Friday, October 17, 2008

An Amazing Race To The Bottom

What was once one of the most exciting and even educational shows on television, the Amazing Race has now devolved into cheap entertainment tactics and even cheaper casting.

In seasons past, while the most endearing couple almost never won (thank you Uchenna and Joyce for bucking that trend), you could at least find people to root for. Sure, there were beautiful young couples with perfect bodies that look great shirtless, but there were also a couple of middle-aged married couples and maybe a couple sibling pairings and best friends as well. This all made for a well-balanced experience and provided teams worth investing in. The last couple seasons, especially the current one, have been a parade of young, hot couples, many of them “newly dating” which really chaps me beyond anything, none of whom are married and some are barely together.

It’s as if the casting directors were replaced by the team behind the Real World. No one is a person, they are characters with manufactured backgrounds that represent the fringes of the various demographics. The couples who are married are either really old or separated. Is it below the Amazing Race to give America an example of a strong couple that actually succeeds under the pressure? Does extreme goodness have no inherent entertainment value? And, if I hear one more couple using the million dollar prize purse as the final obstacle between them and actually getting married, I’m going to scream. Gay couples are always stereotypical and so are the devout Christians. This season’s Southern Belles are, of course, dumb blondes. The two sets of male best friends are two of the more lovable contestants, but, of course, both pairs are largely frumpy and nerdy, or at least that’s how the show has determined they need to be “packaged”. And, finally, and probably most noticeably, where are the minorities? Is one black or Hispanic team every season all they’re willing to muster? Couldn’t there be more, maybe even a team of friends where one is white and one is black and have it not played out like Amos and Andy?

(Don’t even get my started on the Biggest Loser. I’ve watched that show for only two seasons now and both times the black couple was kicked off straightaway, first this year and second last time. They need to have like six black couples next time and see how the fat white folks like being sent packing. But, could that show even exist anywhere but MTV? Probably not. For racially diverse entertainment cable may be your only hope and then, talk about people being characters! Dreadful.)

Frankly, I’m not sure how Phil the host can continue to do this job and not lash out at everyone every time they step on the mat. “Brad and Angelina, you’re team Number One! Now bend over, I’m going to stick this tribesman’s spear where the sun don’t shine if I have to look at either of you one more time on this trip! Does anyone have Probst’s number or know the status of his contract? I don’t know much about food or fashion, but can someone get me a meeting with Bravo? Who wants to get drunk? I’m outta here, to hell with all you narcissistic brats!” That would rule. I’d forgive him entirely.

Sadly, I can’t detach myself from the show, no matter how infuriating it is. I guess I hold out for the hope of seeing some honest to goodness human nature that doesn’t seem the product of creative editing

Speaking of opportunistic reality TV show stars, I was recently watching one of those 80s sex comedies you used to see on USA's Up All Night called Weekend Pass. One of the leads was a skinny black guy I knew I had seen somewhere before. After digging around the interweb, I finally found out that it was Chip, the big, burly black guy that won of the early Amazing Race seasons. Just goes to show that some people just want to be on camera


C-Pipes said...


I couldn't agree with you more. I think you hit it on the head why I stopped watching that show. I watched the first 6 seasons(at least) and then I got tired of the lazy editing to build tension. I can only see that stop sign for so long that used with the same 8 teams.

If you want to see minorities turn to VH1. If it weren't for Flav I wouldn't have aspirations for an MBA

Laurie, the girls and Scott said...

You know that Scott and I were season 2 applicants, right? We would have one too, if it weren't that we were a nice, young, not overly good looking married couple liked each other. That's just not a slot the producers were looking for - even then. Sigh. If only we had the million dollars. Then we could have finally done something sensible with it.

Eric Petersen said...

Like Chuck said "I couldn't agree more." I was thinking those exact words as I was reading through the post. The only difference is that I quit watching the show a long time ago.

Marilyn said...

I always liked Amazing Race, but haven't watched it this year or last year. Plus, even though it is (or was, anyway) the best of the reality shows, I don't think it should get the Emmy every year.
It seems like shows that take a winning format and go overboard into craziness don't fare very well in the long run and end up destroying the show. It's sad - but why don't all those highly paid consultants know that will happen?!