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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004  

There aren’t enough “broads” anymore in pop culture.

Sure, we have plenty of dainty and “Gosh, aren’t I feminine?” types littering the landscape. I suspect we’re stuck with Jessica Simpson for years to come. But where are the tough women? Where are the women you wouldn’t arm wrestle on a bet, because you know they’re gonna kick your ass? I can only think of one place:

The Amazing Race.

If you aren’t watching the best “reality” show on television, a show that doubles as one of the best shows on TV, period, then you’re missing out. Certainly, the bandwagon appears to be growing; it’s one of the highest rated programs on the air this summer. But it has room to grow, and you really ought to be watching, because as the race sheds teams, the toughness of the challenges and the travel increase dramatically, and more screen time is devoted to the human drama facing each duo. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Plus, it has broads.

One pair of racers in this edition are so-called “soccer moms.” I think of them more as “bowling partners,” as they are featured in the introductions on the lanes and in their league shirts. They also have a (disturbing) tendency to wear matching clothes during the race legs as well. They’re fun, loveable, and you can cheer for them because they play fair and with a sense of integrity, even though you get the sense they’d kick you square in the balls if it proved necessary. They’re also not stick-thin models like some of the competitors, instead looking like normal, sturdy women of fortitude. It’s easy to make the jump to believe that they could throw back a couple of beers and watch a game with you and be right at home. In short: broads.

A different type of broads in the race are little person Charla and her cousin Mirna. Controversial in their style and demeanor, these two have captured my heart and my rooting interest. Charla is a kick-ass wonder, not backing down from any challenge thrown at her, and yet savvy enough to play on people’s pity factor because of her stature. I like that she uses every available weapon in her arsenal to succeed. Mirna can be damned annoying, but she also has a nifty verve, at times taking longer in the challenges than necessary in order to enjoy the experience of being halfway around the world and doing things she never felt possible in her life. One of the best early moments of the race involved Mirna lagging a bit at a Uruguay destination in order to dance the tango with a local man. Looking at her face, you could see that she was immensely turned on and could have stayed for quite some time. Most contestants don’t have this attitude, focusing solely on the next stage of the race, and I dig that about her (and Charla). Again: they are two fun-loving broads.

It feels weird to say the TV is missing Bea Arthur. But, I think it is. Where have all the good broads gone? And will this age of PC casting and body obsession, will we ever see any great ones again?

3:41 PM

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