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CBS’ censorship of Amazing Race teams calls attention to what it tries to hide in Estonia

As the remaining Amazing Race 15 teams raced through Estonia, there was drama, physical conflict, and blurred bulges. Yet it was also painfully obvious how weak the leg was overall. The first seven minutes–about one-sixth of the episode–focused on all the teams getting to a ferry, which was an equalizer. The Speedbump Gary and Matt faced was quick, easy, and seemed to be located right next to the Roadblock. The Detour was right next to the mat, like so many others this season.

Overall, the race seems smaller and cheaper than it has before, despite the often-stunning locations and drama-inducing challenges, which this week involved thick mud, stupid conflict, and wet underwear.

  • In his intro, Phil explained that Stockholm is known for dynamite “and supergroup Abba.” I was very disappointed that we did not get an Abba challenge, and instead the teams left for Estonia after waiting around for 12 to 18 hours for the ferry.
  • Matt told us that he “threw on the black headband just to show them we mean business and we’re not going to down without a fight.” But since they were in last place for the entire leg, the other teams didn’t get a chance to be intimidated by the scary black headband.
  • The Roadblock clue asked, “Who can solve a medieval mystery?” and Sam answered, “probably me, yeah.” Dan agreed. In other words, Sam’s the smarter one.
  • Gary and Matt’s Speedbump was to take a five-minute sauna in a bus, and while this wasn’t much of a challenge except for the few minutes it cost them, I thought they were going to be thrown by it because the way they pronounced “sauna” (as something like “sona”) made me think they had no idea what they were looking for.
  • After receiving a blank piece of paper with their clue on it, Cheyne seemed to brilliantly and quickly figure out the secret: holding it up to a flame would reveal words. He said, “I immediately thought, all we have is this candle, so we got to hold it up to the light.” What? The light? While you were standing in a perfectly well-lit, bright room? Oh, Cheyne, for shayme.
  • In the sauna, Matt said that he enjoyed the “very attractive young lady sitting next to me … it was nice.” Gary, who was sitting on the other side of his son during this moment of awkward bonding, called that “different.”
  • Matt struggled with pronunciation, although probably for a lot less time than the editing suggested. “I have no idea what a candle-uh-bruh is,” asking a man, “are you a candle-uh-bruh?”
  • Sam read the clue–“Pikk Herman Tower Garden”–but also had pronunciation issues, saying “tover” and and pronouncing “garden” with an odd Germanic accent.
  • Phil explained that one of the two Detour options was to “fire assorted vegetables at this moose target.” On what other show does the host say awesome things like that?
  • Brian let Meghan and Cheyne have a taxi, and told them to have their driver call for another taxi, although he insisted he didn’t give it up. Ericka was incredulous–“Wow, dude, you just gave them that taxi?”–and Meghan repaid him by telling her driver, “We don’t care about them; just forget the other taxi.”
  • Sam and Dan begged someone to give up their cab, and when he refused, kept harassing him until the passenger played the “I can’t walk” card. Awkward!
  • Sam and Dan and the Globetrotters’ oddly unnecessary conflict was stoked when they all ended up in the same cab to the Detour, which followed a mini-fight during which the brothers insisted the cab belonged to them because it magically appeared an eighth of a second after they asked another cab driver to call one for them. “They’re not doing anything for themselves. They’re literally just following us,” Sam said.
  • “We’re getting way behind,” Gary said, but that was because Matt didn’t read the last part of the clue, “garden,” so they were focused on the tower. Also they didn’t look as they ran right past the clue box.
  • As three teams wandered around an unmarked path, and the editors kept showing us arrows that they’d missed, Brian pointed out, “If it said marked, it would have to be some kind of marking.” Wait: So marked paths have markings that mark the marked path?
  • “You guys have won a red cedar sauna,” Phil told Meghan and Cheyne when they checked in first, and they looked at each other as if Phil was speaking Estonian.
  • Sam and Dan were the recipients of the famous CBS bulge blur as they played volleyball in thigh-high mud. Dan’s made a little bit of sense, because he was wearing boxer briefs and the sight of a penis’ outline might blind small children, but Sam was wearing actual cargo-ish shorts that we saw unobstructed during many shots. And the blur the editors used actually ended up calling attention to his crotch, and the blur’s vertical, narrow shape made it very, very clear what it was probably concealing: his reaction to the “hottie Estonian guys” they were playing against.
  • Phil and the mat were on a nearby tower to which signs pointed the way, and although they finished the Detour after the Globetrotters, Sam and Dan realized that “the Globetrotters are going the wrong way,” and took off running the right way, and the Globetrotters soon followed. Flight Time fell twice, and the second time Dan went down with him. Despite replaying this a few times, I have no idea whose fault it was, if anyone’s. But Phil uncharacteristically tried to start a fight at the mat once both teams arrived. “Big Easy has a look on his face like he wants to kick some butt right now,” he said, prompting Big Easy to say that he’s going to get physical, which would be a clear violation of the show’s rules. As Sam pointed out in an interview later, “What are they planning on doing?”
  • Phil must have been in some kind of mood that day, because after he tried to start a fight between the Globetrotters and the gay brothers, he taunted Ericka and Brian, “Do you know if you’re last or not?”
  • The editors eliminated Gary and Matt before Phil did, because as they completed the final task, they both talked about how much the race meant to them. Gary said, “to spend this one-on-one time together has been priceless.” As they left, Gary said, “I love you buddy and I accept you just the way you are.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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