MTV and Ludacris are bringing the classic gross out reality series back, but will young audiences watch?
Do you like money and possess a laissez faire attitude when it comes to your personal dignity? Well things may be looking up for you as MTV announced today they would be reviving the early 2000's reality hit Fear Factor this summer. For those who don't remember the conceit of this show, the series made contestants partake in challenges designed to test their tolerance for everything from dramatic stunts to exposure to creepy crawlers, and those who completed the challenge would be financially rewarded. While Joe Rogan hosted the original NBC iteration of the show, rapper and actor Ludacris, who also serves as the series' executive producer, will lead MTV's version.
In addition to a new face on the hosting front, the series will also be changing things up by creating challenges designed to appeal to millennial contestants and audience members. The announcement in The Hollywood Reporter highlighted a few examples of this including, "couch surfing at 300 feet and waterlogging personal cellphones." This is part of a larger rebranding effort for the reality program, aiming to connect with MTV's younger audience and comment on the real anxieties millennials face today.
On the one hand it makes complete sense that the series would actively try to adapt the show for its new home. While the series was a hit in its original NBC run, a 2011 revival of show failed to recapture the spark and lasted only one season. Despite the distinct branding of the series, it's admittedly difficult to convince viewers to tune in when YouTube is filled with videos of amateurs participating in their own self-designed gross-out challenges. The greatest asset the series has to compete in this modern landscape is to create distinct experiences that viewers couldn't likely imitate at home.
Yet, at the same time it's hard to deny the sense of desperation from this move. Promising new challenges, "inspired by urban legends, scary movies and online videos from the zeitgeist", the series is effectively trying to shout at the top of its lungs "We're hip! We're relevant!" In the respect, perhaps the show should stay away from trying to speak for a generation and instead focus on the mindless pleasures fans will be expecting from the show. Regardless, we won't know if this rebranding is a success or not until the series premieres on May 30th.