Phuket: elephants mount, tap contestants’ asses

The Amazing Race 14 is preempted next week for a two-hour extravaganza, Andy Rooney Reads His Mail. Oh wait, that was tonight. Actually, it’s for the Country Music Awards, but I think I’d rather watch Andy Rooney discuss the contents of his diaper.

In other bad ideas news, The Amazing Race 14 is being turned into a video game by Ludia, which has produced games based upon American Idol and Hell’s Kitchen. The company’s CEO, Alex Thabe, said in a press release that the show’s “heart-pounding adventure, around-the-world competition and postcard worthy settings of ‘The Amazing Race’ are perfectly suited for video game adaptation,” said this one will be “a highly social, team-based multiplayer game that” in which “Players work to find each checkpoint and take on dozens of frantic challenges and tasks as they navigate Detours, Roadblocks and other unpredictable game elements from the show.”

Maybe it’ll work as a game, but there’s no real way to duplicate or even adapt the kind of drama and intrigue that we saw last night to a game format, where it’ll probably feel forced. After all, an elephant humping Americans in a video game would seem absurd, but on prime-time TV was stunning.

  • The teams’ destination of Phuket, Thailand, held the promise of fun pronunciations, although none of the contestants’ attempts at saying the name required a censor’s bleep. Instead, we got fun versions like “Poo-ket” and “Fa-coot.”
  • Tammy was reminded of a previous trip to Phuket when she recalled that “Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t even let me go to the beach,” lamenting how her parents babied her, even though at age 26 she still calls them “mommy” and “daddy.”
  • Speaking of baby talk, that’s kind of what Jaime did with a cab driver and others, saying, “You know race? Very important, very fast.” Cara said, “If I was on the other side, I’d be like, ‘Dude, you are a witch with a B.’” Now we know how to tell them apart: Jaime is the awful one, and Cara has the dirty mouth.
  • With only a picture of a fake gorilla as their clue, the teams were left wandering the streets of Phuket to see if locals could help. Jaime, of course, was saying, “Where’s the monkey? Do you know this monkey?” I was waiting for someone to just point to her.
  • Phil introduced us to “the tiger keeper,” who was perhaps not so good at his job, since he had just one arm. Phuk!
  • Kisha beat me to both of the jokes that popped into my head about Mike and Mark’s interaction with the tiger, as she called them “bite-sized” and said “they are about the size of the trainer’s missing arm.”
  • For the second part of the Roadblock, one team member had to have an elephant literally tap their ass while the other got dry-humped by the elephant. The visuals were astounding. Luke, of course, gets the award for best facial expression while having an elephant lower its crotch onto his ass.
  • “Let’s stop for a Thai massage,” Mel joked, and the editors had fun with that by cutting immediately to Mark saying, “I feel a ball-buster coming.”
  • Searching for a clue in one of 99 drawers by asking a shop keeper to open the drawers one at a time, Jaime became outraged that yet another person didn’t suddenly understand English once she started screaming at them. I get how stressful the situation must be, but contrast her acute horribleness with Mel and Mike, who laughed and made fun of themselves when they had similar trouble. They didn’t take it out on the man who probably had no idea what he was signing up for and will now have nightmares of a fire-headed woman spewing acid out of her mouth.
  • Pulling a rickshaw, Jaime said, “I’m like a mule.” The correct answer was “ass,” but we’ll take it. We also would have accepted “worst person on the race this season,” “worst ambassador for the United States ever,” and “freakshow.”
  • The Hobbits celebrated immediately after Phil said they were the first team to arrive at the mat, but as alert viewers noticed, he said “arrive,” not “team #1.” Phil explained, “However, you have incurred two 30-minute penalties. First, for intentionally tampering with the pumps and putting them away, and secondly, for breaking the rules and hiring help.” Perhaps because they were saved and Mike and Mel were ultimately eliminated, I thought 60 minutes wasn’t really enough of a penalty. What if they would have gotten lost without their taxi driver? Sometimes, taking a penalty could be more advantageous than the alternative.
  • “Oh, man, I feel like I’m going to pass out,” Margie said, giving details about her impending heatstroke by noting that she was having chills and numb fingers. Arriving at the mat, she said, “alright, we need water” and complained to Phil, “my fingers are frozen.” But Phil, excited about getting to use sign language again, ignored Margie’s symptoms. When she collapsed, though, he rushed over to catch her, and we saw him pouring water on her head and held her hand while someone else fanned her as she recovered. It’s probably just an indication of the kind of good guy Phil is, but may have also been due to guilt. Either way, it was a dramatic moment, although they really shouldn’t have spoiled it in the preview.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.