And so this viral season of The Amazing Race is finally over. This desperate attempt by CBS and Bertram and Co. to try and resuscitate the show’s collapsing ratings, by most measures, failed miserably.
It’s to be expected in this current era of TAR that seasons will more often than not be subpar or downright terrible. Great seasons like TAR25 are the rarity, not the norm. Poor casting and poor Leg design are as much a characteristic of current TAR as annual Emmys was for earlier years.
But this season may have been more of a failure than any recent one, except TAR24. The sole purpose of casting social media personalities, internet-famous people, was to provide a bump to The Amazing Race in terms of ratings and buzz. And TAR28 failed on both counts.
The Amazing Race reached new ratings lows this season. And a dubious mark at that. TAR dipped below a 1.0 in 18-49 Live+Same Day ratings for the first time in 28 seasons. While all of broadcast television is experiencing historic lows, a sub-1.0 is not good for any show. Especially a show as expensive and as OLD as The Amazing Race. And that’s old both as a series itself and old in terms of its viewing audience.
And in terms of buzz, one would’ve expected The Amazing Race to be a regular trending topic thanks to its cast of internet famous “celebrities.” Nope. Trending the show was not. And if it ever did, it never lasted more than a few minutes. The young fans of the supposedly popular cast did not show up.
Or if anything, more die hard and casual fans of The Amazing Race tuned out than new cast-only fans tuned in.
The idea of a pesudo-celebrity edition already left a bad taste in many mouths. Then the idea of 11 Joey & Meghans (TAR22 version) made it all even more frightening. And while TAR28 wasn’t a complete clusterfrak like TAR24 was, it certainly wasn’t a success nor the rejuvenation of the franchise.
Fresh Route, Same TAR
Diehard fans were screaming with excitement over first time visits to Colombia, Armenia and Georgia. Three brand new countries in one season. Shocking!
But the Legs themselves suffered the same ailments as most Legs on current TAR: poor Leg design and poor tasks.
First of all, the “virtual” Starting Line was a complete joke. There was really no reason for it. Not even a promotional consideration reason since Nokia/Microsoft still does not sponsor the show to promote its Lumia phones the teams use. (They also used them in TAR26.)
The first visit to Mexico since Season 3 was unbelievably tame. And the only interesting thing about the premiere was that it was a Non-Elimination Leg. The two Colombia Legs were much better. But things went downhill, or really, downmountain the next few Legs.
The inexplicable train ride from the last Route Marker to the Pit Stop in Leg 4 and it being an Elimination Leg is truly one of the worst Leg design decisions ever on any TAR. They then had to follow that up with a purely travel porn ELIMINATION Leg for Leg 5 in Chamonix.
The Armenian Leg was great until they decided an oil change was a great way to show off Armenia in what will likely be TARUS’ only Leg ever in the country.
The Georgia Leg was an example of how easier and simpler current TAR has become. All the tasks were watered down versions of what they would have been even only just a few seasons ago.
The Dubai Leg was the most Dubai Leg you could have ever imagined.
The first Indonesia Leg was probably the closest current TAR could come to a “good” Leg while the second Indonesia Leg was overcome by the non-drama of the U-Turn. The Shenzhen Leg was solid, yet simple. Definitely an early Leg, not a penultimate Leg.
And finally, the Final Leg had to be one of the most boring finales. And TAR has had plenty boring, forgettable finales in recent years.
Poor Leg design can be overcome by having a great cast. But this was definitely not a great cast. Overall, it was a group of teams who were overly conscious about their “brand” on YouTube or Instagram or wherever they were famous on. There was a lack of competition, despite what the show tried to edit and show.
It certainly didn’t help that the tasks were easy. But the cast hardly contributed their own personalities to help with the enjoyment of the episodes.
Admittedly, I’m pretty sour on this cast overall especially when they were being hyped as basically the saviors of the franchise. The people who would bring TAR back to relevance, at least with young people. Again, the show failed.
Maybe the worst part of this entire season though had to be those disgusting new opening credits. WTF WAS THAT?!?!?!?!?!?11111!?
You’ve heard of those title cards of doom. Scary Viacom logos or some such thing with terrifying or eerie music? Well, these were the TAR Opening Credits of Doom.
The large, flying names were horrendous and frightening and looked like they were made on Windows Movie Maker… in 2000.
The cast shots themselves were horrible. Half the teams looked upset to be part of the show while the others were basically gobbled up by their own names.
I haven’t been a fan of the TAR23-introduced floating maps/passport stamps for the opening credits. But those were certainly much better than this.
When it comes to opening credits, unlike Legs, simpler is better. TAR Australia is still the gold standard (of pretty much everything TAR these days, but specifically) of opening credits. Simple, slick and fun. Contemporary, yet classic.
An elementary school student first learning video editing could probably make better opening credits.
Sorry not sorry.
So what is in TAR’s future? TAR29 has been confirmed, but when or where it will air is yet to be determined. We will find out where TAR lands on Wednesday, May 18. Will it air in the fall? Or will it be held until CBS needs some schedule spackle?
Whatever happens, TARUS is still on life support. It has been for years. And what is very sad is that Bertram Van Munster, Elise Doganieri and the rest of the team don’t really care to fix that. Instead of fixing the true problems of the show, they’ve tried gimmicks and cut corners.
When foreign TAR franchises, especially TAR Australia , Israel’s HaMerotz LaMillion and TAR Canada but also TAR Asia years ago and now TAR China, Vietnam and yes, even Philippines can produce more exciting Races and cast better teams with not even half of TARUS’ budget, you know there is a big problem.
And no one seems willing to put in the effort to try and fix that problem for a once-gold standard of television. And that is very sad.
My Subjective Team Rankings
Marty & Hagan were basically the most “normal” team of the season since their only claim to fame is one viral video. That’s certainly different from other teams who have made careers out of YouTube videos. So it was a shame to see them out first and from a simple mistake too.
In the same sense, Cameron & Darius may have a large Vine following, but they were basically typical young brothers. They were also eliminated thanks to a simple, but fatal mistake. But they seemed much more tolerable than other teams who made it farther.
Sheri & Cole were a fine mother-son team. Cole’s screaming was really unnecessary. But Sheri was definitely the star of the team and one of the best Racers this season. While not the most physically strong, Sheri was certainly mentally strong and was able to pretty much carry her and Cole through the Race. Doing much of the difficult or scary tasks, Sheri was definitely someone you could root for.
Zach & Rachel were a typical “nice” young couple. They had flashes of greatness in terms of drama (Colombia 2) and in Racing ability. But overall, they didn’t really live up to their potential. Scott & Blair were the same. While they could have been Gary & Mallory-lite, they instead were saddled with #Blodie, a showmance that was just that, apparently. Since Brodie and Blair are actually not a thing outside of the Race. Thanks a lot TAR.
Erin & Joslyn were another team who showed flashes of awesome throughout their time on the Race. And they could have elevated themselves above the mediocre fray if they survived that horribly linear Chamonix Leg. It’s definitely easy to feel sorry for Jessica & Brittany after that poor Leg design and the other teams basically singling them out. But at the same time, this is a Race and you shouldn’t expect other teams to help you. Still, they too could’ve had a lot of good potential if they survived.
It’s all about potential! Dana & Matt could’ve been a fun bickering couple. And we saw it in Colombia and in Dubai. But they were otherwise a boring couple team. Even worse, Dana being very defensive over her edit was eye-roll-inducing. Especially now that it turns out they won.
Kurt & Brodie were definitely a mixed bag. If it wasn’t for #Blodie, they’d probably have been invisible. Kurt was definitely the more tolerable one. Burnie & Ashley were the most conscious of their “brand” and “image” on the Race. Their personalities felt so forced and put-on that nothing they ever did or say felt real and thus fell flat.
And finally Tyler & Korey. The only truly (TAR22) Joey & Meghan team of the season. Forced, annoying. And Tyler’s guffaws are the stuff of nightmares. Which likely means they’ll be asked back for TAR’s final returning racers season. Ugh.
So I went over and redid some of my rankings. And a lot actually changed. My team lists have pretty much doubled! (lol) But in hindsight, things really do seem and feel different.
(regardless of winner)
Not updated until a full rewatch of each finale
19. TAR11: AS
|GROUP of TEAMS
|MY ALL-TIME TEAMS
1. Charla & Mirna (TAR5/11)
1. Teri & Ian (TAR3/11)
1. Ron & Christina (TAR12/18)
4. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
4. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
4. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
4. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
8. Michael & Kevin (TAR17)
9. Brendon & Rachel (TAR20/24)
9. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
9. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
9. Dustin & Kandice (TAR10/11)
9. Gary & Mallory (TAR17/18/24)
9. Nancy & Emily (TAR1)
9. Dave & Margaretta (TAR1)
9. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
9. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
18. Natalie & Nadiya (TAR21/24)
18. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
18. David & Mary (TAR10)
18. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
22. Jaime & Cara (TAR14)
22. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
22. Amy & Maya (TAR25)
22. Tim & Te Jay (TAR25)
22. Max & Katie (TAR22)
27. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
27. Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
27. Pam & Winnie (TAR22)
27. Denise & James Earl (TAR27)
31. Hayley & Blair (TAR26)
|ELIMINATED TOO EARLY
1. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
2. Lena & Kristy (TAR6)
3. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
4. Teri & Ian (TAR11)
5. Ron & Christina (TAR18)
6. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
7. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
8. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
9. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
10. Gary & Mallory (TAR17)
11. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
12. Michael & Kevin (TAR17)
13. Dustin & Kandice (TAR10)
14. Nancy & Emily (TAR1)
15. Tian & Jaree (TAR4)
16. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
17. Nathan & Jennifer (TAR12)
18. Bopper & Mark (TAR20)
19. Natalie & Nadiya (TAR21/24)
20. Pam & Winnie (TAR22)
21. Tiffany & Krista (TAR27)
22. Tim & Te Jay (TAR25)
23. Amanda & Kris (TAR13)
24. Shelly & Nici (TAR25)
25. Misa & Maiya (TAR20)
26. Dennis & Isabelle (TAR25)
27. David & Mary (TAR10)
28. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
29. Mark & Mallory (TAR24)
30. Hoskote & Naina (TAR23)
FINAL 3 TEAM (NON-WINNERS)
1. Charla & Mirna (TAR11)
1. Teri & Ian (TAR3)
1. Ron & Christina (TAR12)
4. Brook & Claire (TAR17)
5. Brendon & Rachel (TAR24)
6. Ken & Gerard (TAR3)
6. Kelly & Jon (TAR4)
6. Dustin & Kandice (TAR11)
6. Kris & Jon (TAR6)
10. Gary & Mallory (TAR18)
10. Brendon & Rachel (TAR20)
12. Max & Katie (TAR22)
13. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
14. Blake & Paige (TAR2)
15. Colin & Christie (TAR5)
16. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
17. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
18. Jaime & Cara (TAR14)
19. Trey & Lexi (TAR21)
20. Hayley & Blair (TAR26)
21. Chris & Logan (TAR27)
22. Sheri & Cole (TAR28)