Phil’s eyebrow can’t save an Amazing Race episode that fails to surprise again

A team who’d barely been visible on The Amazing Race 17 all season was eliminated, and that concluded yet another boring episode. Here, I’ll say it: This season sucks.

About the only thing that can redeem it now is if Nat and Kat go all the way to the end and win, becoming the first-ever all-female team to win. Then again, on a season full of not-very-challenging tasks, where the teams pretty much leave the pit stop and check into the pit stop in the same order (as they did tonight, with the exception of two teams who switched places in the lineup), that won’t be as impressive as it once would have been.

I’m sure if I was someone who tuned in to the show for the first time ever, I’d have been perfectly happy and entertained. But nothing that we saw last night was new or surprising, and that’s really my problem with the show. I’ll elaborate on this later in the week when I post the remainder of my pre-season interview with Phil Keoghan. For now, here are the few things that stood out to me. Emphasis on “few”:

  • Michael continues to play the old man card, losing their clue right out of the pit stop. “You are asking an old guy,” he said when Kevin asked him–as patiently as always–where the clue was. Of course, it was in his fanny pack.
  • Rachel started a sentence with, “Katie and I are on this race,” which is the biggest lie anyone’s ever told on this show. WHO ARE YOU?
  • On a gondala to the top of a mountain to pick up a clue–what else to team members do any more except go to places to pick up clues?–Nat observed that the mountain “may be one of the highest…” She stopped when she realized her partner was likely pooping herself in fear.
  • As she got off the gondola, Mallory, I think, asked a team waiting to get on it, “How long did it take for this gondola to come?” Probably the exact same amount of time it took you to ride it?
  • Nat and Kat decided to go for the Fast Forward–oh my gosh, a Fast Forward! Remember those?–and discovered it required them to eat a sheep’s head. “I haven’t eaten meat in 22 years,” Kat said, but she managed to eat half of it, saying it “tastes like money.”
  • Upon arriving at the Fast Forward, Nat saw a table set with glasses of water, and said “we know enough about the race” to know what that glass of water means: an eating challenge. And here’s what her comment means: The race is in a rut bigger than Brook’s mouth.
  • Kevin observed that the Roadblock required “strength, stamina, and guts,” so he decided to do it, but called out, “no offense, Dad!” They may be perhaps the most collegial team ever; I’m pretty sure Michael could drive their car off the road and into a different TV series and Kevin would be like “It’s okay, I didn’t care about The Amazing Race anyway!”
  • Rappelling off the side of a bridge, Gary shared, “My _____ are already gettin’ it.” Kevin, dangling nearby, agreed: “I know what you’re talking about.” I assume CBS censored the word “balls,” because hearing that word would obviously make children’s heads shrivel up and draw closer to their bodies.
  • Nick and Vicki decided to go for the Fast Forward even though they both realized the five teams ahead of them had probably already done it (“I think everybody’s going to be doing that Fast Forward”). Then again, Nick did have issues keeping track of where they were in the pack. Anyway, upon arriving at the location, they found the door closed with a sign that said, “Fast Forward taken.” Nick said, “I have no clue what that means.” Vicki asked, “Taken right now or taken period … I really don’t understand.” She was saying some of that later, in a post-leg interview, and I’m sure the producers were having to chew off their own tongues to stop from laughing at the stupidity. Eventually, they left, their brains having been taken by a parasite, apparently.
  • Despite that, Vicki is a good competitor: She rappelled super-fast, and although hilariously got herself into a spin at the top (“I’m getting dizzy, guys”), did a good job: “Vicki just killed it,” Chad said.
  • The Detour was a choice between two tasks, each just as boring as the other. They either had to bike and then memorize a four-digit number, or ride on a boat and carry two fish. Michael and Kevin chose the boat because they thought that’d be less physical, but that was before they realized Kevin would have to once again carry all the weight. “That’s why he smells so fishy right now,” his dad said.
  • Brook cut her eye on a car door when they got to the pit stop. Because she apparently just stood there, answering questions, bleeding, Phil said, “You’re a tough nut, aren’t you?” He noted that blood was gushing out her eye: “That’s insane.” (Phil didn’t use his eyebrow here, instead giving it a workout when he indicated to Gary and Mallory that they were team number two by lifting his eyebrow twice.)
  • I honestly didn’t care that Katie and Rachel were eliminated because they were barely on this season. They went home despite praying their way to the mat–”please, God, please, God.” Even he’s bored and not paying attention.

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.