If you want to see people much like yourself struggle and crack under pressure, then The Amazing Race is probably for you. I used to watch it with roommates, and now it’s one of the regulars for me and my husband. We get to see customs of different cultures, breathtaking scenery from around the world, and competition for that elusive million dollars, which seems to constantly represent the magic number for the majority of Americans, despite taxes and inflation.
As with any reality show, this one provides ample opportunity for judgment of others, which, if we’re honest, many of us enjoy. How easy it is for me to sit on my couch and criticize a contestant or team for their behavior, when I’m not going through the same stressful situation they are. My husband and I are always commenting on what we would do in any given situation. “We wouldn’t U-turn another team for such a dumb reason.” “We wouldn’t yell at each other the way they do.” “We wouldn’t be afraid to do that stunt for a million bucks.” However, it’s pretty likely that we’d find ourselves acting in many ways we’ve derided over the years and seasons.
In recent episodes, the E.R. Doctors made enemies for themselves by U-turning the “Afghanimals” (a U-turn forces an opposing team to perform an extra task, slowing them down). Now, it’s their prerogative to do so. It is a strategy that can definitely help you win. We found their reasoning a little annoying, though. They chose to U-turn them because they had lied during a previous leg of the race. The E.R. docs went on and on about how important they felt it was to run the race with honesty and integrity.
Sure, we agree it’s valuable to act with integrity at all times, especially when under pressure. But really, Nicole and Travis? It just seemed a bit petty and condescending to us. The other team’s lie hadn’t hurt anyone’s game. By dwelling on it and putting the Afghanimals’ race in jeopardy, the doctors created trouble for themselves–when Nicole got stuck on a task, the Afghan boys refused to help her. We couldn’t really blame them for not wanting to give her any suggestions.
If we ever get the chance to run The Amazing Race, I hope we’ll keep in mind all the lessons we’ve learned. Maybe there’ll be a miracle–we’ll run the entire race without fighting, griping about each other, backstabbing another team, getting injured, forgetting to read the clues and follow directions…oh, wait, we’re human. I guess we’ll just do the best we can and try not to think too highly of ourselves. It would be an incredible experience…