As The Amazing Race began, I once again felt the excitement that comes with a new race as the camera swept across the team’s faces and Phil squinted his face even more than he did last season. Then the teams took a bus and the subway to the airport, walked across a wire, rode a funicular, painted a square, and checked in. Wow. I’m not sure if it’s budget cuts or what, but the first leg was less than amazing.
But it was entertaining, thanks to the massive stupidity that seemed to infect most teams at one point or another. Some of that came from Big Brother‘s Jeff and Jordan. Although I am not their biggest fan, nor a fan of cross-overs, it’s totally obvious why they were cast, because they are amusingly stupid. Still, that’s predictable and we’ve seen it before, and so I found the stupidity of the other contestants to be a lot funnier.
And there was a lot of stupidity; I’m convinced producers cast the show to be an idiot edition, perhaps to give Jeff and Jordan a fighting chance. At least for now, I’m not complaining, because it certainly gave us plenty of material to make fun of:
- Caite, the bumbling beauty pageant contestant, explained her now-famous moment as “a horrible mistake on stage” when “I just started speaking before I created a sentence in my head.” For some reason, I immediately thought of Jennifer Coolidge’s Best in Show character Sherri Ann Cabot, as she stood by the snack bar, eating popcorn while waiting for a “message from myself.”
- Caite promised, “A lot of people think I’m ignorant. You’re going to change your mind.” I didn’t.
- During the introduction of the teams, grandmother Jody told us she was a “former couch potato” and a triathlete, which was super-impressive except she nearly fell on her face when she exited the bus.
- Phil explained to the teams that this was one of the “most difficult and demanding races ever,” and you could see the teams shaking in fear–and they didn’t even know that they were going to have to paint a square. And ride a funicular!
- Jordan is the gay brother (“I am gay. Surprise!”), and appears to serve as his brother’s on-demand entertainment. Jordan explained that “When I saw [Caite], I almost pooped myself.” Dan said, “Do the imitation,” Jordan imitated Caite’s famous maps and “the Iraq” speech, and his brother cracked up.
- After reading the clue that said they were going to Santiago, Chile, Jeff said, “I think we’re going to Guatemala?” and Jordan said, “China?” A few minutes later, Jeff tried to mock Jordan, I think, by asking her if she’d ever heard of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, which he apparently thought was Carmen Santiago. While they didn’t get on a bus to San Diego, Jordan asked the airline agent for “tickets to China,” which I wish they had given her.
- On the bus to the airport–teams had to take public transportation, which provided no drama–someone said something about “Team Big Brother,” and Jordan said, “Which one is that?” And thus began my brief love affair with Jordan, at least until he started calling his brother “bro.”
- At the airport, the cowboys decided to plan ahead and change their money. “I guess Brazil’s the money were supposed to get,” one of them explained, and once in Chile with money they couldn’t use, they explained that the currency was “the closest thing they had” in L.A. Kind of like the closest thing you have to common sense is none?
- In Chile, people speak Spanish, so you might have expected fewer instances of teams mangling language in their attempt to communicate. But no. While Jody appeared to speak fluidly in Spanish, Joe mixed English and Spanish (“much rapido”), which was far less egregious than Caite saying “danke” to their cab driver. Yes, you’re well on your way to changing our minds.
- Adrian got pumped at the Roadblock–”I’m the big dog. Big dog gotta roar, right?” (What?)–and did the challenge even though he’s scared of heights, but he said he won’t back down from a challenge. Or finish it.
- After the Roadblock, teams had to carry a ladder, paint, and paint brushes to a house that matched their color and paint a small section. But no one could find their houses even though they knew the street name. In his most impressive reality TV moment ever, Jeff suggested they go up the hill, saying, “nothing’s ever easy.” I wonder if that’s still true of Jordan.
- Jody, who’s my current favorite, said she let her granddaughter do the Roadblock because “I have the balance of a drunken elderly person on stilts,” and then she helpfully explained, “we start losing our sense of balance at age 40,” adding that she is 71. Let’s just hope her brain can outlast the others’ bodies.
- Jeff and Jordan checked in first, and in an awkward coincidence, won a trip to Vancouver and a chance to try the skeleton at the Whistler Sliding Centre, the Olympic venue where Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed Friday.
- Jordan explained her team’s success not by pointing out the producers’ assist via casting fellow morons, but said it was as a result of divine intervention. “Every night I’ve been saying my prayers–please, don’t let me mess up–and so far he’s with me.” If Jordan needs God’s help just to be that stupid, God help us all.
- Speaking of the lord, Monique explained that she had difficulty with “that damn ladder. Bearing my cross. I said, ‘If Jesus can do this, I can do this. I’m trying to be like Jesus.” Someone remind me again in which part of the Bible Jesus carries a ladder during a reality show.
- Caite and her boyfriend arrived at the mat in second place, but having failed to follow directions and ride the funicular, had a 30-minute penalty and checked in seventh. “Technically, we really are second,” Caite said. Since penalties and time due to mistakes don’t seem count, her logic suggests that no matter what they screw up, they’ll technically check in first. Just give them the $1 million right now.
- Teams had trouble finding their houses to paint, but also failed to notice context clues, like the lack of someone to give them a clue (Mike started painting over graffiti on the street) or the lack of other teams. In the best moment of the entire episode, Steve and Allie went inside a house with their red paint, and noticing a half-finished red wall, thought they’d found their location. A man came in and said to the camera, “look, I don’t know what they are doing here,” and then Allie started painting a wall in his house! Allie painted the entire wall while the man watched, and then he said, “That looks ugly. They don’t know how to paint.” Allie asked him, “Do you have the clue?” If only she had one.
- Adrian gave up at the Roadblock after falling off the wire twice, and he was unable to pull himself across like Dan did earlier. Dana wasn’t upset–”by him trying his best, I can’t help but be proud of him”–but Phil looked a little irritable when he had to go to the Roadblock to eliminate them. “We’re hoping for a non-elimination,” Adrian said just before that. We’re hoping for a more dramatic one next week.