Appreciation: The Amazing Race Australia 2 – The Gold Standard

Today, May 30th, marks the 10th anniversary of the premiere of what I think is the gold standard of not just non-American, international versions of The Amazing Race, but of the entire franchise itself. Season 2 of The Amazing Race Australia is about as close to perfect as you can get with a TAR season.

When the American mothership is clinging on to dear life (especially after the travesty that was season 32) and the Network Ten version of the Aussie franchise is almost unrecognizable as an Amazing Race, looking back at season 2 of TARAu is all the more nostalgic.

Back in 2012, The Amazing Race Australia‘s second season came after a strong, though relatively okay rated premiere season the year before. Season two would also have the same challenges in the ratings department. But it wouldn’t be for lack of quality, that’s for sure.

At the time, the season was well-received, if not loved. But as the years have gone by, its greatness is only more appreciated and missed.

The Amazing Race Australia 2 had it all. It was the rare Amazing Race season that brought together all the necessary ingredients to produce what is truly something all TAR seasons should aspire to accomplish, whether American or Canadian and especially current Australian.

A solid route with good to great tasks that redeem any possible linear Leg design. Pitch perfect editing and a production that actually feels like effort was put into it. In turn, maximizing the edge of your seat excitement and enjoyable hilarity. And above all, the perfect, diverse cast of characters who were distinct and competitive. And characters they were.

The premiere that aired ten years ago today would be just a taste of things to come for the rest of the season. Every one of those elements were already present in that first episode.

First of all, I’ve made it very clear how confused and puzzled I am that TARUS refuses to Race in the Philippines with more than four teams. There’s literally no reasonable explanation why they can’t. Especially when TAR Asia, Israel and yes, TARAu2 have staged opening Legs in the Philippines. And not even just in Metro Manila either. And that’s not even including other TARs that have visited the Philippines much earlier than the Penultimate Leg like TARUS.

How amazing to watch 11(!) teams performing a task at an iconic Philippine landmark like Quiapo AT NIGHT. Eating balut may be a stereotypical-type of a task. But just watch that chaotic sequence and it is an example of what The Amazing Race can do so well. Putting teams out of their comfort zone while being cheered on by the excited local peoples. Bridging those different cultures and bringing that interaction to screens around the world.

And if that wasn’t enough, the episode moved on to another iconic location in front of the Mayon Volcano. And to the almost similarly iconic Detour: Jig or Pig. Another thing I’m perplexed about is the fact that TARUS has not yet done this memorable Detour on the mothership. Well behind Asia, Australia and the Philippines. But then TARUS seems to think the Philippines is confined to Metro Manila and Palawan.

Anyway, as great as the tasks and locations were, the teams just elevated everything even more. It was only the first episode, yet teams were already uber competitive and showing off their personalities. Whether it was the emerging villainy of Paul or twins Michelle & Jo being as emotional as they are fierce or Sarah and her “hunners;” each and every one of the teams left their mark and gave us a taste of what they would ultimately deliver through the rest of the season. Absolutely unheard of in modern TAR.

And that’s what makes me all the more nostalgic for The Amazing Race Australia 2. The season would go on to give a masterclass on how to bring together all the things you look for in a TAR season. Individually and on their own (aside from the casting), each of those things might have been average or above-average. But putting them all together and with the perfect cast results in a must-watch season that all TARs should aspire to be like.

Happy 10th Anniversary Amazing Race Australia 2!

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