‘The Challenge’: A Competitor Said Production Barely Allows Contestants to Speak With Their Loved Ones Each Week

MTV’s The Challenge certainly isn’t an easy game. From forming alliances to getting into quarrels with cast members to duking it out during eliminations, getting to the end of the season is tough. And it’s even tougher when competitors can’t speak to their loved ones as often as they want to.

Jenna Compono spoke to Challenge Mania about her personal trouble with how little production allowed her to speak with her partner, Zach Nichols. Here’s what she said.

‘Challenge’ competitors have a number of rules they must follow

RELATED: ‘The Challenge’: Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio Said Contestants Try to Get Around the Seriously Strict Show Rules

Like any reality show, The Challenge comes with a wealth of rules. E! News notes competitors aren’t allowed to bring many items that give them access to the outside world, like TVs and phones. And they also aren’t allowed to have books, as this discourages them from interacting with their housemates. Unfortunately, it seems competitors try to skirt the rules, though — and that’s particularly the case when it comes to phones.

“Of course they try to sneak in phones so they can have outside world contact!” MTV producer Dan Caster told the publication.

“They’re totally into burner phones,” Julie Pizzi, president of entertainment and development for Bunim/Murray Productions, added. “Like, you take their one phone and there’s another one, like, in a compartment in their shoe. … They literally try to hide phones in everything. Like, they’ll cut the side of a jacket and put a phone in there. It’s very funny.” 

Jenna Compono talked about how seldom she spoke with boyfriend Zach Nichols on ‘Total Madness’

Fans who watched Total Madness know all about Compono’s fight with Nichols. Compono first heard from a friend that Nichols went through her direct messages from years ago and found a few between her and other men. And this prompted Nichols to accuse Compono of cheating. Unfortunately, everything escalated quickly, as Compono didn’t have much time to explain herself or settle the argument.

“You get 10 minutes a week. Only two weeks or three weeks in is when we really start to talk to your loved ones,” Compono explains on the Challenge Mania podcast. “And obviously you’re arguing and, you know, you’re 10 minutes is up, now your phone call is cut off and you can’t talk to that person until the next week.”

Compono then noted that the short phone calls caused both her and Nichols to go “completely crazy. He’s pissed off, he can’t talk to me. I’m having anxiety the whole time wondering if my stuff’s gonna be kicked out of the house. … It’s not like we can sit there all day and try and figure it out. It’s just, we’re dwelling on the same issue for a week straight.”

Compono said production barely makes exceptions to their phone call rule

Jenna Compono from MTV's 'The Challenge'
Jenna Compono from MTV’s ‘The Challenge’ | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Mountain Dew

Production centered on Compono’s drama with Nichols for the entirety of her storyline in Total Madness. So, if this wasn’t a part of Compono’s story, would she have been able to contact Nichols more often for more resolution? Probably not.

“Unless you have a kid or something, or there’s an issue, they might let you go a minute or two over, but I mean, the drama they’re gonna get is me getting off that phone call and going crazy because I can’t talk to him,” Compono added.

She then added that “production is nice” and “very understanding,” but they’re still trying to make a compelling show viewers want to watch. “And, unfortunately, it’s of my life unwinding right on television.”

It doesn’t sound like Compono will be back on the show anytime soon. And she and Nichols were able to sort out their differences off the air, as they’re engaged and planning their wedding. We’ll have to see what drama unfolds on season 36.

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