The 16th season of The Amazing Race wraps up next Sunday, when one of the three remaining teams will claim the million dollar prize and ride off into relative obscurity (go ahead. name a past Race winner...now name five ex-Survivors, my case rests). This season has ranged from Chile to the People's Republic of China, and has seen its share of mild subterfuge (the ever popular U-Turn) and inter-squad drama (don't piss off the airhead beauty pageant contestant). Now the final pieces are in place, and if you're having a hard time giving a shit in this year of Times Square car bombs and catastrophic Gulf oil spills, well...I forgive you.
Those of you who are actually following this crap, however, better come correct. My use of the expression "ride off" isn't entirely coincidental, for of the three sets of contestants still in the mix after the dust cleared last Sunday in Shanghai, I'm determinedly and unashamedly pulling for Jet and Cord McCoy, the bull-riding brothers from Tupelo, Oklahoma, to win it all. And so should you.
My position isn't based on any sort of misguided Southern kinship (ask the average Texan their opinion of Oklahoma) or because I have a love of hats. No, it's because Jet and Cord have played the game masterfully and with their good natures intact, while the other remaining squads are the entertainment equivalent of Fran Drescher singing "Tik Tok" while dragging a rake down a chalkboard.
Though in all honesty, I do like a good chapeau.
The first pretenders to the throne are "The Models," Brent and Caite. You may remember the latter from her memorable appearance on the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant:
Caite has, for some reason, developed a bit of a complex about public perception of her intelligence, and her on-air interview segments are peppered with defiant statements like, "I guess now they won't say I can't read a map."
For starters, the issue was never that she couldn't "read a map," it was that she was unable to articulate a thought in what one assumes is her native language. To be fair, most of us probably assumed she couldn't read a map. Our bad.
Her boyfriend, Brent, has his own problems. Not only does he list solving "the mystery of who killed JFK" on his bio page, he's a monumental candy ass who constantly loses his cool whenever things go south.
The other team consists of Boston's Pious brothers, who add a little twist to the sibling angle by virtue of one (Jordan) being gay. No big deal -- he's hardly the first, after all -- but these guys bring a stunning new shade of crybaby to the proceedings. This was best demonstrated a couple weeks ago, when Jordan was reduced to tears during the noodle making challenge. Hey, if your intestinal fortitude can be brought low by a Herculean task like folding noodles, maybe you should stick with the strategic consulting, Mr. Anchovy.
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Then there's the issue of gameplay. Brent and Caite blew a valuable U-Turn on "The Lesbians," who'd made snotty comments about Caite's "tiara" (after being goaded on by Jordan in the first episode, I might add). True Leslie and Carol were pretty insufferable, but then presented with the option of U-Turning a team with four first place finishes (Jet and Cord) or three (detectives Louie and Michael), Caite chose to get even with someone who was *sniff* mean to her. Dan and Jordan, on the other hand, latched on to the aforementioned detectives when they were unable to find the first checkpoint, then ditched them as soon as was convenient (but not before throwing temper tantrums at least twice in the interim). We're supposed to believe it's been Jordan's dream to appear on Amazing Race, but he's treated the whole thing like a three month root canal.
Jet and Cord have played the game with skill and -- yeah, I'll say it -- surprising intelligence and wit. I'm not old-fashioned; I enjoy jackass reality show personalities as much as anyone and consider The Real World's Puck and Joey Greco from Cheaters personal heroes*, but there's a difference between exaggerated TV antics and truly dreadful human beings, which the Models and the Brothers clearly are. If there is anything approaching justice in this universe, neither of those teams will be the last one standing.
Yeah, I'm not holding my breath either.
Okay, not really.