Its been a couple of years since I even last saw an episode of The Amazing Race Asia. But my immediate reaction after this 5th season is that it might have been the best TARA season yet. (And I do mean “yet.” Hopefully a season 6 order is just around the corner.)
After its long hiatus and the American mothership on its deathbed, the return of The Amazing Race Asia was very unexpected, but welcome news.
There were some concerns at the beginning of the process. The show would still air on AXN, but be produced by a different company. The idea of having half the Race take place in Indonesia was a little scary. And the idea of Allan Wu having a co-host on only some Legs was awkward to think about. But as soon as the Race actually premiered, any concern was quickly thrown out the window.
The Amazing Race Asia 5 has been a huge breath of fresh air to the entire franchise. After the excellent Amazing Race China 3 in the summer, TARA followed up the TAR goodwill with a season reminiscent of truly classic Amazing Race.
The Amazing Race Asia 5 had all the elements: A great cast of teams, good locations, challenging tasks, great competition.
The season started off fine with its first two Legs in Indonesia. While there were solid tasks, the episodes did not feel as exciting as they should have been. And that’s even with the Starting Line elimination. Nothing terrible, but it felt a little underwhelming at first, especially returning after a long time away.
But things quickly picked up. The Malaysian Leg signaled the real competition was starting. (And featured cameos by the first all-female team to ever win The Amazing Race anywhere in the world!) The Thailand Leg was awesomely physical and mental. The Vietnam Leg was full and exciting. The Philippine Leg was just special for me personally. And the Singapore Leg was very Singaporean, but still felt fresh and exciting.
Then we returned to Indonesia. The Yogyakarta Leg had maybe the season’s most dramatic moments while the Banyuwangi Leg was just insanity all over. And it was amazing.
The season developed very well. Everything felt new and fresh with legitimately exciting and fun moments.
The likeable teams certainly helped that along as well. All the teams, even the gone-too-soon Lisa & Nicole, were fun to watch. Everyone bringing something different to the table. And 11 teams being distinct and unique from each other is certainly not automatic on the Race.
The only negative this season though has to be AXN not making episodes available online. And I’ve already written an entire post on that: https://dryedmangoez.com/2016/11/03/recap-the-amazing-race-asia-5-episode-4-i-dont-think-we-can-do-this/
And also the lack of prizes during the Legs even with all the corporate sponsors.
But at a time when The Amazing Race US seems to truly be on its last legs, having The Amazing Race Asia (the first international franchise of the series) back and seemingly better than ever is really amazing.
Congratulations to the entire cast and crew of TARA5. And here’s hoping we’ll be seeing TARA6 in 2017.
My Subjective Team Rankings
Like I mentioned above, I pretty much liked all the teams this season. All really brought their own Real Truth Flavor™ to the Race.
No question though, Louisa & Treasuri were the stars of the season. When the teams were first announced, they absolutely gave me Zabrina & Joe Jer vibes. They easily had the vibe of a winning, competitive team. And they certainly lived up to my high expectations. Maybe even exceeded them! Their elimination was absolutely heartbreaking. But they ran an excellent Race and again proved TARA has some of the best all-female teams (let alone best teams overall) from any TAR franchise.
Before the season, I would have never expected JK & Mike to be so high on my season ending list. In fact, I really wasn’t too keen on them pre-Race. They had been featured in the audition promos before the show and I was just not feeling them at all. But boy was I surprised when they turned out to be one of the most fun and enjoyable teams this season. Proof that you really can’t judge a book by its cover. Mike being the straight man to JK being the big goofball was very unexpected. For me, at least. But it was a dynamic that worked. And it was in addition to their own bickering which was another unexpected thing from them. Just a fun team.
Maggie & Parul were definitely one of the most consistent teams. They Raced well and never really made any big mistakes. They stepped it up when they needed to. And aside from that, were fun and entertaining as well. Some great moments and fun lines. TARUS could use an all-female team as fun and competitive as them. But a great win by them. Well deserved.
Tom & Anita were the uber-competitive bickering couple team we needed. They were in Race-mode all the time without being boring Racebots. And that’s a big accomplishment. They had some fun moments of tension while still Racing well. They too had a tough elimination, but ran a great Race.
Eric & Rona were my pre-season favorites. Their audition video was great fun and Rona looked like she could be an amazing “character” on the Race. Kind of disappointingly, they weren’t as lively and fun as their audition video. But they had plenty of heart and gave it their all the entire Race. It was a hard fought Final Leg for the three teams, but Eric & Rona definitely have nothing to regret. They had a good Race.
Vicky & Rach were interesting. While I enjoyed their hilarious arguments and attitude at each other, I also recognize that it all could’ve been (and may very well have been) forced shtick. The bickering felt staged and contrived. But at the same time, it felt like they were intentionally making those moments feel un-spontaneous. If that makes any sense. They were ribbing each other like friends often do. Any other team, it could’ve felt like camwhoring. (And there have been plenty of teams like that on TARUS.) But for Vicky & Rach, their shtick felt natural and unannoying. And I liked them.
Chloe & Yvonne deserve many kudos for making it to the Final Leg. And placing 2nd! They were the most under the radar underdogs, to be honest. I do feel like the show kind of shortchanged them on screentime and left a lot of their potential personality on the cutting room floor. They showed glimpses of fun here and there, but they mostly were relegated to the background. And that’s unfortunate. But they Raced well, obviously, since they made it to the Final Leg. Solid team, but the beauty queen team roles went more to Maggie & Parul this season.
Alex & Will being big, buff muscle brothers definitely was a fun contrast to them basically being at the back of the pack most of the Race. They didn’t necessarily do much wrong, but I feel like they didn’t step it up at times when they needed to. Still, they were a fine team.
Brandon & Alphaeus had an excellent first Leg, but collapsed on the second thanks to their Grab driver. (Not the best advertisement for sponsor Grab lol) I feel like they would’ve had lots of potential at shaking things up. They seemed very much like an uber-competitive team. And I would’ve loved to have seen them up against Treasuri & Louisa. I would’ve expected some dramatic fireworks and that would’ve been fun.
Rei & Keiji too showed some great potential. And I think it’s because of their sibling connection and vibe. We didn’t really have that on the Race since they were eliminated first Leg. But that dynamic would’ve been great to watch even a little longer.
Lisa & Nicole may be last on this list, but that’s only because we barely know them. Only a few minutes into the Race and they’re eliminated. I think they could’ve been a great, competitive team as well.