The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race is kind of unique among reality shows in that the vast majority of the contestants seem fairly normal and sane, or at the very least usually free of major personality disorders. The show involves 11 two-person teams going on a race around the world; the last team to arrive at each episode’s designated pit stop is usually eliminated from the race. The racers complete various tasks – ‘Roadblocks’ which every team has to do, and ‘Detours’ where teams choose between two tasks – in every country they visit. This season, two of the final three teams- the teams that will continue to the finish line in the finale- are all female. This is fairly significant since it was only last season, Season 10, that the first all female team crossed the finish line at all. This season features teams who’ve already been on the show once before, which has both pluses and minuses.

One team, Dustin and Kandice, met while competing in the 2006 Miss America Pageant and originally raced last season on TAR 10. Last time I wasn’t a huge fan of them, they seemed a little self-satisfied at times, but no one can argue they aren’t extremely good competitors- I particularly like that when a choice of challenges comes down to something requiring brawn vs. something less demanding they never hesitate to take the more physical tasks. It’s nice for once to see a young female team that’s completely confident in their strength rather than planning on using charm (which is commonly considered a “strategy” rather than simply being polite to fellow human beings). They’re also far more interested in winning than in making everyone like them, which has caused a backlash from some of the other racers. Now one of my pet reality show peeves is when certain teams feel the need to start moralizing about people who won’t stand back and let them win, apparently forgetting that it’s a race and there is nothing immoral about trying to win as long as you follow the rules. I’ve also noticed this seems to be a criticism that women get more often than men.

The other all female team is Mirna and Charla, who are cousins. I’ll admit to being biased from the start: I really disliked them back during TAR 5. Well okay, I mostly disliked Mirna; I get the sense that Charla might actually be quite likable if Mirna wasn’t there. Mirna has a complete lack of respect for the personal space of ticket agents and other locals who are forced to deal with the contestants swarming through, frequently screams at cab drivers, and leans heavily on a victim mentality- anyone who won’t help her is obviously evil and “karma” will eventually take her side. But the thing that really pushes it to the limit is her habit of repeatedly complaining when she can’t find a local to help that no one will stop to help “two young girls”. Both Mirna and Charla are 30 years old. I’m not aware of anyone who considers that a “young girl” (I’m several years younger than that and I would never describe myself as such) or someone who is automatically in need of assistance for that fact alone.

What puzzles me is that the editing of the show seems to be heavily favouring Mirna and Charla over Dustin and Kandice. Over the last 11 weeks we’ve repeatedly seen people complaining about and badmouthing Dustin and Kandice (and it’s frequently been Mirna doing it) while seeing almost no one do the same to Mirna and Charla despite the fact that to me (and a lot of other viewers) Mirna’s behavior has been far, far worse. In a recent episode Dustin and Kandice chose to Yield Eric and Danielle (forcing them to take a 30 minute penalty) which led to Eric calling them “dirty hookers” while complaining. I understand being unhappy about losing time, but I do take exception to that being the particular insult that he chose. (Apparently the second time it was movie quote, which just makes in both insulting and unoriginal.) The Yield is an element of the race and using it does not make anyone wrong or vindictive or a bitch or a hooker- it simply means they’re trying to win.

If history hadn’t shown that female teams seem to be less likely to win I might not find it as odd, but as it stands it could certainly look like Dustin and Kandice are being painted as the villains for having the temerity not to care if anyone thinks they’re nice and sweet (despite actually being nice to most of the people they’ve encountered) as long as it doesn’t hurt their chances in the race. Interestingly enough, that’s been a fairly common quality in the male teams that have won in the past, but I don’t remember many of them being vilified for it.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    Now one of my pet reality show peeves is when certain teams feel the need to start moralizing about people who won’t stand back and let them win, apparently forgetting that it’s a race and there is nothing immoral about trying to win as long as you follow the rules. I’ve also noticed this seems to be a criticism that women get more often than men.

    Anyone who thinks we’re all equal already should take note of this: yes, people are more likely to complain that some woman is not standing back and letting them win. Blind privilege at its finest: it’s a fair competition for everyone (except women) and anyone can win (except women) and whoever wins will be congratulated (unless it’s a woman, in which case she cheated).

    I notice women like Mirna always seem to get featured heavily on reality shows and their ilk – not that I watch them much, so feel free to correct me if that’s a false impression. Meanwhile on the same show, there’s usually a guy who is beyond the pale, too, and at least one woman who’s quietly competent, but it’s the shrewing female who gets featured.

    Reminds me of stories I’ve heard from the early days of affirmative action: forced to resentfully hire “minorities”, some bosses would intentionally hire the worst minority candidates available, to “prove” how unfair the whole thing was to them (passing over perfectly qualified minority candidates, of course).

    Sounds like Mirna might be used in households this year to reaffirm why the wife should shut up and go fetch another beer.

  2. MaggieCat says

    I notice women like Mirna always seem to get featured heavily on reality shows and their ilk

    This is actually one of the reasons I like TAR so much- people like Mirna are the exception, not the rule. Flat out bad behavior is rare, and it’s pretty evenly split between the genders when it does. The difference is that those people don’t usually get a favorable edit (I’m suddenly remembering Colin’s “My ox is broken!” meltdown)- you usually see the saner teams commenting on the fact that they don’t like them, so I *really* don’t get what’s happening now.

    I can’t decide if it’s because someone on the production team likes them, or if it’s because M&C’s season was so long ago while D&K were on just last season so the show assumed that people still disliked D&K from then and didn’t get the memo that most of the racers were a lot more likable this season. Yeah, it’s possible that I personally find M&C’s behavior so appalling that I’m just seeing it as favoritism, but I’ve heard other people (who didn’t see TAR 5 and so had no prior dislike) wonder the same thing so I kind of doubt it.

  3. scarlett says

    who won’t help her is obviously evil and “karma” will eventually take her side.

    Maggie, for what it’s worth, karma is the idea that you get back what you give, and from the sound of it, Mirna has taken it completely out of context. Which earns her bad karma :p

  4. MaggieCat says

    I know that Scarlett, however I don’t think Mirna does which is why I phrased it how I did. She seems to be labouring under the delusion that karma is her own personal enforcer, who turns a blind eye to her own less than stellar behavior.

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