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Reality Hit List, June 5: Welcome Back, The Amazing Race!by Brian James -- 06/05/2003
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For those of you who followed my last column, Reality High Test Results, and are wondering what happened to it, I’ve decided to put it on indefinite hiatus. While in some ways it was fun to write, in other ways its gimmicky nature was quite restrictive and constraining, and I don’t think it worked as well after the first season. I may choose to revive it at a future date, or I may not – we’ll see.
In its place, I’ve come up with a new column concept, Reality Hit List. Basically, it’s just a weekly column of my thoughts and observations on the various reality shows that I follow that aired that week. This format is a lot more flexible and will give me the freedom to talk about dating and performance shows – The Bachelor, American Idol, etc. – that wouldn’t have worked in Reality High. Some weeks I’ll talk about a bunch of shows; other weeks, maybe only one or two shows will give me things to say.
This first column was originally supposed to cover the premieres of The Amazing Race 4 and For Love or Money, but because they were both long and in the interest of timeliness, this column will just stick to The Amazing Race. For Love or Money will follow shortly, either as a separate column or in tandem with the second episode of The Amazing Race – as this is a new column, I’m still working out some of the scheduling specifics, but within the next week or two it’ll get to a point where things won’t be covered a week later like this!
Anyway, enough explanations and backstory – on to the column!
The Amazing Race is back with its fourth edition, and not a moment too soon. Host Phil Keoghan sent off our latest crop of twelve teams with his usual proclamation: "The world is waiting for you!" Too bad CBS didn’t quite see it that way. Did anyone actually watch Star Search besides our recappers?
First, though, the ever-inquisitive Phil wants to know, "Can these teams stand up to the stress of traveling together for over 40,000 miles? Will the competing teams become friends or enemies? Who will come up with the right strategy – the right combination of brains, brawn, and teamwork – to win the one million dollars?" My own questions are more along the lines of, "Who will be the first to bitch about their cab driver?" (Tian.) "Who’ll be the first to call their partner an idiot?" (Kelly.) "Who’ll be the first to be reduced to tears?" (Steve of Debra & Steve.) "Who’ll have the first supercolossal pyrotechnic complete meltdown?" (Only a couple minor hissyfits this outing – stay tuned!) To me, it’s the little details that count.
Speaking of the teams, we have three Steves, two Jons, and a David and a Dave. This is coming hot on the heels of a Survivor season that started with Jeanne, Jenna, JoAnna, and Janet on the same tribe. Is this Torture Recappers and Columnists Year at CBS or what?!?
From the opening credits, I see that David & Jeff have been assigned the patented Teri & Ian 90E synchronized head turn, while Jon & Al prove that clowns in their costumes sans makeup look frighteningly like Liberace. Speaking of Jon & Al, they seem nice enough, but I have feeling a little bit of them goes a long way. One more cackle out of them and they would have conjured up The Surreal Life’s Emmanuel Lewis.
Perhaps at some point, I’ll stop cracking up every time I see "Best Friends/Clowns" and "Dating 12 Years/Virgins" on the screen. Perhaps. But not now.
Speaking of our "Dating 12 Years/Virgins" (I mean, come on now – do any of the other couples get labels like "Married/Twice a Week"?), Millie’s taken a stand: "If Chuck does not ask me to marry him soon, I think our relationship will be over." Whoa! Let’s not be hasty here, Millie. Are you sure you don’t want another twelve years to think it over? Chuck, meanwhile, says marriage scares him. Fine, but after twelve years, what, pray tell, is he waiting for? An engraved invitation to fall from the sky like so much manna? Appropriately enough, the first time we see them, it’s on a carousel. A carousel going around and around without ever actually going anywhere – why, it’s just like their relationship! (Or, come to think of it, Passions. Hell, on that show it would probably take twelve years for two people just to have a first date.)
All snarking aside, though, I think this couple – Millie in particular – may be worth keeping an eye on; they seem focused, athletic, and get things done with minimal bickering.
As far as labels go, I was happy to see that Reichen & Chip were simply listed as "married" with no additional qualifiers. It may seem like a minor thing, but it’s significant nonetheless. From poking around on various message boards, I think some people seem to think that they’re making too big of a deal about worrying about telling the other teams they’re a couple, but I can understand it in a way. I’m openly gay myself, but I don’t rush into every new situation declaring, "Hi, I’m Brian and I’m gay!" I like to assess the situation and the people first to make sure no one’s a raging homophobe or anything. And, to be honest, sometimes it just never comes up because the conversation or interaction never heads in that direction – I mean, could you picture the following?
"So what did you think of American Idol?"
Plus, Reichen said, "I have a personal vendetta against all the times that I have been made to feel inadequate because I’m gay, and I am not going to be made to feel that way on this race," which would lead me to believe that he’s had some really bad experiences with homophobia in the past. It’s a shame; he seems like a nice guy. But that would certainly also explain their caution in revealing they’re a couple.1 2 3 Next-->
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