The Amazing Race (original version) gets its first Deaf competitor
When Luke Adams was chosen as one of the competitors on Season 14 of CBS's popular reality series, The Amazing Race, he made history. As the first Deaf American to compete in the Race, he was described as an "inspiration." One can see Luke through various lenses: the warmly supportive, encouraging attitude of his hearing teammate and mother, Margie, and the reactions of his fellow Racers, who have learned not to underestimate him. Fans and bloggers have a multiplicity of opinions about him, ranging from admiration ("Luke is SO hot! Go, Margie and Luke!") to outright hostility. Their taking advantage of the opportunity to U-Turn Kris and Amanda, effectively eliminating them from competition, has proven controversial. While some fans consider it clever strategy (using an option that's part of the game to eliminate a strong rival team), others find it deplorable, unsporting, gratuitously mean. Luke's competitor Mike White even jokingly referred to a “new archetype—the sinister Deaf kid."
Since it was a "Blind U-Turn," Amanda and Kris were left to conjecture as to who was responsible for U-Turning them . . . and their shock and dismay when Christie and Jodi identified the responsible team as Luke and Margie were broadcast on the sixth episode of "Elimination Station."
Luke himself sees his participation in the Race as the best way of rebutting those who think of deaf people as being less smart and less capable than hearing people. He has a powerful motive for succeeding. And he and Margie have made a good team. She handles the communication and driving; he handles the strategy. And their background—she as the mother of a Deaf child, he as an alert ASL user—has benefited them on the Race. They've worked out the communicating-with-foreigners situations, which might have flustered others, with relative smoothness.
In short, he's been defying stereotypes by just being there, struggling, strategizing, and making it to the Pit Stop as quickly as he can, just as any good Racer would. Luke and Margie came in first on Episodes 1 and 5, and have maintained solid fourth-place finishes on Episodes 2, 3, 4, and 6. They were the first team of Season 14 to capture first-place finishes twice. We've seen him disagreeing with Margie about which Detour task they should choose. He reluctantly acceded to Margie's choice of the pie-throwing task instead of the Segway obstacle course, which is what he wanted to do. We saw his Roadblock struggle with unscrambling seven letter tiles to spell "Chekhov," getting frustrated and upset, while Margie stood by, unable to give him clues, in accordance with the rules, but offering support and encouragement until he solved the puzzle. He ran the Siberian underwear-only race with aplomb. In Jaipur, he was so dismayed to see children running around naked and foraging for food in garbage that he sobbed.
CBS, of course, refused to inform us whether Luke and Margie won the grand prize of a million dollars, or if they were eliminated, and when. That will be made clear as Season 14 unfolds. Meanwhile, we're watching, and rooting.