Knowing what works! The Challenge casting producer Skye Topic has been working with Bunim-Murray since 2008 and knows a thing or two about putting together a group of great TV personalities — even though her job has become much harder as the show has expanded.
“It’s a very big puzzle. In addition to the 30 cast members we have on the show, we usually have six to 10 [alternates] and then an additional six or seven people we could pull from in case the alts fall out,” Topic said on the “Watch With Us: Challenge Edition” podcast. “We’re really casting 50 to 60 people.”
While she used to watch seasons of The Real World closely to see who would be a fit for The Challenge, the MTV series now pulls from dozens of shows, including Survivor, Big Brother, Are You the One?, Ex on the Beach, Geordie Shore and more.
“There’s really nowhere we can’t pull from if they make sense to the show,” she told Us. “It’s actually a really exciting part of the show now, realizing you can pull from talent all over the world.”
Although Topic has become close with many competitors, she’s found a way to separate those who she personally adores.
“I kind of listen to myself if I don’t like someone. If I’m like, that person really stresses me out, this person’s really annoying, that could potentially be a great thing for the show, maybe not a great thing for me,” she admitted, noting that that goes the same for listening to fans.
“Josh [Martinez] is not a well-loved cast member. He gets a lot of hate. I personally am obsessed with Josh,” Topic said. “The Josh you see on the show is the Josh you see in real life and I am looking for that authenticity in our show.”
Topic also shared a message for the fans who continuously complain about the ratio between newcomers and vets. As the seasons continue, more and more rookies are brought in — and not everyone is happy about it.
“When I am creating the casting grids, I will divide up the vets and the rookies, and we will try to have enough vets that we feel would be able to easily onboard the rookies,” she explained. “You definitely want a good mix of vets to rookies. I know it’s hard for older audiences because they want a whole season with the vets, but no one realizes how much they love the rookies until they start casting them. … I hear you. I’d love to see a season of just vets, but it doesn’t work on our show because you need that rookie element to push the vets so they’re not just playing into their friendships and politics.”
She added that she absolutely understands the want for more old-school players — and always wants to see more, but it doesn’t always work out.
For more from Topic, including what themes she’s hoping for in the future and who she hopes returns, listen to the full episode above and subscribe for free.