Well, I must say, I am relieved that this season of The Amazing Race Australia is finally over. It’s been exhausting. And that’s just from the sheer number of episodes in such a short amount of time. (We’ll get to the frustration portion of this season in a little bit.)
Hearing that this season would air three times a week and run for 24 episodes felt very overwhelming before the premiere. And it ended up actually being overwhelming and tiresome. I thought I could consume as much Amazing Race as I could if given the chance. But I honestly wanted it to be over as soon as possible.
I’m all Amazing Raced out.
Is It Over Yet?
There’s really no reason to run a 24-Leg Race like this. And I hope no one ever does it again. If Network 10 really wanted something to fill its COVID-affected primetime schedule, they should have just had the TARAu team film two back-to-back normal seasons. HaMerotz-style.
Obviously, doing two normal seasons would have avoided the fatigue that set in about halfway through. But also would’ve avoided the horrible twists that were the First Class Pass, the Salvage and Sabotage and most especially the Stowaways.
Speaking of TAR Israel, if they wanted to do something really radical with the format, they could’ve taken a page out of HaMerotz‘s playbook. They could’ve had these same 16 teams, split them into two groups and had each group Race on their own for a few Legs. Then when there’s maybe four or three teams left from each group, combine the two groups and then have them Race the rest of the way.
For a season that takes place only in one country, it’s the best opportunity do such a format. For TAR Israel, the only had their two groups of teams Racing through Israel with the last place team of each group getting eliminated before both groups merged as they flew out of the country.
TARAu5 could’ve done something like that here and easily have had the 24 episodes Network 10 wanted. Maybe even more.
But nope. They instead utilized neverending Non-Elimination Legs and brought in two “Stowaway” teams to prolong the season. They even had to bring the first eliminated team back after a team withdrew from the Race. It was obvious TARAu5 was just cobbling things together at this point. (It was Leg 3!) And it would be more obvious as the Race went along.
The show added Legs at the last minute apparently as Tasmania lifted COVID travel restrictions. (The Tasmania Legs were actually some of the strongest of the season.) But then that meant the show needed to plug in more Non-Eliminations otherwise they wouldn’t have teams left by the end of the Race.
I say three episodes a week is too much when I watched The Amazing Race Philippines that aired six days a week. But it’s a completely different format. In season 1 of TARPH, one Leg would span three 22-minute episodes. Pretty much equal to a normal TAR episode. In season 2, six 22-minute episodes would cover each Leg except the Final Leg. Equal to a little more than two normal TAR episodes. But they presented each day in easily digestible chunks where each episode covered one or two specific tasks.
TARAu5, meanwhile aired more than three hours worth of episodes every week. Three whole Legs. It was somehow exhausting and felt far too dragged out to really enjoy. Especially with all the extra nonsensical twists they decided to toss in.
But what’s even crazier is they probably could’ve gone the TAR Israel route in another way. Whole Detours, Road Blocks and Active Route Info tasks look to have been left on the cutting room floor on every Leg. Some even looking amazing on paper. If they had just left them in, they could’ve gotten two full episodes out of each Leg, most likely. Again, easily filling twice as many episodes without resorting to these format-breaking twists.
What is Happening?!
Ever since the introduction of Non-Elimination penalties, it’s weird to see no-penalty Non-Elimination Legs here on TARAu. Especially when on other Non-Elimination Legs, teams can be given penalties even if they didn’t finish last!
As if Stowaways weren’t bad enough, the First Class Pass allowing teams to skip Legs is just absurd. If they really wanted to give such a powerful prize to a team, why not just give them immunity on the next Leg and still had them Race. Maybe for an extra prize if they won the Leg. Actually have the teams still Racing instead of having them lay in bathtubs all day.
All final three teams skipped Legs and regardless of who would’ve won, that win carries an asterisk when they didn’t even run the whole Race. (Heck, they didn’t even complete all the tasks required of them on the Legs they did Race. But that’s a whole other discussion we will definitely have in a little bit.)
It’s clear TARAu5 wanted to be some sort of traveling version of Survivor and Big Brother. And all the new twists introduced this season (including the thankfully aborted T-Junction) supports that idea. (The teams did their best to play like they were on Survivor or Big Brother as well.)
But The Amazing Race is not Survivor or Big Brother. And there are fans that gravitate toward TAR over those other two for a reason. They want to see teams Racing and competing against each other while traveling to beautiful destinations. If they wanted overly strategic, alliance-heavy scheming and backstabbing, there are at least two other shows they could watch. TAR has never been one of them. And it has hung on until now, for better or worse, for that reason.
Despite what some (surprisingly) fierce defenders of this season may say, it actually is not fair to give a last place team on a Non-Elimination Leg a huge advantage on the next Leg. It’s not fair to penalize a team that didn’t even come in last. #JusticefortheMums! And it’s not fair for teams to just skip random Legs.
That all goes completely against the spirit of competition. Especially this specific competition. Yeah, this is a TV show blah blah. But it’s pretty reasonable to want to see a fair competition. If they wanted to do such random stuff, come up with a different show. They would’ve even saved money since TAR’s franchise rights cost so much more than if they would have just come up with their own TAR knock off. If even just to fill their COVID-induced primetime void.
The less said about the T-Junction, the better. And we must absolutely thank Shane & Deb. Because if they hadn’t needed to withdraw from the Race, we still would’ve gotten the T-Junction on Leg 6. So thank you Shane & Deb and hope you’re recovering well!
This season already had a lot going against it. And the teams just had to go ahead and try to emulate TAR32 as best they could.
I could honestly just copy and paste my TAR32 Season Wrap-up and it would absolutely apply to TARAu5. In fact, I’ll just link to it here and you can check it out.
Never did I expect to see TAR32-style nonsense pop up here on TARAu5. I can honestly say that these two Network 10 seasons are definitely nothing like the first three seasons on Seven. No wonder Network 10 likes to pretend they don’t exist. Seasons 4 and 5 would not look too god alongside the other three.
Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with alliances or working with other teams on the Race. That’s been happening on the show since it first premiered in 2001. HOWEVER! There is a point when things go too far and go beyond just being nice and friendly.
No matter how people try to defend what happened on The Amazing Race 32, obviously something went wrong when Bertram Van Munster and Elise Doganieri acknowledge as much and have promised to make proper changes to avoid a repeat of whatever happened.
Answer sharing and hand holding was definitely present here on TARAu5. Not as extreme as TAR32. (Hello Hung and sauerkraut!) But still more than there should have been.
I refer again to The Amazing Race Philippines. For all its faults, TARPH did do many things right. And one of them was putting a stop to the alliance answer sharing that plagued the early Legs of season 2. Teams whispering actual solutions to each other (their alliance members, to be exact) was ruining the fun and competitive nature of the Race.
But the show put a stop to that as shown in this Leg 8 clip where the clue warns teams to not make the mistake of sharing answers:
One of the best lines to ever be written in an #AmazingRace clue:
“WARNING! Once you’ve found the next clue, do not share the answer with other teams. DO NOT make this mistake.” pic.twitter.com/LmHZJTqKRQ
— DryedMangoez (@dryedmangoez) March 25, 2021
TARPH actually made the change midway through the Race to at least ensure the rest of the Race was not ruined. TARUS and TARAu would never.
However, worse than the answer sharing (on the Final Four Leg too!), was the horrible and absurd moment in Leg 18 at the cheese side of the Detour. Possibly even worse than anything on TAR32.
How and why in the world did the show allow Jaskirat & Anurag give Skye-Blue & Jake their cheese to submit as their own?! Answer sharing, there’s at least an argument for it. Giving and taking someone’s completed physical item necessary to complete a task? And it getting accepted?! Complete nonsense.
If the Originals alliance members were so intent on doing tasks for each other, the move for Jaskirat & Anurag would’ve been to help Skye-Blue & Jake at the table by cutting up the same exact size of cheese. Using your own cheese as like a measuring guide. NOT actually handing them the cheese you’ve already presented in exchange for your next clue.
At the same this is another instance of the Race being at fault as well. The show allowed it to happen. First of all, why did teams bring the cheese back down. They should’ve left it at the top of the hill when they got the clue. Second, the show should have rejected the Siblings’ cheese since they didn’t cut it up themselves.
There’s helping each other. There’s working together. And there’s throwing competition completely away and then proceeding to be pretentious and even hypocritical.
Let’s put it this way. Using a TAR32 task an example. There was a Road Block in India where teams needed to properly create a traditional tile. What happened on TARAu would be like if a Mine 5 team got their tile approved and then handed it to another team to present it in exchange for the next clue. That would never be allowed. And it shouldn’t have been allowed here.
It’s this cringeworthy convergence of hand holding, loophole-exploiting, task-avoiding and gang handed-ness that dragged season 32 of The Amazing Race US into the pits and shockingly tried to do the same to The Amazing Race Australia 5.
And do we have to mention the lax judging by the show? Like when the Cowboys got the next clue at the house of cards task when they clearly had many cards left on the table? Or Ashleigh & Amanda’s seesaw not being balanced or them spilling wheat?
In the end, it is wonderful that they were able to safely and successfully complete production on this season during COVID. And we should all be grateful for the extra work and effort everyone involved put into this season.
But that doesn’t necessarily excuse the season for all the things it did… well, strangely. Even poorly or wrong. And it doesn’t excuse teams continuing to set unfortunate precedents for future TARs.
It was great getting to see more of Australia than what TARUS and other franchises ever show. TARAu also managed to not be as overly patriotic and borderline xenophobic as TAR Canada tends to get which is a big positive.
Overall though, we can chalk this season up as being a COVID Era anomaly. Because I certainly don’t want to see a repeat of it any time soon.
My Subjective Team Rankings
I gotta put my Filipino Ate and Tito up top. It was just awesome to see Jobelle & Rani on the Race. Though their time was far too short, I just enjoyed seeing them, real TAR fans too, have fun on the Race. They had some great, strong moments. But it was sad to see them have to give up on a few tasks as well.
Sefa & Jessica were absolute stars pretty much every Leg they were in. Strong Racers and two of the season’s best personalities. So much fun. And so impactful even as their time on the Race was also too short.
Chris & Aleisha were far from my favorites in the beginning. But they were able to really step it up as the Race went along. They may have been adversaries to the ruling alliance (two words that really have no place on TAR), but what made this Geek and Princess great to watch was their perseverance amidst unprecedented challenges. They pushed through and got through the Race on their own. That deserves much kudos.
Holly & Dolor! You need a Holly & Dolor on every season of the Race. The hilarious, dysfunctional couple can always provide some fun. And they certainly did, especially Dolor. I wanted to see them go further than they did, if only to provide some hilarity. But they could’ve been a great thorn in the side of the alliance too.
Jude & Shannon were truly done dirty. They got the worst Sabotage of the season. And it was the Sabotage that really did them in on their Leg. Talk about unfair. They had fun personalities and it would have been a real treat to watch them longer on the Race. Malaan & Tina are also a team that had great potential. When you have 24 Legs, it would’ve been great to see some of these teams for much longer.
While I was against the idea of Stowaway teams, you can’t really fault either MJ & Chelsea or Stan & Wayne for it though. Both were great teams and it would’ve been much better to see them Racing from the very beginning. MJ & Chelsea were such a strong team and it would’ve been awesome to see them head-to-head against Ashleigh & Amanda all season long. Stan & Wayne were also fun and I think they couldn’t really get into a good groove arriving so late in the Race.
Shane & Deb had been such a strong team as well at the start. It was unfortunate to see them have to withdraw because of injury. The same for Alex & Jack. I feel like they could’ve stirred up some fun drama on the Race. But their mental health comes first of course. Dwes & Katherine were definitely the season’s luckiest team. First eliminated, but made several Legs into the Race. Jordan & Violeta honestly got lost in the shuffle for me this season.
Finally, the Originals alliance. It’s unfortunate the ghosts of TAR32 possessed them halfway through the Race. All four of them could’ve been great teams on their own. But their hand holding and the weirdly unprovoked hostility towards other teams was just a major turn off. Too bad.