The "Amazing" Race
Yes, my use of quotation marks in the title is indicative of the sarcastic, mocking, and completely negative review of The Amazing Race season 15—gasp—premiere I intend to write forthwith. I need to get something on the record right away: I loathe reality television. I hate it, detest it, abhor it, condemn it, chastise it, lament it, have pathological feelings toward it…you name it. In The Rock, FBI Chemical Weapons Specialist Stanley Goodspeed, played winningly by Nicolas Cage, refers to VX poison gas as “one of those things we wish we could disinvent.” But as bad as that stuff is, reality television is worse. It’s an insipid abomination that is emblematic of so much that is wrong with our country. It’s the televisual enema that no one (or at least I) never asked for, but that everyone now can’t get enough of. It’s a mutant plague, a scumsucking phenomenon that has and continues to do its best to bastardize television to an all-new low.
Shows with merit that actually take risks and are based on, oh, silly little things like storytelling, dramatic structure, performances, and themes get cancelled because everyone is too busy watching America’s Next Top Gigolo. And the networks keep churning out more and more of this utter crap because it’s cheaper to make and easier to market. Reality tv (its very name is a misnomer; I don’t know whose reality is being referred to, certainly not mine; I’ve seen science fiction programming that seemed less staged and more realistic) came out of Pandora’s Box and it seems like it will never go away. So on that note, let’s talk about The Amazing Race!
The Amazing Race in some ways I suppose is one of the lesser evils in the world of reality television. It has the Jerry Bruckheimer brand name stamp, it has won multiple Emmys, and it offers viewers the chance to see parts of the world they might never see otherwise. The concept is simple enough: two-person teams race from destinations around the world, competing in a variety of physical and mental challenges, all vying for a big pot of money. When we go to the movies, we seek to watch characters go on physical and psychological journeys, to see them evolve over the course of the narrative. The Amazing Race then, ideally would be a compatible surrogate. The problem is, most of the “characters” aren’t likable or even interesting, and I could care less about going on this journey with them. I’ve rarely watched the show, but I talked to someone who has been a longtime fan of the show, and they said that last night’s premiere was the worst one they’ve ever seen. I’m not going to argue with that.
The show opens in Los Angeles, in the dam/underpass deal that the tanker truck chase scene was filmed in for Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Boy, do I wish that I had been watching that movie last night instead of this show. I was unaware going in that it was a two-hour premiere. When I discovered this fact, I nearly curled into a ball and sobbed like a six-year-old girl who just saw her tricycle get flattened by a tank.
Here, we meet the teams: Eric and Lisa, the married New Age yoga couple from hell. I’m afraid I have to mention that they’re not around very long, due to their rampant stupidity. After being the first team to get eliminated, they hold each other and look into the camera and mumble some ridiculous martyrdom hokum about how they lost so that they could “take a beating for everybody” and “set them free.” What a pile of crap. Not a fan.
Garrett and Jessica, who have been dating on and off for years and are going on this wonderful journey to see if they want to get married or tell each other to go jump off a cliff. I vote they both do the latter. Not a fan. They’re not around too much either.
Zev and Justin. Sorry about their names, but they seem to be the most decent and least obnoxious people on the show, thus far. Zev has Asperger’s but he and Justin do quite well for themselves, though Justin laughs just a little too camera-cutesy at everything Zev says.
Flight Time and Big Easy, Harlem Globetrotters who think that having that status means they don’t need to have real names. They’re all flash and show and boy, that may be somebody’s cup of tea but it sure ain’t mine. Not a fan. Start using real names you idiots! Not a fan.
Maria and Tiffany, those girls you love to hate! They’re poker players who do quite well for themselves, but they lie and tell everyone that they work at homeless shelters so that everyone will try to help them. It’s a shameless lie, and that’s almost why I like them. The downside is that they’re also whiny and obnoxious. Not a fan.
Gary and Matt are a father and son team, a father and son team from Montana. Everyone loves a family story; the problem is that Matt looks like the degenerate bastard child of Liberace and Charles Manson. Vote’s not in yet.
Sam and Dan, two brothers who have decided to keep the fact that they’re gay concealed from everyone else. There is nothing interesting about either of these people. Not a fan.
Marcy and Ron, two middle-aged people who should have given up dating long ago. Marcy is high-strung and obnoxious, Ron is instantly forgettable. Not a fan.
Brian and Ericka like to flaunt that they’re an interracial couple every time they’re onscreen. What do they want, a merit badge? Not a fan.
Mika and Canaan are the requisite country music-tootin,’ Bible-thumping blonde twits who sure hope that Jesus will guide them on the race. Gag me. Not a fan.
And of course there’s Lance and Keri, who are engaged. Ain’t that sweet! Nothing interesting about Keri, but Lance claims he’s a trial lawyer and likes to prance around and demonstrate that he’s spent a few hours in a yuppie health club. He also thinks he knows martial arts. Hey Lance, after you get your pompous ass kicked on this show, come find me and I’ll show you just how lacking your fitness and fighting skills are. It would be my personal pleasure. I won’t even charge you.
I’m sure I forgot someone but god I just don’t really care. The aforementioned specimens run around Tokyo and Vietnam eating sushi and herding ducks and whining. For two hours. That’s it in a nutshell. I don’t know about you, but I’m foaming at the mouth for more. Until next week…
For another take on this episode, check out Oh, the games they will play. . . by Alana D.
Season 15, Episode 1: They Thought Godzilla Was Walking Down the Street (originally aired September 27, 2009)
For more on The Amazing Race, click here.
Sundays at 8pm ET/PT on CBS
Photographs courtesy of CBS and Monty Brinton