"Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Ruins"
9 p.m. Wednesday on MTV
Katie Doyle has been doing the MTV thing for nearly a decade now. She joined the cast of 2001's extreme game show "Road Rules" when she was a 21-year-old student. Then she kept getting invited back. In total, she's been on eight "Real World/Road Rules" Challenges -- including the latest, "The Ruins," set in Thailand.
At this point, she's pretty much got it figured out.
"You're either the b---- or the slut on TV," says Katie, now 30, of Chicago. "Never be the slut. I tell the other girls, don't do that stuff! I'm proud to admit that I'm the only female on the Challenges who hasn't hooked up on camera."
That would make Katie . . . um, a fighter. It was her historic catfight with castmate Veronica Portillo in 1994 that really put Katie on the MTV map. Katie verbally obliterated the topless Veronica (no one is exactly sure why), while a girl wearing only a yellow towel tried unsuccessfully to separate them.
It was good TV.
She's been such a constant presence on MTV that she's often recognized (although it happens more often in Wrigleyville than downtown, she says). "It's funny to me," says Katie. "When I first auditioned, I thought it would be like an episode of 'Elimidate,' where only people I went to high school with would recognize me."
Instead, her specialized talents have helped the franchise reach its 18th season. Andy Dehnart, who runs the definitive reality show website realityblurred.com, has analyzed the appeal.
"MTV's Challenges aren't really competitions so much as they're excuses to simplify the old-school MTV formula," he says. "Whereas fighting and sexual intimacy used to develop naturally over time as strangers interacted on 'Road Rules' or 'Real World,' the Challenges bring back the same people to do the same things. Neither they nor viewers have to take time to get to know everyone, so they can get right to the drunken fighting or sex.
"Those who bring the drama, even if they're horrible people, get asked back season after season," he says, and adds: "It's helpful, too, if they have no shame."
Katie insists that she's not all that argumentative. But yes, if someone gets in her face, she'll get in their face, and the bleeping begins.
"If I have a bad time on a show, it gets the best ratings," says Katie. "My bad situations become everyone else's entertainment."
"The Ruins" was more hostile than most Challenges, says Katie. "Nobody got along. Usually I'll fight with people, but I'll have my core group of friends." Not this time. "Anybody I've ever had a fight with happened to be on my team," she says. "All of the older cast members, we're sick of each other."
It's jarring to readjust back to normal life in Chicago, she says. "When I came back this time, I had to lock myself into my room. I was just acting like a psycho. If the pizza guy forgot my ranch, I'd be like, 'What's your problem?'
"This Challenge was my toughest one, the hardest emotionally," says Katie. "I don't cry on these shows. But on this one, I got very close. My eyes may have watered a little bit. I would love to punch some people in the face, but you can't do that. Who does that anyway?"
When she's not filming, Katie gets booked to host parties and appear at charity events. "You do a Challenge, then you get asked to do different things, like Playboy," she says. "You get more money from that, and one day you realize, wow, this is my job.
"People say we should get 'real' jobs, but this is awesome. I get paid to be me. How many people can say that?"
Now that she's 30, Katie says that her MTV days are pretty much over. She plans to finally finish that last semester of college, maybe get a few more free trips out of the deal.
Katie is grateful to MTV for one thing, at least: "I've never been bored," she says.
THREE MORE OF MTV'S BADDEST BRAWLERS
Tonya Cooley, 29
Originally appearing on "The Real World: Chicago," the troubled Tonya has proved irresistible to MTV producers. Career highlights include:
*Boycotting Puck's wedding.
*Refusing to take part in a challenge that required nudity. (She later posed for Playboy.)
*Throwing Beth Stolarczyk's belongings into the pool. (As a result, Beth left the show and took legal action.)
*Declaring that the "Fresh Meat" Challenge would be her last. (She's come back for three more. So far.)
*Taking offense when castmate Susie Meister told her that her shampoo made her "smell like a stripper, but in a good way."
CT Tamburello, 29
We met CT in "The Real World: Paris," but even the city of love couldn't tame this 240-pound wolverine. If you're a CT fan, be sure to tune into each Challenge's first episode, because CT is likely to be kicked off the show before the end of it.
He sealed his reputation during "The Duel 2," when he imagined that his Paris roommate, Adam King, was talking smack behind his back. "Hit me, do it!" CT taunted Adam, who eventually complied (even though he was wearing footie pajamas at the time). An estimated 15 people tried to pull CT off Adam, at which point CT transferred his rage to the nearest door. (It was destroyed.) As CT was driven away from the set, he was seen to be wiping his face with Adam's ripped-off pajamas.
Beth Stolarczyk, 40
Beth is an easy target, considering she was on the second season of "The Real World" and milked her MTV moment well past her firm years. There's no way around it: Beth is infuriating. On any Challenge Beth is a part of, the other contestants briefly band together with one goal in mind: To get Beth off the show. Sometimes it backfires; she was sent into a challenge that she should obviously have lost, one that would have eliminated her from the game. Instead, she won - and was awarded the honor of being Team Captain.
Among Beth's crimes:
*She likened the popular Evan Starkman to Jeff Conaway.
*She threw challenges because she didn't like her teammates.
*She quit a matchup -- astonishing host TJ Lavin, who apparently had never before come up against bad sportsmanship. Her excuse? The challenge was "against her moral values."