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Amazing Race 4: Thinking Smart in Episode 7by Jeffrey Clinard -- 07/14/2003
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Over half the teams are gone, with Tian & Jaree being the latest to hit the mat in last place. Only five teams remain, and, of the remaining ten racers, only two of them are female. This brings up an interesting point – of the twelve teams that started, five were all-male (two of them have been eliminated, two were all-female, and five were mixed-gender. It's the first time there has been an uneven mixture of genders in the race (previous races have had the same number of all-male and all-female teams). This brings me to my next question: Is there a gender bias in the race?
The models were the latest team to be eliminated, thus ending the hopes for any all-female team to win the race for the first time. Indeed, no all-female team has done better than 5th place, which was won by Nancy & Emily in the first race. However, all-male teams have won twice (Amazing Race 1 and 2), and come in third place twice as well (Amazing Race 1 and 3). On the flip side, all female teams have been the first eliminated twice (Amazing Race 2 and 3). In fact, only four females have ever crossed the finish line; Margarita (Amazing Race 1), Tara (Amazing Race 2), Flo (Amazing Race 3), and Teri (Amazing Race 3). By contrast, no all-male team has ever been the first eliminated. So why do all-female teams tend to stumble and fall?
Amazing Race 1: Kim & Leslie (Teachers) failed to look for the flag at the Eiffel Tower, wasted a lot of time searching it from the top down, then got into an argument with their cab driver near the pit stop. Pat & Brenda (Working Moms) went to the wrong pendulum in Paris, and by the time they figured out their error, it was too late for them. Nancy & Emily (Mother / Daughter) ignored a route information instruction (either find a van, or take a bus), suffered a 24 hour time penalty, and were eliminated entirely because of it.
Amazing Race 2: Deirdre & Hillary (Mother / Daughter) were eliminated in episode one after taking the slowest flight and fell to the bottom of the pack. Peggy & Claire (the "Gutsy Grannies") were eliminated because they took a bad travel route in their leg of the race (and by all accounts were over 24 hours behind the rest of the teams). Mary & Peach (Sisters) went for a Fast Forward that had already been taken in an attempt to make up time, and just got that much further behind (they also gave up).
Amazing Race 3: Gina & Sylvia (Mothers) repeated the error of Deirdre & Hillary, getting on the slow plane and dropping to the bottom of the pack. Heather & Eve (Law School Roommates) repeated the error of Nancy & Emily by failing to follow instructions and losing due to a time penalty.
Amazing Race 4: Monica & Sheree (NFL Wives) lost because they were the last team to figure out they needed to board a bus. Tian & Jaree (Models) lost because they were in next-to-last position, and the last place, in-shape Reichen & Chip did the smartest thing possible by taking the alternative detour and hoping for the best.
In any case, there is no consistent reason why all-female teams don't do well in The Amazing Race. The other reality TV shows I watch regularly don't seem to have this gender bias. Survivor has had three male and three female winners, and even the runners-up are evenly split in gender. In three editions of The Mole, two winners have been female. Similarly, the three editions of Big Brother (U.S.) have produced two male and one female winners. If anybody has some good ideas of why The Amazing Race has this bias, I'd be interested in hearing them.
Getting back to specifically this episode, this leg featured travel around India, a messy Roadblock, a Detour choice between chickens and elephants (The Amazing Race people like elephants; they've been featured in three of the four seasons), and the Fast Forward option. The start of the leg featured travel to Panvel Station by either train or cab. The train was the better way to travel, but four teams opted to take cabs. Then on the train out of Panvel Station, five of the six teams decided to upgrade to first class at a cost of thirty-two dollars per team (Millie & Chuck were the holdouts). While this was over 40% of the funds given to the teams at the start of the leg, it might have been worth it, since it was a 25-hour ride. Teams who have economized on the trip so far could afford a small luxury (the clowns initiated the whole thing, and everything shown has demonstrated they've had great money management skills).
The Roadblock was one of the more physically demanding ones we've seen, with one member being dragged 100 yards through the mud by a couple of bulls. Since only one bull team was available, it was possible for teams to shift position during this task, and it did happen, causing Tian & Jaree to slip. It was a contributing factor to their loss, but not the only one. It's worth noting that every other team selected a male to take the trip through the mud – and none of them slipped. It's also the only Detour I've ever seen where the task was revealed to the teams beforehand. How is this? Well, the producers ADVERTISED it. The billboard on National Highway 47 clearly stated "GO HERE" with a picture of the bulls pulling a man. However, none of the teams were shown to have actually bothered to read the billboard, which would have been thinking smart.1 2 Next-->
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