Reality Tv: Central Character

In a brief break of recapping Amazing Race China, I just have some thoughts, which gives us to this title.

P.S: I’ll just replace central character to E, just to type less.

A central character is a person that is the main character of any series of Reality Show. E may not be fan favorite, nor the winner, E is just a character that bring the storyline for the season.

E may be the star because of having the most links to the other characters, having an important link for vital moments. Even though viewers may not like E for dominating a lion share of the airtime, they will remember E because of his importance to the plot.

With E interactions with the other characters and/or E ride in the season, the E are vital for the editors to help shine the season. That being said, E cannot be used to dominate everyone else airtime to the point that they are invisible (like Russel Hantz In Survivor Samoa or Rob in Survivor Redemption Island), E helps to make the other characters shine on their own as well.

And also, E is wasn’t enough to make a storyline alone, E needed secondary characters, who also had a strong link with the other characters and had the most response to what E brings to the table.

So how about I provide a recent example for an E: I may present Brendon and Rachel (Brenchel) from Amazing Race 24 (yeah, polarizing choice, but I did said that E is not a fan favorite)

Amazing Race 24 is horrible when you look at it in the production viewpoint. The locations, the tasks and the cast were very disappointing. Even though viewers disliked the fact that there are 3-peaters, a last minute manufactured team, teams that are more suitable in Unfinished Business, polarizing teams, and forgettable teams, they do not deserve to only travel in 4 countries in 8 legs, traveling in linear legs, and worst of all, the tasks, just the tasks (Shaving a balloon? Toy Chariot Racing? Screwing A Light bulb being the hardest task of the final leg?).

If you want me to list one of the few things that I like in this season, it will probably be having a fascinating storyline that include the central character.

Brenchel is in the polarizing team category. In the race, they are known for Rachel’s really vocal complaining and a rivalry with Vanessa that nobody actually know how it started (Differing viewpoints in abortion? Glancing mean looks? Brenchel conspiring with the Mississippi girls to block the queue in Paraguay?). They are secondary characters (to Art & JJ and Kerri & Stacy, the Mississippi girls fought with a lot of teams in airports) in their season, but by default since for me, they needed the Mississippi girls involvement to give a layer to their storyline, so it ended up making zero sense for how are they unpopular with the other teams unless they have good ears (only Team Kentucky definitely saw Rachel’s complaining before the Nairobi airport incident).

And while 24 is bad with team to team interactions (like what did Brenchel, YouTubers and Jessica & John did in those 3 hours?). The editors were lucky that the teams also had to survive the course.

When they were casted, their only clear ally, Team Kentucky had some pre-show problems with Bopper having pancreatitis and deemed unfit to continue, while Mark was forced to ally with Mallory, somebody that he never know, and their trust issues ended up eliminated them and their airtime in the 2nd episode.

But they were riding high, they arrive 2nd in the 1st leg despite being on the second flight, and won the 2nd leg thanks to getting a great cab. They were in a momentum, they hoped to be in the lead for the rest of the race, and Rachel reveals that she wanted to win a million dollars so she could have a Brenchel baby (Well, she rented a house in LA with her Big Brother winnings).

After that, fate gave them one of the biggest roller coaster rides in The Amazing Race. Which consequently, became the central character from the 3rd leg onwards.

Leg 3: Got a horrible cab that pushes them back in time for the second flight, a 3 hour deficit behind the first flight. And a bad time that the only reason they were saved is the YouTubers decision to leave their cab in nowhere.

Leg 4: Struggled in the Cocktail Detour (which by the way, the only difficult task of this entire season). And Rachel stupidly encourage Luke (the other team that is struggling beside him) enough to let him finish the Detour and made Brenchel facing a Speedbump for the next leg.

Leg 5: Managed to find a flight that give them a headstart over the other teams, but an equalizer and   their performance in the tasks puts them in the bottom again, and survived over Margie & Luke having a horrible time with flights

In those both episodes, it also shows Rachel that she learned how to be more nurturing towards other people, like Luke and Brendon in the Spinning Detour.

Leg 6: Showed their biggest weakness in the season, clue reading and rashness. If it wasn’t for John, they had to take a Speedbump again (Oddly, it’s the only leg where they neither place in the Top 2 nor Bottom 2 and Team Country being the only team that appear in a CBS Live Q & A session)

Finally, they bounced back to the lead in Leg 7, and thought their bottom feeding is over, but then…

Leg 8: Which showed their Greed, when they faced the U-Turn in first. They decided to U-Turn Team Achilles that was behind that just to win a prize (and a headstart). And to their dismay, Team Achilles turned out to be really bitter towards them over a 10+ season old rule.

P.S: If it wasn’t for the editors horrible decision of showing them complaining about it for 3 straight episodes instead of showing them focusing on doubling their efforts in the race, Team Achilles would have been a great secondary character

Leg 9: The consequence of U-Turning a nearly 60 yearly old man, having everyone else ally against them (which Team Achilles diplomatic charm and Team Country), and tensions is starting between them. And they fall in the bottom again (which by the way is their fault for driving the wrong way)

Leg 10: Despite the alliance, they were spared with Team Afghanimals decided to U-Turn Team Cowboys (who were background characters, amazingly). But Rachel is showing signs of being whiny Rachel in the Bull Detour, and starting to amp up her wanting to have a Brenchel baby.

Leg 11: This is where Rachel finally break, with their failure of reading that they need a 9 or 11 boot (not a 10 boot which they took first). And were only saved by Team Afghanimals problems with direction.

Leg 12: The last leg, where tensions with Team Country and Team Achilles finally burst, verbally arguing with them in the unaired airport and the digging respectively. Amplified with having a horrible driver (which supposedly were selected by the producers), and got themselves insane by stealing, bribing, Rachel pretending to be pregnant to get sympathy from Team Country’s taxi driver. Then over thought themselves for searching the entire hotel to get a clue.

And after running one of the most inexcusable finale in a challenge viewpoint (seriously, a task that requires teams to queue is the final task). They ended up third again, Rachel dreams of having a Brenchel baby were dashed, and Phil even unintentionally forgetting that they made the finals again.

Damn, that is long. Still for me, one of the good thing that happen in this season is Brenchel being a great central character in this season storyline. Even though the secondary characters fell flat (Seriously, Rachel openly called Team Country akin to a parasite when the race is still going on, the editors should have take a note at it), Brenchel are fascinating to watch by themselves: having a reason to race (Brenchel baby), linking and making the other teams shine by themselves (with Achilles and Margie & Luke) and a complexity of what a human being is (selflessly encouraging Luke to finish well and stealing a cab in desperation & greed).

So, this is my thoughts about a central character. Thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “Reality Tv: Central Character

  1. First of, I don’t think Brendon & Rachel were the show’s first pick for the central character, they just had no other choice. Just looking at seasons 19-23, there were two teams guaranteed to make compelling central characters, no matter the surrounding cast, but Tim & Marie turned them down, and the Twinnies were eliminated first. Add to that the show’s decision to snub the Chippendales and Abbie & Ryan, and Bopper’s health, and you have five teams right there that could have added a lot to the late episodes who didn’t even make it past the first leg.

    As for the other eight teams, they dug their own grave by casting Caroline & Jen and Joey & Meghan, there was no reason to bring either of those teams back. None of the third timers should have been brought back, and even then the Globetrotters were shades of their former selves, while the Cowboys have never carried significant air time in any of their three season, outside of the Season 16 finale at least. Margie & Luke at least had a fitting end to their three season story arc, that story just ended up being one of inevitable failure. Neither Dave & Connor nor Jessica & John lived up to their brief, but amazing, stints on Season 22. In fact, both kind of fell flat character wise. Finally, you had Leo & Jamal, who actually were good secondary characters, and one of the few good things about the season, but they always have been and always will be a poor man’s Twinnies.

    That being said, what made Season 24 so weak was not having Brenchel as the main characters, and only partially due to having a weak supporting cast. The biggest issue was the editors not knowing how they wanted to portray the couple. They were supposedly the villains, but Rachel was given a redemption arc early on, softening the audience on her, and then Dave was made to look whiny, which didn’t exactly give him favor with the audience. Had Rachel been made to look more villainous, it would have fixed a lot of the audience confusion at the end of the season. She also could have been made to look more heroic, but someone other than Dave & Connor would have had to win, as the Race doesn’t like making their winners look like villains. Have Brenchel and the Twinnies switch places, and the line between hero and villain becomes more clear. Plus then you have the Twinnies for an entire season, which automatically makes a lot of episodes better (though in that case they likely don’t end up on Survivor, and Natalie doesn’t do a face turn as the sole saving grace of San Juan del Sur), so take that as you will.

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    • Like I said, central character is not a fan favorite nor winner, they are just supposed to be a key that makes the entire plot more intriguing to watch. And it can be anybody, no need to box in when choosing the central character.

      Sure, I didn’t like this season and the editing treatment of the secondary and minor characters, to the point of most of them being one note compared to the colorful Brenchel VS The World storyline (even it is beautiful to watch akin to a Greek Tragedy, like I said, central character cannot be used to overshadow the other characters).

      But it’s just really rare to see a team turned out to be very complex in a character standpoint when most of the cast (Brenchel 20 included) in the 19-24 era is edited to be one note, even by complete accident.

      Hero? Villain? Screw that black & white morality rating, this season Brenchel are humans, and I love them for being one of the few bright spots of Season 24: The Season Where Producers Should Learn How Not To Produce A Season.

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