Pop Culture Junkette

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Monday, September 18, 2006

The Race is on!

Ah. The Amazing Race is back. All is well in the world. I can't believe we are now in Season 10 (although I guess Season 9 if we pretend that The Amazing Race: Family Edition didn't happen, which is something we all want to do). Just some disjointed thoughts on the first episode (spoilers ahead). I tried to organize my thoughts by team.

First, as Holt pointed out to me last night, this had to be the most difficult first leg of the Race ever. Sending them to China at the outset? Making them climb up the Great Wall?! Usually the first few legs are a little easier, and a little closer to home. Not this time. Then again, Phil did say there would be major twists and turns this season.

The teams:
The Three-Legged Racers (or Team Tripod, as Gobo calls them): Yes, I know we are probably going to hell for making up these names for the team of two triathletes, one of whom only has one leg. Oh well. During their opening interview I thought they seemed like a really sweet team of two people deciding to bite the bullet and take a chance on love, corny as it sounds. But as the episode progressed, I started seeing disturbing shades of Ian, Jonathan, Ray and every controlling man who has come before in Steve (the male, two-legged member of the team). To be fair, he didn't put Sarah down at all and did support her when she had a hard time climbing the wall. But when they were trying to deal with strategy-type decisions, he got rude and clearly didn't want to hear her input. A bad sign so early on, but I'll write it off as first-day jitters and hope things improve. I think the biggest question on our minds right now (mine and Gobo's) is whether Sarah can get a replacement leg, since hers is now leaking hydrolic fluid. I wonder what the Race rules are for that.

I thought it was interesting that they are using her disability to do things like pre-board. I don't blame them--you need to take the advantages you can in this game. But did Myrna and Charla pull that card? I don't remember ever seeing it. I would have thought they would have tried. I wonder whether the disabled community is going to be annoyed with Sarah for using her handicap to her advantage when she doesn't actually need the special help, or whether they will just be proud that she is able to do so much with her disability. Or whether they won't care at all.

The Teams with Bad Nicknames (Team Karma, The Cho Bros) For those who didn't watch, Team Karma was a team made up of an Indian married couple. Did they really have to call themselves Team Karma? Really? I would like to think if I (a Greek Fraggle) were to join a team with another Greek we wouldn't call ourselves Team Opa. Of course, Team Karma's karma must have been pretty bad, since we will no longer be seeing them. Which wasn't a surprise--the first thing Gobo and I said when we saw them was "they will not last long." And they didn't.

The Cho Bros, on the other hand, are still around. They are brothers, and I assume their last name is Cho. So yeah, it kind of rhymes. But does that mean they have to put the team name on the back of their jackets? It's so dorkily unnecessary. But unlike last year's nerds, David and Lori, they don't seem to be celebrating their dorkiness and taking part in dorkdom with tongue in cheek. Not good.

Then we have the Muslims from Cleveland. Gobo, who is also from Cleveland, immediately decided they were his favorite team. In their first interview they said that because they are observant, they would find their five minutes a day to pray (they didn't mention doing so five times a day, but I have to imagine that would go with the territory). I was really waiting for the day when they were in a huge rush to the mat and had to choose between prayer and elimination. Unfortunately, that day will never come, as they were ousted when there wasn't even a pit stop. Ouch. When they were eliminated they said that their elimination just goes to show that we don't have control over anything, that only the Creator does. Um, yeah. If they are talking about the creator of the show, that is. Poor Gobo has to choose a new favorite team.

This Year's Fighting Couple. Every year there has to be a couple who just cannot get along. This year, the award goes to dating couple Rob and Kimberly. They are definitely going to be the annoying bickersons of the Race. There's really not much more to say about them.

The Cheerleaders and Miss America. Gobo was very disturbed by these two teams, because he didn't know how he was going to tell them apart. Luckily for viewers, Miss America is comprised of two blondes, while the cheerleaders have one blonde and one brunette. It's the subtle distinctions that matter. And I'm really upset that the Miss America contestants are not wearing their sashes and tiaras. Doesn't the pageant have rules about these things? Of the two teams, Miss America appears more impressive, not only because they didn't ask whether Muslims believe in Buddha (that was the cheerleaders, showing a level of ignorance even Kendra didn't reach), but also because they were really fast with the brick-laying.

Team Alabama is compised of two African-American single mothers. My first thought on seeing them last night was that they would be the first to be eliminated, because they just don't look as fit as the other teams. I was wrong, although they did have a lot of trouble with the climb up the Great Wall. Which, of course, made me so proud of them when they made it up. My favorite thing about Team Alabama is that they already hate the Three-legged Racers for jumping ahead in the boaring line because of Sarah's disability. You need some conflict to keep things interesting!

I was also proud of the Coal Miner's Wife when she made it up the wall. The most shocking thing about Coal Miner's Wife is that she is only 30 years old. Disturbingly, Coal Miner and Wife are another team where the man is dominant in the relationship. Haven't we seen enough of these on the Race? Too much of this dynamic just gets old after awhile.

Most impressive up the wall was Lesbian Lauren, who seemed to scramble up there really quickly, although her dad struggled. There's not much to say about them, other than the fact that her father openly cried when he thought about his daughter being a lesbian in his opening interview. Which was just...a little weird. She has been out for years. Is the pain still so raw that he cries about it on national television?

Next we have the "Boyfriends." I don't know why the Race has to refer to them as "Boyfriends." All of the other dating couples are just "dating." Couldn't they do that for Boyfriends as well? The viewer can easily see that they are both boys, so "dating" would allow us to know that they are, in fact, boyfriends. But no matter. I don't think Boyfriends will be with us for long--they are no Team Guido or Team Cha Cha Cha.

Speaking of gay, we have the current first place team, the Druggie Models. My big question is whether they are gay or straight? I'm leaning toward gay. They kind of reminded me, looks-wise, of the Frats from last year. But I loved, loved, loved the photos the Race ran of them back in their druggie days, with the nitrous tank next to one of them. Classic. They were pretty impressive, and I kind of liked them, although it would be great to finally see an all-female team win the Race. Just once. Is that so much to ask?

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