I started off this season optimistically, but I’m coming around to the fact that this year’s cast is pretty unimpressive. Everyone is either unlikable or unmemorable. I don’t mind unlikable, as long as they’re unlikable in a unique way, like, say, Mirna and Schmirna or Jonathan and Victoria. (Although I’m not sure if “abusive husband” qualifies as unique: Are they like snowflakes, no two alike?) But if a racer is unlikable in a way that I’ve encountered many times in my own life, why would I want to watch them for an hour? I’m speaking mainly of divorcées Kelly and Christy: Life has been pretty good for me since college, in that I haven’t encountered many smug, petty cheerleader types who will snicker about someone’s haircut from five feet away (“Doesn’t that hair remind you of Teen Wolf?” Kelly said about Dallas). I don’t watch any of Bravo’s Real Housewives of…series for the same reason: I don’t want to be reminded of this personality type. And now, here they are, clogging my race. It’d be one thing if they somehow pushed the bitchy stereotype even further, but no: They’re just run-of-the-mill jerks. Yawn. Hate, but yawn.
We had a little too much airport time in this episode of The Amazing Race, something we haven’t been subjected to very much this season. This focus was mostly in service of fleshing out Dan and Andrew’s sad-sack story line, which is a pretty banal one: Two pretty dull guys really, really want to be extraordinary, but it just ain’t in the cards. When they were told they just missed the second flight to Cambodia, Andrew (or “exhausted Seth Rogen,” as I’ve taken to calling him) glumly accepted their fate. But Dan would not accept defeat, so he raced to the airline’s check-in counter and did get them on the plane. It looked like a turning point, but then what happened? They landed in Cambodia and both stood around helplessly as everyone else got cabs, while they couldn’t figure out how. And then, later, when they had to fill up a truck with diesel fuel, they were the only pair that couldn’t get the pump to work, mostly because Andrew turned the crank like he was 80 years old, which I suspect — deep, deep inside — he is. Ken was bewildered by why they were having such trouble: “There’s no trick,” he told them, “It’s like pulling the zipper down and letting it flow.” And yet I fear an upcoming “take a leak” roadblock, in which we’ll see a yet-again-stymied Andrew weakly batting at his zipper as a stain of urine slowly spreads across the front of his shorts. These two guys are the Charlie Browns of this race. Auuuuugh, indeed.
Ken and Tina are slightly interesting to me, although less so when they get along. They began this leg with Ken going on about how well the couple is interacting, and that was almost enough to make me turn off the TV. Luckily, when he continued on with “What is an old man and an old woman doing out there…” you could see the anger switch get flicked in Tina as her eyebrows flexed from her standard angry angle to Super-Angry 5000, and she snapped, “Speak for yourself.” So I decided to stick around. To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, Tina had me at “I hate you, Ken, and every word out of your mouth is poison to my ears.”
Then there’s hypersensitive Terence, who just exhausts me. When he got a speeding ticket in New Zealand, and Sarah said, innocently, “I always thought you were a slow driver,” he sighed, “Such an ass.” (It was unclear whether he was referring to her or himself, so I’ll have to let that one lie.) But he went on to say, “That’s the way you comfort someone who just got a speeding ticket?” Look, Sarah’s reaction was the kinder one: The correct response to someone getting a ticket is “You jerk, why’d you slow us down?” But it raised a bigger question: He’s a running coach, but why would anyone hire someone with such pathological neediness as a motivator? What does he tell his clients, “When I tell you to run a five-minute mile, and you can’t, it really makes me feel like I can’t do my job, which hurts me?” Does every session end with his clients coughing up blood because they’re trying to run faster than their bodies can handle, just to keep Terence from crying? If this passive-aggressive style of coaching ends up succeeding, maybe he’ll get a running shoe named after him: The Nike Sulk.
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