Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stop a Limited, Specific Quantity of the Hate! (No, Not That Hate. The Other Hate.)

Television Without Pity has weighed in this week on the current season of The Amazing Race, providing a detailed and specific listing of why they hate it. (In handy slideshow format, no less.) Speaking as someone who has now watched...um...a full two-and-a-bit seasons of the show, and hence clearly an expert, I thought I'd weigh in on their weighing in. (I know, I've got strong opinions on The Amazing Race. I feel so bourgeois. But I'm stuck for topics this week, and it's either this or the NFL draft.)

Their first complaint, about the eating challenge in Leg Four, I'm going to rate as bogus. Yes, sauerkraut is arguably less disgusting than some of the things that contestants have had to eat in the past (I say arguably because I personally consider the stuff to be about as appetizing as toenail clippings, and would eat it only at gunpoint) but to me, the addition of a time limit makes it an innovative twist on the conventional eating challenge. (For those who missed the episode, you had to choke down a massive plate of the stuff in the amount of time it took a polka band to play "The Sauerkraut Polka." Didn't finish before the song ended? They refill your plate. So the more times you fail, the harder it gets.)

Their second complaint--that a disproportionate time was spent on the bizarre feud between Carol and Brandy and Brent and Caite--is absolutely true. Carol and Brandy were irritating and whiny, Caite was blatantly homophobic and trying to justify it with claims that "they were mean" to her (claims that relied pretty much entirely on a single incident that was relayed to her second-hand in Leg One) and in general, I do not watch The Amazing Race for interpersonal drama anyway. I watch it for the, y'know, racing. Every time they play up the "teams don't like each other" crap, I find myself wanting to fast-forward.

Their third complaint, that the cops are obnoxious catchphrase-spouting stereotypes that seem to be angling for a spin-off series--is true, but it hasn't really bothered me. But this is definitely the funniest complaint, and is worth reading simply for the humor value.

Their fourth complaint...seriously, Television Without Pity? "The cowboys have gotten lucky"? Seriously? Come freaking on. Every winning team gets a healthy dose of good luck to go with their good decisions. Remember when Tammy and Victor had the good luck to be stupid on the one leg where another couple missed their connecting flight and got there the next day? Or when the penultimate leg went through China, which gave them (the only team fluent in Chinese) a huge advantage? TAR is luck-based as well as skill-based. Get used to it.

Their fifth complaint...yes. "Mom-trepreneurs" was extraordinarily stupid. You had to put up with it for three episodes. Get over it.

Their sixth complaint was about the Blind U-Turn returning. (See my previous post on The Amazing Race for an explanation of how U-Turns work. Blind U-Turns work like that, except you don't have to let anyone know who it was that U-Turned.) This is a silly complaint to me, because a) Joe and Heidi did know who U-Turned them, because there were only two teams ahead of them and they got there less than ten seconds after the second team did, b) knowing who U-Turned them didn't help them, because they got eliminated by the U-Turn, and c) nobody else cared that they'd been U-Turned, because the only thing you care about when a U-Turn is used is, "Was it used on me?" If it wasn't, you're too busy thanking Fate to care about whichever team got hosed. This is not a game where long-term strategic alliances matter. The only way the "Blind/Non-Blind" option makes an actual difference is if 1) you U-Turn a team that survives the U-Turn, 2) it's not obvious to the other teams that you did it, and 3) you don't tell anyone. Since those are pretty unlikely, I say it doesn't matter. In fact, I think all U-Turns should be Blind, because as previously mentioned, I hate Drama, and anything that the actual producers use to "start shit" between two teams irritates the hell out of me. It's a game, not high school.

Their seventh complaint...yep. Brent and Caite are tremendously irritating on every level. No arguments there.

Their eighth complaint...again, yep. This season seems to have had a pretty weak field in general, with several teams that feel like they'd have been eliminated a long time ago if they'd been in any other group of racers. The fact that Jeff and Jordan lasted until Leg Six speaks volumes.

And finally, their ninth complaint--I honestly don't think that the drinking challenge was intended to be a major hurdle. (Teams had to share an oversized beer at a German bar. Actually, this one would have been a major hurdle for me, since I don't drink, and it was a similar problem for many teams. But I don't think that's "incompetence" on the part of the teams in question, like TVw/oP does.) But it wasn't a Road Block, it wasn't a Detour, it was just one of those little things they throw in to dick with the racers. I certainly don't think it qualifies as a reason to hate the season. (Certainly not as much as Brent and Caite do. Good Lord, if I have to hear her complaining about "the Lesbians" one more time...)

1 comment:

Michael Hoskin said...

This is about what I expect from TWoP. By their reckoning, this is the worst season of TAR since the previous season of TAR.

Like you, I'm a recent fan of the show, having started with 13. Although I enjoyed 13, I didn't know if I would bother with any other seasons, yet I haven't missed an episode since.

14 was my real test as a TAR fan, not only because it was my 2nd time around but because teams I cheered for at the outset frustrated me by the end. I was all for Margie & Luke at leg 1 and had nothing against Jaime & Cara then, but before the final legs I was actively against them. I disliked how the show manufactured some of the tension between the teams and manipulated me as a viewer to take sides. Even Tammy & Victor, who were my pick for winners early on, tested my patience at leg 3. After 14, I was fine with not watching TAR again, but I gave 15 a shot and ultimately enjoyed it.

I'm enjoying 16 because the teams are fairly likeable (occasionally they're dense, but every team messes up eventually), particulary my favorite team, Jet & Cord. They're competitive, respectful and funny - three qualities which are rarely found together amongst racers.