If you’ll indulge me for a moment: watching “The Amazing Race” is an event for my family. I like “TAR” because it shows exotic places and cultures around the world and, in an entertaining fashion, teaches my kids about geography, history and sociology. (My son tracks all the locations on a National Geographic world map.) Also, as the teams race around the world for a $1 million prize, there’s an underlying lesson about strategy, communication and teamwork. As readers of this blog will attest, I’ve been a tireless cheerleader for what I consider the best show on television.
That said, it’s been increasingly difficult to watch (and expose my kids) to the train wreck of Team Jonathan & Victoria. Jonathan is a complete prick who spends every second on camera verbally abusing his wife. Victoria displays all the signs of victim of battered wife syndrome, seemingly unable to stand up for herself or walk away. Up until now, it’s been somewhat bearable because “TAR” needed to follow around eleven teams at the start. But with the fourth team eliminated last night, the pack is diluted and viewers are forced to witness more and more of Team Dysfunction every week. “TAR” and CBS made a real mistake bringing on Jonathan who has all the markings of a half-crazed cocaine fiend who needs to win the money so he can pay off the Russian mafia before they cut his legs off. (Although that’s the kind of reality television I can get behind).
Now for the update:
The teams started out from Goree Island in Senegal on the west coast of Africa. Their first stop was the Slave House which was the final embarkation point for many slaves before they were taken from Africa. All the teams had to pay tribute by placing a rose at the doorway through which the slaves passed. At least one team had the sense to stop to say a prayer; most other teams were silent. Team Gus and Hera – the black team – had to hold up for a second because Gus got very emotional. Later he admitted that he didn’t cry at the funerals of either his mother or father, but this experience caught him unawares.
Afterward, Team Don and Mary Jean have a problem. Since they came in last on the previous show, but it was a non-elimination leg of the race, they have no money for transportation (ferry) off the island. They can’t possibly ask the Senegalese for a handout, so they ask the other teams if they can pitch in a couple dollars and they all oblige. (You see, Jonathan? It’s only a race.) Everybody heads to the airport because we’re off to Berlin, Germany.
After the Berlin Wall and an old church, teams hit the Detour: “Brats or Beer.” Teams must either go to a sausage factory and make five feet of sausage or a bar where they must carry large steins of beer and collect five coasters. Teams Kris & Jon, Freddy & Kendra, Hayden (wearing a tank top again!) & Aaron, and Gus & Hera serve beer. Teams Dysfunctional, Gus & Hera, Lori & Bolo, Adam & Rebecca, and (eventually) Don & Mary Jean make sausage. The only thing worth noting here is that Gus really likes beer. He kept taking sips from the mugs he was supposed to be delivering and then pulls the old “You go on ahead, I need to get my bag” trick so he can take another drink. Hera is not amused and eventually piles him into a cab.
Roadblock: Teams head to a mountain outside Berlin where they must speed down a course in soap box racers. Nobody fails to do it in less than 37 seconds (the required time) and then it’s off to the Pit Stop: the Brandenburg Gate. At this roadblock we learn that Jonathan loves speed and “owns a Ferrari.” I’m sure he also has a really long powerboat and a stereo with huge speakers…if you know what I mean.
All the teams head to the Pit Stop pretty much in the order they left the soap box derby. Team Dysfunctional leaves first so it looks like they’ll capture first place for once. What follows was both the most satisfying, yet disturbing, moment in the Race so far. After the teams get out of the cabs, they have to run about 100 yards to the Brandenburg Gate and victory. Jonathan is stepping out of the cab to his constant refrain of “Move it!” when he sees Freddy and Kendra’s taxi pulling up.
He f----n’ freaks out.
I mean he goes ape s—t. The abusive screaming at Victoria to move faster than the speed of light was simply otherworldly, as if the fate of the galaxy depended on them reaching Phil Keoghan first. “Move it! Run! Drop your bag!” Victoria breaks down in sobs: “My bag is so much heavier than yours!” Panicked at the approach of either the Russian Mafia or the Headless Horseman, Jonathan drops his bag and runs ahead, but Victoria won’t drop hers as the combination of crying and running leaves her gasping for breath. Germans all around are staring in puzzlement and disgust, proportions depending on their understanding of the English language.
Team Freddy and Kendra zip ahead of Team Dysfunctional and host Phil declares them team #1. Seconds later an annoyed Jonathan drops his pack dramatically as Phil declares them team #2. Victoria is a complete basket case at this point and stumbles away while an uncaring Jonathan starts sputtering something about the race. Behind Phil’s eyes you can see him thinking: “What an a—hole” but he says something like “You should take care of Victoria.”
At this point, let’s review some of the “characteristics of the batterer” from this page on Battered Wife Syndrome:
Publications and newsletters from women's shelters and psychologists around the nation note the consistent traits of batterers to be as follows:Check and check. Should I let my kids (aged 7 & 9) watch last night’s episode and expose them to this filth? Or would it be better to show them the wrong way for a man to act? Or should I just fast-forward and skip the parts with the Wife-Beater? I’m leaning towards a stern lecture on how a real man behaves, delivered both before and after the show.
1) possessive, jealous; 2) controlling behavior; 3) externalizes blame; 4) hyper-sensitive; 5) low self-esteem; 6) believes in and desires very traditional male-female roles; 7) displaces anger; 8) lacks empathy; 9) comes from a violent background; 10) Jekyll/Hyde personality; and 11) overuse of drugs or alcohol.
Anyway, the pretty teams take the next couple spots and Team Wrestlers (Lori & Bolo) stay alive as Team #7 to the Pit Stop. However, Team Don & Mary Jean can’t keep pace with the youngsters and become the fourth team eliminated from the race.
Footnote: I normally try to avoid profanity on this blog, but there was no other adequate way to describe that festering pustule of monkey dung. CBS goofed big time.