Monday, October 05, 2009

Letters to Pauly: The Amazing Race, Vol. 2 - VCR Smashers

By Trisha Lynn
New York City

Editor's Note: Let's welcome back Trisha Lynn as a special guest scribe to Tao of Poker.

Dear Pauly,

The most interesting thing about last week's recap for The Amazing Race is that I should never be in a poker game against anyone who reads Tao of Poker or anyone else who watches reality TV shows on a regular basis because both sets of people accurately noted that by running such an obvious bluff about being non-profit workers for homeless people, Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho have set themselves up to be "the villains" of the show and have become "the team to hate" by both the other people in the game and the viewing audience. In my hindmind, though, was it really such a terrible decision? By becoming the villains, they have guaranteed that the producers of the show will be interested in their show segments and would be more apt to put their clips into the show rather than leaving it on the cutting room floor. I eagerly await your thoughts.

Last week, Maria and Tiffany were in sixth place after having successfully picked out a specific type of license plate out of a huge wall of them in the Los Angeles River, eaten large sushi rolls full of wasabi in a TV studio under Tokyo Tower, and fertilized fruit trees and herded 50 ducks back and forth a narrow bridge in Vietnam. They also unsuccessfully lead 20 Japanese "tourists" across a busy intersection in Shibuya, but hit a 1-outer to continue racing in the game, much to the ire of "meathead" lawyer Lance. The official show intro showed the Gay Bros' "Pokah, pokah, pokah" chant in the taxivan to the boat dock in Vietnam, and no matter how cute they are, I still felt like I wanted to strangle them for being so freaking smug.

The beginning of the show avoids tiptoeing around the elephant in the room by smashing directly into it and mentioning the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, interviewing one of the older Racers about how her father was shot down (and survived!) in the war, incorporating the word "independence" into one of the detour challenges, and setting the Pit Stop at the Reunification Palace where the South Vietnamese officially surrendered to the North Vietnamese.

Tiffany and Maria are in fifth place when they leave the boat somewhere along the river upstream and find themselves a taxi to take them back to Ho Chi Minh City, a two hour drive away. For the rest of the episode, they are in the middle of the pack while bumping into the Gay Bros. a lot along the way each time they get out of or get into a taxi--even if they know that the girls know that the boys are gay and the boys know that the girls are dirty liars. Tiffany and Maria end the episode in sixth place, and move on to the next episode.

However, all was not boring with our girls this week. Tiffany attempted to use her feminine wiles to cajole a dragon puppet in a shallow pool of water into giving up its clue and properly earned her "brawn" title from last week by pushing/pulling a plaster dog while Maria grabbed balloons from ladies in a children's park. I also would like to think that sometime between being recognized in the Tokyo airport and this set of challenges, the girls realized that they really needed to get some karma back and when the first dolly they try to use to cart their dog breaks and one of the Gay Bros. comes back to try and help them, Maria waves them forward, saying that they don't want the boys to be held up because of them.

I do have to admit that part of me saw red when Tiffany groused in the interview section while struggling with pushing the dog that every other team has a man along to help them with the physical challenges. Way to set back feminism, Tiffany. Then again, she also acquits herself in this episode, too, when she makes the Vietnamese people watching the contestants rip apart VCRs for parts laugh when she says while revving up the power screwdriver, "How do I make it go?" and later on, when she exclaims gleefully, "I figured out how to do this now!" Is Tiffany going for a fourth career as a stand up comedian?

Next time on The Amazing Race... Asperger Boy turns into a monkey and someone loses their passport. Oh, the drama!

Trisha Lynn
Trisha Lynn is a writer from New York City. She's also a contributor to Movie

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Dear Trisha,

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts on The Amazing Race. As you know, I don't watch much TV and I'm not a fan of reality television (with the exception of Top Chef), so I appreciate these recaps. You did such exquisite job highlighting the first episode that I didn't even have to watch it.

You're right about reality show producers loving villains. Drama and conflict = cashola. Even if a villain fails to emerge during the taping, they'll find away to shape and mold one in the editing room. Maria is such a sweet girl that I was surprised that she was billed as a bad girl along with Tiffany. But I figured that pegging them as villains had more to do with the mainstream public's dark perception of the gambling culture.

I must admit that I was "car wreck curious" about all the hoopla. I saw the pile up and slowed down with the rest of the rubberneckers to gawk. Yeah, I actually sat through the second episode while I played online poker and tried to shake off fantasy football tilt.

I dunno why everyone goes ape shit over this show. I don't enjoy watching a bunch of provincial-minded Americans freaking out in a foreign country since that's what I usually see on my overseas travels. The only saving grace? Sweeping B-roll of the Vietnam countryside and moped-infested Ho Chi Minh City.

So basically the locals are in on the show in some way and assist with the competition, which I find disappointing. I wanna see contestants rough it out... get screwed over by taxi drivers and rolled by hookers. I wanna see them have to bribe crooked cops to get out of jams. I wanna see them run through Dong Khoi being chased by knife wielding thieves or evading organized grime goons trying to round them up for a human trafficking ring. Oh, and where's the ninjas?

Anyway, despite the flaws with the concept of the show, you're doing a kick ass job with the recaps, so I'm glad that you can keep me and the rest of the readers up to speed.

Thanks again,

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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