Thursday , February 22 2024
To show that which occurred or not to show that which occurred, that is today's question.

The Amazing Race and the Missed Connection

It's always interesting to watch a reality show and see what the producer show – or don't show – us.  Is the way the show was pieced together an indication that there was simply too much material to include it all, that things were edited to make them look closer than they were, or that the producers have chosen – for reasons unknown – to not fully divulge everything.  Probably the answer is usually an amalgam of all these possibilities, and maybe even a few more.

Last night's The Amazing Race provides the perfect example of this.  The show began with several teams missing an important connecting flight that was going to take them from Moscow to Siberia.  Normally, the producers revel in showing us the antsy look on the faces of the teams as they run for a plane they won't catch or as they sit on the tarmac – it's pretty much the standard operating procedure for the show.  It ought to be the SOP as well, missing those connections, whether it's during a footrace or sitting on a plane that isn't taking off is routinely the cause of eliminations on the show.  The contestants know that, so seeing the knowledge that they're behind the eight ball sink is huge.  That's the moment when a team realizes that they may not win a million bucks after all.

Why then, did we not see any of the teams miss their connection yesterday?  Rather than showing us the light going out in people's eyes, the show skipped ahead to the folks who did make their connection landing in Siberia, only to then backtrack and have a couple of folks recount the missed connection (we still never saw it).  It was massively disappointing, if an important element of the reality show is for us to take pleasure in how miserable others are, seeing folks miss the flight was a big moment.  Even if you take a more positive view of reality TV, and suggest that it's not about the misery of others, but living vicariously through others as they experience your dreams, it's still a truly human and touching moment that ought to be milked for all it's worth, isn't it?

Part of the reason we didn't see the missed flight is probably that there were simply too many teams to show them all (I'd argue that showing one or two would suffice), and that the show already needed to be so packed with teams doing poorly on other areas that there was no time to spare.  But, I wonder.  I'm not sure that the teams that missed the connection out of Moscow were all on the same flight to Moscow, so each of their tales would have been unique and valuable.  Additionally, any time we miss anything on camera, I wonder if there was some other – perhaps nefarious, perhaps not – reason.  Was the camera turned off for some reason?  Did the sound man fail to get sound?  Would showing us the exact way that the missed connection occurred make someone (contestant or not) look wretchedly bad and did the producers want to avoid that?  I can't answer those questions, the producers probably can, and even if the truth isn't salacious, it's something I'd like to know.  I don't like hidden things.

Probably it's my desire to have everything be obvious that caused me to not mind so much the fact that The Race tried to make the end look closer than it was.  Sure, it was a misdirection, but it was something of an obvious misdirection as the amount of light in the sky between the second to last team's arrival at the checkpoint and the last team getting there was quite different.  That's one of those things the show does to try and make things more exciting, that I get.  This other issue, the missed connection, that I want to know more about.  Thoughts?

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.

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