Backstabbing meets jet lag for a fistful of dollars.
Pairs of partners, significant others, best buds and odd couples will take off on The Amazing Race, a trek around the globe courtesy of CBS, to see if they can outdo the rest — stand each other — long enough to win a million bucks.
(And yes, Angie, I still hold you directly responsible for getting me hooked on this show!)
This is the 17th running of TAR (it’s not cool unless you can come up with some kind of shorthand for it, right?) — and by now, you surely know the drill.
Eleven teams of two members each start out from somewhere in the United States, hopping from one destination to another. At each point along the way, they compete in a bunch of highly contrived contests loosely based on the culture or traditions of each region.
The team that finishes first each weekend gets a prize, usually in the form of a nice trip or some pricey recreational gear, and gets to depart first the following day.
SWEET FAILURE, SWEETER SUCCESS
The team that finishes last gets eliminated from the race, but they don’t just pack up their passports and go home. Most go to an “Elimination Station,” a really nice resort in some distant part of the world, where they get to chill out with their fellow “eliminees” until near the end of the race.
Failure never looked or felt so good.
The two final winners get to split $1 million.
As with most (un)reality TV shows, you can count on more than a fair amount of drama. Some teams will come in with a strategy to sabotage their rivals, while others will just “be in the moment” and enjoy the journey.
The latter are the ones you always root for to win the money…and who almost never do.
Alliances of convenience will be casually forged and even more casually broken, and there will be enough dirty tricks to make Richard Nixon blush, if only in admiration.
Me? I’m that weird guy who watches the show for the destinations. I realize that sounds like saying you read Playboy magazine for the articles. But in my case, it’s actually true.
I love it when the race takes the contestants to places I recognize, because I’ve been there myself. I love it even more when the show vicariously takes me to some fascinating new place that immediately goes on my bucket list.
This is especially true when it comes to destinations that never interested me for one second — until I first saw it on TAR.
One destination this time around that could fall into that category is Bangladesh. They also are going to the Arctic Circle.
But the one I’m most dying to see this time around is Ghana.
I almost feel sorry for the competitors, so caught up in the competition that they really have no time — and in some cases, no interest — in the incredible places they are getting to see.
More than ever this season, I’m resolved to focus on the places and the people of the different locales, and less on the drama among the teams.
Of course, I say that every season.
And the contestants?
This time around, there are no husband/wife teams, so viewers will not be watching a divorce unfold in their living rooms. But there will be the usual handful of boyfriend/girlfriend teams, so you can count on an least one relationship imploding in front of an audience of millions. There’s also the token black team and the now-standard token Asian team.
Guess Latinos must not like to travel much, huh, CBS? Right. Okay.
Among the rest? A pair of doctors. Two beach volleyball players, both suitably blonde and bikini-ready. Yet another Southern-friend beauty queen
and a couple of TV shopping-show hosts (I don’t make this stuff up!).
There are hairstylists on rival teams (pray that they’re not from New Jersey!). And let’s not forget the Internet comic (with his Dad) and the two a capella singers from Princeton.
If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you might hear the gears grinding in the producers’ heads as they choose these casts.
But the real joker in this deck could be the mother/daughter team of Andie and Jenna. Andie gave up Jenna to adoption at birth some 20 years ago. Having only recently met, and having seen each other only twice since that meeting, they decided to run TAR together.
Definitely keep an eye on those two…
See that? I’m caught up in the drama already! Aw, to hell with it…just watch!