Just a few days ago CBS revealed The Amazing Race cast for Season 22. Between now and the premiere on February 17 we can familiarize ourselves with the teams, pick our early favourites and roll our eyes over disproportionate number of contestants from (where else?) Los Angeles and vicinity – three teams to be exact (which equals to almost 30% of the cast!).
Phil Keoghan – our beloved and inimitable host of The Amazing Race – calls this cast the most diverse ever: “…tall, short, black, white, Republicans, Democrats…people who are fit, beer bellies…some of them with six-packs, some of them with no-packs…”. On the surface it does seem quite true – just take Idries Abdur-Rahman, for example (of Idries and Jamil team): he is an African-American, who is also an observant Muslim, who is also an OB-GYN physician, who is also an identical twin of his brother.
Yet despite being the “most diverse cast ever”, the majority of the teams still falls into same predictable “niches” that the casting department has been filling over and over again – you have your standard “cute look-alike blondes”, your “second-tier celebrities”, your “hillbillies”, your “father-and-son”, your “newly married”, and so on.
Contestants’ hobbies are also quite “diverse”. For example, Caroline Cutbirth (of Caroline and Jen team) says her hobby is “eating“. Winnie Sung (of Pamela and Winnie team) is more discriminating about food – her hobby is not simply eating, but “eating chocolate”. John Erck (of John and Jessica team) prefers drinking to eating – he says his hobby, to be exact, is “drinking coffee“. Coffee can be quite strong, yet Katie Bichler (of Max and Katie team) likes something much stronger – her hobby is “drinking wine“.
Well, I certainly hope there are a lot of eating/drinking challenges during this race!
The new twist this season (to me at least) seems quite interesting – for the first time ever the team that arrives first to the Pit Stop at the end of the first leg will get not one, but two Express Passes! This team would be able to use one Express Pass for themselves and give the other one to any team of their choosing. Me likes this very much!
The new twist will definitely help stir things up – it can potentially be a valuable tool yet not without a price. Express Pass is an easy advantage though, and everybody who gets it – uses it. I always feel slightly disappointed when the contestants choose not to use other essential TAR “tools” – such as U-Turns or Yields (from the past seasons). Yeah, they all talk about being afraid of karma coming back to haunt them. But guys! – stop being afraid – where are your guts, balls, spines and other relevant body parts?! And after all, the show’s main purpose is to entertain us, the viewers. And we, the viewers, would like to see some evil now and then. Perhaps not as much evil as driving past the car crash of your fellow racers without even slowing down to see if they are alive (as “Boston” Rob Mariano did during 6th leg of TAR 7). But enough evil to make things interesting and exciting. So – dear contestants, do use those “tools” – they are part of what makes this race fun!
And my personal free (yet definitely unsolicited) advice to TAR production. Not that they will ever set their eyes on it (though they should!), but I still like to pretend that they are reading this.
Anyway – next time, guys, you can use more twists:
For example, at the end of the very first leg you can give the last team to arrive “special power” to reshuffle the order in which the teams will depart at the start of the next leg (I always feel sorry for poor hapless team that is unlucky enough to be eliminated when the race barely started, so why not sweeten up this bitter pill a little?).
Or – you can designate a leg of the race where a team that arrives at a predetermined place would get a surprise “special power” (let’s say, a team that arrives 4th at the end of the 4th leg would be able to use a U-Turn/Yield on any team of their choosing at any time during the next leg of the race).
Or – make one of those Travelocity gnomes extra special: whichever team happens to get the special one would be able to skip the next leg’s roadblock.
Some might find such randomness unfair. But life itself is often random and not always fair. Besides, it’s awfully boring to see one strong team dominating the entire race – you know ahead of time who will come to the Pit Stop first most of the legs. But this kind of randomness will spice things up.
Anyway, the possibilities are endless. But for now I’ll leave it at that.
I will have to make a week-long overseas trip in two days, but upon my return I will start sharing here my take on each of this season’s teams.
Meanwhile enjoy a few links to all things Amazing Race:
Meet the teams: