The airing this fall of the tenth edition of the Amazing Race reality show reminded me of something I'd noticed in the previous series. I was amazed (ha ha) at how competitors from different generations reacted to the same situation in Amazing Race 9, giving viewers a look at some generational insights.
Here’s what happened:
Fran and Barry, sixtysomethings who have been married for more than 40 years, chose a task as part of the Race that had them trying to complete a partially built motorcycle. (The other choice at that point was to fly on a helicopter over Sao Paulo, Brazil, land on the roof of a building, and look for their next clue in a designated area.)
The motorcycle task almost immediately proved the undoing of another team. The Pink team -- made up of two young girlfriends -- realized they were way in over their heads in attempting the task and instead hailed a cab to take them to the helicopter dock.
Not Fran and Barry. They kept saying how good Fran was at putting things together and how confident they were that she could do this. I think she may have been anticipating that there would be color-coded schematics on the wall which she could use as a guide to finish the rusty hog. Instead, they found themselves in a greasy shop in downtown Sao Paulo with only another complete bike as a clue.
Lake and Michelle, a married couple, also arrived at the shop to attempt the motorcycle challenge. Lake, a dentist, somehow knew how to put things together and was moving quidkly. Holding unidentified pieces of motorcycle in her hands, Fran kept asking if he would help them. Lake said yes, he would, when he was done.
But when he completed his motorcycle and the bike roared to life, Lake yelled a couple of hints to Fran and Barry and took off with his wife, because they are, after all, in a race.
Fran repeatedly said she thought he would help her. But maybe she hasn’t watched the show before, or any other reality show for that matter, because it’s rare for anyone to help anyone else. It happens, not often, and when it does, it is usually the older competitors who do it.
That probably says more about Fran and Barry’s generation than anything else. In their experience, people do help others. Younger teams, on the other hand, never seem to assume that someone, anyone, will help them.
Fran and Barry gave up on the motorcycle and went on to complete the helicopter challenge. They did not come in last and were not eliminated, a bit of a surprise.
As they were being interviewed after that first leg of the race was over, the couple said their mental ability was their strong suit and that had failed them. "Hopefully we put our mistakes behind us," Barry said, and Fran added, "It's not over till the fat lady sings." Yeah, but the fat lady does it on her own.
By Teresa K. Flatley