(Where my teams at?)
Amazing Race finished up its 20-billionth season this past Sunday, and I still love the concept of the show and while the challenges and locations are as respectively varied and beautiful as they've ever been (and now shot in glorious HD) the overall casting for this last go-around was really kind of blah, and didn't hold my attention week-to-week. The Hockey Dudes - Anthony and Bates - won pretty handily in the last leg, and truth be told they ran a solid enough race throughout and weren't jerks or morons... but I wasn't really HOPING they'd win either. There wasn't anyone in the final four group I was really pulling for. I don't know the exact recipe for what makes a team compelling and fun to root for but there are a couple things that I am drawn to in a team. I will list them below.
1) Two people who have a sense of adventure/ joy of exploration / competitive spirit.
2) Two people who, between them, can read a map and drive stick shift.
3) Two people who are NOT "newly dating" or "newly married" or "testing their relationship on the race."
4) Two people with an interesting history or relationship dynamic which is not based on one constantly screaming at or demeaning the other.
5) Two people who are not afraid of water.
6) Something about them could potentially make them an underdog.
That's basically it! And Bates and Anthony even kinds fit that bill, but there weren't enough teams like that around them to really challenge them. Are there not enough people in the potential casting pool to find teams fitting this criteria? I've always felt that the drama of this show should come from two people trying to complete tasks together and trying to supporting each other through the stresses of racing around the world. So it's basically Team Vs. Killer Fatigue of Travel, even more than Team Vs. Team. I HATE when it becomes Team Member vs. Team Member. And what it feels like we get a lot of recently is one team member really wants to do The Race and the other one got dragged along because at least they'd make it to ONE new place and then they'd probably get to stop. Because if they REALLY wanted to do the Race, they'd know to learn stick shift first. And if they REALLY wanted to do it, they'd have to know they'll have to swim. Or, you know, RUN. And CLIMB. And possibly JUMP. And READ clues. And TALK TO CAB DRIVERS. Some contestants seem so shocked when presented with these things along the way. Have they ever watched this show? I just feel like the show needs to find more people who really want to travel and compete and be together, than people who like the idea of being on tv or taking a vacation.
So thanks for some fun new locations, TAR, and for bringing me my weekly does of Phil Keoghan into my living room. I especially loved when they went to New Zealand. Just gorgeous. Let's see what mix of teams you have in store for us next time. Until that time, I'll think of that almost unbelievable moment when John and Jessica were eliminated with an Express Pack still in their pocket, and John's explanation for why he was cool with that was totally insane. OY VEY!