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Fighting to Win on The Amazing Race

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There's a line one shouldn't cross when going on reality television. Cross the line and everyone (at home and the people you're playing against) will hate you, don't cross the line and you may end up going home. The only real question that has to be asked is exactly where that line falls. Contestants, in my estimation, need to get right up to that line and yet not go over it – maximize their potential for success while minimizing their potential to be hated. Go the right distance and you Richard Hatch yourself into $1,000,000. Go too far and you'll forever be known as "The Next Omarosa."

For my money, while some of the teams on The Amazing Race last night approached the line, none of them actually crossed it. I think that while some of what they did may be questionable in social situations, on a reality show their actions were wholly appropriate.

First up last night we had Flight Time delaying Meghan & Cheyne's descending from the Detour. Flight had to wait for Big Easy before he could continue, but he descended from the scaffolding that marked the end of the Detour first and he did so slowly. The basic idea behind his action was that he could slow down Meghan & Cheyne until Big Easy was finished and they would all be able to progress at roughly the same time.

Was Flight Time out of line? You already know that I think he wasn't. The teams were fighting for first place, not last – there was no worry that an elimination was going to result from his actions. I'd also argue that what he did wasn't technically against the rules, he was simply doing everything in his power to legally slow down someone else. It should be noted though that I didn't buy it when Flight said he didn't have the idea of slowing Meghan & Cheyne down until Cheyne suggested it – Flight was smart enough to know what he was doing.

Next up in the questionable tactic area was Cheyne & Meghan teaming with the Globetrotters to get to the next location only to instantly ditch them once a cab came along. That was even less egregious an action than Flight's slowing Cheyne & Meghan down. There was no cab available where both teams were and Cheyne & Meghan did get the Globetrotters directions that the guys wouldn't have otherwise had prior to ditching them. Cheyne didn't approach the ditching well, he should have said "goodbye" or let them know his actions, not doing so was kind of rude, but he certainly wasn't wrong.

The last questionable action was Sam & Dan's stealing Brian & Ericka's taxi. Both teams were at the Detour and Brian & Ericka had requested that their cab wait for them. They were, presumably, paying that cab for his time. Sam & Dan, finishing the task before Brian & Ericka, went to their opponent's cab and paid him to ditch the married couple and take them.

That was the closest any team cam to crossing the line, but I still say that they didn't get there. They certainly didn't win themselves any friends, in fact, all the other teams could easily end up hating Sam & Dan for stealing the cab, but it wasn't wrong. Those two teams were battling for last place, getting to the next clue first could have played a major role in who was going to get eliminated. I think one could almost argue that it would have been foolish of Sam & Dan to not try to steal the cab. Plus, can't we blame the taxi driver himself? After all, he took the money, ditching Brian & Ericka.

No team made friends last night on The Amazing Race, but they're not there to make friends, they're there to win $1,000,000. It has always bothered me before when teams don't play a cutthroat but within the rules game. Last night not one, not two, but three teams realized exactly what they had to do to win and opted to make those tough choices, even if those choices resulted in our maybe not thinking that they were all quite as swell people as we would hope.

Wouldn't you do whatever it took – within the rules – to get the money? I certainly would.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.