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What I Watched Last Night: America's Worst Driver in Chicago

America's Worst Driver: Chicago aired the other night. It's shows like these that made me cancel cable.

The above statement should be the entirety of this column but that isn't any fun. What is fun is the ending of this particular show. The beginning and middle are just like every other reality television show but in the end a car is destroyed by a monster truck. For what it's worth, every reality show that brings nothing to to the table for 40-some minutes should all do us a favor and end with a monster truck running over a contestant's car. The reaction is worth the wait.

So here's how it goes:

Four people are nominated as bad drivers by friends or lovers. The friend or lover will ride shotgun with the nominee through challenges to support or ridicule. There are three sets of challenges. Each one eliminates a pairing. The first obstacle is to drive to a narrow alley near Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder. This alley happens to be the most infamous alley in Chicago; gangsters were murdered there some time ago on Valentine's Day. In this alley, trash is arranged and children will spray water and silly string at the car. The contestant must make a three-point turn and leave the "massacre." They leave, dress up in winter clothes, and park a car in a tight spot only after their windows have been sprayed with "frost" to simulate driving conditions in the winter.

Next, they drive around a parking lot avoiding stacked-up hubcaps. In reverse. This is a timed event and time is added for every tower of rims knocked over. Ingenious.

Lastly, they drive a car with a bathtub attached to the roof around another obstacle course. The bathtub has a series of tubes connected to it to shower the driver and passenger if the driving is subpar. The contestants inevitably get wet. The team then switches cars to one without a tub on top to balance it on a teeter-totter for ten seconds. Then, finally, they complete another section of course with garbage cans filled with water.

And on we go, time to meet the teams and see the results.

Kevin and Dan: Soccer Dads.

Kevin is a soccer dad. Dan is a soccer dad. They drive around doing what it is soccer dads do. I have no idea because this is the first time I heard the term soccer dad. I figure they are like soccer moms, but then why is it Kevin drives a sedan and not a van? Anyway, they both are dads and dress like dads and drive like dads. Kevin drives well enough to be eliminated first and wins a trip to Florida. His buddy Dan gets nothing.

Billy and Rion: Friends.

Billy wears a purple shirt and jeans with silly string on them. Hard to believe but the Billy jeans and the children in the alley is total coincidence. Billy drives and Rion watches. They both overreact to a bunch of stuff and give me a slight headache. Billy and Rion are eliminated after the reverse driving challenge. Billy wins a gas card for a year and Rion wins nothing.

Sonya and Jamie: Best Friends.

First off, I don't know why these two get the best friends tag while Billy and Rion only got friends. Sonya is the driver and she is reclusive. She screams and waves her hands in the air a few times. Imagine being near a woman screaming and waving her hands; now imagine her in a moving car very close to you. Jamie gets through to Sonya near the end of the show so he, unlike the other co-pilots, gained something from the show. Sonya's car is spared and she receives a year of oil changes. If we caught up with Sonya and Jamie now I would suspect they have made out since, maybe even some light petting, but I think that topic detracts from this terrific column.

Finally, we have our winners.

Cristin and James: The married couple.

James wears glasses and Cristin spells her name in an unusual way. Cristin is bad at driving. I can tell it's not a lack of effort; I feel she was freaked out by her husband riding shotgun. Seems driving under pressure is not going to work in her favor. It doesn't and she wins the contest. Her prize is to watch her car get hammered a few times by a monster truck.

This is the part the made me laugh out loud. When the monster truck ran over her car. It was a mixture of the car being crushed and the look on Cristin's face. It took more than 40 minutes to get a good laugh out of this show, and fortunately I had no commercials to deal with (having bought the episode from iTunes) or else I would have never made it.

Then my laughter came to a halt when Cristin and James were assessing the damage and James said, "No note!" and "They're not buffing that out!" Couldn't leave well enough alone. One joke would have been enough. Yet another reason for every television viewer to devote their life to watching Seinfeld. For if James had, he would have known to leave on a high note.

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Visit the What I Watched Last Night archives and see what else we've been watching.

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Submissions and comments welcome.



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Posted on March 31, 2010


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