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Amazing Race 17–Ep 3 Commentary-Was The Clue Big Enough?


I love the Amazing Race for many things – the pace of the show, the travelogue of places I will likely never go to, the way it doesn’t talk down to me the way other reality shows tends to. However, one of my favorite aspects of the Race is the way that the simplest things seem to go so horribly awry for Racers. And I don’t mean in the bad cab kind of way that usually happens – and did for KNat this week. I mean the utter inability for grown adults to fail to read clues or notice their surroundings. I don’t know if it is the fatigue that plagues teams on the Race that does it, or the inability to think under pressure, or just innate stupidity, but boy, people do the dumbest things and did so throughout this episode.

Nine teams – and I think I can say that all of them did something stupid, except maybe Garlory (I like it – forgive me). Team Gryffindor ran almost a perfect leg save for Connor’s attempts at being a jump rope pro. Other than that? Stupidity all around.

Connor and Chad each made a small error by trying to get too fancy with the jump rope, but that boxing challenge really produced very little in the way of dumb moves – other than KNat being unable to find it. It was at the second location where teams lost their marbles. Gryffindor sped past everyone to get there first – and after they arrived and had a little stumble with the map challenge, managed to solve the puzzle challenge with not only seemingly little effort, but also did so with impressive precision.

The others? Not so much. Here were the four tasks that presented the troubles:

1 – The Wheelbarrow. Teams had to load up a wheelbarrow with a specific amount of such items as cinder blocks, bags of cement, trowels and others. Then each would push their own wheelbarrow to the local school to get the next clue. Easy right? Not really. QVC mistakenly took only one wheelbarrow. YouTube made the same mistake and as QVC went back to correct their error, they failed to clue in YouTube to their error. Kevin made a comment about it, but I see nothing but game play with that one. Just as I did when Volleyball failed to tell Gryffindor anything at the Roadblock.

Volleyball had a fun internal discussion about whether they needed one or two wheelbarrows, commenting that YouTube had just left with one. Rachel’s response, “They’re idiots.” HA! Even better – Volleyball forget to pack two trowels. They had to go back. That Tattoo Two also failed to read the directions properly, taking two bags of cement when they only needed one. This triggered the beginning of Nick’s descent into a**holery. More on that later.

2 – The Map. Joining with local school children, teams join in an African geography lesson. There is a giant map of Africa with all of the Colonially drawn nation borders drawn in dividing up the continent. The kids are asked to match the nations’ names with their placement on the map with magnetic signs. The Racers are asked solely to find Ghana – you know, where they are at the moment.

Firstly, one must assume that the show produced those maps because it appears to be the only item created with 20th century technology. If not, then the Ghana government is spending their education dollars very poorly.

Secondly, before we all scoff too much, realize that they average American cannot find Rhode Island on a map, much less Ghana. In fact, probably far too many think Rhode Island is an actual island. I took a class on African political science in college – not that I recall much as I failed to attend about 90% of those classes. So much so that after I ignored the class for so long I missed the midterm. I had to both beg the professor to let me take it another day, and bribe a classmate with a case of beer to loan me his notes. I passed. Nice story to tell, but not one I am especially proud of. But I digress. Bottom line – with that debacle of a class I still have an infinite amount more knowledge about Africa as most Americans have. And I think it would have taken me a couple of passes to find Ghana – I instantly remembered it was on the eastern part below the rounded portion of the continent.

Some rocked it – like Gary. Man, first try! Others were hysterical in their ineptitude – like Brooke thinking it was somewhere close to South Africa. The Tattoo Two went through so many chances that the kids almost filled up the whole continent. The show almost had to wheel in a map of Asia to keep them occupied.

Third, add this to the many examples the Race has given us over the years as to why our public schools are in desperate need of reform. Whether it is shouting “andale” to cab drivers in Asia, or not knowing a lick about African geography, Racers show us just how dumb Americans are about most anything international.


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