Goodman: The Amazing Race’s not so amazing season


Meredith Goodman, Columnist

If you are a fan of the television show “The Amazing Race” and haven’t gotten the chance to catch up on the latest season, please be aware of the multiple spoilers in this article. If you haven’t ever viewed “The Amazing Race,” you should start watching the multi-Emmy Award-winning show soon.

The most amazing part of “The Amazing Race” is that its contestants participate in a worldwide race for a million dollars. Teams must complete a multitude of activities around the world, such as performing traditional Peruvian dances and cross-country skiing across sand dunes in Namibia. Watching “The Amazing Race” not only includes the fun and wacky family and friend dynamics of traditional reality shows, but also allows viewers to live vicariously through racers in their journey across the world.

With the unique premise I just described, you’d think the show wouldn’t have to resort to cheesy gimmicks other reality shows are guilty of (look no further than the latest season of “Survivor,” with its “Blue, White and No Collar” tribes, to know what I mean.) But the latest season of “The Amazing Race” has fallen victim to the tackiest gimmick of all — assigning blind date teams to complete the race. Half the teams this season are traditional “The Amazing Race” teams, with some kind of pre-existing relationship like dating, married couples or best friends. The other half met as blind dates during the first episode of the season, and their chemistry has been anything but romantic.

As of the second-to-last episode, none of the blind date couples have formed any semblance of a romantic relationship that will last beyond the race. The show’s host, Phil Keoghan, kept egging the couples on to declare some kind of romantic passion at the end of each leg of the race, only to be met with a steadfast declaration that they are “just friends” or “great race partners.”

The flat blind-date dynamic is not helped by the fact that some of the teams actually became angry and started to hate each other during the race. One team in particular, Hayley and Blair, yell at each other during almost every leg of the race (mostly Hayley complaining and yelling at Blair). Although watching relationship drama unfold on television sounds fun, it made me exhausted and longing for even one episode without the team bickering.

Probably one of the worst moments of “The Amazing Race” I have ever seen was when one blind-date team, Bergen and Kurt, gave up on a leg while in last place. During the episode, Bergen accused Kurt of being only motivated by the promise of a relationship and not the prize at the end of the race, therefore losing his drive to win. This kind of behavior is not in the spirit of the race, which has traditionally been a stalwart for cooperation and teamwork, and makes for unpleasant television viewing.

Part of the problem this season may have been the actual blind date matches themselves. Two of the matches were clearly an attempt to create cute hashtags – a doctor and a registered nurse were given the hashtag #RxForLove and a pair of lawyers were tagged as #TheLegalTeam.

Meanwhile, although the pre-existing couples appeared to be normal people of all body types with a variety of blue-collar professions, the blind date couples were gorgeous and all had seemingly high-powered professions. There seemed to be a variety of tasks in the race requiring teams to change clothes or provided an opportunity for the men to take their shirts off, showing their gorgeous six-packs. Would it have hurt “The Amazing Race” to cast one blind date couple with a larger body type? What used to be a show featuring genuine characters has turned to shameless attempts to increase viewership.

Despite all my criticisms of this season of “The Amazing Race,” I still remain a loyal fan and will continue to watch future seasons. A reality show that can capture my interest season after season and show the most remote corners of the world will continue to earn my viewership and respect. However, I beg the producers of “The Amazing Race” to not pull cheap gimmicks on their future shows.

Meredith Goodman is a Weinberg senior. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].