Wednesday, March 1

My Reality T.V. Kiss of Death

(NOTE: You might as well skip this if you don't watch television or reality television. Seriously.)

So Amazing Race has started back up again.
I can't say why I enjoy this show so much. It just hits so many things I love. Travel, games, challenges, culture clashes, personal relationships. Unlike most "reality" television, it is more of a pure contest, less scheming and manipulation. Okay, there is still a lot of manipulation by the producers, but that is part of what intrigues me. How to the editors create an engaging/comprehensible narrative from 11 teams (22 people) running all over the place. They have to establish the relationships within each team and between teams, create tension of the race with pacing, deliver information about the challenges themselves and information about the locations and cultures.

A great example of this is in Sao Paulo, Brazil, while Ray and Yolanda are in the street putting together a motorcycle. A crowd of men gathers, loudly checkin' out Yolanda. Yolanda is oblivious, but you can see Ray fuming but sticking to task. They are working together as a team and working well, but tension is building.

What I enjoy most is watching how Americans experience new cultures in such a haphazard way. I am always amazed by cluelessness and ugliness. Have they watched this show?

Anyway, I always have my favorites. Usually I pick parent/child combos, especially father/sons. No father/son groups this time. There is the mother/daughter team of Wanda and Desiree, who are my third favorites. Desiree is from NYC, and I am usually fascinated by NY teams.

My fourth faves (oddly) are Dani and Danielle, two Staten Island gals in matching pink suits. The seem totally clueless and absolutely positive.

My second faves are BJ and Tyler, who the other teams refer to as "The Hippies." They are your standard iconoclast (horrible word), San Fran, Burning Man, nothing should be taken to seriously type folks. Again I am drawn to teams that are enjoying themselves and enjoying the experience.

And my number one favorites are, of course, David and Lori, the nerd couple. You have to root for the happy nerd couple. And they are from Manhattan, Kansas, so they get points for that.

Now, for the teams I hate. As always, it is the whinny, driven couples with the one person being overly domineering. This year (as usual) it is the males who are jack-asses.

Lake and Michelle, married for 13 years. Lake is clearly "passionate" and "expressive", which means he is going to get angry at every challenge and hoot and holler at every little victory. And most likely snap at his wife at every chance he gets. Two signs they will continue to incur my wrath: (1) Leaving the starting line, Lake doesn't read the clue instructions closely and calls the airlines from a payphone to get reservations (against the rules, in this case). This is the very first clue, minutes after the race has started. When Michelle notices his time wasting mistake and points it out in a particularly snappish way, Lake says, "Yeah, that is a mistake I am partially to blame for." Partially?!? (2) After choosing to build the motorcycle, Michelle questions the choice (and does so in a whinny doubtful way). Lake's response? "DON'T SECOND GUESS ME!" Nice.

Then there is Monica and Joseph (with matching "MO JO" shirts...ick...). Joseph isn't too bad, but he does react badly to Monica's shortcoming: defeatism. As they are getting to the first airport, just after the race has started, she looks like she is on the verge of crying that they won't get on the first flight. If she is going to start to break down at that, I wonder out she'll be the first time they get lost....

My last comment is about the old couple. I love the old couples. Life long bonds, infinite care and love for each other, perspective. But as always, they state that "brains" are their strength and that is what is always their downfall. Last night it was Fran and Barry walking right past the clue box repeatedly.