The Amazing Race Season 2 Wrap-Up
I’ve been watching The Amazing Race since its premiere in 2001. I began posting random thoughts about the show and episodes on my old Xanga blog before starting to write full recaps and reviews during Season 11. That continued on when I migrated over to the present-day DryedMangoez.com and I’ve recapped and ranted about The Amazing Race ever since.
During COVID, with no new Amazing Race to recap, I decided to go back and rewatch older seasons and recap and review as if it were any normal current season. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. And watching the show in ~2020 is much different than when I watched the show back when it first premiered in the early 2000s.
So I knew that going into these old seasons, not just watching them for fun, but actually writing down recaps and details and fleshing out my non-scholarly thoughts about episodes and teams would be very interesting and yield different feelings.
I strangely saw TAR3, my favorite season, in a new light after doing my rewatch recaps. I still love it, but almost like a little less amazing than I remembered. Rewatching TAR4 made me have a much more critical eye than I would have if I just popped in an episode to pass the time. Watching TAR1 for the first time all the way through since it first premiered in 2001 was like watching a completely different show after 32 other seasons.
And all those feelings were ones I had while watching TAR2 as well. This was the first time I rewatched TAR2 in its entirety since its first premiered. And first time watching any TAR2 episodes in years. Maybe even a decade.
I had some vague memories about the season. I had a general perception about the season and its teams. But while watching the season, I was most surprised at how different everything was from what I remembered.
Probably one of the most memorable lines from all of TAR was Wil and Tara’s back and forth in Australia. “I’m not a miner!”/”No, you’re an idiot!” are quotes any long-time TAR fan would know. But I was so shocked when my memory of Tara screaming her reply actually never happened. I remembered the scene completely different from how it actually played out.
Then after watching the finale, I realized I had blended together memories of different episodes. Tara’s screaming of “You’re an idiot” was actually from the finale and moments before the run to the Finish Line. How strange and fascinating to realize how your memories can just blend together like that. Especially memories of some little ol’ reality show.
But the other thing I realized, same as with the other seasons I recently sat and rewatched, was how I am kind of unenthused about a lot of the aspects of “old” TAR compared to current TAR. And it’s so weird to me considering how much I criticize contemporary TAR as well. I guess both old and new have their pros and cons. Just like Detours!
TAR2 is an important season not only because of the iconic footrace to the Finish Line, but because it was the first season to really establish what TAR would become. The first season was fine, but of course, Bertram Van Munster and Co. still had a lot of kinks to work out. So it’s actually quite amazing how they were able to tighten things up so quickly for season 2 after the first season.
The basic format and even different editing techniques and character beats are still seen on TAR today. Very different from the first season which felt much more like a travelogue rather than a reality competition. We also got the now-standard yellow and red flags as well as Phil and a Pit Stop Greeter welcoming teams to the Mat.
I think the most solid Leg was the Bangkok Leg where we got the mix of the usual culture shock of urban Southeast Asia with some of the most exciting competition and team interactions that we’d see so far on TAR (at the time).
I also never realized how Asia/Oceania-focused this Route was. Seven Legs across Asia and Australia/New Zealand. Plus an eighth Leg in the Pacific in Hawaii as well. But one thing I really liked was having the Southeast Asian Legs in the middle of the Race instead of the beginning or end.
The tasks were also a bit more challenging this season. Nothing completely outrageous yet. But with the improved Leg design (again, not perfect yet either), the tasks were able to create a much more competitive environment compared to season one.
Even better, the teams this season were much more dynamic and much more ready to go at it against each other and with each other of course.
Now, is TAR2 one of the first seasons I would choose to pop in the DVD player if I wanted to get my TAR fix? Probably not, to be honest. But it was still an interesting and fun experience getting to watch the season straight through again 20 years later.
My Subjective Team Rankings
Maybe the most interesting thing for me was my view of the teams after this rewatch. I found myself not really liking any team too much. Or at least, loving a team like I do some of my all-time favorites. I remember being fine with Chris & Alex winning in my hometown of San Francisco. But by the end of the rewatch, I was kind of like “Meh” over the possibility of any of these final three teams winning. Lol
Funny enough, my initial rankings from after the premiere remain the same now at the wrap-up.
I can’t help but root for the Gutsy Grannies of course. Peggy & Claire may have been cast as fodder and the token “old” team. But they still brought some fun and fire to the early Legs as truly gutsy grannies who did their best to run alongside the youngins.
Mary & Peach are very interesting because before going into this rewatch, I remember them as just sisters who did typical sibling things. Like argue and things like that. But I definitely was surprised by some of their reactions and actions during the Race, especially to their surroundings. Still, they were somehow likeable and annoying at the same time. Thus, never a dull moment with them.
I also didn’t remember Oswald & Danny‘s moment of just gliding through the Race, almost ready to quit at the drop of a hat. I definitely remember them being all fancy and high maintenance-ish. But not to the extent that they would be grossed out by their surroundings or threaten to quit because they had to take a common train. Things like that. Still, they more than earned their All-Stars spot that was definitely well deserved.
Like I mentioned earlier, I almost didn’t care which of Chris & Alex, Tara & Wil or Blake & Paige would go on to win.
Chris & Alex are remembered as some alpha-male team. But they honestly weren’t. But they definitely fit the mold set by Rob & Brennan in season one. Middle of the pack most of the Race, but doing just enough to stay in and eventually peak at the exact right moments. Probably most interesting about them was Alex’s flirtations with Tara. Which, again, I remembered as being much more serious than what was shown. Lol
I was surprised after season 1 when Lenny & Laryn weren’t as explosive as I had remembered back in 2001. I feel the same way about Tara & Wil too. I went into this rewatch expecting some major blowups and lots of hurtful words. But nope. Nothing really out of the ordinary for dysfunctional couples. I mentioned that “I’m not a miner” moment. That perfectly encapsulates my feelings about them. I remembered them to be much more dynamic than they actually were. That said, they were still full of drama and dysfunction, no question. But I remembered something much more.
Who knew back then how far Blake & Paige would go post-Race. They’ve certainly made names for themselves and made a big difference in the world as well. But back on TAR2, they were just young, good-looking All-American siblings. Sometimes bordering on Racebots. Sometimes showing their youth and inexperience with the world. And of course, their rivalries and competitive nature definitely made them stand out.
Shola & Doyin definitely flamed out quite surprisingly. Two young, fit twins were definitely an early TAR archetype. But they just couldn’t pull it together in the end. Deidre & Hillary, Cyndi & Russell and Hope & Norm were on the show too little a time to really make a truly memorable impact. But they also didn’t just fade into the background either, if that makes sense.
Gary & Dave, another team that I remembered much differently. Going into this, I remembered them being jokesters and kind of snippy with each other. But I did not expect some of the more, let’s say, off-color remarks during the Race. I feel like they had a shtick that went on a bit too long. So when they eventually did get eliminated, it was the right time.