I am hooked on "The Amazing Race."
I tend to believe that years from now, when people look back in television history and see the start of the 21st century as the birthplace of reality TV, there will be a lot of people making "what were they thinking?" faces. That, and a lot of "well, that explains a LOT" gestures. I'm no fan of reality TV for the simple reason that it bores me. I'd much rather watch a crappy scripted show because at least there had to be some effort put into the thought of writing and creating it. Actually, that isn't really true-I'd rather read a book or surf the Net in place of watching just about any TV.
I can think of maybe three reality shows that I have watched an episode of: the original "Survivor", the Australian Outback "Survivor", and "The Apprentice." Every other reality show has had absolutely no appeal to me, so I've never seen them. Not that I look down on those that watch reality TV. Trust me, I waste far too much time in less serious pursuits, I confess.
The three shows I have watched an episode of all failed the "Fundamental Law of the Second Episode" test. This law states that, all things being equal, the second episode of ANY show has to be different from the first, or else it loses my interest.
Last Tuesday I was reading the paper and I saw an article for the premiere of "The Amazing Race 6" on CBS. To demonstrate how out of touch I am with regards to reality TV, I was not aware that there had been amazing races 1,2,3,4, or 5. I read the piece and saw that the show was beginning in Chicago, where I live, and ending in Iceland, where I spent four, well, amazing days in 1998. At that point, something clicked: Chicago, Iceland, traveling, all things I loved, so I decided to give the show a shot.
(This reminds me that someday I have to write about the time that I was on Icelandic TV. I am willing to wager that if I had a thousand people in a room and asked them to guess the scenario that found me on TV in Iceland, no one would come close.)
So I watched the premiere, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed recognizing the places in Chicago that I know like the back of my hand, and knowing that if you want to get to Reykjavik from Chicago, the fastest way is to fly to Minneapolis for an Icelandair connection. I loved seeing the scenery of Iceland again, of knowing the places that I visited and how I'd love to see it again someday. At the end of the show, I found myself much more enamored with the places that the people on the show had been to, much more than the people themselves.
Tonight, I put "The Amazing Race" to the test of the Fundamental Law of the Second Episode, and to my amazement, the show passed. The contestants went from Iceland to Norway, and again, I found myself concentrating much more on the places instead of the people. I couldn't even tell you about half of the people on this show. I haven't paid attention to much of them.
I have had an intense desire to see the world for the last ten years or so, and have been so incredibly lucky to have actually done it, though I constantly want to do more. I think that is why I like this show, because I identify with its premise, of wanting to go from one place to another, to be a "stranger in a strange land," and to see as much of what is out there as possible. It has little to do with the people. I admit that there are a few I have become attached to, but I am much more attached to the idea of going place to place.
I am envious of those that get to be on this show, and the feeling has nothing to do with the fact that two of them are going to be millionaires by the end. I have envy because they have seen places I haven't, or are going to places I have before I get to do it again. The money isn't important. If I could give anybody on this show advice, I'd keep it this simple:
What's your hurry?