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''The Amazing Race'': Rampant foot-in-mouth disease

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The Amazing Race
Ron and Kelly: Tony Esparza

The Amazing Race

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
26
run date:
03/08/01
Producer:
Jerry Bruckheimer
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Reality TV

”The Amazing Race”: Rampant foot-in-mouth disease

The good thing about passing judgment on Gretchen and Meredith from home is that you never have to worry about getting your karmic comeuppance on national TV. If I make a smug joke like, ”Shouldn’t these people be home complaining to their canasta club that the Price Is Right girls are getting too trampy?”, and the next day a 70-year-old beats me senseless with a cane etched with the words ”PLINKO 4-EVA,” then yes, I deserve it — but most of the world will never know of my humiliation. But when Rob smugly snickered that ”You’d think at 65, 70 years old, they’d have a clue,” all while not realizing that Gretchen and Meredith, the Masters of Maalox, were actually on a flight ahead of him (because of his own cockiness, no less)…that had to hurt. Not even the mighty guiding skills of Sanju could navigate him out of this embarrassment.

All those people who post on this board how much they hate Rob and Amber must have been tossing confetti and popping champagne to see the duo’s hubris backfire so magestically. Rob had asked Gretchen if she and Meredith got the earlier flight just to mess with her mind, but it motivated her to actually find an earlier flight, while he obliviously stayed on the later plane. This humbling moment must be like porn to Survivor: All-Stars‘ Lex. I picture him sitting at home, piercings glistening romantically in the candlelight, rewinding this moment over and over on TiVo while seductively whispering to himself, ”Where’s his alliance now?”

Now, many people have chastised me for what they perceive as an anti-old-age bias. ”Good luck escaping senior citizenship yourself!” they snipe. I’d like to set this straight: I don’t have anything against older people. After all, they are just like you and me, only with wrinklier butts. And I have rooted for many older couples on the race in the past. I want to root for Gretchedith, I really do. The fact that they’re now in second place, right behind the unassailable Uchenna and Joyce, is fantastic. And there was something undeniably inspiring about seeing the 66-year-old Gretchen scale that rope ladder… BUT THEN SHE WOULDN’T SHUT UP. She has no inner monologue at all, just an unending series, of, ”Ohhhh, look out! Mama mia, this is a tough one! Oh, lordypants gosheroo, I’d better not puncture the ol’ bladderino!” If a 20-year-old Olympian had that voice I’d want her out of the race. Hell, if a kid stuck in a well nattered on like that I’d dump some more water down on top of her.

And why do Gretchedith have so much trouble spotting landmarks? They went up the tower twice looking for the clue box. How did they even find their way to the starting line of The Amazing Race itself? I picture them showing up to four other reality-TV shows before finally finding Phil and the other racers: ”Darn it, Meredith, this is Fear Factor, and I’m not eating any bugs, nosiree!” ”Wait, maybe it’s in this house, Gretchen, and… Darn it all, this is Trading Spaces! Where is that goshdarn Phil?” Then they couldn’t find the guy with the scales. It’s a good thing Christopher Columbus was proven right, or these two would have wandered off the edge of the world by the race’s third leg.

Speaking of the scales, I wish Phil had given a little more information on why weighing people in the streets was a local custom. Is finding out you’re grossly overweight a good-luck charm in Istanbul? If a stranger grabs your testicles and asks you to cough, is that a great honor? Perhaps if someone bends you over for a prostate exam at the local mall, it means you’ve been elected king.

By this point in the article, you’re impatiently muttering, ”Yeah, yeah, get to Ron and Kelly, already!” It’s likely you don’t even remember any of the other goings-on because you didn’t hear any of the show after her infamous comment: Once you hear a woman accuse her boyfriend of becoming a POW as an easy way to get out of the Army, you likely spend the rest of the hour jamming Q-tips into your ear, thinking, ”I can NOT have heard that right.”

Her remark was insane, and when it was isolated in last week’s coming attraction, it made it seem like she was the only thing standing between them and a healthy relationship. But when the conversation was shown in its entirety (or at least, its edited entirety, which isn’t necessarily any more accurate), we heard Ron’s destructive lead-up comment: He mused aloud that he had lots more of the world to see before he’d ever get married or have kids. Which is an extremely cowardly and passive-aggressive way of saying, ”When this race is over, I think I’m going to keep racing… away from you and your needy womb!”

Then again, after her POW comment, it seemed like a fine statement retroactively. Was she kidding? It’s so hard to tell because neither of them have evinced much hint of a personality. They seem less like actual people than the result of an experiment by a White House scientist who is trying to start a master race of unassailably patriotic progeny. ”I have done it! I have built a pageant winner and a decorated veteran! Now mate, my pets, and you will create a superspecies that will never, ever question the government again!” Neither of them ever really smile or change their voice inflections. Even when they’re in an argument, they don’t wince or sneer. It’s like they’ve been emotionally Botoxed.

All the bland looks and repeated calling each other ”Babe” won’t save this relationship, but the romantic nonstarter was allowed to drag on thanks to it being a nonelimination round. And now they’ve won a trip (thanks to Travelocity product placement so blatant it made Mark Burnett look like a communist), so they can count on another few weeks of awkward silences and crazy remarks. Who knows, perhaps in their luxury Four Seasons suite, Kelly can berate him, using the fact that he inhales and exhales when he breathes as further proof that he can’t commit. ”Which will it be? Air in the lungs or air out of the lungs? Typical!”

What do you think? Did you cheer when Rob’s ploy backfired? Do Gretchen and Meredith stand a chance? And whose comment was worse — Ron’s or Kelly’s?