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''Amazing Race'': Too Blue?

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 9, 2006

I didn't get around to this week's ''Amazing Race'' until Wednesday night, but I had already gotten a content warning from a co-worker. ''Too much sex,'' she said with a shake of her head.

Sure enough, the episode had buddies Eric and Jeremy coveting bigtime, whether it was the Pink Ladies (Danielle and Dani) or Brazilian prostitutes -- until, that is, they realized the prostitutes were cross-dressers. Early in the episode, they talked about they whether they might ''get some sex'' during the show, and they didn't let up. Granted that Danielle and Dani spoke about using ''our feminity'' as a game-playing tactic, Eric and Jeremy were obviously playing two games -- the race and the race for sex.

Is this really so bad? After all, we've had adult conversations on ''Amazing Race'' before, including mentions of a player's implants. And the show does air at 10 p.m.

Still, whenever I think about a show airing at 10, I hear the voice of Ann Hodges, the now-retired TV critic for the Houston Chronicle. When a network executive mentioned that a show was on at 10, she would remind them that it aired at 9 in her part of the country.

In these days of video recording, a time slot does not mean as much as it used to.  And viewers may feel some shows are suitable for the entire family regardless of when they air. ''American Idol,'' for instance, has a considerable family following; when it has done two-hour telecasts, another co-worker has had to decide whether her young daughter can stay up late enough to watch the telecasts to the end.

''Amazing Race'' also has a family vibe. In fact, the last series was a ''family edition'' with teams of four, some of them children. While that ''family edition'' was ultimately a bad idea, it still told audiences that the show was OK for all audiences.

This time, not so much. I suspect my co-worker is not the only one to be put off by the content in Tuesday's show. In fact, I talked to several other ''Race'' fans in my office who found it troubling, and in at least one case a reason not to like Eric and Jeremy.

I've loved ''Amazing Race'' for a long time because its blend of a pure competition -- that is, the race -- and likable personalities. This time around, it is back with the fun of an international jaunt, and several of the teams are appealing at this point. BJ and Tyler's semi-hippie ways may have tricked other teams into underestimating them, and Dave and Lori remain the cutest nerds since Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. (Dave's line of the night, on making ethanol: ''I totally did that experiment in school.'')

But as we get to know the teams, some things are better kept private. Eric and Jeremy's spanking fantasies qualify.

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