Monday , May 20 2024
What were those contestants thinking last night? What was I thinking watching them?

The Amazing Race, Celebrity Apprentice, Foolishness, and Me

What in god's name am I watching so much reality TV for? No, really, I'm begging for an answer here – I simply don't understand sometimes why I bother spending my time, my precious time, watching the stuff. It's almost as bad as paying attention to politics – spend too much time in either arena and you're going to find yourself completely apoplectic about people acting in ways you simply can't understand no matter how much you try. And now, I'm not just going to waste my time talking about reality TV, I'm going to waste yours too.

Let's start with last night's Amazing Race. I've argued elsewhere that this is the saddest bunch of teams the show has put forward, and yet there I am watching it every week and being shocked every week that they continually do foolish things (clearly the shame is now on me). Last night, not one, not two, but three different teams all made an error on the exact same part of what was really quite an easy task. They were throwing coconuts into an ox cart, and the directions were pretty simple – throw all the coconuts that were in a pile on the ground into an ox cart and then, with all the coconuts, drive an ox to a fruit stand.

Now, if I were told to do that I'd make pretty sure that all the coconuts ended up in the ox cart — after all, the task said to put all the coconuts in the ox cart to take them to the fruit stand. Brent & Caite, our first team, arrived at the task and managed to bounce one coconut heading into the cart off of one already there. The first coconut ended up on the ground. It shouldn't have been that hard an issue to correct. After all, if your task is to throw all the coconuts into the ox cart you make sure at all times that all the coconuts have gone into the cart – you watch them go into the cart and stay there. Caite, however, wasn't watching. The team set off, didn't look back, and consequently couldn't proceed on the race until they went back to retrieve the missing coconut.

Jet & Cord and Brandy & Carol managed to do the exact same thing (even after they knew that Brent & Caite had done it). The first team to make the mistake was just dumb because they weren't paying attention, the second two teams acted that much worse because they saw one team make an error and then made the same error themselves. Some out there will say that Brandy & Carol's error is forgivable as they actually looked for stray coconuts and simply didn't see the one under the tire. I see it completely differently. I don't think it's forgivable at all. Think about it. As you're leaving the area and on the ox cart wouldn't you – especially after you saw one team leave a coconut behind – turn around while you're driving away to make sure you had them all? It is ridiculous that neither Jet & Cord nor Carol & Brandy did.

Make no mistake, while Brent & Caite get off a little easier on their foolishness in executing the task because others made the same mistake, those other teams didn't whine, complain, and cry when they found out they blew it. Brent & Caite did. Brent stormed all around talking about how he was going to quit, Caite deemed the whole thing unfair and started to cry. Even after they found the dropped coconut Caite still believed it to be unfair that they were sent back to retrieve it. I'm not entirely sure why she didn't believe the rules of the task and of the show didn't apply to her, but she didn't.

Now, I'm not saying I get off easily in this entire thing either. I went from watching The Amazing Race to watching The Celebrity Apprentice – a true bastion of foolishness. This all happened yesterday so I'm not sure it's a spoiler, but if you haven't watched the episode it will ruin things for you, so spoiler alert, what was Darryl Strawberry thinking quitting the show? It's not like he had really done all that much this season, why wouldn't he want to continue coasting for a little while longer, keep his face on the air, and maybe, just maybe, win some money for the charity he was representing? Strawberry wasn't going to be fired last night, Trump was about to have to fire Michael Johnson (or Blagojevich if Trump wanted a scapegoat). No one was even looking at Darryl until he piped up and said he wanted to leave. Much like the teams on The Amazing Race, Strawberry ought to be embarrassed.

And, I'll say it one last time – I ought to be embarrassed too. I spent several hours watching all this foolishness take place last night (thank goodness that TiVo made it fewer hours than it might have been), and I'm going to do the same next Sunday. Hopefully the remaining contestants on both shows will prove to me that I haven't made a mistake. I don't think they will, but I remain hopeful.

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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