After the first episode of The Amazing Race 4, "Dr. Marci" takes a look at what we have found out about each team so far. What kind of insight can we get about how they will be racing and getting along with each other? And what kind of issues might Millie & Chuck (right), the self-proclaimed virgins, have?
With our first look at the teams working together, I am delighted to see all different types of personalities represented here! Kudos to the casting team at CBS! I'm anxious to see what they have to reveal upon further examination, err, um, I mean episodes. Please keep in mind that I'm not trying to be negative about ay of the teams, but, rather, it is my JOB to look beyond the surface - one I take delight in and do not mind being wrong from time to time. Enjoy! And please feel free to email any crucial points I may have missed, though be warned that even that will be under my intense scrutiny. Now, on the couch for today are…
Tian and Jaree - There are a few things that go wrong in the very beginning and the ladies seem to handle it well, though as time goes on, they get more and more tense. Not a good sign, considering that was only the first leg of the race. They are trailing way behind, which can cause tension to mount, but the first thing I notice is how comfortable they are around each other. They can get quite hostile with their words and that shows me that they have been through enough time or trials together to not worry about losing the other as a friend. What I don't see is any encouragement or the need to make things better. They seem verbally opinionated and a tad bit negative, which could work against them. Nor are they attempting to start any friendships which could be indicative of their self absorbed personalities, or just the fact they were concentrating on the race. Which, considering they still came in near the end, would go to say that they need to try a little harder.
Steve and Dave - They are hoping to fly below the radar, using their age
to mask them from being a threat. Steve and Josh do see the benefits of befriending them, thinking that as air traffic controllers; they must be a little savvy about airplane travel. Steve and Dave are receptive to it and are quite willing to help, so long as they are benefiting as well. I think what we have seen so far is just natural competitiveness and a healthy outlook to do their best. And when Dave injured his knee, Steve was supportive and helpful, never complaining that they were getting behind. So immediately, we see how they are at their best under adversity. I hope to see more of their hardworking, supportive dynamics in episodes to follow.
Reichen and Chip - Again, with the race going full force, it's hard to see "inside" a team unless they are overtly expressive. As of the first episode, this team is not. They do, however, seem on guard. They formed a perhaps short-term alliance with another two-man team, but are cautious that the other team will choose not to team up with them because they are a gay couple. I'm curious to see if being "cautious" will create insecurities in each other or if they can overcome and prevail, at least as a loving couple, if not the winners.
Millie and Chuck - Dating for twelve years and still virgins with no commitment from Chuck for marriage. Millie stated she is ready for a commitment and unless she sees the same ideas in Chuck, she thinks their relationship could be over. I am likely to think that any relationship for 12 years without sexual relations IS a commitment. Apparently one or both of them could have intimacy issues, trust issues, or fear of change and/or "commitment." While it does take two to tango, someone here is obviously comfortable with the ways things are, which can indicate extreme selfishness. Someone is taking while the other is giving. I can't tell who yet, as that remains to be seen. Neither one has been shown to have any negativity when under stress, so look for other moments to get a clue as to who is the puppeteer in this team. What I do find interesting is that they have paired up with another couple about their age, but completely different in the dynamics, Amanda and Chris. It would not surprise me to see Millie and Chuck either mimicking this more aggressive team, or using them to find their own ground.
Steve and Josh - One of the first things that struck me about Steve and Josh is when Josh said Steve was his "hero." Josh also told his dad that he was making Josh look like a wimp when completing the road block. I was touched to see such admiration from Josh but did not fail to notice the silence on Steve's part. I hope he becomes more vocal later on, so that my first suspicion is not true - that Steve wishes Josh was more like him and that Josh, while respecting his father, knows that will never happen.
Russell and Cindy - Still too soon to tell about these folks. Cindy did call Russell her security blanket, which sounds sweet, but in my profession sounds like a red flag. Not to be a "wet blanket," but what do we do with security items? We throw them away when they are no longer giving us what we need. I'm not saying that will happen here, but let's keep our eyes open for any marital discord. Which, let's face it, guys, that would only make them normal.
Monica and Sheree - These two ladies seem happy to have their moment in the spotlight, eager to shine as their husbands did. They do not seem meek, they were quite opinionated when slighted at the ticket line, and then enthusiastically appreciated the help they got from the same team later on. Whether these two bring out the best in each other, or if they are naturally extroverts is hard to tell. Keep an eye on them; they could turn out to be pistols!
Dave and Jeff - This team seems like the regular guy next door types who are ready to compete and win. There is nothing that stands out and I'm not entirely sure there is anything more to come. Maybe I will be wrong.
Amanda and Chris - Amanda shows she is the aggressive one by taking the driver's seat and acquiring a mild case of road rage. She cursed all the innocent drivers who dared get in her way. I had the urge to wash her mouth out with soap and tell her to grow up and get some manners. She can't be accused of being a lady, that's for certain. I'd like to remind her that anyone who uses that much profanity to express themselves lacks any creativity. Also, the curser usually has some self- hate, as when you insult someone, you are most of the time insulting yourself. I don't get much out of Chris but I would be willing to bet that he pretty much lets her take control and sits back while she makes herself look silly. It could be assumed that someone like Chris could boost his ego by sticking with someone like Amanda. The shirt, "I'm with Stupid," comes to mind, though with all due respect to Amanda. I hope to see more of her finer qualities later, like if she ever lets Chris do some of the footwork and how she plays with others.
Jon and Kelly - This engaged couple ironically both are somewhat afraid of marriage. They seem supportive of each other and have a strong sense of competitiveness while Kelly has more of a sense of playing nice. They seem to have the typical Alpha Male and Nurturer Female. It's comforting to see a couple who are so comfortable in the roles. It looks like a win-win. So far.
Jon and Al - The fun-loving clowns. With stories of packing clowns into cars and passing gas, these guys will keep their cool for the long haul. They appear to be an example of those who can strive to do their best and keep their attitudes in check. Not always easy to do.
Steve and Debra - A sensitive couple who only want to make the other happy. They appear to be completely smitten with each other and to be top priority. One might say a little too smitten and too sensitive, but there really wasn't enough to tell. I'll regret not having them around longer, to use as a comparison with the other couple teams.
Remember, if you are going to be dysfunctional, at least get on a reality show and make some bank out of it.
Marci Thompson, aka "Dr. Marci," is a freelance reporter and psychology student from Texas. You can e-mail her at email@example.com.