I like to think I’m a pretty good friend. And while there aren’t many to corroborate that hypothesis, I’m pretty certain that those you could find would back me up on that. So with that in mind, let’s get hypothetical. Let’s say my very bestest friend that there is in the whole wide worldy, were laying in his death bed, wracked with pain, writhing in agony, only moment from the end of his tragically short life. And let’s further postulate that he were to ask me in a shaky, fragile whisper, as a final dieing request, that I do nothing more than simply sit at his bed side for an hour and watch with him home movies of the trip he took to Yosimestone National Tree Yard and Gift Shop with his family last Summer. And after making this oh so tiny request of me, his attending doctor leans over to tell me that by simply watching this video with my dearly beloved, nearly dead friend, it would somehow miraculously restore his vitality and grant him another sixty years of pain free, vibrant existence. With all of that hypothetically said I would of course, without hesitation, simply shake my head solemnly at the injustice of it all and gently hold my bosomest pal’s hand in mine, cursing that there was simply nothing that could be done differently, as the last wisps of life quietly slipped past his lips.
Which brings me to NBC's Great American Road Trip. There’s nothing good about someone else’s vacation slides. Even if you try to tell me it’s a “reality competition” program for fabulous cash prizes and fire engine rides over the Mississippi river. It’s still motor homes full of people who aren’t me being recorded for no good reason and shared with the world for even less.
Great American Road Trip takes all of the best things about shows like Amazing Race, packs them neatly into a suit case and absentmindedly leaves it sitting on the roof of the car as it pulls out of the drive way, sending it sliding off the back and left laying in the middle of the road, unnoticed until someone goes looking for a bag of ratings or a bottle of viewer interest only to finally realize their tragic mistake. So rather than contestants with any sort of inspiring or interesting story or reason for being on your television screen, Great American Road Trip simply pulls seven stereotypes from a hat, stuffs them into a fleet of RVs and sets them loose on middle America.
Watch as the little Puerto Rican kids scream and whine over who gets the last gummy worm. Marvel at the hilarious regional differences as the family from Yonkers debates the Arkansas rednecks over the proper mispronunciation for referencing multiple people: “y’all” or “yous”. Be astounded by the ridiculously convoluted games based loosely around the American Presidential electoral system and debasing national landmarks like the St. Louis Gateway Arch, by treating it like a giant croquet wicket in the most painfully boring competitions ever conceived.
So ultimately the Great American Road Trip ends up being exactly like the Amazing Race. Except without the exotic foreign locales, or the compelling character stories and well thought out region specific challenges, or the Amazingness. Oh, and it’s not a race either. But other than that though, just like Amazing Race.