I love The Amazing Race. I think it is one of the greatest reality shows ever conceived. It is so successful it has spawned races over the world, there are Amazing Races in Asia and Australia to mention two, but here I’ll be concentrating on the American one, since it’s the one I watch. So what is it all about?
In a nutshell, 13 teams compete against each other in a race around the world. These teams are made up of couples, and I use that term in the loosest of senses. The couples can be married, siblings, parent and child, dating, engaged, friends, classmates, colleagues, same sex partners, ex-partners….the list goes on. The team that crosses the finish line first after 12 legs of the race wins $1,000,000. It is hosted by Phil Keoghan, a personable, refreshingly normal man. They race through different countries, and at the end of each leg, the last couple to arrive is, or is not eliminated. As the teams experience different cultures around the world, the viewer too learns things they would otherwise not have known. That was how I got to know about the fascinating coffin carving tradition in a part of Ghana. The teams have a series of tasks to perform during each leg, usually pertaining to the culture of whichever area they happen to be in. These tasks are assessed by the locals, and they determine whether or not a team has done well enough to be given their next clue. The clues, once they are deciphered, tell the teams their next destination, and instructions on how to get there. And this brings me to the advice bit……
- Always read your clues properly. This is a show in its 18th season. The number of times I have seen teams earn penalties for not following instructions in the clue defies logic. These instructions are written in English and are usually things like ‘Walk to XYZ’ ‘Do not use a taxi’ ‘You may only travel by bicycle’ etc. And still without fail, at least one team in each season manages to get that totally wrong.
- This race is not for vegetarians. If nothing on this earth would ever make you eat meat, not even a million dollars, then this race is not for you. I wonder if there is a clause that says contestants must be prepared to eat meat, because I have witnessed several vegetarian conversions. We are not talking prime cuts of meat here, but local delicacies like a whole sheep’s head, where every part of it has to be eaten, cooked traditional style. Like a vegetarian said in the last season ‘It tastes like a million dollars’ That’s the spirit. No whining, whingeing, blubbering about how you just can’t face meat. Get over it, and get stuck in.
- The race is not a place to repair a romantic relationship. Platonic relationships are more likely to survive the intense pressure contestants face, simply because there are no undertones of raging hormones. It is not pleasant viewing to see hitherto loved-up couples yelling insults at each other over the inability to complete one task or the other or over poor navigational skills. Most times, they kiss and make up. Still, I wonder what happened to some couples after the cameras stop rolling, but in fairness, a divorced couple decided to give things another try, so it’s not all bad.
- On the race, you might be required to required to bow before an assortment of gods and deities and take part in various rituals. If you have any reservations about doing that, this contest is not for you.
- Learn how to read a map, how to drive a manual car (stick shift) and how to swim.
- The race involves bungee jumping, rappelling, high altitudes etc. You catch my drift? Get over your fear of heights off camera.
- If you are a fussy eater, brace yourself. Insects, reptiles, brains, just a few things you might have to eat.
- Lastly, do not leave your passports behind. Automatic disqualification.
It’s one of the best shows on television and for those who believe in it, you get to see karma really is a beach (play on words intentional). You just never know when the tide’s going to run out on you due to a previous misdeed. If you want to know more about this program, click on the links. I also watch Masterchef, The Apprentice (UK) and Dragon’s Den. Not sure I have enough on any for a full blog post but might combine a couple. We’ll see.
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