Well, if TARAu5 was exhausting, I don’t know how to describe TARAu6. Lol. But it’s finally (thankfully) over. Its future seems to be in doubt. Which is not really a new feeling for any Amazing Race fan around the world. lol But if we were to judge based on ratings (which is the ultimate factor) and audience sentiment (or lack thereof!), it looks pretty dim for the Australian franchise. But they’re accepting applications feelers from prospective teams for whenever the greenlight is indeed given to a new season.
All that will work itself out. We’re here to talk about the season that’s just finished as a whole. What went right? Or really, what went wrong? And perhaps at the end, we might see why TARAu is in danger of getting canceled once again.
Let’s get the positives out of the way first.
The locations were wonderful. It’s very refreshing to see a truly international Race in the COVID Era. (We’ll get to the downside of that later.) It feels so long since the last time we saw teams running around across the world like this. Getting to see new cultures and stunning locations, it’s always fun.
Casting was solid. We got some very competitive teams. And a few big personalities. But when you have 20 teams, you better hope you have a couple of good teams in the mix. Lol
And I think that’s all.
Everything else this season that didn’t work, whether big or small, accumulated or came together to collectively drag a potentially good season down.
Too Many Teams All At Once
When I first heard of the split Starting Line, I was intrigued. I did watch the first few episodes of the HaMerotz LaMillion season that did this twist. But the only difference being the Israeli TAR still had the “normal” number of teams (12). TARAu6 decided to do 10 and 10.
Now, I understand Network 10 and/or Aussie TV likes their supersized reality shows. That’s fine. So they looked for a different approach to fill 20+ episodes from whatever it was they did last season which definitely did not work.
I guess that’s another positive that I missed. They abandoned the Stowaways and the First Class Pass nonsense from TARAu5. YAY!
But in needing to find a way to fill the seven week, three episodes a week format, they decide to go big with a 20-team cast. On one hand, that beats having too many Non-Elimination Legs. On the other hand, it’s really just too much to be able to follow 20 teams, three times a week.
Perhaps an idea if they decide to do the same thing next season, have the two groups of teams merge later. Like maybe have two groups of ten Race separately until the final three teams and then merge those six teams together at that point.
Of course, the preferable solution is to just have two regular seasons back-to-back. But that’s less likely with Network 10. So I think not having so many teams Racing at the same time will help both with the actual episode/storyline editing as well as with Leg design. With less teams, you don’t have to work around needing to accommodate so many teams at certain tasks.
COVID is still a thing
Yes, COVID is still thing indeed. Thankfully we have vaccines and medicines to treat COVID now.
But if any TAR production wishes to Race around the world while everyone can still catch and be infected with COVID, they are going to have to figure out a way to do so without the kind of disruption like we saw on TAR Canada and even more so here on TAR Australia.
No matter what anyone says, it’s just not fair to have teams sit-out Legs and then just come back as if they’ve been given multi-Leg First Class Passes. And that’s for any reason. Not just COVID.
It sucks that a team has caught COVID. But if it were any other illness or injury, the team would’ve been eliminated or forced to withdraw.
Now, does this mean allowing Racers (and hosts?!) to just continue running around while they are COVID positive? I dunno. But I’ll pose this question. Is there a difference between that and normal, non-Racing people going about their business every day willingly or unknowingly with COVID?
I don’t have the answer. And I’m definitely not paid to come up with one. But I think that is one consideration that TAR will have to keep in mind.
If it’s budget and logistics concerns, then make it feasible. Find a way! If you want to insist on this 90 Leg season, then you have to adjust.
One way to try and control COVID exposure, aside from charter flights, is in the Leg design. Have teams Racing around in bubbles. If you want to keep teams COVID-free, then don’t pretend we’re in pre-2020 times when teams can just go up to any random person and interact with them. Design Legs and tasks in a way that limits potential exposure (either way).
While the season was filming, a video was posted on social media showing Kelly & Georgia reading a clue and having to do different takes of them ripping and reading. Many people commented about reality TV being fake. But when it comes to giving about an air of fake-ness, look no further than the show’s Leg design itself.
This season featured an unnatural number of queuing tasks. Like, those first come, first served tasks. Or teams having to get in line for tasks. There’s nothing wrong with having tasks that require teams to go one at a time. But many times, if not most times, this season, these kinds of tasks were used as equalizers at random and multiple points every Leg.
Releasing teams at staggered intervals at the start of the Leg is understandable. It’s logistics. But why must you do the same thing in the middle of the Leg? In addition to these various first come, first served tasks. And even artificial Hours of Operation.
Artificial. That’s it! These things give the Race a sort of artificial, overly choreographed feel. Having teams Racing side-by-side and be neck-to-neck all Leg can be great. But the excitement is lost when you know that is only made possible by the show forcing contrived situations that equalize teams.
When equalizers are not used correctly or in the best way, they can absolutely negate the rest of a Leg. Especially when, at a few times this season, you put such tasks right before the Pit Stop. Why would you want to negate a whole day of Racing? Just have one task per Leg then if that’s the case.
Leg design is definitely not the strong suit for these Network 10 seasons. And maybe it’s partly due to the 45 Legs they have to fill. But again, they’re going to have to either adjust to the parameters they set for themselves. Or just not even attempt it if it results in nonsense like poor Leg design or lax rules.
Rules? What rules?
Probably the most annoying aspect of this season was the lack of any uniform or discernable rules. And that’s definitely not something that only appeared this year.
Last season, it was absolute nonsense when the Super Sikhs were able to hand over their already approved cheese to the siblings who then used it to get themselves approved and receive their clue too. Like, WTF was that? What’s the point in having tasks if teams aren’t going to complete them?
Surprisingly (or not), the same thing happened again this season. Several times. Why allow teams to submit the work of another team as their own?
The teams are to blame of course. But the Race is to blame as well because none of this would even be possible if the checker person takes the cheese or crates of fish or whatever and not actually give it back to the teams. Like, why do the teams need those things back anyway. You’re supposed to exchange the stuff for the next clue. And at the very least, don’t allow them to do it.
Which then brings us to the punishments.
The penalties this season were nonsense. Apparently, penalties for quitting were assessed based on the length of time a task would’ve taken to complete.
Now, a task that only takes ten minutes is a problem in and of itself. But not having a uniform penalty time, for quitting especially, gives off the perception that the show is arbitrarily deciding on penalties for teams. Even if that is not the case, the impression that it is even possible for producers to favor one team over another throws the Race and its fairness into question. And if you can avoid such doubts, why not do so.
Just hand out uniform penalty times for teams quitting tasks or doing tasks incorrectly. If it means they’re automatically eliminated, then that’s on them. They couldn’t do or just flat out didn’t want to do the task, then they must face the consequences of their own actions. Simple as that.
In thinking about the teams this season, I honestly feel like it’s two different casts. The early eliminated teams feel like they were on a completely different season.
But at the same time, this could’ve been a completely different season had the COVID teams not been sidelined. Who knows how it would’ve played out. But the COVID teams being out allowed some other teams to make it further than they might have otherwise. And maybe some of the COVID teams made it to a higher-numbered Leg than they would’ve otherwise too.
My favorite teams this season were definitely Flick & Gabby and Angel & Frankie. It was so awesome to watch these two evenly matched teams go head-to-head. And both had big personalities too. So perfect combination.
I warmed up to Heath & Toni as the Race went on. And it was a well-deserved win for them. They peaked at the right time. And their trajectory to the win was the best of any team. I’m also relieved a team that Raced every Leg won the season too.
Chelsea & Jamus definitely have their detractors. But I really enjoyed them. They were hilarious fun. The typical bickering couple. You always need one of those on the Race. But they were actually fun to watch and they did have some nice Racing moments too.
Tammy & Vincent were definitely eliminated too early. I would have loved to have seen them make it all the way to the end. Maybe the most heartbreaking elimination for me aside from Flick & Gabby.
I don’t like quitters on the Race. Especially when it’s tasks that aren’t so difficult. But Jake & Holly were the biggest victims of the season’s horrible penalty policy and poor Leg design. They seemed like really nice people and could’ve been very strong Racers, plus fun to watch. So seeing them eliminated in such a way was so horrible too.
Kathy & Chace were likewise victims of the poor Leg design. I think they could’ve become a strong villain team had they stayed longer.
As for the rest of the teams, they’re either meh or blend together or just horrible.
And let’s talk about the horrible first. Sam & Alex have to be one of the worst teams to have ever Raced. Their disgusting comments about Jodie & Claire are indefensible and abhorrent. And the fact that they survived longer than Jake & Holly is itself a TAR crime. Horrible. Gross.
Okay, getting that nonsense out of the way. Let’s just work our way from the beginning. Paul & Rachel and Bren & Anja just felt like they weren’t even part of the Race, it was so long ago.
Sam & Stu could’ve been a fun team as well. Crystal & Reem started out strong. But their attempts to cheat (basically) definitely pulled them down my hypothetical rankings. Same with Stuart & Glennon and their multiple attempts too. Sorry. I know it’s not “cheating,” but just do the tasks. Really.
Who were Morgan & Lilli again? And Fliss & Tottie? They’re interchangeable, sorry.
Jodie & Claire were sweet mums. But they seemed to be over the Race by the end, unfortunately. Lauren & Steph were the same as well. Pako & Mori were strong Racers, but their personalities can grate sometimes. An unceremonious end to the Race too.
Tiffany & Cynthia were honestly not even relevant most of the Race until they outlasted some of the other teams to reach Final Four. And Kelly & Georgia could’ve been one of the big contenders had they not been sidelined either.
The disruptions to the Race exemplify the COVID world today. And how the Race must still adjust. If a TAR wants to run around the world, they’ll have to figure out a better way than whatever TARAu and TARC did this year.
And if Network 10 insists on 63 Legs and 41 teams, they will also have to find a different way to allow that to happen without making things feel forced and contrived. And ultimately, feel exhausting by the end.
The ratings and comments online obviously show the Aussie audience is not responding favorably to the quirks of TARAu6. Forget about the 7 seasons which were at a different time. Instead of building upon the audience of previous seasons, the Network 10 seasons have lost viewers with every season. Their social media interactions are almost nonexistent. And instead of responding to fan and audience concerns after last year, the show not only doubled down, but made things worse in many ways.
It will be nice if TARAu7 becomes a reality. But they will definitely have to go back to the drawing board if they want the show to actually survive for a while.