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Hall of Shame Moment: No Loophole for the Lawyers When ‘Amazing Race’ Says “Walk”

by David Bloomberg -- 10/28/2002
Heather and Eve, the law school roommates of The Amazing Race 3, were doing fairly well. They have overcome some difficult spots and were solidly in the pack. But then they misread a clue. OK, such things happen. But what happened when they realized they had misread it is what really makes their situation into a Hall of Shame Moment.

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As we’ve discussed here before, the Hall of Shame Moment is for those reality TV participants who, in general, are not bad people. They didn’t employ horrible strategy all the way through, or act like complete and total jerks over the run of a series. But, they still deserve a special mention here for doing something so completely and totally stupid and shameful.

This is the precise situation we have with Heather and Eve from The Amazing Race 3. The two former law school roommates were likeable enough through most of the race, even if there was a bit of whining going on. But then, it happened. It, of course, is the action that led to their elimination from the Race.

Heather and Eve, who went to law school, who learned all about reading and interpreting the law, who should know to read the fine print (and the not-so-fine print) – ignored the directions. The final clue envelope of episode 4 told them to walk to the pitstop. Walk, in the language of Amazing Race, means to use your own two feet – as Arianne noted upon seeing the same clue, "Walk means run, skip, jump, or hop." It does not, however, mean to take a taxi. Yet that is exactly what Heather and Eve did.

And this was not an issue of simply misreading a clue. They hopped into the taxi and then noticed that the clue said they had to walk. They panicked! They tried to get the cab to turn around. OK, fine. A mistake – it happens. They could have corrected it.

But then something else kicked in. Call it rationalization, looking for a loop-hole, whatever. They decided that they could take the cab after all. They just had to walk into the pitstop itself.

Mind you, there have never been an episode of Amazing Race where the contestants could drive onto the mat at the pitstop. And they have never been told they must walk rather than, say, running to it. Yet that is the type of rationalization Heather and Eve latched onto as they continued their cab ride and arrived first at the pitstop. Where was everybody else? Hmmmm. I wonder.

This rule violation, when it came to light, cost them everything. The usual penalty of the time advantage they gained (seven minutes) plus a 30-minute penalty moved them from first to last. They were eliminated. Why? Because of a shamefully dumb move.

All they had to do was read the clue and follow the directions. They did read it – but they blew the “follow the directions” part. It seems that every contestant should read the rules of a show before going on it. This would be doubly so for a team made up of lawyers. Who knows, maybe they thought they could find a loophole that they could argue to the judge and jury. Unfortunately for them, the folks at Amazing Race were unlikely to be swayed by such courtroom antics.

Other players on Amazing Race have made stupid mistakes like this before. But in every case, they have taken steps to correct their errors upon realizing it; they have not just rationalized it away and then tried to get away with it. Sometimes it isn’t just the mistake you make, but the way you handle it.

Which brings us to what they had to say after the race was over. They appeared on CBS’s Early Show and discussed their elimination. According to them, the cameraman said it would be okay to take the taxi. Let’s take a look at this claim.

Is it possible that what they are saying is true? Sure. But the cameraman isn’t supposed to interact with them at all, and over the course of two and a half races so far, we haven’t or heard of anything to indicate otherwise. Furthermore, why would they even ask the cameraman? And why would he say it’s okay? If they truly believe this is what happened, perhaps they should sue CBS and subpoena the full length of videotape from that part of the race – it would certainly tell us one way or the other. I suspect it would not support their side of things.

Also, they claimed that they did not have to come forward about having taken the taxi – that the tapes would not have been looked at for 48 hours. Supposedly they felt that they might have done something wrong and the cameraman said it was all okay. Let’s look at these statements.

First, the claim that the tapes would not have been looked at for two full days. This is almost certainly wrong. Other teams have been penalized for doing things incorrectly – and it wasn’t two full days later! The whole point of penalizing teams would be lost if they had to wait that long to review the information. And, frankly, there is no reason the production team would wait that long. We’ve already dealt with the cameraman thing, but even though they might not know what the term “walk” means, you can bet the cameraman does.

I’ve gotten several e-mails from people indicating that they believe Heather and Eve felt entitled – like so many young and beautiful women do – to an exception to the rules. I’m not sure I can justify that accusation based on what we saw. However, an attorney wrote in to use to note that refusing to accept responsibility, blaming others, trying to manipulate the rules, and trading on your looks are all admirable traits for attorneys, but not as people outside the courtroom. And definitely not a reality show where you might find yourself written up in a Hall of Shame Moment.

David Bloomberg is the Editor of the Reality TV Hall of Shame, and can be reached at rno@pobox.com.


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