Amazing Race censors protect us from cow poo as bus travel finally brings real drama

As relatively weak as The Amazing Race has been for the last season and two episodes–last spring’s season, I thought, was incredible and pulled it out of its multi-season slump, which it slipped back into last season, though there have been great moments since–I still get excited when I hear the theme song, especially the terrific new version.

And watching last night’s episode, I was convinced it was back to its former self during the first 20 minutes. But then it fell into that mode that so many episodes fall into: predictability. There were some great moments, but mostly it was just waiting out a conclusion that became inevitable early on even though the teams had to complete two relatively weak challenges first. But we did get to know the teams a bit more.

  • “If I don’t feel comfortable wearing a hat somewhere, I don’t know if I want to go,” one of the cowboys said. Is that foreshadowing to sometime later in the race when they have to enter some kind of religious space and he refuses to take off his hat and stands there stubbornly until they get Phileminated on the spot, or are they just afraid of hat hair?
  • Brent was all mad because, he told us, “the lesbians said something about Katie and where her tiara is. … That makes us think, oh they don’t like us.” You’re almost as smart as your girlfriend, aren’t you, buddy?
  • Mustached detective is trying really hard to be a villain or something, but when he got annoyed at Joe holding a place in line for Carol and Brandy, the best he could come up with is, “what’re you, back in grade school?” What’re you, from the 1930s? Aw shucks, mister.
  • In the race’s best series of events to date, they had to take a bus to their next location. They all booked tickets on the only available direct buses, but Jeff smartly said, “I’m not going to sit around for 12 hours not doing anything.” So he found a connecting bus, and other teams appeared to follow suit. But in the connecting city, they discovered at the last possible minute that they were at the wrong bus station in that city, and raced to the other bus station in cabs, discovered they’d missed that bus, and raced back to catch the bus the cowboys were on, which had just departed. It was so truly dramatic that I didn’t even have time to find something to make fun of.
  • For the benefit of Jeff and Jordan fans (oh, you know I love you, you insane JeJos), the editors translated numbers for us. Yes, they explained in subtitles that a clock reading 18:20 means it’s 6:20.
  • “Oh my gravy,” one of the cowboys said for the first of about 50 times when they realized they were at the right bus terminal, and everyone else was at the wrong terminal. While they are comic gold, I really like them: they’re earnest, nice, and not at all obnoxious. And in this case, they made a great decision, and it put them in first place for the entire leg after that.
  • “I keep thinking I’m going to see Juan Valdez and his burro at any time,” one of the cowboys said, apparently confused that their bus had driven them to Colombia. I didn’t say they were smart.
  • Brent said he and Caite were drawn to Jeff and Jordan because “they seem like smart people, they seem more like us.” Never mind, that’s too easy.
  • Once they arrived at their destination and realized they’d have to wait all night, one said in a subsequent interview that they had to snuggle in their car, and the other said, “snuggle might be a little extreme.” Definitely: snuggling in a car while wearing cowboy hats might lead to a brokeback.
  • Hopelessly in last place, eternally optimistic Jody said, “We can only hope.” Well, you could, you know, try, too.
  • At the Detour, teams had two options: trying to tie a scarf around a llama and throw a blanket on its back, or jump off a dock while in a condor costume and try to reach a clue. Now, the second I saw that costume, which looked like it’d been made out of a pup tent that had been run over by a semi, I thought that it’d be nearly impossible to get airborne and make it to the clue. So it made sense that most of the teams chose llamas. But when Jeff and Jordan, and Brent and Caite, did the condor Detour, all they did was jump off the pier and swim to the clue. What? I rewound and listened to Phil explain the rules again, and he said, “they must then take flight, and attempt to soar to this target.” They key word, obviously, was “attempt,” and the key word there is “lame.”
  • The llama challenged appeared to be a classic person versus beast challenge, but ultimately seemed to be very easy. Joe, however, got the worst of it. “This one likes me,” he said, and then it spit in his face, and then another one kicked him in the knee.
  • Jody had very nice things to say about her granddaughter, Shannon, telling us that of her grandchildren, Shannon is “the one I admire the most.” The next holiday gathering is going to be awkward!
  • The Roadblock task was kind of pathetic: gathering ingredients around a farm and carrying them–all at once! hard!–to a designated location. The most difficult and fun part was collecting milk from a cow. As Carol approached her cow, it shat, and CBS’ censors blurred that out, as they did for every subsequent incident of cow shitting. Yet we were treated to sound effects of shit coming out of cow’s asses and hitting the floor, some of which even sounded like it was added in later. In what kind of fucked-up country do we live that we can listen to a cow shit but need to be protected from seeing that animal–whose flesh some of us consume–poop?
  • The Roadblock task asked them to collect a baker’s dozen of eggs, and in a cutaway interview, Jeff asked Jordan, “How many eggs are in a baker’s dozen?” Jordan, exasperated, said, “Jeff…” They cut away, but I actually was hoping she’d say “It’s 13. How many times do I have to tell you that, idiot?”
  • As Jordan did a striptease with his jacket at the Detour, some women hooted, and Dan said, “If only they knew.” Since they were watching his striptease, I bet they did.
  • After they checked in fourth, Caite said, “I just hope all the teams just see I am an intelligent person and you need to stop making fun of me.” No.
  • “Just focus on being positive and taking in the sights and just enjoying the dickens out of it,” Jody said before she and her granddaughter performed the Detour task. I really admire the perspective, and I really admire Jody, but it seemed like they were resigned to losing the whole leg. At least Jody had a good final moment: at the Roadblock, she got kicked by her cow, but explained that as if she was talking an ant walking across her hand. “I was almost up to the line on the cup when the cow kicked me in the head, and I thought, I think I’ll be okay, I think I can do this,” she said. She did do that and can probably do anything, just not race around the world fast enough to beat less intelligent teams.

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.