Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dumb idea

Last night I watched the season's first installment of "The Amazing Race." I have watched this show most seasons, so I'm not tuning in just because they have a couple of poker players this time around. What can I say? I like it, and "Survivor," and "Big Brother." Sometimes my taste is hopelessly middle class.

Anyway, as most readers already know, Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle are on it. They came up with a boneheaded idea: They were going to go the whole race without telling anybody about the poker thing. Instead, they cooked up a story that they worked in a Southern California nonprofit that served the homeless, or some such crock. Their idea was that if the other teams thought they were rich and didn't need the money, they would become targets and not get any help or sympathy.

Yeah, right.

As soon as they announced this plan, I knew it was doomed to failure. What's more, the reason it couldn't possibly work was so damned obvious that I am at a loss to understand why they thought the scheme would work. The flaw is this: They have both been on television way, way too much not to get recognized by somebody.

Surely they both have had people recognize them in, say, airports. And surely they have both watched the show in previous seasons enough to know that the contestants spend a lot of time in airports. Are they unable to put two and two together?

Sure enough, in the very first episode, it happens just like that. They ask a random stranger for a bit of help--in an airport, no less--and in addition to helping them, he says, "I know who you are," and outs them, where other teams can overhear.

Well, DUH! Of course that was going to happen. So now in addition to the negative effects that might come from other teams being jealous or resentful of their modest degree of success and fame in poker, they have the added burden of having started off the competition lying to everybody else's face, in a way that was trying to win good-guy points (helping the homeless). In other words, they got caught acting in what others will likely perceive not just as a game strategem akin to bluffing, but in a morally and socially reprehensible manner.

Brilliant, girls. Just brilliant.

I do not foresee this duo going far in the game.


astrobel said...

Big brother = middle class. I think there is a different perception of middle class in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Everything my wife and I watch is via time-shifting. She generally hates reality shows, so we've done relatively few of those. However, we have done several seasons of Amazing Race. Had I known that this season involved pro poker players, I would have insisted we record it. (I guess we can still find it online.)

We also did the first few seasons of Survivor. It's fun if you can condense it down to the key 20 minutes or so per episode (I'm good with the remote!). I wasn't a poker player (and hadn't seen similar shows) when Survivor began, so some of the mind games involved were enlightening to me. After having watched a few seasons, there was a much higher percentage of "seen that before," so we stopped. And we have never seen Big Brother, though we've heard a lot about it. But I (not my wife) never missed an episode of "Beauty and the Geek" (did you watch that?) and now I'm definitely watching the poker guys on "2 Months $2 Million" on the G4 network (which I'd never watched before).

I can't see anything wrong with watching any particular show if you enjoy it and/or learn from it (to my wife's chagrin, I records a LOT of PBS and other documentaries). Some people shun ALL television as being beneath them. That's fine too, but once you've decided it's not below you, why not watch what you enjoy?