Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Amazing Race Obsession

My husband and I just started watching The Amazing Race (TAR) in October 2009. We were relaxing in a hotel room after spending the weekend visiting family and flipping through the channels. There was about a month of season 15 left and we were instantly hooked. We spent the next week catching up on all the old episodes from that season. When the season ended we suffered from TAR withdrawal and sought out every other season.

Over the past year we have watched a lot of TAR. With the season 17 finale coming up tonight and an all-star season coming up next year, we started going through all the seasons we had seen and listing our favorites. I figured if I'm going to go through the effort of looking through the old seasons I might as well blog about it.

During season 15 we fell in love with the Globetrotters team and wanted them to win. We also rooted for the interracial couple, Ericka and Brian, even though we found her pageant queen personality annoying and him too passive. Meghan and Cheyenne, aka the Blondes, were so perfect it was annoying. They were beautiful. They were great racers. Even when they made bad decisions, they had luck on their side. It was enough to make you vomit. So of course they won. We were sad that Zev and Justin lost their passports and got kicked out early. It would have been interesting to see how Zev's Asperger's affected them throughout the race. We were also pulling for Matt and Gary. There is something very engaging about a father and son team who clearly have very little in common and are getting to know each other during the race. We absolutely hated Sam and Dan, the twins. They were sneaky, backstabbing jerks and whining babies. We didn't like Maria and Tiffany, the poker stars who couldn't finish a mission without help from other teams, and Lance and Kerri, the worst husband ever and a completely miserable couple. It will be interesting to see who they pick for an all-star season. Fan fave, almost winners or most hated?

The next season we watched was Season 1. From the very beginning we liked Joe and Bill (life partners) and Kevin and Drew (fraternity brothers). It only took a couple legs to realize that Joe and Bill were overconfident jerks. We couldn't believe that Margarita and Frank had ever been married since he was such an a-hole. This was one of the best finale's ever because Frank was so sure they had won the race. He bragged endlessly about how well he knew New York and re-directed the cabbie onto what he thought was a shorter route. It was great seeing the shock on their faces when they realized they were second. It was also great to see the life partners told when they still had a day of racing left that someone had won the race. Nancy and Emily were a surprisingly strong team of granddaughter and grandmother that we found ourselves rooting for. We were happy when the lawyers, Rob and Brennan, won but we weren't really emotionally invested in them.

It was at this point that we realized that CBS had only released 2 of the 15 seasons on DVD (Seasons 1 and 7). You couldn't buy any of these other seasons or get them off Netflix. Fans of TAR have written hundreds of letters to CBS requesting that they release the previous seasons but CBS has not budged. It is not clear why they wouldn't release all of the seasons when they could make millions of dollars. Luckily a lot of the more recent seasons can be found on You Tube and other similar sites and some industrious folks have made money selling DVDs of older seasons that they saved. Thanks to technology and pack rats, my husband and I will have no problem catching up on the rest of the seasons.

Next up was season 7. We loved Lynn and Alex, the gay team, and Meredith and Gretchen, the old couple. Both teams were often frustrating but definitely made it entertaining to watch by both reinforcing and breaking stereotypes that people had about homosexuals and older people. The best moment was when Gretchen busted her head open during the cave challenge and proceeded to spend the rest of the leg with a giant bandage on her head. Rob and Amber were the team that you loved to hate. We have never watched Survivor but it seems like winning a million dollars on one CBS show should take you out of the running for competing for a million on another CBS show. Kelly was another annoying beauty queen and her boyfriend Ron realized she was wrong for him half way through the race. Patrick was a whiny child who frequently brought his mom Susan down. Ray another jerk who treated his wife Deana like everything was her fault. We wished that Ryan and Chuck, the hillbillies, made it further along. We were so excited when Uchenna and Joyce won. It was the first time that our favorite team, and a team we were rooting for the whole time, won the race. They were a great couple with a great story (failed fertility treatments and a desperate desire to have children). She had to shave her head in India and they had to beg for money at the end to finish first. It was an epic season.

In general we think CBS has a fantastic show. We hate the seasons when they don't make each team member complete an equal number of road blocks. There is nothing more annoying than watching a team excel because one person is doing all the work (the worst offense of this came in a future season). We also don't like it when they take away all of a team's money and belongings and make them beg for money to keep continuing the race. Watching Gretchen and Meredith go through that was painful. That sort of humiliation should never be part of the race.

Season 14 was next. Mark and Michael, the short stuntmen, were a great counterpart to Jen and Kisha, the tall college athletes. The brother-sister dynamic was a great part of this season. Tammy and Victor, the brother-sister Asian team, were the most engaging of the three sibling teams. Their relationship grew the most during the trip and you were happy to see them win in the end. Margie and Luke were the most annoying team yet. The fact that he was deaf didn't have to be the focus of this team but it was because he was such a petulant child and she was his enabler. If anyone criticized him or called him out on his bratty behavior they were being prejudiced against deaf people. It was ridiculous. Mel and Mike were a great father and son team who didn't really seem to have a chance but were great to root for. Linda and Steve were an interesting couple because she was so out of shape and he was not supportive. It would be nice to see them come back and compete after some time with a personal trainer and a shrink.

Season 13 was next (I know, it's disturbing that we've watched this much in a year). We knew the hippies, Arthur and Anita weren't going to make it very far. We were amazed by how negative Dan was towards his teammate Andrew and how out of shape these young college kids were. Terrence was a creepy guy who constantly needed to be validated by his girlfriend Sarah. We hope she broke it off and got a restrianing order against him after the show. Tina, the mean wife for a change, to her too forgiving husband Ken (we know, he cheated on her once but if you're going to make him pay for it every day of your relationship then just end it). Nick and Starr, very fit, sometimes fun, sometimes annoying brother and sister, won it all in the end. Toni and Dallas, a little too close mom and son, did better than we expected and Mark and Bill, the Mythbusters look-a-likes and nerdy team, didn't do as well as we hoped.

Okay, taking a break now. Will finish up another day.

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