Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio and CT Tamburello talk about what it was like to be on the series that was nominated for an Emmy. Yellowjackets have some unexpected dead weight in the first episode of its second season. No, it’s not about Jackie being frozen in the shed. Callie Sadecki (Sarah Desjardins), the teenage daughter of Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) and Jeff (Warren Cole) is first seen watching TV with her boyfriend.
But what they’re watching is not a mystery, unlike almost everything else on the show: It’s the famous Johnny Bananas backpack scene from the 2010s The Challenge: Cutthroat, in which CT Tamburello carries Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio on his back during an elimination. So why was The Challenge made, and why at that time?
“There was nothing else we could have done,” co-showrunner Bart Nickerson tells PEOPLE. Ashley Lyle, who is also a co-showrunner, says, “I’m a huge fan of the show The Challenge. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can beat the fight between CT and Johnny Bananas over the Johnny Bananas backpack.
We asked for it in particular.” Even though the fact that both shows are made by MTV Entertainment Studios probably helped, when Lyle and Nickerson heard they could use the scene, they were thrilled. “When we found out we got the clip, our whole editorial staff was waiting to see how we would react, and I don’t think we let them down,” Lyle says.
“People cheered and yelled,” Nickerson also says, “It was almost as exciting as the backpack moment, but not quite.” Seven-time winner Johnny Bananas, now 40, can laugh about the incident now that a lot of time has passed. “The Johnny Backpack clip is the gift that keeps on giving,” he tells PEOPLE.
“Of all the times I’ve been on reality TV in my long and successful career, it’s the Johnny Backpack clip.” “It’s time for Showtime!” Tamburello, a five-time champion, is now 42 years old, and he still looks back on that moment with awe.
“That was the beginning of my way back to God,” he says. Derrick Kosinski, who is also in the clip, joked on Twitter that they must be watching @paramountplus. Julie Pizzi, president of Bunim/Murray Productions, tells PEOPLE.
“We’re so flattered that the Yellowjackets producers are not only fans of The Challenge but also appreciate one of the most iconic moments in TV history by keeping it in the zeitgeist more than 10 years later.” Yellowjackets have new episodes every Friday on the Showtime app and every Sunday at 9 p.m. On Paramount+, new episodes of The Challenge: World Championship come out every Wednesday.