Monday, September 22, 2014

Unsatisfying endings suck


The season finale of the Amazing Race Canada just finished, and I'm left feeling unsatisfied.

The overriding story of the season was the dominance of Meaghan and Natalie - winning 7 of the 11 legs heading into the finale. Their two opposing teams (Mickey and Pete, Ryan and Rob) had not won any legs to date. So when Mickey and Pete won the final leg and thus the Amazing Race, all I could think was "What an anti-climatic end."

The underdog story is a simple story, but one that can be very powerful when done right. You get a likable person or team who might not be the most skilled, but they show a great effort, never give up and show an improvement from where they started to where they are now, and you have a great underdog for a story. But for the story to work, you need a great foil, one that is dominant, one that seemingly has all of talents necessary to win, but one that you want to see fail.  Mickey and Pete were great underdogs - ones that as the race went on, you could see coalescing as a team and becoming a team that could win the race if things broke their way.  The problem was with their foils in Meaghan and Natalie.

Meaghan and Natalie came into the Race as the most recognizable team (or second to Rex and Bob.) Their story of being members of the Canadian National Women's hockey team that won the Olympic gold medal, coming back from a 2 goal deficit with 5 minutes remaining in the gold medal game. Canada already knows of their perseverance and loves them. We know that they are highly skilled and great competitors. During the race, this view was reinforced. We were cheering with them as they dominated the race like no other all female team, and we were never really given a reason to dislike them. Heck, Meaghan ran the race with a broken hand, which was an incredible hinderance. They had their faults, sure, but most negatives were minor. In short, we had no reason to root against Meaghan and Natalie; they were a lovable giant, not an angry and hateable Goliath.

I can't blame the editors for this; it is a competition show so they have to work with the results they are given, and the actions of the teams to frame the story. That doesn't make me feel better about the results though, and obviously there was not enough negative actions by Meaghan and Natalie to make us want to see them fail. This is a shame because the season itself was a great season. Between the Alain and Audrey engagement, the emotional Normandy pit stop which struck the right tone of both reverence, respect and historical significance without overweighing it with a sense of patriotism and even the ending of the final four leg where Sukhi completes the final task while her brother knows that they have lost, it was the most fun season of the Amazing Race I have watched, regardless of the host country.

I'll try to remember this season for all of the great moments; however I fear that all I will remember is that it was the season that Meaghan and Natalie should have won.

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