''The Amazing Race'': The beauty queens can't lose
In ten seasons, this is the first time The Amazing Race has seen a true, long-lasting alliance. Were past racers just too shortsighted to devise such a strategy? Were they ignorant of the potential for cooperation? No, I think they realized what the Six Pack needs to pick up on, and fast: Alliances make no damn sense in this game.
It was touching when the Chos helped David and Mary get the fast forward a couple weeks back. Plus, there was an inarguable thrill in seeing such a unique tableau: When was the last time you saw an Asian-American gym rat assist a miner in Kuwait City? It's the ultimate Amazing Race Mad Lib. Now all I have left to witness is a Haitian Trekkie lending a trapeze artist a flashlight in Irkutsk and I will have seen everything.
But the lengths to which this alliance also known as the Back Pack is going are foolish. After the Chos finished the swimming challenge, they hung around waiting for the barely buoyant miners and 'Bama moms, losing valuable time. And to what end? The brothers maintain that their strategy is not just to surround themselves with weak players whom they always know they'll beat; they say they're just doing it because three teams are stronger than one. Well, that would depend on the two other teams. This grouping isn't exactly the Justice League of America. Thinking that the addition of the 'Bama moms and the miners will triple your strength is like a boxer tying 40-pound weights to his arms because then he'll outweigh his opponent.
When you travel in a pack, you make yourself doubly susceptible to random foul-ups. If the Six Pack is cruising en masse to a pit stop and the Chos make a wrong turn or get a flat, then it will be over for them, and the miners they waited 20 minutes for will live to race another day. This week David made a wrong turn going into the pit stop, and so he and Mary came in last, saved only by their second nonelimination round; that could just as easily have been the Chos. Six Pack? Hell, the way they'll always be at the end, they should be called the Fanny Pack.
By the way, is it a little bit suspicious that the most beloved underdogs have been saved twice from elimination by the producers? Last week it felt awfully convenient that David and Mary were rescued by a simple fast-forward pass. What will happen now? I was instantly suspicious of the new ''intersection'' they teased for next week. It'll probably end up being a convoluted challenge involving all the teams wrestling with each other so they won't notice while Phil squires the miners over to Bertram's private plane to whisk them off to the pit stop. ''No, you just won the uh double super fast forward!'' he'll say as a hobbling Mary asks why he's making her board the giant metal bird. ''Now get in and stop asking questions.''
While the teams in the Six Pack were busy duking it out for last place, the beauty queens sailed through to first. Everything about their adventure seemed so effortless. They are everybody's worst nightmare about how easy life is for beautiful people. They slam their tiny car into a bus, and it's ''Whoops! Fender bender! Hey, the car still works, so off we go!'' Then Dustin fell into a ditch trap, and it was just a tittering good time, and they trotted off to go claim their prizes. If they were on Survivor, birds would swoop down from the sky just to drop food into their mouths.
(By the way, what were we to make of their brief, flummoxing flirtatious interlude with Phil when he announced they each had won a motor scooter? He's the one who fed them the straight line ''It holds a passenger, so you can take a date out,'' yet when Dustin said, ''Can I take you, Phil?'' there was a shot of him looking utterly dumbstruck. This either means it was a manufactured edit for comic relief, or there's a damn good reason that Phil is restricted to the same explanatory phrases week after week.)
But here's the thing about Dustin and Kandice; I wonder how much more forgiving I'd be of them if they weren't beauty queens. (Or weren't named Dustin and Kandice, for that matter. You have two career options with those names: pageant contestant or stripper. And the only real difference is that you can't get as many dollar bills to stick in a tiara.) Whenever I watch them bicker with Karlyn, I'm automatically on Karlyn's side, but is that fair? Am I biased against them because they're the ''attractive'' team? (I have no such doubts over my disgust with Rob and Kimberly; they could be parapalegic war veterans and I'd still want to throw my shoe at my TV when they start bickering.)
This week, with the 'Bama moms behind them in line at a ticket counter, the beauty queens offered to reserve seats for the male models, who were third in line. This steamed Karlyn, who kept appealing to the poor ticket agent, telling him that if he let them go, he'd have to ''deal with that on his conscience.'' First of all, judging from the shots of the beleaguered-looking ticket agent, he had absolutely zero investment in whether he did the right thing by an American game-show contestant, and rightfully so. And second, if it had been the other way around the 'Bama ladies giving the Chos front cuts we'd all be cheering it as a scrappy bit of strategy. (Though that would depend on whether the Chos had better comebacks than the models'. When Tyler snapped at Karlyn that she was just doing ''idiot banter,'' I wondered whether he was talking to them or to Ed McMahon.)
The only one who could judge Dustin and Kandice accurately would be a blind viewer. Maybe he would find them delightful, or maybe he'd say, ''I wouldn't know a beauty queen from a drain clog, but I can tell you that these women are annoying.'' I suppose it's immaterial, though, because with the Back Pack's ''all for one, and one for last'' strategy, even Ugly Betty could slide to victory.
What do you think? Are the beauty queens annoying you too? Will the Chos stick with their alliance? And were you also suspicious of David and Mary's good luck?