Teams get bitchy and have meltdowns in China

We’ve officially reached the meltdown stage of The Amazing Race 14, where fatigue leads the teams to act irrationally. That led to the hyped showdown between Margie and Luke, and Jen and Kisha, which started because neither of the two teams could find a clue box that the camera operator was helpfully indicating with the camera as they looked for it basically right next to it; Luke practically touched it and didn’t even see it. Anyway, thus began a fight that Phil had to mediate on the mat.

But first, cultural attache Jaime was also in China, doing her best to trash Americans’ reputations:

  • Jaime said, “The only thing that I know about China is that it’s very populated, which is not one of my favorite things.” Ah, so not only are you rude to anyone who’s incapable of dealing with you on your terms, but you’re also ignorant.
  • Tammy and Victor had an advantage in China because they both speak Mandarin, and Margie said Luke would “like to go to a country where are the people are deaf and all the people sign so he would have the advantage.” I’m not sure where that country is, but I’m pretty sure Jaime would still yell and scream at cab drivers there, too, all the while wondering why they weren’t listening to her.
  • Foreshadowing what we already knew was coming because both the preview and the dumb “tonight on” segment (I hate that; I’m watching the show, so don’t spoil it for me), Jen said, “if I see somebody in front of me, I’m going to knock them over”; Luke signed, “Sometimes I’m not patient”; and Margie said the “degree of Luke’s competitiveness is a surprise to me.”
  • The first of two confrontations came when both Luke and Margie and Jen and Kisha were searching for a clue box. Everyone was aggressive, but Luke took it one step too far. He found the clue box first, Jen ran up behind him and put her hand on his back, and he elbowed her. As Jen explained, “he gave me an elbow and I called him a bitch because it was a bitch move.” A reader who knows ASL alerted me to the fact that Jen even signed “bitch” (watch the first confrontation here; Jen signs after she gets her clue and turns from the clue box), but since Margie had to tell him about that in the car, Luke obviously didn’t see it.
  • “Calling the deaf guy a bitch is not nice. Time to get dirty now,” Luke said, punching his hand into his fist. He also said, “good thing I’m deaf. If I had heard her yelled at me and call me a bitch, it would have been on.” I may be wrong, but I think calling anyone a bitch isn’t nice, nor is it exactly a word that justifies punching someone, and elbowing someone may just be a bitch move.
  • At the next clue box, the reverse happened: Jen got there first and almost knocked it over, and then sort of elbowed Luke who came up behind her. Margie said, “Kisha, cut it out,” even though it was Jen who did it. Awkward!
  • Back to more comical teams, at the Roadblock, where one team member had to get a bird to retrieve fish, Victor gave some of his patented awesomely stupid advice, telling Tammy, “Make sure you communicate with the bird. Tammy, they only speak Chinese.” In case that wasn’t obviously dumb, the famous Amazing Race Idiotic Statement Gong rang out.
  • Talking about her bird, which retrieved fish in its mouth without eating it, Jaime said, “I know if someone tossed filet mignon in my mouth, I do not believe that I’d give it back.” I’ll trust her expertise about getting and keeping meat in her mouth.
  • “They’re sabotaging each other. Work as a team!” Victor said about Tammy’s birds, although I could have sworn he was watching footage of himself in Transylvania.
  • “I smell stanky now,” Jaime said after handling fish. At least now her body odor matches her personality.
  • “I really believe in karma,” Jen said after one of Luke’s birds came up and grabbed for a fish he just had in his hand, biting him in the process–although it did not call him a bitch.
  • For their Speedbump non-elimination leg task, Mark and Mike had to wash hair, and Mark basically beat the shit out of his old woman, all the while talking about how fun it was. Yes, because you didn’t have someone clawing at your skull.
  • Tammy said the other teams “just knew that if you follow Victor and Tammy, you’ll get to the right place.” Apparently the other teams did not see footage of Victor and Tammy in Transylvania.
  • Victor’s best line of the season was delivered in Mandarin. He asked one of the locals on the calligraphy Detour to help them, saying, “If we don’t win, our parents will cry themselves to death.”
  • Despite being cheerleaders, which they reminded us of incessantly without explaining how someone so devoid of cheerfulness could be a cheerleader, Jaime and Cara couldn’t duplicate a dance at the other Detour task. So of course Jaime reached into her cheerleading toolbag and became a complete ass. “What is the problem? Do you speak any English whatsoever?” she barked.
  • Everyone except Jaime and Cara, and Mark and Mike, checked in a the same time, and Phil, having obviously been tipped off about the day’s events, asked about the conflict between two of those three teams. Margie said, “Don’t say anything” to Luke, who said, “I’m angry.” But he wasn’t as angry as she was about to get. As Luke recapped the conflict for Phil, Kisha and Jen chuckled, and Margie exploded at Kisha: “Don’t laugh at my son when he signs. I’m sorry, but that’s rude.” Kisha said, “I’m smiling because that’s what we do, we smile.” And then Margie just lost it: “If you laugh at my son again. … He’s signing and they’re laughing at him. Yes they are. I’m not going to put up with this.”
  • Even Phil knew that Margie was overreacting, telling her, “I don’t think that’s what they meant.” I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a deaf son or to be deaf, never mind traveling around the world in the most stressful way possible, but they were clearly just laughing because they knew they’d irritated a fellow competitor. And when Phil says you’re being irrational, you are.
  • Then Margie played the deaf equals black card. Oh no. “You should understand the pressure because you’re black and you’ve lived with it. He has lived with just as much,” she said. Oh god, can we please have Jaime berating locals again?
  • No: more tension. While Kisha said, “Margie, no one’s laughing at Luke, plain and simple,” she did apologize if they misunderstood the response. And just as things were settling down, Luke offended everyone, including us. “My whole life, hearing people put deaf people down,” Luke signed. “All hearing people put deaf people down. They think we’re stupid.” Well, now they might, since you just insulted them.
  • After the drama ended, Mark and Mike were eliminated, and Mike said, “It’s humbled me a little bit. I always need to come back to the right size that I am.” But then we wouldn’t have been able to see you on TV. Zing!

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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.