My, how things have changed. Danny Wascou currently serves as an executive producer on The Challenge. However, he has been working on the show for 20 years and has seen so much change over the years, beginning with the ever-changing themes.
“The game-changing themes for me were when we did Rivals and Exes. They changed the storytelling. The storytelling of the show and of the series has changed over time. We’ve always been, I like to call it a reality competition soap opera,” Wascou explained on the Wednesday, October 27, episode of the “Watch With Us” podcast. “We bring all these people back, but when we started doing Rivals and Exes, it was about their interpersonal relationships with each other. They had to sort of, like, heal whatever wound it was before they could even do well in the competition.”
He noted that the themes “leveled up the storytelling,” and that he’d “love to see some of those again in the future.”
The editor also responded to fans’ critiques about casting, as many constantly ask why certain reality stars aren’t returning.
“Sometimes it’s like, ‘Well, they were running from the camera. They were shy. They weren’t in the scene.’ I’ve said to cast members before who’ve told me, ‘Danny, why didn’t you play this?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, it has to be on camera for us to play it, so if you have a secret alliance with this person and you don’t show us, how can we show something that hasn’t aired?'” the producer explained. “I get it to a degree and people want to see their favorites. If fans think so-and-so got a bad edit, then I’ll think to myself, ‘OK, what are they not seeing about this person?’ And if they come back for a future season, let me talk to that cast member and say, ‘Hey, they’re not seeing this side of you. Why is that? Do you have a guard up? Do we need to talk about this more in the interview room?’ So it’s worth investigating.”
The executive noted that there are many factors that go into casting, including theme and availability.
In March, host TJ Lavin told Us the importance of the cast being respectful to one another and to the crew — something that Wascou agreed with.
“TJ cannot stand if a cast member talks badly about the crew or treats us badly. The cast goes through a lot, so does the crew. We are working insane hours, but by and large, with most of the cast members, there is a respect level there, because they trust us with the game. They trust us to hold their story and to tell their story. And they’ve been back over and over and over and over and over, and they see our faces over and over and over and over and over,” he said on Wednesday’s podcast. “But just like all families, sometimes you don’t get along. You know, I’ve had the cast members, like, snap at me and then two hours later, they’re like, ‘Danny, I’m really sorry, man. I was just so frustrated. … I hope you didn’t take it personally.’ And my response generally is like, ‘Wait, what are you talking about? Like, I left that on the field.’ Like, I get it when we’re putting them in tough circumstances too.'”
The Bunim/Murray vet continued, “If a cast member really crosses the line, starts swearing at a crew member or just being fully disrespectful, I don’t [deal with that]. … We’re lucky to do the show. They’re lucky to be on the show. And sometimes it’s, like, if we’re deciding between this person and that person and this person’s just so disrespectful? Yeah, maybe that person might get the call or the nod from TJ more than the other person. But that said, we let bygones be bygones. There’s no real hard feelings.”
Wascou is a large part of the storytelling on the show, but due to editing, not everything can make the cut. For what he wishes was shown, his favorite thing to see and more, listen to the full podcast above.
The 500th episode of The Challenge airs on MTV on Wednesday, October 27, at 8 p.m. ET.
For more exclusive interviews and Challenge news, subscribe to the “Watch With Us” podcast.