Chaos in Ghana mitigated by editing that makes eliminated TAR team obvious

Chaos always makes for a good episode of The Amazing Race, and the producers and teams have Ghana to thank for making this episode work. That’s pretty much all there was: chaos.

But the biggest problem with this episode was that Andie and Jenna’s elimination was obvious from the first time we heard them talk. All of their interview segments were focused on their relationship, and there were mostly Andie and Jenna interview segments. They mentioned wanting to be on the race because this was the only time they’d have together, and when Andie gave money to someone, they talked about it being good karma. All of that attention on them wasn’t foreshadowing, it was forespotlighting.

The challenges were okay but not great; they only worked because of the chaos, and since they were designed to exploit that, I guess they worked. But this episode also suffered from the problem that early episodes tend to have: the second half-hour is a lot about watching the exact same thing happen over and over and over again.

  • Brook got directions from a man driving a tractor, and rewarded him with “a big sloppy kiss,” asking him, “Have you been kissed by an American before?” Clare said, “You’ve kissed worse.” He hasn’t.
  • All of the teams were on the same flight to Africa (sigh), and Mallory was excited about their destination, saying, “I hope I get to hold little African babies.” I am not sure what to make of this except that from what little we know about Mallory so far, I don’t think she should be allowed to hold any babies.
  • A man begging for money and reaching his hand into the window of the taxi caused Jonathan to freak out. His facial expression was priceless as he said, in the most calm and rational voice possible, “I feel unsafe.”
  • For the Roadblock, one team member had to sell sunglasses in a crowded market. Chad decided he’d “use sex to sell,” and his girlfriend Stephanie just laughed.
  • Mallory chose to sell sunglasses, perhaps because her dad is mute. She insisted, “I have to sell these for three cedis,” but she didn’t, she just misread the rules, which said she couldn’t sell them for less than that. After taking the task because his teammate looked like he’d have a panic attack if he’d talk to someone, Connor sold one pair for $10, getting to $15 much faster than those who went with $3. Of course, that was probably a bigger challenge, considering that we saw people try to steal the sunglasses, and pretend to want to buy them but actually just mock the contestants.
  • For the Detour, Claire and Brook chose to install and antenna on someone’s house, which to me seemed like the harder task because it had the variable of satisfying the house’s owner (and the rules in the clue clearly said they couldn’t switch houses). But Claire didn’t care about any of that. She just eyed food in the house: “Smells good. I’m hungry.”
  • Nat and Kat opted for the other Detour, transporting a creatively designed coffin though the streets to a showroom, and as she tied it to the wagon, Nat said, “i just tied a surgical knot.” I’m sure the coffin appreciated that level of care.
  • The drive to the pit stop was harrowing, to say the least, as taxis narrowly missed crashing into cars and people, and their drivers seemed unconcerned about any of this. Nat ended up shielding her eyes (“I can’t look any more”), while Connor said, “I want my mom. I’m just so proud I haven’t soiled myself.” Jonathan, however, said he probably did, and I don’t think he was joking.
  • Mallory, who rivaled Brook for talking incessantly this episode, arrived on the mat and begged Phil for “any news, before I have a heart attack and die on this mat. Has that happened before?” Phil, awesomely, just let her hang.
  • Andie and Jenna were eliminated, unsurprisingly. I liked them as a team but they never seemed to be huge competitors. And at least they now have the rest of the 39 days to spend time together. If the race doesn’t pick up, I might want to join them.

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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.