Archetypes on MTV’s The Challenge 6: Southern “Gentlemen”

4 min readOct 9, 2019

Hi! This is the sixth entry into my series about the casting archetypes found on The Challenge (in addition to other reality shows like Real World, Road Rules, Big Brother, and Survivor). Previously I’ve harped on about:

These articles are not meant to reduce cast members to one aspect of their character. It is not synedoche, but rather identifying roles that casting directors will try to fill on any season. How they edit the competitors also plays into this. Previous entries explain the NBs more, if you’re curious.

So anyway, I’m on vacation this week (currently living it up in Costa Rica), so this will be a shorter article, about the Southern “Gentlemen.” The quotes indicate that for many of these people, they are not as gentle or chivalrous as their upbringing and “traditional moral values” would suggest.

Southern “Gentlemen” is pretty self-explanatory — men from the American South who talk about the importance of respecting women but who don’t always live up to that. They are often laid-back and speak more slowly, but when they get angry, watch out. Their edits are frequently favourable, and they are almost always Christian and heterosexual.

The Survivor allegory is the “Good Old Boy,” like Colby Donaldson, JT Thomas, Nick Wilson, Gavin Whitson, etc.

Here we go.

Southern Gentlemen

Jon Brennan — originated on RW Los Angeles; debuted on Road Rules All-Stars (season 1)

Matt Smith — originated on RW New Orleans; debuted on Gauntlet 1

Ace Emerson — originated on RW Paris; debuted on Inferno 1

MJ Garrett — originated on RW Philadelphia; debuted on Gauntlet 2

Cohutta Grindstaff — originated on RW Sydney; debuted on The Island

Mike Ross — originated on RW Las Vegas 2; debuted on Rivals 1

Dustin Zito — originated on RW Las Vegas 2; debuted on Exes 1

Southern “Gentlemen”

The Southern “Gentlemen” are those who are more mean-spirited than kind-hearted, despite their upbringing. Of course, Dustin, Matt Smith, and Mike Mike are not completely innocuous, but their nasty streaks seem more like aberrations than patterns.

Dunbar Merrill — originated on RW Sydney; debuted on The Island

Tony Raines — originated on RW Skeletons; debuted on Bloodlines

Hunter Barfield — originated on Are You the One 3; debuted on Invasion

Gus Smyrnios — originated on Floribama Shore; debuted on War of the Worlds 1


Danny Roberts — originated on RW New Orleans; debuted on Battle of the Seasons 1

Davis Mallory — originated on RW Denver; debuted on Inferno 3

Shane Raines — originated & debuted on Bloodlines

Turabi “Turbo” Camkiran — originated on Survivor Turkey; debuted on War of the Worlds 1

Danny and Davis do not fit the typical Southern Gentlemen archetype because they are gay men. They are still (generally) kind and laid-back, but imho, heterosexuality is important to the Southern Gentlemen archetype.

Shane Raines is also gay, but more divergently, he is decidedly not a warm-hearted person — evidenced in his ugly, physical altercation with Simone.

Finally, Turbo is not American, let alone from the South, but he fits the mold well. He is most often laid-back and go with the flaw, has traditional values, is religious, and speaks about respecting women highly — but when he gets angry, you better dive for cover (like when he had fights with Hunter, Ninja, Dee, and Jordan, as we saw in the preview for tonight’s episode).

And Clint Wright from the Real World reboot also would belong here, if he ever gets cast. But don’t hold your breath, because apparently nobody from RW33: Atlanta even got availability calls for next season! ☕☕




I write about MTV’s The Challenge, with a queer / social justice / critical analysis bent. #UnspoiledGang