Teams thwart Amazing Race’s attempt at a challenge

We have two episodes and three hours left on The Amazing Race 18, and I’m ready to break up with the show. But I will give it three more hours and hope that it redeems itself. But last night’s episode was more of the same: obnoxious product placement instead of actual content at the beginning, weak challenges, little movement in the pack, no real difficulty finding their way from place to place.

The cowboys got eliminated because of the social element producers have injected into the game, the U-Turn, and because of a screw up which, thankfully, was not undone by the production as so many teams’ screw-ups have been. Jet got lost during the Roadblock and they fell behind, and got U-Turned by the Globetrotters, thus knocking them completely out. Gary and Mallory’s return from last to fourth would be impressive had their punishment task not taken about 25 seconds, even though it involved math.

The double U-Turn seemed to be there to compensate for the weak challenges, including a Detour that offered the opportunity to either eat a pot of cheese fondue–really. It gave us a lot of burping, but at least led Zev to make a hilarious face and Justin puke, where he got to say hi to Jen and Kisha, who were doing the other option. That involved going to five different hotels and delivering luggage. It’s worth noting that the Detour clue didn’t specify the size of the fondue pot nor that the luggage task involved 20 pieces of luggage, so they didn’t have the same information we did when they made the choice. But most chose luggage.

Before that, there was an attempt at a challenging challenge: For the Roadblock, a member of each team had to “measure the entire length of Liechtenstein.” Phil Keoghan explained, “If their answer is incorrect, teams must ride back to the starting point and measure the country again.” That seemed daunting, though 22 kilometers is just 13.67 miles. Then again, screwing up meant a 27 mile ride, which was long enough and vaguely dangerous, since they were riding their hilarious motorized bikes in real traffic.

The problem is that the teams wrecked the challenge by giving each other the answer, meaning no one had to re-do it except the cowboys. Had they actually had to rerun the whole route, we might have seen a bit more competition, but instead everyone just got on a bus and then a train and did some stuff and checked in. Alas.

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.