How many happy endings have there been in reality TV? I don't mean where somebody wins a truckload load of loot and manages not to blow it all inside of a year. I mean when you have somebody whom everybody like win out in the end. Think about it. Hasn't happened much, has it? While covering Challenge, I had to take what I could get. After The Gauntlet, I tried not to focus on how Veronica and Rachel won money and cars without being put in any endgame danger. I tried to drown out Adam's monotone voice ("We must...get rid of...all the girls") and his lame t-shirts. Naturally, I tried not to focus too hard on Coral almost dying, or Mike and Nathan bitching about how she cost them $150,000 (long story...another column). Instead, I gravitated towards the "good" kids...Cara & Dave, Roni, Theo and Sarah. Sarah, who went into the Gauntlet five times, who braved the abuse of her teammates. Yeah, I'm still hung up over that. I still wish Jonny Moseley gave her a car and the chance to plow over a few buttholes after the final mission.
Moving onto The Inferno, I grew to hate just about everybody at one point or another. On the winning Road Rules team, the only person I grew to respect was Katie. If you read my Gauntlet and Inferno recaps, you'll see that I slagged her plenty of times. She was a scrub with a short fuse, and I hated her. Then her team threw a mission to throw her into the Inferno, and humiliated her in the process. Suddenly, I felt empathy for her. She won two Infernos, screamed at Veronica (greatest tantrum EVER), and contemplated throwing the final mission...but ended up getting a nice chunk of dough.
My point? Sometimes, you don't get what you want. On reality TV, it's less than 50/50 for me. For every Dorothy and Chip & Kim, there's a Jenna and Freddy & Kendra. Anybody who was at TARCon3 could vouch for me openly wondering if there was a higher power, something that could have allowed Flo & Zach to win the Race. I mean, Flo freaked out about twenty times in that two hour finale, throwing in the towel on multiple occasions. Two weeks prior, they were saved by a non-elimination leg, the first time two of those went back-to-back. This sucked, since John Vito & Jill burned a Fast Forward one leg too soon, and got eliminated. Seriously...Flo? And the bickering oldsters Teri & Ian finishing second? Oy vey.
Last night on The Amazing Race, Meredith & Gretchen got eliminated, paring the field down to three teams. By this time in six days, I will be at the Play by Play in Madision Square Garden, one voice among the throng at TARCon. Thanks to CBS.com pulling the popularity poll, I don't know who is the fan favorite. I anticipate a division of loyalties...not like three months ago, where darn near everybody was pulling for Kris & Jon. Let's take a look at the finalists.
Rob & Amber Yes, they are good Racers. Damn good Racers. They've won five legs, one short of the record set by Colin & Christie. But I can't see why anybody should root for them. Pulling for these two isn't a vote against the likes of Lex, or Lynn & Alex. Rob's still a big dope, and Amber has little personality. Do these people need another million bucks? And I still think that if thet win, it would open the door for other ex-reality stars to try their luck. Sure, Rupert Boneham isn't doing next season's "Family Race," but that wouldn't stop him from doing a future season. Wanna know my personal nightmare right now?
"Six continents, eighteen countries, 25,000 miles...Rachel & Veronica, you are the official winners of The Amazing Race. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to commit hara-kiri on the final Pit Stop mat."
What? It could happen.
Ron & Kelly We've had strained relationships in finales past, going as far back as the estranged Frank & Margarita of TAR1. This was supposed to be the storybook romance between a former POW and a beauty queen. What do we have? A huge mess, that's what. They're fairly competent, sticking in the front of the pack with Ramber. But Kelly? Is crazy. She snipes at Ron constantly, inspiring the rallying cry of "Free Ron!" on the forums. But Ron isn't that big of a prize, either. Also, he keeps comparing stuff to Baghdad, and it gets really old, really fast.
Uchenna & Joyce They're the hard luck couple...both laid off by Enron and WorldCom. She's unable to get pregnant, even through in vitro. By all rights, they are average Racers, making more mistakes than Ramber. Like Ramber, however, they never lash out at each other. Okay...Joyce did yell at Uchenna during last night's Roadblock, but he had the sense to keep quiet and let her do the work. After Brian & Greg departed, these two have filled the void, becoming the most endearing team of the lot. And Joyce came up huge by getting her head shaved at the Fast Forward in India.
In my mind, if Uchenna & Joyce don't come from third place to win the game, then this season is a dud. Not only do they have to overcome two solid teams, they would have to find a way to counter the luck Ramber has had all season. It's nauseating seeing those two get the breaks, finding the helpful fans and winning first-place prizes. At this rate, the only way Ramber can lose is if they have to grab the final clue at the Van Den Berghe family reunion. But come Tuesday, I'll be cheering for Uchenna & Joyce. Hey, I missed out on one set of cueballs going for the gold in 2001...I'm not making that mistake this time.