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The Amazing Race season premiere recap: Good Morning, Vietnam

Season 15 starts off with a dash through Tokyo and then Ho Chi Minh City

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Amazing Race Lance Keri
Monty Brinton/CBS

The Amazing Race

TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Phil Keoghan
Jerry Bruckheimer
Current Status:
In Season

Was this season 15 of The Amazing Race or season 3 of I Survived a Japanese Game Show? Thankfully, it was the former, even if there was a large chunk in which it seemed like the latter. So let’s begin with my new rallying cry, ”Eat the wasabiiiiiiiiii!”

ERIC AND LISA Let’s get them out of the way quickly, with the same speed from which they vanished from the show. Borrowing a trick used in Survivor, the Race decided to dump a team right away, after a challenge right at the starting line. The contest involved looking at a wall of license plates, trying to find a plate from the Tokyo district that they’d all be jetting off to; as it kicked off, I tried to guess which team I’d be happiest losing this early in the game, and, fortunately, Eric and Lisa were right up there in my mind. They were yoga teachers, but, as Eric said, they weren’t your ordinary teachers: ”We’re like yoga in the hood.” I have a feeling if Eric and Lisa ever tried to teach their yoga in the hood, they would last about as long as they did in this game. And for all their talk about being ”extreme” yogaists (yogists? yogers? yogifiers?), they accepted their loss in a very zen manner. ”To be the first team eliminated, now the shame, the pain is gone for everybody else. We took a beating for everybody.” Added Lisa: ”We set them free.” So in yoga terms, they stepped in downward-facing dog mess so others could stride on with clean shoes.

SAM AND DAN The Amazing Race casting agents usually prefer their gay players to play to the broadest stereotypes of flamboyance, bitchiness, or haplessness. Which is why this team is going to throw homophobic viewers into turmoil, and possibly a deep spiral of tough self-questioning: Wait, these guys look and act like my frat brothers! And they celebrated their mutual coming out with high-fives! But…I high five, too. In fact, I just did, when the Eagles won. Does that mean I’m gay? Or are the Eagles gay? The brothers are hiding their sexuality from the other teams, hoping to get on the good sides of female teams that want to flirt with them and don’t realize how pointless it is. Damn their sister for nearly blowing their cover by giving them matching orange passport covers!

MARIA AND TIFFANY What is it with reality shows casting poker players? First there was Jean-Robert on Survivor, then Natalie on Big Brother, and now these professional card sharps. Is it because poker provides the most obvious metaphor for why someone will be good at this game? We get it, you’re used to reading people and bluffing and getting free drinks and wearing green visors! Now shut up and play! Frankly, the Race, with its minor reliance of alliances or cooperation, is the least applicable of reality shows to poker skills. The only thing that can hold you in good stead is the ability to stay up all night playing a game. These women decided to use their bluffing skills by telling everyone that they worked for a homeless organization, so their competitors wouldn’t know they were rich (cover broken when a chip groupie recognized them in an airport), and would think they were far nicer than they were (cover broken when they were big snobs). And all their vaunted poker skills weren’t on display in Tokyo: During the wasabi game-show challenge, Maria had the opposite of a poker face when she failed to eat her first wasabi roll in time and had to do it again, nearly crying and quitting. And then, once she finished and she and Tiffany were given 20 audience members to shepherd through Tokyo, they lost two. Aren’t counting skills kind of key in poker? When she finishes a round of five-card draw, does she ever have to tell the dealer, ”Bad news: I seem to only be able to find three cards. I swear to God, there’s an Ace of hearts around here somewhere, you’ll just have to take my word for it.” Oh, and also, what does it say for their powers of perception when they’re shamelessly flirting with two gay men? When are they gonna learn to fold on that one?

NEXT: Lance the lawyer: He’s wicked smaaaaht!