Lithuania offers Amazing Race the perfect opportunity for product placement

Buying airline tickets and driving are the “Tyra Mail!” of The Amazing Race. On every episode of Top Model, the girls scream, “Tyra Mail!” and they all run to listen to one of their own read a vague clue about their next activity. The editors typically include a few “Tyra Mail!” screams, and show us the pointless clue. Even the models themselves seem annoyed by this time-wasting contrivance, and it’s equally boring for us, since nothing really happens and it seems like the same scene from episode to episode, season to season.

Likewise, The Amazing Race has airports, ticket offices, and driving. Occasionally, there are moments of fun or drama during these long sequences, but generally, not even clever musical scoring can inject drama into buying airline tickets. Sunday night’s episode was one of those forgettable episodes because it was mostly focused on buying tickets and finding one’s way around.

But thankfully, those took place as the teams arrived in Lithuania, the perfect opportunity for the producers to awkwardly integrate even more Travelocity fun into an otherwise pedestrian episode.

  • Non-blonde Jennifer said, “Our eyes are full of fire right now. … So we are going to use the ball of fire that’s inside of us to just rage through.” You know, that fire will probably go away with some penicillin.
  • Who’s your awkward daddy? Ronald. After his daughter said “I love you,” he replied with, and I am not making this up, “Lithuanians make some great pastries, as I understand it.”
  • Vyxsin said that traveling to Lithuania would be “so gothy.”
  • In one of those misuses of the English language that turns out to be rather clever, Donald called the Internet cafe the “Internet buffet.”
  • The AirFrance ticket office at the Burkina Faso airport had flat-screen monitors — but dot matrix printers. They still make those?
  • After a French-speaking ticket agent found Ronald and Cristina a flight, he told the agent, “wunderbar,” apparently confusing French with German.
  • Nicolas decided to try the “screw over everyone else” strategy, telling the ticket agent, “Everyone else, give them later flights.” But while the ticket agent didn’t get the message, everyone else did. “You know guys, we can hear you; we’ve been behind you the whole time,” Hendekea said.
  • Donald and Nick’s camera operator and sound guy had cameos by way of the ticket agent’s screen. Teams have to buy tickets for their crew (for a total of four tickets), and when the camera zoomed in, we saw flights booked for Dean Jean Gaveau and Alan Robert Weeks. Also Donald’s last name is Jerousek, and their flight was on July 17. Tragically, the credit card numbers were XXed out.
  • “Jen, come on, dude,” Nate yelled, one of the many times he asked Jen to stop running. Because, like, they’re not in a race or anything.
  • “Oh my god, a bus almost just killed me. I’m sorry; I should relax,” Shana said sarcastically, moments after The Amazing Race joined Alias and every other drama on television to feature a point-of-view shot of a vehicle bearing down on a car with a camera inside it.
  • Giving up on asking individuals for directions, Nick, standing in the middle of the street, shouted, “Excuse me, does anyone know…” …the definition of a stupid-ass American?
  • In Lithuania, where most people were speaking English to them, Ronald handed his book to a guy at a cafe, and said, “merci beaucoup,” and the guy said, “Yeah. Bye.” Apparently, Ronald has a one-country delay in acclimating to the language.
  • Introducing a challenge, Phil said, “Lithuania is the land of gnomes. Teams must scour this village for a vacationing Travelocity roaming gnome.” And for the producers’ integrity.
  • Spotting a Lithuanian festival, Kynt said, “Where’s my costume? I want to jump in there.” And before I could think of a way to make fun of him for that, he did it for me: “Vyxsin and I love to play dress-up, and we were surrounded by kindred souls who made us feel ‘normal,'” he said.
  • “You brought your gnome for me? Nice to see the gnome,” Phil told one team as they checked in. Oh, Phil. It’ll be nice to see your dignity when you can find it again.
  • “We’re just hoping that we still have a race,” blonde Jennifer said. And we’re hoping that one day you’ll make sense.
  • “Bitch. What are you doing?” Nate said to Jennifer. It was such an awkward moment that a costumed character who was taunting her just slipped away slowly.
  • Upon elimination, Shana reflected upon what she’d learned about the race, namely that the day spa experience is unique to America. “We come from a comfortable life: we get manicures and pedicures and facials, and then you come here and all of that goes out the window,” she said.

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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.