Nobody on MTV’s new Stranded with a Million Dollars is more fascinating than Cody “THRIVE” Dunlap.
Week One of the show, he came off looking like a cocky a*****e. He’s great to look at, but he made us want to smack him.
His attitude did nothing to help him build alliances as the group began their 40 days together in a South Pacific jungle.
Most viewers, including me, fingered him as the villain of the show, right off the bat.
Boy, were we wrong.
By the end of the second episode, it was clear that Cody was probably the only guy there who was both mentally and physically up to the challenge of a survival show.
Here’s the thing about being cocky — if you have the chops to back up your attitude, it’s impressive. And Cody can rock cocky with the best of them.
And while he’s cocky as hell, he’s also funny. He’s got half of us thinking of Eilish as that “mom lady”. Her name is irrelevant.
The #MeanGirls who make up Alex’s alliance seem to be living up to every generalized, unfortunate characterization of Millennials as entitled wimps.
In fact, if they hadn’t gotten tents, I think the other Millennials would have all dropped out by now, and only Team Makody would be left to split the $1million.
I got the opportunity to interview Cody about his experience on #MTVStranded, and one of the first questions I asked him was whether he would have done things differently if he had it to do over.
“If I had known what I do now, I would have taken [the tent] right after the third group buy. Going back, I wish I had convinced Makani to wait to make her move until after the fourth group buy,” he says.
But he doesn’t think the show should be a condemnation of his entire generation.
“It focuses on Millennials. What’s different is me — look at the Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X — with this one, you have me and Makani, and we’re kind of showing people who like to bash Millennials that not all Millennials are the same,” Cody says.
“Not everybody wants to be given participation trophies,” he says.
“It doesn’t say anything about my generation,” Cody says. “It says things about those individuals. And if you break it down, really, there’s no excuse for it, right?”
Quick break for applause here, because I agree completely.
Cody says he thinks this show has a lot more real drama than a typical MTV competition show because it’s not a show with people getting drunk and hooking up.
“People are starving and sleeping outside and that’s what’s making people more agitated,” he explains.
Cody wonders if Alex and Alonzo were ever taught how to talk to girls. The way they treated Makani really bothered Cody.
“The comments like ‘kick her like a stray dog’ — watching it, it’s disgusting. Both my dogs are stray dogs that somebody dumped — to see people treat her this way with cameras around…
“What if there were no cameras? You gotta think that they’re holding back a little,” Cody says what we’ve all been thinking. Pretty scary thought.
Alonzo’s crass, misogynistic behavior doesn’t seem to be a turn-off to the mom lady. They’re very buddy-buddy on the show.
Isn’t she engaged? Or living in a trailer with her baby daddy? Things that make ya say “hmmmm”.
I asked Cody if he thought anybody in the #MeanGirls alliance could have survived a night in that jungle alone.
“No, they definitely couldn’t. But Stranded has more elements than just surviving in the jungle. You never know when a Temptation will show up and bail them out,” Cody says.
A lot of viewers think that show isn’t challenging enough. There’s been a lot of joking about it being a camping competition.
And yet, Alonzo has been whining about wanting to quit for several episodes now.
Will tonight be the night?
Exclusive #Stranded sneak peak:
“Whenever you’re in a situation like this — whenever I do training in the Army — if you’re thinking of quitting, you’re going to quit,” Cody explains.
He says nobody that makes it to the end of challenges, or intense schools in the military, if they’re thinking they’re going to quit.
“That thought cannot pop into your mind,” he says.
“I was just hoping they quit before they spent all the money,” Cody says. And viewers could feel his pain.
After a few weeks, it’s starting to feel as if nobody except Cody and Makani realizes that they are eating all the prize money, one very expensive pizza at a time.
“They’re so focused on sticking it to me and Makani, they’re forgetting they’re there to win the money,” Cody says.
He’s pretty judgmental about his competition, and the decisions they made regarding spending the money during the 40-day challenge.
“A lot of the campers are in pretty bad situations in life…they’re struggling with no real end in sight. It doesn’t seem like Eilish has any plan to get out of the trailer,” he says.
“When you have an opportunity like this and you’re not maximizing it…because we’re not the only 10 people who applied to be on this show. A lot of people would have appreciated the opportunity,” Cody seems disappointed in his Millennial cast mates.
“You think about unemployment in America, homelessness in America — it’s sad to see Americans my age making such stupid decisions,” he says.
He also thinks the show could have been a lot more difficult, if his challengers hadn’t been such wusses. He was prepared to compete in a “survival” show.
“I was disappointed by what it had turned into by this point. Man, when I went out there, I thought it was going to be a lot more hardcore,” he says. “But it is what it is, and I had to sorta adjust as it went forward.”
He thinks the group buy opportunities hurt the survival side of things.
“They pushed it too far toward the side of being too easy. It’s just too easy right now. We have tents and they’re busy eating multiple pizzas, sandwiches,” Cody groans.
He’s frustrated that the people in the other alliance didn’t seem to “get it”.
“They’re keeping the weak links around. It’s like they don’t understand that if you cut one of those four, you have more food, more space in the tent, and you’re setting yourself up on Day 40 for you to get a larger percentage,” he explains.
Going into the fifth episode of Stranded with a Million Dollars tonight, I fully expect to see Alonzo crack.
Whenever things don’t go his way, Alonzo gets angry or depressed. It’s only a matter of time.
With that said, I don’t think Team Makody is going anywhere before the 40 days is up.
Stranded with a Million Dollars airs on Tuesdays at 10/9c on MTV.