The Amazing Race is a show whose appeal comes not from the competition, as would ostensibly be assumed. It's a travelogue first, a character piece second, and a competition third. Rarely is a reality competition show grounded in the actual competition. Survivor probably comes closest. The Amazing Race has the inherent urgency of actually being an epic, you know, race, but every season the inevitable occurs - the winners jog onto that final mat, the previously vanquished teams applauding with overwrought, prodded emotions, and it's never as triumphant as it should be. The end is a relief for the racers, who stand on the brink of exhaustion and madness. Tammy and Victor were the best racers of the season by a long-shot. They were the smartest, the least scared, the only ones who spoke Chinese and, despite any minor squabbles they had early in the season, benefited from being brother and sister. Sibling relationships are the strongest, the most trusting, even if it doesn't always seem like it. Even if you weren't great big fans of the two, they deserved the over-sized million dollar check they walked away with last night.
Here's the thing about siblings (and I would know, being the oldest of
four kids): the siblings who are actually closest to one another, the ones who
really love each other, are the ones who fight. If you see siblings
who are relatively near one another in age and remain overly polite, you can bet that they aren't all that close. The ability
to fight, make fun, push each other's buttons, and make up quickly are
the signs of great sibling relationships. While the editing may have
shown Victor to be dick-ish to his sister at times, this isn't
necessarily a sign of a strained relationship. On the contrary, it
shows the strength of the sibling bond, a strength that was borne out
in their eventual win.
Jaime and Cara have inspired much disgust from the general public.
They certainly deserve some of it. More than once, the cheerleaders
made comments straight from the Ugly American handbook. Xenophobic and
short-sighted, they often complained about different cultures, the
language barrier and the ineptitude of their native hosts. As a
seasoned traveler, though, I must play Devil's Advocate. While they
did say insensitive things during the race, they probably didn't mean
everything they said. When abroad, frustration sets in through no
fault of anybody. If your cab driver, who can't understand a word you
say, cannot find your destination, you are going to get pissed off.
Who's to blame? No one, of course, but when you are sleep-deprived,
hungry and desperate to stay alive for the million dollar prize, the
human reaction is to blame somebody. So, you blame the one person you
can - the innocent cab driver. In every other situation, Jaime and
Cara struck me as decent individuals. I could be wrong, and the two
ladies might very well be legitimately stuck-up people, but I'd be
willing to wager against it.
Margie and Luke became the water cooler team on The Amazing Race 14, mostly
because Luke was the very first deaf contestant to compete on the
race. When discussing someone like Luke, you must tread carefully,
because we all have a tendency to get offended. But, just because a
person is deaf, it doesn't all of a sudden make them a great person.
Luke isn't a bad guy, but he wasn't one of my favorites. For me, he
was an overly sensitive, overly emotional, seemingly coddled
individual. He was a very good competitor, and proved a more than
capable racer. He did emerge as something of a drama queen, however,
and amid his skirmish with Kisha and Jen, I unapologetically took the
side of the sisters. Again, he's definitely not a bad guy, but he
wasn't a saint either. Margie was similar, a flawed but ultimately
quality human being. I have trouble criticizing someone who is very
clearly a great and supportive mother, so I'll stop here. They gave a
great fight this season, and were a couple of surfboards away from
winning the million dollars.
All in all, a solid season from The Amazing Race. We've come to expect
no less from TV's most decorated reality show, and it continued to
remain interesting even in its fourteenth iteration, which is no small
beans. You have to be something special to keep yourself viable after
so many seasons.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer