The Wife:

I’ve been really excited for the new season of The Amazing Race, and not just because it’s awesome and its even awesomer that CBS decided to reward my newfound appreciation for The Big Bang Theory by giving it to me during the winter. Those things were exciting enough, true. But nothing was more exciting to find out that screenwriter Mike White and his gay dad Mel would be competing on the race. Now, a screenwriter is not exactly a celebrity. As we learned in last year’s writers’ strike, no one thinks of writers even as people, really. So to see a screenwriter and actor like Mike White on the show sort of ups the ante a bit, its not going to be a major problem like, say, if an actor’s actor like Alec Baldwin wanted to be on TAR. Anyway, the point is that I am a Mike White fan, and I vowed to root for him and his father until they get kicked off, which, if Mel’s groin injury is any indication, might not be too far off.

The teams this season, who raced across Los Alamitos air base to grab their bags and drive themselves to LAX before jetting to lovely Switzerland, are as follows:

  • Christine and Jodi, two blonde flight attendants who think they will have an advantage being part of the travel industry (soon to be proven wrong)
  • Tammy and Victor, a brother and sister team of Harvard-educated lawyers
  • Margie and Luke, a mother and son team, the latter of whom is Deaf and proudly does not read lips (me either!)
  • Steve and Linda, married self-proclaimed “hicks from the sticks”
  • Kisha and Jen, sisters who were both college athletes
  • Preston and Jennifer, a dating couple from South Carolina that I didn’t write down anything interesting about
  • Brad and Victoria, that badass older couple – their words, not mine (although they were soon to be proven correct)
  • Mel and Mike, gay activist dad and bi screenwriter son (My husband and I find it confusing that CBS is touting the gay angle, even though Mike White is openly bi, thus proving that even in a world that openly accepts gays, no one knows what to do with bisexual people)
  • Amanda and Kris, a dating couple that I also didn’t write down anything interesting about
  • Mark and Michael, a pair of brothers of small stature who are both professional stuntmen (see? also people in the Industry who aren’t celebrities — very cool)
  • Jaime and Cara, friends, redheads and former NFL cheerleaders (Miami Dolphins, specifically)

As the teams decided to fly to Switzerland via Zurich or Milan, the show got some new graphics, which were pretty great-looking. Mike and Mel, Steve and Linda, Kisha and Jen, Preston and Jennifer and Amanda and Kris all took the southern route (and a later flight) to Milan, only to later take a 90 min train ride to Locarno, whereas Christine and Jodi, Tammy and Victor, Mark and Michael, Brad and Victoria and Margie and Luke took the Northern route (and earlier flight) to Zurich, which is about 2.5 hours from Locarno by car. Nothing much happened during the travel segments here, other than Christine and Jodi following some native Swiss persons advice to switch trains that ended up getting them majorly lost (there’s that thing about being proven wrong), while Preston and Jennifer missed their train from Milan Malpensa entirely, turning them into “that couple who fights all the time.”

Once in Locarno, teams had to search on foot for the Church of San Antonio, where they would sign up for their departure times the next day. After arriving, everyone got to camp out in some haystacks for the night, which seemed pretty cool, although infinitely less fun than the “camp” I went to in Italy, which, by the way, was a hotel. From their roll in the hay, the teams were then sent to the Vercaza Dam, where they were faced with a Road Block in which one teammate would have to bungee jump off the dam, which looked very cool, but also very scary. As I explained to my husband while watching this, I would be happy to bungee jump, but, like off the Harbour Bridge in Sydney. I don’t want to bungee jump into a rocky ravine surrounded by concrete and sharp things. I mean, I could die either way if something went wrong, but I’d rather hit water, you know?

Mike White, auditioning for a live action turn as Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

Mike White, auditioning for a live action turn as Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

Once teams completed the Road Block, it was on to Interlaken, a wonderful town in Switzerland that is, in fact, between lakes. I love that at any given point in Switzerland, you’re going to have to be prepared to speak one of three languages: German, Italian or French. I was prepared for Livigno and Locarno when I went there, as they’re largely Italian speaking. (Dear racers: guess what isn’t Spanish? Italian. Stop saying “Gracias” to everyone.) And then I went to Geneva, where everyone speaks French. And then I had an adventure in Interlaken at a buffet where I couldn’t figure out what most of the food was. (I got nudlen and hoped for the best. To this day, I think it was made of babies.*) Once in Interlaken, teams were not given a Detour, but a group challenge which involved amusing the bell ringing locals (I totally forgot about Interlaken and its bells until I saw them!) by hauling 4 50-lb wheels of cheese down a very steep, muddy hill on traditional cheese-carrying boards.

As it happens, those cheese-carrying boards are either not very strong or no one did it correctly (save for Brad and Victoria, see my note about being proven right), because most participants ended up sliding down the hill on wheels of cheese, or sliding down on the broken cheeseboards, or sliding down on their ass with a cheese wheel in their lap. Nothing is more hilarious than watching an old gay man scoot down a hill with a wheel of cheese in his lap. (Today I learned that doing yoga won’t help you lift a 50 lb. wheel of cheese and carry it down a hill.) Except maybe then hearing that man say, “Don’t let a cheese hit me!” Or watching shots of runaway cheeses. Okay, actually, all of this was hilarious. I wish that had happened to me when I was in Switzerland.

Ah, yes, the great Swiss cheese sled.

Ah, yes, the great Swiss cheese sled.

Once they completed their arduous cheese challenge, racers headed to Stheckelburg where they had to follow the dulcet tones of yodelers in order to locate the Pit Stop. Amazingly, the team with only one hearing person was the first to check in, and mother and son won a week in Puerta Vallarta, announced in a truly moving way as Phil Koeghan signed to Luke that they were, indeed, team number one.
2nd: Tammy and Victor
3rd: Mark and Michael
4th: Mike and Mel
5th: Amanda and Kris
6th: Brad and Victoria
7th: Jaime and Cara
8th: Kisha and Jen
9th: Steve and Linda
10th: Christine and Jodi
Phileminated: Preston and Jennifer

I’m not sorry to see Preston and Jennifer go, as I know nothing about them and don’t find them interesting. I feel the same about Amanda and Kris, except Kris is marginally more interesting now that I know he can carry two 50 lb cheese on his shoulders. I’m also slightly concerned with the way Steve and Linda are being portrayed. I’m happy that they’ll continue to see a country other than the state of Virginia for another day, but I’m worried about Steve’s bullying and Linda’s incredible emotional weakness. I’m sure this is just me being overly sensitive, but it feels like they’re being punished in some way for never having been able to travel. There are lots of other contestants who have earnestly wanted to use the race to see the world, and I don’t think they’re getting quite as much negative light as Steve and Linda. Maybe it’s not the show at all and it’s just how they portray themselves. After all, they’re the ones calling themselves the Hicks from the Sticks and intentionally wearing so much brown that they constantly look unwashed.

Whatever. I like most of the other teams, except Christine and Jodi. I haven’t made up my mind about the Redheads yet. Anyway, I’m rooting for my gays. Go Mike and Mel!

*Just kidding! I know that they were noodles . . . made from babies.

The Husband:

All I could think during the cheese-rolling challenge was this following trailer to This Is Spinal Tap.