On Friday I argued that The Amazing Race is “is an experiment in cooperative behavior in a competitive context.” Salon’s Heather Havrilesky contends that it’s a laboratory for stress-testing relationships:

With so many dating and relationship reality shows on the air, it’s remarkable how few actually manage to hold your attention for more than a few seconds. “Perfect Partners,” “For Love or Money,” “Elimidate,” “The Bachelor”…. If, instead of watching people pretending to fall in love for the camera, you’d prefer to see established couples fall into a downward spiral of contempt and hysteria — and who wouldn’t? — then “The Amazing Race” is the show for you. Don’t let the silly world-travel challenges fool you. “The Amazing Race” is all about dragging long-term relationships over the red-hot coals of conflict…. As our intrepid couples endure a steady stream of panic-inducing situations, skillfully edited [Ed: as Victoria points out!] to maximize the nail-biting suspense, we can almost see the seams of their relationships ripping before our eyes….

“The Amazing Race” is the ultimate litmus test for a relationship. If only all engaged couples were forced to sleep on the streets of India or navigate the hinterlands of South Korea before they got married, divorce rates in this country would decline faster than you can say, “Do me a favor and shut up!”

Indeed, some of the couples do end up behaving like the proverbial escaped convicts chained together at the ankle (hey, wouldn’t THAT be a great reality show?), but nonetheless, I think my argument that the game constitutes an interesting play between cooperation and competition still holds.

Maybe the players would be better-behaved if they realized that. Are you reading, contestants of Amazing Race 5?