Phil eliminates a team at a random, surprising moment

After two disappointing seasons in a row–the family edition, and the one with the annoying, constantly victorious teams of young white guys–I wasn’t expecting much from the debut of The Amazing Race 10. From the opening note and Seattle flyover, this season felt different, like the old seasons, those before Rob, Amber, Jonathan, Victoria, and that twit Alison from Big Brother.

And it was different, especially when, halfway through the first episode, the producers pulled a dick move and eliminated a team randomly and unnecessarily. There was no pit stop and basically no emotional payoff because we didn’t yet know the teams, yet the team was sent home anyway. What is it with classy reality shows sinking to the level of the crap, in part by breaking their own rules? It’s utterly disappointing.

In China, Bilal and Sa’eed pulled the last departure time, which said simply “last team.” They were directed down a path, where, surprisingly, they found the mat. Phil appeared from the shadows, where he’d been lurking, probably doing dirty things (like conspiring with the producers). “I said there would be surprises. Even though this is not a pit stop, I’m sorry to tell, you’ve both have been eliminated from the race,” Phil told them.

Then Phil said to the everyone else, who was watching intently, “and I’m sorry to tell the rest of you you’ve all been eliminated, too. T-tow!” Seriously, though, that would have been just as random. Bilal, I think (we didn’t have enough time to get to know them as individuals), said, “We didn’t expect this, because it doesn’t say this was a pit stop! This just goes to show, you have no control over anything. The creator does.”

Yes, and his name is Christof. I mean, Betram van Munster, the executive producer of the series.

That aside, the remaining teams seem interesting, entertaining, and somewhat strong. While this cast has a number of firsts–the race’s first openly lesbian woman, the first race with an Indian-American team, the first race with an amputee, et cetera–there are quite a few familiar teams, such as the Guido-esque gay guys and the dysfunctional couple. However, no old team means there’s room for even more cute white girls; there are two sets this time. And there are also the requisite white 20-something models, although Tyler and James are ex-junkies, which is kind of hot. We also have a coal miner and his wife, and they’re nonstop comic relief, switching from being sweet to sniping in about six nanoseconds.

Despite the diversity, the white 20-something guys still came in first, and in the first episode alone, we lost the Muslim team and the Indian-American team.

By the way, what was with the stutter in the theme song at the beginning of the episode? The song reached its end too early, while the teams were still being shown, and then, instead of stopping, awkwardly repeated the last part. The random interjection of something that was out of place yet familiar? Perhaps it was just foreshadowing.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.