Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

A Wobbly Leg

The willful ignorance of reality tv can be all too unreal

Print Email

I’m not ashamed to admit my affinity for The Amazing Race, now in its sixth season. This show does fall victim to the trappings of all “reality” television shows—dysfunctional couples, breast implants—but the pace and international backdrops, I like to tell myself, make it better than the others. Imagine my surprise the other night when my guilty pleasure made me feel so bad.

The premise is simple: teams of two dash around the world, completing tasks in a quest for $1 million. At each stop the producers make a somewhat cheesy attempt to infuse the tasks with some element of local culture: rowing a Viking ship in Oslo, gorging on caviar in St. Petersburg.

This week, the show opened in Senegal on Goreé Island, the last stop for millions of Africans sold into slavery, where contestants took time to say a prayer and shed a tear. Next stop Berlin, where the first clue was found in front of a section of the dismantled wall. This clue led teams past a bombed-out church and to the Broken Chain sculpture to, in host Phil Keoghan’s words, “commemorate the devastation of World War Two.”

I felt like my TiVo must have skipped. If the contestants had flown in from sheep herding in New Zealand to revisit the Bauhaus or partake in Oktoberfest, fine by me. Maybe the producers felt it would be rude to bring up the Holocaust in Germany, like insulting the host’s cooking at a dinner party. Maybe Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum was too far out of the way. But going from the memorial ceremony at an African slave port to a casual jog around genocide left me feeling cheated.

“It’s nice sometimes when the show slows down to acknowledge history,” Phil says on the CBS website. “Those moments are really good because, you know, they just make you think.” Clearly Phil and friends didn’t want anyone to think too hard on this leg.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Thanks for taking the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you acquire expertise, would you thoughts updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me.

Thanks for this. Great article !

You might be a redneck if: Your computer has a bumper sticker on it.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

A Wobbly Leg

The willful ignorance of reality tv can be all too unreal

More on Tablet:

Obama: Denying Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland is Anti-Semitic

By Yair Rosenberg — The president draws a line in the sand in his latest interview