Million Dollar Gossip

I missed the first half of the Amazing Race finale, but unsurprisingly it didn't matter-- all teams were on the same flight to San Francisco. I don't mind that, per se... but for the final sprint to a million dollars, I want the last leg to be the hardest leg of all. I want teams to have the chance to come back from behind, to make big mistakes that cost them the victory, to use their wits to gain an advantage. What I want is for the whole shebang to be decided on the basis of which partner knows how their teammate would gossip about other teams.

That was a horrible, horrible final challenge. It would have been fine as one step of a longer chain of challenges, but as the last, winner-take-all obstacle, it was poorly conceived. First, the content. The answers for 2 questions were obvious (Rob and Amber), leaving only 2 real questions on the test. For each question only a couple of choices were viable. Assuming you went with Rob and Amber for the others, that leaves, say, 16 possible combinations to try. A smart team should have been out of there quickly. But it wasn't a test of intelligence, it was a test of how much each team gossipped about the other teams during the race. THIS is what we want to reward them for? Past final challenges have involved travel knowledge-- assembling a map, ordering national flags, and so forth-- which is in keeping with the show's theme. Once the challenge was completed, there was little chance for a trailing team to catch up-- it was just a straight shot to the finish (or so it seemed; these situations would benefit from a map graphic showing the origination and destination points). This was just an anticlimax on every level, including the identity of the winners, neither of whom displayed any redeemable traits over the course of the entire race.

The Amazing Race may be an impressive logistical feat that generates some great travelogue footage, but as a competition it is so seriously flawed that it boggles my mind that it consistently wins the Emmy for best reality show ahead of the far superior Survivor. But the Emmy is for the show, not the game. But really, would it hurt them to put a little more thought into the game before they throw a million bucks at someone?

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