If I'd come up to you and said that Charla and Mirna would be in the top three, you probably would've snarked, "In what? Comedically bad accents? And even then, that's just Mirna; Charla is a talentless hanger-on of Mirna, which I suppose makes Mirna the 'talented' one." A revelation which would then lead us all to spontaneously die. But here we are with the "All Stars" edition of TAR, with Charla and Mirna, Eric and Danielle, and the Beauty Queens vying for the $1 million prize, a final three that has disappointed hordes of TAR fans because of the enduring lack of grade-A villains or yayhoorah their favorite teams. To which I say: BAH. Get over it.
In a season where professional reality heel Boston Rob (and Amber) was eliminated in the fourth episode, you'd assume that the remainder of the season would lack for villainous drama and that it'd run on the fumes of petty bickering. While Eric and Danielle and Charla and Mirna collectively indeed provided such pettiness, they also offered more than the typical reality melodrama. As Eric and Danielle (well, Eric mostly, Danielle is mostly along for the ride) showed in the China leg, they have demonstrated that they can be serious racers even after being Yielded and tagged with a 30-minute penalty despite being only a one-person team -- Danielle* she once asked Eric, "How are you reading and walking at the same time?" And in the face of adversity and obstacles (AKA Roadblocks), she makes clear that she no longer wants to be in the race. So, yeah: useless -- and one of my official criteria for competent reality villainy is for them to be credible threats to win over the objection of the viewer.
* I should note that for the longest time, I was confused about which season of TAR she represented. Somehow, I mangled the official information -- that she and Eric are the only couple this season who weren't a team on their original TAR run -- into a statement that they were the only couple from completely separate seasons of the show. And Danielle didn't help things out by not wearing her hat from season 9.
The other half of my Two Steps to Memorable Reality Villainy involves being oblivious to your own shortcomings (no pun intended -- well, kinda), and Mirna takes this cake and eat it too. All of Mirna is entertaining solely for the fact that she's so unaware of how rude and inappropriate she is. I spend my TAR-viewings actively trying to not think of Mirna too much -- which is pretty difficult considering her how loudly she proclaims her saintliness while trying to adopt the "appropriate" accent so she can effectively hector a cabbie into going more "rapido por favor," or how she's the only one on her team who's capable of pulling any weight, etc. -- so I won't regale you with examples of what a dud of a harridan she is, but I'm sure that even if you don't watch the show, her martyr-complex and double-faced moralism are so outrageous that you've been able to sense a disturbance in the Force because of them.
Incidentally, because of this second of Two Steps to Memorable Reality Villainy, I never really found Boston Rob (and Amber) to be as contemptible as everyone else made them out to be. Rob always acted consciously if unconscionably, and his winning smirk that said, "Oooh, I'm such a bad boy, Ambuh, come here a minute and spank hahd!" really didn't do much for me because I can't laugh or hate as hard at deliberate heelishiness as I can at oblivious villainy.
As for the Beauty Queens, and the unwarranted hatorade that they get. To be frank: coupled with the fact that season 10 also had a cheerleader team which predictably flamed out by the second episode, I immediately dismissed the BQs as yet another pair of pretty girls who wanted to get their faces onto a reality program. Surely, the BQs were going to bicker with each other over the smallest inconvenience, avoid the most strenuous challenges, rely on their looks to get ahead, and to take for granted the sites and the sights on the race. Aaaaand they didn't do any of that, in the last season or this season, and actually did the exact opposite as the most graceful, gracious, and the team most full of equanimity. , they keep their cool and have never been reduced to bickering with each other (I'm ignoring message board talk that involved the previews for the finale), even after the not-insignificant number of boners that they've pulled (car accidents, getting lost, completely missing a clue, etc.). Second, they have, by most accounts, appreciated the sights and the sites along the race: in Mozambique, Kandice paints the nails of a little girl for free during a Detour that. But then again, they do let slip the occasional four-letter word, like "dang." And while they've upended the usual stereotype of women, the BQs still have issues with a) driving and b) navigation. Women be bad drivers lollers!
(I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on how they called team Alabama "da sistas" last season, since I barely remember them doing it, and well, Lyn and Karlyn weren't the warmest people to them.) (I'm also going to ignore what the previews is supposed to show in next week's episode.)
I also don't want to get into the pointless and puerile Yield Karma business, though I will say that if it was cheating, it wouldn't be a sanctioned part of the game, and that if you're Yielded, you have every right to act like a 5th grader throwing a hissy and saying that being Yielded is a moral injustice. Also, in my expert TAR opinion, Yielders shouldn't be surprised that the Yieldees react like petulant babies and start pouring the hatorade , and at the very least you want to minimize the enmity by Yielding as late in the race as possible. But, of course, being the Yield Queens, Dustin and Kandice used the Yield twice, thus being bolder than I ever will be.
Well, to speak tangentially about the Yields: Dustin and Kandice have been legitimately hosed by the Intersection twice -- last season, it knocked them out of the game, and this season, it completely ate away a 4-hour lead. Eric and Danielle have been Yielded twice, and the worst thing that happened to them as a result is that they came in third. Then compare how much the BQs complained about the Intersections with how much Eric and Danielle complained about the Yields. Actually, you can't on an algebraic level, because Dustin and Kandice didn't complain, i.e. you can't divide by zero.
Lastly, I'm loving the irony of one of the best examples of an all-woman team busting female stereotypes being a pair of beauty queens.
Indie rating: The Shangri-Las - "Leader of the Pack"