The Amazing Race 20 Recap
After the first episode of this season’s Amazing Race, I knew we had a big problem. My first impression of the show’s contestants was that they were too unlikable, too famous, or too attractive to root for. The season ended last Sunday, and I thought now would be a good time to look back and see if my initial impressions were correct. (Spoiler: they were.) As I mentioned in my first post, one of the main reasons I’ve enjoyed The Amazing Race in the past is that they generally did a good job of casting seemingly normal people who you wanted to root for. This season, CBS’s casting department failed miserably.
Misa and Maiya: Sisters
The first team eliminated lost by literally walking right past Phil at the pit stop. Clearly, these two were too dumb to win the million. As I previously noted, life had given these two enough breaks that they really didn’t need a million dollars on top of it.
Dave and Cherie: Married clowns
I originally thought these two would be pretty scary and annoying. While they weren’t all that likable during the two episodes they appeared in, watching Dave struggle over and over again to do long division was pretty painful, and I actually did feel bad for them when they were eliminated. I was rooting for either the Jersey Shore guys or the couple from Big Brother to lose this week.
Elliot and Andrew: Twin brothers
Lisa Misa and Maiya, Elliot and Andrew had already gotten their fair share of good breaks out of life. When you can play professional soccer or be a professional musician on top of looking they way they do, you certainly don’t need a million bucks. These two were pretty unmemorable during their time on the race, and I wasn’t exactly broken up when they were eliminated.
Kerri and Stacy: First cousins
Speaking of being unmemorable, I barely even remembered these two until I re-read my preview of the show. I gave them two episodes, and they made it through five, but one was a nonelimination leg. Their finishing places during their time on the show: 7th, 5th, 7th, 7th, 8th (last). Congratulations?
Joey “Fitness” and Danny: Friends from New York
These are the Jersey Shore guys, in case the name “Fitness” didn’t tip you off. All things considered, these guys could have been worse than they were, but at the end of the day they were plenty annoying, so I was rooting for them to lose.
Nary and Jamie: Federal agents
I can’t remember a team in recent history that made it as far as these two did while having absolutely zero storyline or personality. The most interesting thing that happened with them was that Art and JJ called them out for lying about being schoolteachers. They were terribly boring and never finished above fourth place during their 8 episodes (8 episodes!).
Bopper and Mark: Lifelong friends from Kentucky
These two cemented themselves as the team to root for among this horrible cast. While they were often over-the-top weird, you couldn’t help but feel for Bopper as he failed over and over and over again to perform a Bollywood dance in the sweltering heat. These guys also legitimately needed the money, which helped make them sympathetic. They put up a much more decent fight than I initially gave them credit for, as they actually won a leg. They were helped out by surviving two nonelimination legs, but they were too far behind in the episode they were eliminated in to make up the difference.
I suspect CBS knew that Bopper and Mark were the only team people cared about, as after they were eliminated the season wrapped up with a two-hour finale featuring the four remaining (unlikable) teams.
Vanessa and Ralph: Dating divorcees
The animosity the show attempted to build between Vanessa and Rachel was one of the more annoying subplots of this season. Both girls are horrible, and I didn’t care that they didn’t like each other because I didn’t like either of them. Ralph had the personality of cardboard, so he didn’t contribute any likability points.
Brendon and Rachel (aka “Big Brother”): Recently engaged
This pairing gets my vote for the most annoying team in Amazing Race history. Not only did they not deserve the money as they had previously appeared on and won Big Brother, but Rachel was one of the most agitating people ever to appear on the show. Routinely she would fly off the handle and start screaming at Brendon for no apparent reason. For the life of me I can’t understand why this guy is with her. My theory is that Brendon is Ralph’s long-lost cousin, as they both chose harpies for girlfriends and have the personality of a pet rock. Having to watch an entire season of Rachel crying, yelling, or just pouting was downright painful. I hope CBS got enough negative feedback about these bozos to prevent them from pulling this stunt of including reality “stars” in future seasons.
Art and JJ: Border Patrol agents
I originally predicted this team wouldn’t last very long. I can only assume they read this blog, as their closing line was “Not bad for a couple of old guys.” You earned my respect, gentlemen: coming in second place once and finishing first three times is not easy. Unfortunately, Art and JJ weren’t all that likable, as they tended to spend most episodes yelling at each other or other teams. Considering how horrible most of the teams were, however, they were my second or third favorite team.
Rachel and Dave: Married 2 years
From the start, this was the team to beat. They ended up finishing first 8 times, and although they gave Art and JJ every opportunity to pass them in the finale, Rachel and Dave pulled out the victory. Dave had served in Iraq for a year, so he was probably more deserving of a win than almost anyone else, but the amount of bickering between the couple made them hard to root for.
So, unfortunately, my prediction for this season was correct: I spent most episodes rooting against teams. I still think the idea behind the show is interesting, and it can be a great show when done well. The top priority for future seasons is to improve the casting. The show’s ratings were still very good, as despite its weaknesses, Amazing Race 20 won its time slot each week and did very well in the key 18-49 demographic. Unfortunately, that might mean we see more of these types of contestants in the future.
What did you think about Amazing Race 20? Were you as upset with the casting as I was? Do you have any suggestions for the show going forward? Let me know in the comments.