Let’s get the few good things out of the way. The route was good. Always wonderful to see the Philippines on TARUS.
And that’s it.
Let’s get real and blunt here. Season 32 will forever be remembered in infamy (honestly!) because of the Mine Five and the TRuE ALLiaNcE. But what really is the issue here? Why are the few Amazing Race fans left so up in arms over what happened on this season?
Am I Watching Survivor or Big Brother
For me, this really all started with The Amazing Race Philippines 2. I know most people have not watched it. But basically, a group of teams formed a loose alliance on Leg 1 in which they shared answers to a puzzle by whispering it to each other while others looked on. The alliance and answer sharing continued into the next Leg and soon would also include coordinated U-Turn voting as well.
So what’s the problem? Aren’t teams supposed to do whatever they can to get ahead in the Race and reach the end? Well, yes.
But let’s remember a few things. The Amazing Race is a competition. Teams are Racing against each other to make it to the next Leg and hopefully reach the Finish Line in the end. When teams are spoon-feeding each other answers and looking for loopholes and shortcuts in tasks, that goes against what competition is all about.
Not only that, it pretty much negates the blood, sweat and tears that go into designing and executing what can be very elaborate tasks. What’s the point of the show putting together tasks when teams aren’t even going to complete them? What a waste of time and effort on the show’s part, right?
Common defenses from the few, loud alliance apologists include “There have always been alliances on the Race!” or “Teams have always helped each other!” or “You just jeALouS!”
First of all, no. What happened this season on The Amazing Race is unprecedented. This has NEVER happened before on the American mothership. Yes, teams have formed alliances. Yes, teams have strategically used the U-Turn. Yes, teams have helped each other.
The closest we can compare this to is the TAR10 Six Pack of the Cho Bros, David & Mary and Lyn & Karlyn.
But never have we seen a five/three-team alliance hold each other’s hands in this way. Never have we seen teams try to get their way out of completing tasks so brazenly. Never have we seen teams so resigned to making themselves appear incompetent that they cannot complete tasks unless they are given the answer or solution by someone else.
This is not “cheating” as some fans have called it. They are not breaking any rules. But that does not make it right.
There are rules forbidding team members from helping each other during a Road Block. But not having teams share answers with each other is perfectly fine?
Let’s put it this way. Would you give prize money to someone even though they did not complete what was required of them? If you respect competition, are you going to want to watch people not competing or quitting. I even think that looking for loopholes and shortcuts is just as bad as quitting because you’re completely negating all the planning that happens in designing tasks. What’s the use in the show putting together these tasks and challenges if teams are not even going to complete them.
There’s just something fundamentally wrong with going through a competition like that.
However, it isn’t only the teams’ fault. The rest of the fault lies with the show itself. If it is easier for a team to quit a task or ask someone else for the answer rather than completing the task themselves, then the task is no good to begin with. If that’s the case, then they’ve gotta find something else or design the tasks to prevent things like this from happening.
The show needs to ensure that teams aren’t going to weasel their way out of these tasks. If it means specifically forbidding teams from giving each other answers, then so be it.
On the aforementioned Amazing Race Philippines 2, it was very obvious that the producers and host Derek Ramsay were not happy with what was happening during the Race. And midway through, they did indeed forbid teams from handing out answers at tasks that required such a solution. Teams finally realized they had to work and put in the effort themselves instead of relying on others to do the work for them.
As we saw at the start of the Manila Leg (and a little at the end of the atrocious Berlin Leg), Phil does specifically point out that these teams better rethink the hand holding. We can infer that Phil and the rest of the crew weren’t liking what they were seeing either. But when I see TARPH host Derek Ramsay actually reprimanding teams at the Mat, Phil and TARUS are going to need to do something a little more blunt and direct. Especially as we saw that Phil’s words in Berlin did not mean anything to Hung & Chee. And obviously the same in Manila when all FOUR teams relied on each other to get the answer they needed at that Final Task.
Some point out that the elimination order would’ve probably been the same with or without an alliance. But that’s not a sure thing. How many times were alliance members bailed out of a task after getting an answer or solution or critical bit of information shoved into their mouths? Without the alliance, who knows how far behind they could’ve fallen. And yes, so far behind that they were the ones eliminated instead of the non-allied teams.
That’s just another thing that makes this nonsense worse. Seeing teams who actually put in the effort to do the tasks themselves getting eliminated earlier? That’s frustrating to watch. Meanwhile, you’re seeing teams who are not giving their 100% because they expect to have another team hold their hand the rest of the way.
I’m going to plagiarize my TARPH2 wrap-up: “You can make alliances, but this is still The Amazing Race. You’ve gotta Race. You’ve got to be able to compete and put in actual effort. There are no free rides or free passes (except for the Express Pass of course).”
This seems to also speak to the “participation trophies” culture that repeatedly pops up in contemporary America. You can appreciate and make people, especially children, feel their worth without coddling them with participation trophies. This is an actual competition. So of course there’s going to be a winner and ten losers. The need to hold hands and be a nice, understanding world; that is completely irrelevant on a Race. I think it is understood that when you applied (or were recruited!) for the Race, you know what you’re getting yourselves into. So this talk of wanting to promote this loyal, integrity, whatever nonsense on the Race. Get outta here with that.
The Amazing Race: High School Edition?
The other facet of this alliance effect on TAR is the high school clique-ish behavior of the teams. This is more than just targeting another team. (And again, yes that’s happened before on the Race. Just ask Brendon & Rachel or Abbie & Ryan among others.) When you see the alliance acting like dominant alpha males, cocky, over-confident, it will come across as something negative. Especially when pitted against teams who 1. Have no idea they are outcasts and 2. Who have not shown that they are major threats. (Though again, that is skewed considering the alliance struggled several times throughout the Race without being force-fed information.)
Some call it bullying. And at times, it definitely bordered along those lines. But I would think it’s hard to like a cocky person or team when they have no Race skills to actually back it up. And how any success they might be having is thanks only to someone else holding their hand as if they were little children needing to cross the street.
The Amazing Race as a competition program involves a lot of different skills. And yes, that includes strategizing as well. Scheming, sure. Let’s also remember that this is The Amazing Race. Not Survivor. Not Big Brother.
And this season shows exactly how fun and exciting morphing TAR with its CBS siblings can be. Force-fed answer: Not at all.
You didn’t even see this kind of gameplay on a season that HAD Survivor and Big Brother alums Racing on it. You may not have seen catty behavior or pettiness on TAR32, but you definitely saw manipulation, gaslighting and a clear-cut circumvention of what set The Amazing Race apart from other reality competition programs.
This really could end up being TAR’s true jump the shark moment. Especially at a time when TARUS is hanging on by a thread. You’re seeing the few fans the show has left vow to never return after this season. And thanks to COVID-19, we’re not sure if TARUS actually does ever return. TAR32 could end up being an unmitigated disaster for the American mothership of the franchise. An unexpected, unceremonious end to what had once been a gold standard of television.
I’ve never seen such universal condemnation for a season of The Amazing Race ever before. And it is an absolutely unified front from a diverse range of people. I’m seeing angry comments from Biden-supporting profile photos and Trump-supporting profile photos. I’m seeing fans who claim to have been there from Day 1 and fans who (like Bertram and Co.) don’t even know pre-HD TAR exists. I’m seeing angry fans from all walks of life and all backgrounds.
The usually toxic Facebook comment sections have been unified in its distaste of this season. Angry reactions almost as much as Likes. TAR’s social media inundated with complaints, disgust and admonishment.
You hope TPTB including Bertram and Co. and CBS are listening loud and clear. Because this sentiment isn’t just random casual fans. It’s a coalition of every TAR fan imaginable. This isn’t just a loud minority. It’s the majority of the declining fandom of the show.
There’s a reason that there are fans of The Amazing Race who don’t watch Survivor or Big Brother. If they wanted the conniving, backstabbing, paranoid, overly-strategic mastermind gameplay, then Survivor and Big Brother (both in better positions than TAR) exist. But when people come to The Amazing Race, they want to watch The Amazing Race. They want to watch teams running around the world completing tasks, competing against each other and experiencing new cultures.
CBS is mandating that 50% of its reality show casts must be people of color. That’s fine. Interesting to point out that TAR32, cast and filmed in 2018, is probably the most diverse cast of any CBS reality show in years. And that is without the mandate.
But TAR’s casting problem is not really about lacking people of color. It’s about lacking actual good teams. And this has been a problem for a LONG time. I keep saying this every single season. When other TARs, including the one north of the border in Canada, can easily cast 11 great teams year after year, there is no excuse for TARUS not being able to do the same.
A Twitterer commented to me that TAR needs more of this type of alliance game play to stay relevant and exciting. And the lack of it is why TAR’s ratings have declined. But if you’ve followed The Amazing Race during this decline, that is not at all the reason even longtime fans have turned it off.
Poor casting especially of social media influencers who are chasing followers rather than interesting everyday people is one of the major reasons. Simplified legs that feature generic and uninspired tasks, editing that doesn’t focus on teams, relationships and competition anymore are others.
It’s not that The Amazing Race needs new twists that radically change the game. It just needs to go back to basics. And this season originally promised that. Boy, was everyone wrong.
TAR’s basic format is not outdated. But the show’s decision making in casting and phoned in Leg and task design are making the show far less amazing. And it’s been a decline that has grown steadily the last couple of years.
Will and James won the race. That’s fine. You don’t have to like it. Their strategy worked. Does that mean we have to enjoy it? Nope. The Amazing Race is an entertainment show. Yes, it is a completion for a million dollars, but it also is an entertainment program for millions of people around the world.
And a predictable race that involves teams holding each other’s hands every step of the way, waiting for others just to give them the solution to a task… that is not exciting nor entertaining at all.
Increasingly in the last few years, teams have become overly combative with fans on social media. There’s absolutely some fans who go too far in their vitriol. But even the simplest comment could earn you a block or a clapback from teams.
A common clapback from teams is that they are on the show to win money, they are not on the show for you to like them or for your entertainment. However, that is a flawed argument. The Amazing Race is an entertainment TV show. And while no one wants teams to play up to the camera or be fake (like many teams have in the recent past and increasingly so in the current social media-influencer era), teams go into the show knowing what it is about. (Though that’s debatable with increasing recruits too.)
They are there to Race. And mind you, they get paid whether they win or not. So while teams can play the game however they want, the viewers are not obligated to like, support, agree with or even accept the way they play the game. Especially when it is in such a way that goes against what the Race has always been about.
Of course, teams don’t have to even give fans the time of the day. As much as fans have the right to complain, the teams have every right to ignore. It’s the beauty of a free country.
What’s Old is New
Which brings us to the Yield that the show brought back this season. In theory, it’s great to interchange the Yield and U-Turn throughout the season. But boy, what a season and cast of teams to have brought it back on, yes? I’m not sure if the Yield kind of fed the alliance more than if there was no Yield. But on paper, bringing the Yield back is an okay idea. Though the different time lengths didn’t really make much of a difference. The Yield placement on Legs also could’ve better.
An annoying thing that happened this season was the show touting old things as being new. The Mega Leg? We’ve had plenty of such Legs in the past. It’s not new. A City Sprint? We’ve had several no-Road Block/no-Detour Legs in the past. It’s not new.
It’s not really surprising though considering Bertram and Co. like to pretend older seasons don’t exist. But it is surprising considering the most recent Leg that would fall under the “City Sprint” description happened two seasons ago on TAR30.
Finally, can the writers also correct this in any possible future seasons of the Race?
Lately you've been saying "Team X will be the first to leave Country/City" instead of "first to leave the Pit Stop" even though teams actually all leave the city/country on the same train/flight: pic.twitter.com/s0AzZENUfJ
— DryedMangoez (@dryedmangoez) November 26, 2020
No, the first team to leave the Pit Stop IS NOT the first team to leave the country. Especially when the show puts teams on the same flight these days, it’s an annoying thing to have Phil say that and then get contradicted seconds later. It’s a simple, little thing. Yet it kind of speaks to the sort of less-amazing Amazing Race we’ve gotten recently.
TL;DR – Overall
Overall, Season 32 is certainly not the worst season ever. But it is definitely nowhere near the best either. It would otherwise be pretty much in line with most of the subpar HD seasons. But the tRuE aLLiaNcE did their best and successfully dragged it further down the list. Am I going to be rewatching this season any time soon? Absolutely not. I don’t even think I’ll ever rewatch it, to be honest. This feeling could just be because the season is still fresh in my mind. But the hot take on this season now that it’s over? I could do without it.
My Subjective Team Rankings
There are absolutely no second thoughts or doubts about this one. Michelle & Victoria are my favorite team from this season. And really, my favorite team in a long time. For their short time on the Race, they made a huge impact. And a POSITIVE one at that. Definitely more than can be said about teams that lasted longer. The Asian Cajuns were hilarious and fun to watch. They were fierce with each other and with other teams. AND when they Raced well, they Raced VERY well. They may have been navigationally challenged. But they were otherwise pretty strong Racers and could have gone very far. And take note, they did well without getting their hands held by someone else. I hope they get invited back for the final All-Stars season when TAR finally gets canceled or something. Because they are the kind of team you want more of on the Race.
Leo & Alana and Kaylynn & Haley were certainly not teams I gravitated toward at the beginning. But as the Race played out, they surprised me so much. Though part of that is certainly being the likeable opposition to the ruling alliance, both teams were able to show what the Race can be all about. With the cards stacked against them, both teams pushed forward and never gave up. They kept fighting even when it looked pretty obvious they were not going to survive. Their positive personalities and lighthearted approach to the Race when everything else seemed not so positive while also still being competitive is a good combination to have.
Jerry & Frank, Kellie & Lavonne and Nathan & Cody definitely place above the Mine Five. No question. Would they have provided more exciting moments? We will never know. But I would bet on it. Having them in the Race certainly wouldn’t have been predictable. You always want to see a good parent-child team and Jerry & Frank fit the bill. Kellie & Lavonne had a lot of fight in them, but just bad luck. And Nathan & Cody (though recruits apparently!) provided the season with the “normal” team that many people can relate to when thinking about the Race.
And now to the Mine Five. What gets me frustrated is that on their own, these teams could be very good. They each have their own unique personalities that at first helped this cast look like they could be one of the best groups in a long time. Unfortunately, they had to team-up and morph into one brain on the Race which then negated any fun aspects of themselves.
Eswar & Aparna are certainly the least cringey of the Mine Five. They were essentially at the bottom of the totem pole. Easily expendable for the Mine Five overlords and merely a number when the time came to go to war against the villains. As Bay Area kids, I was excited to root for them. And by the end, they were the only hope left for a semi-rootable team. Their interactions with the actual alliance were limited, so that sort of insulated them from the worst of it. Thankfully, they were still very likeable. They had youthful personalities that didn’t come across as cocky which unfortunately is more common for young teams on the Race.
When it comes to Mine Five hierarchy, DeAngelo & Gary are certainly next up. Let’s just get it out of the way first: DeAngelo’s tantrum at the Mat was not a good look. Though I can sort of understand it considering what happened. Frustration and betrayal can upset anyone. Especially on the Penultimate Leg. So while I didn’t like at all what he said and how he acted at the Mat when they were eliminated, I do get it. Still, of the Mine Five, I was rooting for them the most if only to hope for the perfect ending to this madness: The team that contributed the least to the alliance and the team that the others hated and did not care for ends up passing all of them and wins. Wouldn’t that have been the sweetest and most hilarious bit of karma on TAR ever? It would have shown how dangerous and stupid alliances like this can be. Unfortunately, the show prevented that from happening by designing a Final Task that ensured the other three teams would be able to carry each other to the end.
Finally, the TRuE aLLiAnCE. Have you seen this deleted scene from the Mat in in Manila?
— The Amazing Race (@AmazingRaceCBS) December 12, 2020
That has to be the most hypocritical bit of nonsense I’ve ever heard spoken at the Mat on The Amazing Race.
I wanted to love Hung & Chee. They were so dominant in the beginning. And then they decided they needed an alliance. And their dominance completely disappeared. Instead of the amazing performance by them in the first few Legs, they regressed as the season went by. And their most egregious act is definitely Hung’s insistence on not only helping other teams, but actually WAITING for them just to give them the answers. Stand around for however long just to whisper in someone’s ear. Make that make sense. You’re in a Race and you WAIT for others to not only catch up, but PASS you? That is just so nonsensical.
We’ve seen similar alliances before (Hello TAR10’s Six Pack!). But nothing like we’ve seen perfected here on TAR32. WAITING for another team just to give them the answer? Unbelievable. It really pains me to come down so hard on them. They’re nice Asian parents. Of course I wanted to root for them. But that seems to also have been the problem. Wanting to be the nice parents to four kids. But this is a Race. It doesn’t give out participation trophies, which is what Hung & Chee apparently wanted to get.
Riley & Maddison seemed harmless at first. But they along with Will & James benefited the most from the alliance. Hung certainly made sure of that. Without it, I doubt they’d have made it this far. Just look at all the times they were in danger and were thrown a lifeline. As for Will & James, they were a pre-season favorite of mine because they liked TAR8. That became completely irrelevant as the Race went on. As the biggest cheerleaders of the alliance, they essentially became the face of it and will probably get the most heat for it. Even though the other two TrUe ALLianCe members contributed equally to the season’s utter predictability. They aren’t the worst team ever of course. The Mat proposal was nice. But the season-long hand holding was not.
The last major update as December 11, 2015, unless otherwise noted. Otherwise, I simply add in the current season to the list without changing any other rankings. Though the lists are getting pretty long lol But without actually watching every single season over again, I’m just going to have go on my gut feeling. Plus continue to just grow the lists lol
(regardless of winner)
Not updated until a full rewatch of each finale
21. 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. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
9. Dave & Margaretta (TAR1)
9. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
9. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
19. Natalie & Nadiya (TAR21/24)
19. Rachel & Elissa (TAR31)
19. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
19. David & Mary (TAR10)
19. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
19. Michelle & Victoria (TAR32)
25. Janelle & Britney (TAR31)
25. Jaime & Cara (TAR14)
25. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
25. Amy & Maya (TAR25)
25. Tim & Te Jay (TAR25)
25. Max & Katie (TAR22)
31. Dan & Jordan (TAR16)
31. Ernie & Cindy (TAR19)
31. Pam & Winnie (TAR22)
|ELIMINATED TOO EARLY
1. Charla & Mirna (TAR5)
2. Rachel & Elissa (TAR31)
2. Janelle & Britney (TAR31)
4. Michelle & Victoria (TAR32)
4. Lena & Kristy (TAR6)
4. Linda & Karen (TAR5)
7. Teri & Ian (TAR11)
8. Ron & Christina (TAR18)
9. John Vito & Jill (TAR3)
10. Joseph & Monica (TAR9)
11. The Gaghan Family (TAR8)
12. Erwin & Godwin (TAR10)
13. Gary & Mallory (TAR17)
14. The Paolo Family (TAR8)
15. Michael & Kevin (TAR17)
16. Dustin & Kandice (TAR10)
17. Nancy & Emily (TAR1)
18. Tian & Jaree (TAR4)
19. Meredith & Gretchen (TAR7)
20. Nathan & Jennifer (TAR12)
21. Bopper & Mark (TAR20)
22. Natalie & Nadiya (TAR21/24)
23. Pam & Winnie (TAR22)
24. Tiffany & Krista (TAR27)
25. Tim & Te Jay (TAR25)
26. Amanda & Kris (TAR13)
27. Shelly & Nici (TAR25)
28. Misa & Maiya (TAR20)
29. Dennis & Isabelle (TAR25)
30. David & Mary (TAR10)
31. Jim & Marsha (TAR5)
32. Mark & Mallory (TAR24)
33. 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)
10. Kristi & Jen (TAR30)
13. Max & Katie (TAR22)
14. Frank & Margarita (TAR1)
15. Blake & Paige (TAR2)
16. Colin & Christie (TAR5)
17. Eric & Jeremy (TAR9)
18. Brian & Ericka (TAR15)
19. Jaime & Cara (TAR14)
20. Henry & Evan (TAR30)
21. Trey & Lexi (TAR21)
22. Hayley & Blair (TAR26)
23. Chris & Logan (TAR27)
24. Sheri & Cole (TAR28)