents. Though The Champs hit a small roadblock when their truck began to roll the wrong way, they adjusted handily and wound up blowing The Stars out of the water.

“Today was so hard and so humbling,” Shawn lamented. “Once I finally got the chance to jump in and help my team, it felt like we were pulling concrete…[The Champs] are a team that we need to take more seriously.”

Still, all hope was not lost for The Stars, and in the game’s first elimination round, comedian Matt Rife beat out The Champs’ ambassador — Cory — in a game of “Target Practice” in motion. But was the victory enough to compensate for the day’s loss where The Stars are concerned?

What do you think — do The Champs have this game in the bag, and are they likely to defend their title? Or was the first matchup a fluke, and will The Stars redeem themselves in Episode 2? Share your thoughts, and check out the next new episode Tuesday at 10/9c!

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Challenge Reunion: Veronica Lashes Out at Aneesa For Revealing Private Relationship

A longtime Challenge rumor found legs when Aneesa revealed this season that (eons ago) Road Rules emblems Veronica and Rachel dated (and for three years). At the time, the leaked intel seemed to be inconsequential to Veronica, but on tonight’s winner reveal, V made it very clear Aneesa’s big mouth upset her, particularly in light of an episode that made it appear as though Veronica and Aneesa had hooked up (relive it below).

Veronica made it clear during a chat with Aneesa and segment host Mike “The Miz” Mizanin that she wasn’t ashamed of her relationship with Rachel and wasn’t actively trying to hide it from anyone in her life.

“The media has put some weird spin on this and made it seem like it was a secretive relationship when the relationship wasn’t secretive — it was [only] secretive for the show,” Veronica said. “Production knew, my friends knew, family knew, our communities knew…so for Aneesa to come out and talk about it when it’s not really her place, I was pissed. I still am…I think that you were trying to make it a storyline.”

Veronica added that Aneesa’s choice method of reveal drummed up old trust issues that plagued their relationship earlier on in the series (Veronica and Aneesa first met on 2002’s Battle of the Sexes, and were…less than friendly).

“I went in not really having positive feelings about her,” V said. “I had a lot of distrust, [but] as veterans of the game…we gravitated toward each other…This brought me back to me not trusting you.”

But Aneesa fired back.

“I didn’t trust you either,” she said. “You were a bully and a mean person when we did these shows before, and that’s why we never got along.”

And that’s when Veronica cut deep.

“Because you didn’t like the fact that I was hooking up with Rachel,” she said.

And there was another point of contention — though editing of Episode 7 seemed to indicate Veronica and Aneesa hooked up, they both insisted it didn’t happen (though they also admitted to being a little bit fuzzy on specifics due to the effects of alcohol).

“That whole thing — we did not hook up,” Veronica said. “When I watch back that episode, it’s probably one of the most painful scenes that I’m watching back in all of the shows that I’ve done, because I look very vulnerable, and it sucks.”

And while it seemed like Veronica and Aneesa’s relationship might have been damaged beyond repair, they both agreed they’d come too far to go back. They concurred that previous issues were conditions of being young and explosive personalities and resolved to not let their new, matured connection wane.

“I didn’t come on here to hurt anybody’s feelings or do anything intentionally,” Aneesa insisted. “If you really had an issue, we could have talked about it, we could have hashed it out, but no, we wait until we’re here…it’s just annoying.”

“I did care about you, you took care of me when no one else had my f—–g back,” she added. “And the fact that this f—-d everything up, that sucks…It’s just a matter of understanding that there are more pieces to this puzzle than me just doing that.”

Finally, Veronica accepted Aneesa’s apologies.

“Yeah, we’re fine,” V said. “We can get past it. It’s a trust issue at the end of the day.”

Do you think Veronica and Aneesa will be able to let go of old demons, or is their argument a clear indication they’re back on shaky ground? Watch the exchange below and share your thoughts in the comments.

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I Just Found Out That Joe Keery Is In A Rock Band And I Am Not OK

Ever since Stranger Things premiered on Netflix last year, I’ve been a fan of everything about the show EXCEPT Steve Harrington. It took me a LONG time to see the appeal of Hawkins High School’s resident hottie, but all of that changed in season two when Joe Keery completely ditched the outdated jock persona and grew a pair. To boot, GQ published an interview with Joe Keery last month and I couldn’t stop DROOLING; suddenly, I was consumed by this ridiculous urge to run my fingers through his gorgeous head of hair and call him a biscuit. After scrolling through his Instagram one too many times, I realized that a crush was starting to develop.

This afternoon, I was minding my own business until I stumbled upon this video of Joe and Gaten Matarazzo commenting on Stranger Things-related searches on Google. At some point, Joe mentions that he’s in a band and every fiber of my being ignited. The Chicago-based six-piece is called Post Animal and they’ve released two projects so far: Post Animal Perform the Most Curious Water Activities and The Garden Series. Their sound gives me major Tame Impala vibes and I’m super impressed. Back in May, Post Animal dropped a groovy tune called “Special Moment.”

Obviously, Joe had to take a break because of “work obligations” like Stranger Things and other film projects currently in post-production, but he confirmed that he is still actively writing music with the band (where he plays guitar), so there’s hope that we can catch him on tour someday. For now, this gives me plenty of time to listen to as much Post Animal as possible and taping this ICONIC portrait to my bedroom wall:

Oh, and in case you weren’t already aware, Finn Wolfhard’s band Calpurnia recently signed to Royal Mountain Records. NBD.

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6 Ways Marvel’s Runaways Is Like The O.C. Of The Superhero Universe

Fourteen years ago, a primetime soap about the morally bankrupt lives of the rich and beautiful inhabitants of Newport Beach, California debuted on Fox. With its hyper self-aware humor, early aughts fashion, indie soundtrack, and teen melodrama, The O.C. quickly became a cultural phenomenon. But just as Seth Cohen and Marissa Cooper were becoming part of our daily vernacular, another group of affluent teens from sunny SoCal were becoming sensations on comic book stands across the country.

It seems kismet that Brian K. Vaughan’s seminal Marvel Comics series Runaways would debut just a month prior to The O.C.‘s summer launch in 2003. In many ways, they were cut from the same designer cloth; both balanced the turmoil of adolescence with wit and whimsy while also subverting high school archetypes. Only one, however, gave its teenage protagonists superpowers and turned their parents into supervillains. (Atomic County doesn’t count.)

So it makes sense that when Marvel Television boss Jeph Loeb first thought of bringing Runaways to life on the small screen, he envisioned it as “The O.C. of the Marvel Universe.” Five years later, and with the creators of The O.C. (Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage) attached as showrunners, Marvel’s Runaways — premiering on Hulu today, November 21 — is very much the teen soap’s spiritual successor.

“My personal feeling the first time I read Runaways many, many years ago when it first came out was like, ‘Oh, this comic was written just for me,'” Schwartz, a lifelong comic book reader, told MTV News back in October, adding that The O.C. and Runaways share a similar “tone and humor.”

Having seen the first four episodes of Marvel’s Runaways that were made available for review — the first three can be streamed now — I can tell you that the shared DNA between the two teen dramas goes even deeper than that. Here’s what really makes Marvel’s Runaways the O.C. of the Marvel Universe. Welcome to Brentwood, bitch.

  • The Teens

    On the surface, Seth Cohen, Marissa Cooper, Ryan Atwood, and Summer Roberts seemed like your typical teen archetypes — the geek, the prom queen, the misfit, and the airhead — but they were anything but. Seth was more Peter Parker than Spider-Man, but his niche interests and self-deprecating humor made him a heartthrob. Ryan was tough but tender. Summer was passionate about tabloid gossip, fashion, and environmental issues. Marissa was the achingly beautiful girl-next-door who hid her demons behind her picture-perfect smile. And when they came together, their chemistry was unparalleled.

    Something similar happens in Marvel’s Runaways. Though they’re not all fully formed individuals yet — one of the pitfalls of juggling 16 leads — as a group of teen misfits, they shine. Their chemistry together is effortless.

    The series follows six former best friends who must unite against a common enemy: their parents. The realization of their parents’ misdeeds awakens their individual abilities, some supernatural and some not. For example, teen activist Gert (Ariela Barer) doesn’t have powers, but she does have a mental link with her genetically engineered dinosaur, Old Lace; her adopted sister Molly (Allegra Acosta) possesses super strength; Alex (Rhenzy Feliz) is a gamer who assumes the role of the group’s de-facto leader; Karolina (Virginia Gardner) is the pretty youth ambassador of her family’s religious cult who unexpectedly realizes she’s rainbow-colored alien; Nico (Lyrica Okano) is a goth who can control dark magic with the Staff of One; and Chase (Gregg Sulkin) is the son of a Steve Jobs-type genius billionaire who also has a knack for engineering.

  • The Parents

    It’s impossible to think of The O.C. without thinking of Sandy Cohen, the Cohen family patriarch and Newport’s resident mensch. (His eyebrows were a thing of beauty, too.) But that was the beauty of The O.C.: It made you care about a group of complicated teens and their equally complex parents. The parents in most teen dramas are expendable, but in The O.C. and Marvel’s Runaways, they’re essential to the storytelling.

    In fact, the second episode of Runaways retells the entire pilot from the parents’ perspective, which might seem like a risky move to some, but a superhero show is only as strong as its villains. If they want us to care about these kids and their journey, then they have to make us care about their supervillain parents too. Brittany Ishibashi, who plays Nico’s mom Tina Minoru, a merciless tech CEO who practices dark magic, is especially compelling in these first few episodes.

  • The Clothes

    The O.C. was a fashion time capsule for the early 2000s, but so were the colorful pages of Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona’s Runaways. The Runaways didn’t have superhero monikers or fancy costumes; they were a street-level group. And their fashion reflected that. They wore what any other kid growing up in 2003 would wear. Marissa Cooper and Karolina Dean had a shared affinity for low-rise flare Miss Sixty jeans and pastel Lacoste polo shirts. Marvel’s Runaways has a similar, of-the-moment fashion sense. Molly even rocks her signature pink pussy hat throughout the season. (Or as 14-year-old Acosta calls it, her “p-word hat.”)

  • The Setting

    If you loved the Cohen’s pool house and the sprawling McMansions featured on The O.C., then you’re going to need another inspiration board for the mega-mansions in Marvel’s Runaways. Similar to the The O.C., these are privileged, upper-class kids living in multi-million dollar tech fortresses and earthy Brentwood bungalows in sunny Los Angeles. That’s not to say they don’t have their own problems; they’re all dealing with their own personal grief and teenage ennui.

    In the comics, however, they runaway to an underground location after watching their parents sacrifice a girl in an occult ceremony. It will be interesting to see how the affluent milieu of the show shifts once Alex, Nico, Karolina, Molly, Gert, and Chase start living life on the run.

    Let’s just hope no one has any meltdowns at a lifeguard stand anytime soon.

  • The Music

    For some, The O.C. begins and ends with its indie soundtrack, which was expertly curated by Schwartz, Savage, and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. It introduced a generation of ~ cool ~ kids to the melancholy thoughts of Ben Gibbard. Luckily, Patsavas, who’s been the music supervisor for all of Schwartz and Savage’s post-O.C. projects, is also lending her talents to Marvel’s Runaways. Before production, she and Schwartz made each character their own designated playlist. And just in case you need a sample of the indie-pop magic to come, the official trailer for the series prominently featured synthpop duo Purity Ring’s moony “Sea Castle.”

  • The Humor

    Schwartz and Savage are well-versed in witty, self-aware young people. It’s part of what makes their teen dramas (The O.C., Gossip Girl) so instantly compelling and endlessly quotable. “You’re a Cohen now,” Seth told Ryan in “The Debut.” “Welcome to a life of insecurity and paralyzing self-doubt.” Marvel’s Runaways has a similar sense of humor. “Great party, Alex! Thanks for all the pizza and sadness,” Chase quips in the pilot episode. Sure, it’s not as iconic as “Welcome to the O.C., bitch!” — but it’s certainly meme-able.

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