The Amazing Race (U.S. TV series)

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The Amazing Race
The Amazing Race 23 logo.jpg
Genre Reality competition
Created by Elise Doganieri
Bertram van Munster
Presented by Phil Keoghan
Theme music composer John M. Keane
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 24
No. of episodes 278
Production
Executive producer(s) Jerry Bruckheimer
Bertram van Munster
Jonathan Littman
Hayma "Screech" Washington
Elise Doganieri
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 43 minutes
Production company(s) Jerry Bruckheimer Television
Worldrace Productions
Amazing Race Productions
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format 480i (SDTV) (2001–10)
1080i (HDTV) (2011–present)
Original run September 5, 2001 (2001-09-05) – present
Chronology
Related shows International versions
External links
Website

The Amazing Race is an American reality game show in which typically eleven teams of two race around the world. The race is split into roughly twelve legs interspersed with physical and mental challenges, and require teams to deduce clues, navigate themselves in foreign areas, interact with locals, perform physical and mental challenges, and vie for airplane, boat, taxi, and other public transportation options on a limited budget provided by the show. Teams are progressively eliminated at the end of most legs; with the final leg's grand prize of US$1 million. As the original version of the Amazing Race franchise, the CBS program has been running since 2001. There have been 24 seasons, with the latest premiering on February 23, 2014,[1] and has been renewed for at least one more season for the 2014–15 television season. Numerous international versions have been developed following the same core structure, while the U.S. version is also broadcast to several other markets.

The show was created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, who, along with Jonathan Littman, serve as executive producers. The show is produced by Earthview Inc. (headed by Doganieri and van Munster), Bruckheimer Television for CBS Television Studios and ABC Studios (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company). The series has been hosted by veteran New Zealand television personality Phil Keoghan since its inception.

Since the inception of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program in 2003, The Amazing Race has won it nine out of eleven times; the show has also won other awards and commendations. Although it has moved around several prime time slots since its inception, the program has averaged about 10 million viewers per season.[2]

Overview[edit]

The Amazing Race is a reality television competition, typically involving eleven teams of two, in a race around the world. The race cycle is divided into a number of legs, normally twelve; each episode generally covers the events of one leg. Each leg ends with a Pit Stop, where teams are given a chance to rest and recover before starting the next leg twelve hours later. The first team to arrive at a Pit Stop is often awarded a prize such as a trip, while the last team is normally eliminated from the race. Some legs are non-elimination legs, where the last team to arrive may be penalized in the following leg. Some races have featured double-length legs, where the teams meet the host at what appears to be a Pit Stop, only to be told to continue to race. The final leg of each race is run by the last three remaining teams, and the first to arrive at the final destination wins the show's prize, US$1 million. The average length of each race is approximately 25 to 30 days.

TAR Route Info clue.jpg TAR Detour clue.png TAR Roadblock clue.png
Teams follow clues given to them in marked envelopes, including (from left to right) Route Info, Detours, and Roadblocks.

During each leg, teams follow clues from Route Markers—boxes containing clue envelopes marked in the race's red, yellow, and white colors—to determine their next destination. Travel between destinations includes commercial and chartered airplanes, boats, trains, taxis, buses, and rented vehicles provided by the show, or the teams may simply travel by foot. Teams are required to pay for all expenses while traveling from a small stipend (on the order of one hundred dollars) given to them at the start of each leg. Any money left unspent can be used in future legs of the race. The only exception is air travel, where teams are given a credit card to purchase economy-class fares. Some teams have used the tactic of begging to replenish lost monies.[3]

Clues may directly identify locations, contain cryptic riddles such "Travel to the westernmost point in continental Europe" that teams must figure out, or include physical elements, such as a country flag, indicating their next destination. Clues may also describe a number of tasks that teams must complete before continuing to race. As such, teams are generally free and sometimes required to engage locals to help in any manner to decipher clues and complete tasks. Tasks are typically designed to highlight the local culture of the country they are in.[4] Such tasks include:

  • Route Info: A general clue that may include a task to be completed by the team before they can receive their next clue.
  • Detours: A choice of two tasks. Teams are free to choose either task or swap tasks if they find one option too difficult. There is generally one Detour present on each leg of the race.
  • Roadblocks: A task only one team member can complete. Teams must choose which member will complete the task based on a brief clue about the task before fully revealing the details of the task. Later editions of the program have limits on the number of Roadblocks one team member can perform, that both team members perform the same amount. There is generally one Roadblock present on each leg of the race.
  • Fast Forwards: A task that only one team may complete, allowing that team to skip all remaining tasks and head directly for the next Pit Stop. Teams may only claim one Fast Forward during the entire race. Fast Forwards were absent in seasons 18 and 19, but it is not known if they were simply not shown on air or not included in the race.
  • Intersections: Tasks that require two teams to work together until otherwise instructed. While Intersected, teams may be required to perform Detours, Roadblocks (a two person task using one person from each team), and Fast Forwards together.
  • Yields: A station where a team can force another trailing team to wait a predetermined amount of time before continuing the race. Teams may only yield any other team once per race. The Yield was last used in season 11 and has since been supplanted by the U-Turn.
  • U-Turns: A station, located after a Detour, where a team can force another trailing team to return and complete the other option of the Detour they did not select. Teams may only U-Turn any other team once per race.
  • Speed Bumps: A task that only the team saved from elimination on the previous leg must complete before continuing on the race. This usually consists of a small, easy to complete task.
  • Switchbacks: A task that is based on an infamous task performed on an earlier season of the Race, typically at the same location that was previously used. Examples have been a Roadblock that held a team back for several hours leading to their elimination and a Fast Forward that presented a difficult choice but the team who took it ultimately won the race.

Teams are penalized for failing to complete these tasks as instructed or other rules of the race, generally thirty minutes plus any timed gained for the infraction. Such penalties may be enforced while teams are racing, when they arrive at the Pit Stop, or at the start of the next leg.

The events of the race are generally edited and shown in chronological order, cutting between the actions of each team as they progress. More recent seasons have be edited to show split-screen footage of simultaneous actions or two or more different teams in the style of 24.[5] Footage from the race is interspersed with commentary from the individual teams or members recorded after each leg to give more insight on the events being shown.[4] The show helps to track the progress of racers through a leg by providing frequent on-screen information identifying teams and their placement.[6]

Series summary[edit]

In additional to these listed seasons, CBS has ordered at least one more season for the 2014–15 season.[7]

Season Start line date Finish line date Winners Teams Notes
1 March 8, 2001 (2001-03-08) April 8, 2001 (2001-04-08) Rob Frisbee &
Brennan Swain
11 of 2
2 January 7, 2002 (2002-01-07) February 3, 2002 (2002-02-03) Chris Luca &
Alex Boylan
3 August 9, 2002 (2002-08-09) September 7, 2002 (2002-09-07) Flo Pesenti &
Zach Behr
12 of 2
4 January 18, 2003 (2003-01-18) February 14, 2003 (2003-02-14) Reichen Lehmkuhl &
Chip Arndt
5 January 30, 2004 (2004-01-30) February 27, 2004 (2004-02-27) Chip &
Kim McAllister
11 of 2 Introduced the Yield and non-elimination penalty
6 August 13, 2004 (2004-08-13) September 12, 2004 (2004-09-12) Freddy Holliday &
Kendra Bentley
7 November 20, 2004 (2004-11-20) December 19, 2004 (2004-12-19) Uchenna &
Joyce Agu
8 July 7, 2005 (2005-07-07) July 31, 2005 (2005-07-31) Nick, Alex, Megan, &
Tommy Linz
10 of 4 Family Edition
Included children as young as 8 years old
9 November 7, 2005 (2005-11-07) December 3, 2005 (2005-12-03) B.J. Averell &
Tyler MacNiven
11 of 2
10 May 27, 2006 (2006-05-27) June 24, 2006 (2006-06-24) Tyler Denk &
James Branaman
12 of 2 Introduced the Intersection
11 November 20, 2006 (2006-11-20) December 17, 2006 (2006-12-17) Eric Sanchez &
Danielle Turner
11 of 2 All-Stars
Featured returning favorite teams, and a new team that began dating after their first season
12 July 8, 2007 (2007-07-08) July 29, 2007 (2007-07-29) TK Erwin &
Rachel Rosales
Introduced the U-Turn and Speed Bump
13 April 22, 2008 (2008-04-22) May 14, 2008 (2008-05-14) Nick &
Starr Spangler
14 October 31, 2008 (2008-10-31) November 21, 2008 (2008-11-21) Tammy &
Victor Jih
Introduced the Blind U-Turn
15 July 18, 2009 (2009-07-18) August 7, 2009 (2009-08-07) Meghan Rickey &
Cheyne Whitney
12 of 2 Introduced the Switchback
16 November 28, 2009 (2009-11-28) December 20, 2009 (2009-12-20) Dan &
Jordan Pious
11 of 2
17 May 26, 2010 (2010-05-26) June 15, 2010 (2010-06-15) Nat Strand &
Kat Chang
Introduced the Express Pass and Double U-Turn
18 November 20, 2010 (2010-11-20) December 12, 2010 (2010-12-12) Kisha &
Jen Hoffman
Unfinished Business
Featured returning teams who lost their first race and wanted to prove they could win
19 June 18, 2011 (2011-06-18) July 10, 2011 (2011-07-10) Ernie Halvorsen &
Cindy Chiang
Introduced the Hazard and a double elimination
20 November 26, 2011 (2011-11-26) December 19, 2011 (2011-12-19) Rachel &
Dave Brown, Jr.
21 May 26, 2012 (2012-05-26) June 16, 2012 (2012-06-16) Josh Kilmer-Purcell &
Brent Ridge
Introduced the Double Your Money prize[8] and the Blind Double U-Turn
22 November 13, 2012 (2012-11-13) December 7, 2012 (2012-12-07) Bates &
Anthony Battaglia
Introduced a second Express Pass that must be given to another team
23 June 9, 2013 (2013-06-09) July 2, 2013 (2013-07-02) Jason Case &
Amy Diaz
24 November 16, 2013 (2013-11-16) December 6, 2013 (2013-12-06) TBA All-Stars
Featured returning favorite teams, and a composite team

Production[edit]

Concept[edit]

The original idea for The Amazing Race began as a bet between current producers Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, with van Munster challenging Doganieri to develop a concept for a TV show in less than five minutes while both were attending a trade convention. With Doganieri's suggestion of a race around the world, the two refined the concept and sold it to CBS. Van Munster has had previous experience with reality television, having been the producer of COPS, considered to be the predecessor of reality television, during the 1990s.[9]

Casting[edit]

Phil Keoghan, the host of The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race is hosted by New Zealander Phil Keoghan. Keoghan initiates the start of the race, introduces each new area and describes each task for the viewers, and meets each team at the Pit Stops along with a local greeter informing the teams of their placement or their elimination followed by a short interview, as well as announcing the winners at the finish line. Keoghan was a television host in New Zealand prior to The Amazing Race, and had traveled the world and performed adventurous feats for these shows.[10] His background led him to apply for the hosting duties of Survivor. Though Keoghan was on the shortlist, the producers of Survivor chose Jeff Probst, while Keoghan was found to be a better fit for The Amazing Race.[11] Keoghan's performance as a host has been highlighted by his ability to arch his eyebrows to the arriving teams to increase suspense before revealing their position,[6][12] and racers and fans of the show often refer to the progressive elimination of teams as "Philimination".[13] Keoghan signed an extended contract with CBS to continue hosting The Amazing Race for "several years", according to TV Guide, shortly after the conclusion of The Amazing Race 18. The contract will also allow Keoghan to develop ideas into shows for the network.[14]

Four teams from four different seasons. Clockwise from top left: best friends Danny & Oswald of Season 2, married parents Kim & Chip of Season 5, brothers Gerard & Ken of Season 3, and dating couple Lori & David of Season 9.

Prior to each race, CBS and World Race Productions hold casting auditions around the country and accept submissions through postal mail. More recent seasons have included recruited contestants.[15] Once teams have been selected, teams are given a list of countries - including additional countries that are not planned for the race - for which they will need to apply for visas.[16] Teams prepare backpacks for clothing, hygiene, and other personal items; the racers are given a list of items that are forbidden from taking. Electronics like laptops, cell phones, and GPS devices are banned from the race, and racers are asked to avoid clothing with brand logos.[17][15][18] Travelers can not bring maps ahead of time, although they can buy maps during the competition if they choose.[17] A few days before the race, teams are sequestered at a hotel for a final review of the rules, before they are finally taken to the race starting line.[15][19] All teams are compensated for the time missed from their jobs, though the amount is undisclosed and confidential; one racer claimed that most people would lose money from the Race stipend compared to their typical salaries.[15][20]

Each two-person team are required to be adult American citizens with an existing relationship, including married and dating couples (regardless of sexual orientation), near and distant relatives, and friends. Most teams that participate are average Americans, but The Amazing Race has included teams or team members with some celebrity status. Notably, contestants from other reality TV shows, including Alison Irwin, Jordan Lloyd, Jeff Schroeder, Rachel Reilly, and Brendon Villegas from Big Brother, and Rob Mariano, Amber Mariano (née Brkich), Jenna Morasca, and Ethan Zohn from Survivor. Several professional athletes have participated, including the Harlem Globetrotters Herbert "Flight Time" Lang and Nathaniel "Big Easy" Lofton, former NFL players Ken Greene, Marcus Pollard, Chester Pitts, and Ephraim Salaam, professional bull and bronco rider Cord McCoy, professional snowboarders Andy Finch and Amy Purdy, Ironman Triathalon competitor Sarah Reinertsen, and Major League Soccer goalkeeper Andrew Weber. Numerous beauty pageant participants and winners have raced on the show, including Nicole O'Brian, Christie Lee Woods, Dustin-Leigh Konzelman, Kandice Pelletier, Ericka Dunlap, Caitlin Upton, Mallory Ervin, Stephanie Murray Smith, Brook Roberts, and Amy Diaz. Other celebrities include father and son screenwriters and actors Mike and Mel White, professional poker players Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle, a former prisoner of war from the Iraq war Ron Young, professional sailor Zac Sunderland, and YouTube star Kevin "KevJumba" Wu.

Other racers have found fame in part due to their appearance on The Amazing Race. Chip Arndt, who had raced with his civil partner Reichen Lehmkuhl, has become an activist for lesbian and gay community. Blake Mycoskie, based on his experiences traveling to Argentina during the race, later founded TOMS Shoes with the concept to donate one pair of shoes to poor children in countries like Argentina for each one sold.[21] Dating goth couple Kent "Kynt" Kaliber and Vyxsin Fiala have become models for the Hot Topic chain of punk/rock culture clothing stores after their appearance on the show.[22]

Filming[edit]

Most Race seasons, including the The Amazing Race 18 (shown above), fully circumnavigate the globe, starting and ending in the United States and visiting three to six continents.

Prior to the race, the production team plans out the locations and tasks that the racers will travel, working in conjunction with local representatives, which van Munster had initially had available for a different show.[4] The staff also consults with ex-military or federal agents that are aware of political matters in foreign areas, who may advise on countries or regions to avoid.[23] Van Munster and others will then travel the proposed course to verify the locations and identify needs for filming for the show.[4] The crew works with local government representatives to assure the safety of the racers while traveling through certain areas of the world.[9] Despite pre-planning, the production crew may be faced with obstacles forcing them to change tasks or even locations. In one situation during planning of the second race, the Argentine bank system failed, creating political unrest, and a new country was selected.[4][23] Similarly, after the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and the sexual assault of American reporter Lara Logan, the production staff considers Egypt to be "off the map right now."[23] It is estimated by van Munster that over 2,000 people worldwide are involved in the production of any one cycle of the race.[4]

Each team is accompanied by a two-man audio/video crew that films the team as it races. Unless otherwise indicated, the crew must be able to accompany the team through all travels; for example, teams must be able to acquire four tickets on a single flight or otherwise cannot take that flight. Four tickets are usually purchased off-camera using a credit card supplied by World Race Productions.[24] The crews rotate between teams at Pit Stops to avoid any possible favoritism that may develop between a team and its crew.[25]

The production crew, including Keoghan, Doganieri, and van Munster, all typically travel to the next destination of the race ahead of the teams. They work with local agents, representatives, and film crews to prepare for the tasks before the racers arrive, and are in coordination with the audio/video crews to track racers during a leg.[26] At times, the production team has only minutes ahead of teams before they check into the Pit Stop, forcing production to restage the teams' arrival there once they are ready.[4][26] In another race cycle, Keoghan was detained by officials in the Ukraine, and the local American ambassador, a fan of the show, helped to free him.[27] The production may plan a schedule for events, but allow for significant flexibility to minimize the difficulties of production. In the first season, one pit stop was located and extended to 72 hours instead of the normal 12 due to a sandstorm. Also in that season, two of the four final teams ended up 24 hours behind the lead teams due to flight and hours-of-operation limitations, creating a production nightmare. In later seasons, production has improvised extended pit stops by a day or so to prevent teams from becoming too spread out.[15]

Most eliminated teams are sent to a resort destination informally dubbed "Sequesterville", where they will wait until the end of the race to be flown into the final destination city so they can be present at the Finish Line.[15][28] In later seasons, short web videos hosted by CBS titled "Elimination Station" show the events at this location as new teams arrive and the events that occur during the teams' stay. Other teams, generally the last few eliminated before the final three, are used as "decoy teams", and run the race's final leg ahead of the actual final teams, in hopes of confusing possible spoilers about the race's outcome from locals.[29] Keoghan has also recorded his own videos during the show's filming, used to show what happens behind the scenes to viewers.[6]

The cost of the show has been subsidized by its sponsors, who provide trips and other prizes to teams that arrive first on certain legs, or have their products featured as a task. For example, more recent seasons have been sponsored by Travelocity, and typically one leg per season will involve a task that includes the Travelocity "Roaming Gnome"; trip prizes for first place finishes on many legs are funded by Travelocity and the local hotel at the trip destination.[15][30] Ford Motor Company is also a major sponsor in later seasons of the show, and typically teams will be given Ford vehicles to drive for various legs and as prizes for finishing first on a leg.[15] In another example, a tea-themed leg in the 18th season was sponsored by Snapple who had developed a new limited edition flavor for the show.[31] The Amazing Race has been considered to be a show that incorporates a large number of product placements as tracked by ACNeilsen, often being one of the top shows for product placement each year.[32]

Through the 17th season of the Race, the show used standard-definition television cameras despite the move of most other prime time shows, including reality television shows like Survivor, having moved to high-definition television (HD) prior to 2010. World Race Production has cited the cost and fragility of HD equipment as a barrier to its use for the Race.[33] While other scripted or reality shows that film in one location have the ability to replace equipment quickly from a nearby facility, the mobile nature of the Race made the prospect of using HD difficult.[34] The 18th season of the Race, filmed in late 2010, was the first to be filmed in HD.[33] The production team uses Sony XDCAMs, allowing the filming to be transferred directly to digital format and couriered to the editors.[34]

Countries and locales visited[edit]

Countries that The Amazing Race has visited are shown in color.

Most race routes in The Amazing Race circumnavigate the globe, starting from one United States city and ending in another. Two exceptions include The Amazing Race 7 where the route was a great circle, crossing through Argentina, South Africa, and India before returning westward; and The Amazing Race 8, the Family Edition of the show, which stayed entirely within North America.

As of season 23, The Amazing Race has visited 82 different countries.1

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This count only includes countries that fielded actual route markers, challenges or finish mats. Airport stopovers are not counted or listed.[35]
  2. ^ Including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (7) and the unincorporated organized territory of Guam Guam (11), the latter of which is in Oceania.
  3. ^ Includes 23 Finish Lines
  4. ^ Including the territorial collectivity of Corsica Corsica (6) and the overseas country of French Polynesia French Polynesia (22), the latter of which is also in Oceania.
  5. ^ Including the autonomous region of Sicily Sicily (9).
  6. ^ Includes the region of Siberia (14), which is part of the Asian continent.
  7. ^ As of season 23, the race has visited the constituent countries of England England (3, 7, 17, 22), Scotland Scotland (3, 22), and Northern Ireland Northern Ireland (22).
  8. ^ An unaired Fast Forward in season 1 required teams to travel to Vatican City, but no one took the option.
  9. ^ Including the semi-autonomous area of Zanzibar Zanzibar (11).
  10. ^ An aired Detour option in season 1 required teams to travel to Chobe National Park in Botswana, but no one chose the option.
  11. ^ Including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong Hong Kong (2, 11, 17) and Macau Macau (11).

Impact and reception[edit]

U.S. broadcast and ratings[edit]

With the premiere of its twenty-third season, The Amazing Race is one of the longest-running reality series in the United States.

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of The Amazing Race on CBS.

Season Timeslot (ET) Season premiere Season finale TV season1 Rank Viewers
(millions)
1 Wednesday 9:00 pm September 5, 2001 (2001-09-05) December 13, 2001 (2001-12-13) 2001–02 73[36] 8.80[36]
2 March 11, 2002 (2002-03-11) May 15, 2002 (2002-05-15) 49[36] 10.30[36]
3 October 2, 2002 (2002-10-02) December 18, 2002 (2002-12-18) 2002 71[37] 8.98[37]
4 Thursday 8:00 pm May 29, 2003 (2003-05-29) August 21, 2003 (2003-08-21) 2003 N/A2 8.32[38]
5 Tuesday 10:00 pm July 6, 2004 (2004-07-06) September 21, 2004 (2004-09-21) 2004 N/A2 10.73[39]
6 Tuesday 9:00 pm November 16, 2004 (2004-11-16) February 8, 2005 (2005-02-08) 2004–05 31[40] 11.54[40]
7 March 1, 2005 (2005-03-01) May 10, 2005 (2005-05-10) 25[40] 13.05[40]
8 September 27, 2005 (2005-09-27) December 13, 2005 (2005-12-13) 2005–06 42[41] 10.80[41]
9 Tuesday 9:00 pm3
Tuesday 10:00 pm4
Wednesday 8:00 pm4
February 28, 2006 (2006-02-28) May 17, 2006 (2006-05-17) 56[41] 9.10[41]
10 Sunday 8:00 pm September 17, 2006 (2006-09-17) December 10, 2006 (2006-12-10) 2006–07 31[42] 11.50[42]
11 February 18, 2007 (2007-02-18) May 6, 2007 (2007-05-06) 44[42] 10.10[42]
12 November 4, 2007 (2007-11-04) January 20, 2008 (2008-01-20) 2007–08 25[43] 11.84[43]
13 September 28, 2008 (2008-09-28) December 7, 2008 (2008-12-07) 2008–09 27[44] 11.14[44]
14 February 15, 2009 (2009-02-15) May 10, 2009 (2009-05-10) 29[44] 10.91[44]
15 September 27, 2009 (2009-09-27) December 6, 2009 (2009-12-06) 2009–10 28[45] 11.14[45]
16 February 14, 2010 (2010-02-14) May 9, 2010 (2010-05-09) 29[45] 10.40[45]
17 September 26, 2010 (2010-09-26) December 12, 2010 (2010-12-12) 2010–11 22[46] 11.93[46]
18 February 20, 2011 (2011-02-20) May 8, 2011 (2011-05-08) 39[46] 10.35[46]
19 September 25, 2011 (2011-09-25) December 11, 2011 (2011-12-11) 2011–12 34[47] 11.13[47]
20 February 19, 2012 (2012-02-19) May 6, 2012 (2012-05-06) 37[47] 10.30[47]
21 September 30, 2012 (2012-09-30) December 9, 2012 (2012-12-09) 2012–13 29[48] 10.68[48]
22 February 17, 2013 (2013-02-17) May 5, 2013 (2013-05-05) 36[48] 10.17[48]
23 September 29, 2013 (2013-09-29) December 8, 2013 (2013-12-08) 2013–14
24 February 23, 2014 (2014-02-23) May 18, 2014 (2014-05-18)

^Note 1 : Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
^Note 2 : Because this edition of The Amazing Race aired during the summer (and outside of the typical television season, which runs September to May), it was not ranked in either the television season preceding it or succeeding it.
^Note 3 : The two-hour premiere was the only episode to air Tuesday at 9:00 pm.
^Note 4 : Episodes aired Tuesdays at 10:00 pm during the entire month of March 2006, and then moved to Wednesdays at 8:00 pm for the remainder of the season to make room for CSI: NY.

During its first four seasons, even with extensive critical praise, the show garnered low Nielsen ratings, facing cancellation a number of times. The premiere of the show aired six days before the September 11 attacks, leaving the fate of the show in doubt. Producer van Munster stated that "Once we saw our billboards covered in dust from the 9/11 tragedy, we knew we had a problem".[29] Low viewership of the show was also attributed to it being lost among all other reality television shows at the time and unable to garner similar numbers as Survivor.[29] The Amazing Race premiered against a similarly themed reality show Lost on NBC (unrelated to ABC's Lost show); Lost featured teams of two stranded in a remote area of the world and forced to find their way back to the United States.[49] A vice president of programming at CBS considered The Amazing Race to be "a show that was always on the bubble" of being canceled.[29]

The show was considered to be saved due to several factors: the show was well received by critics, winning the Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Programming in 2003 and 2004; consistent viewership numbers; and feedback from the large number of fans representing the young target demographic, including Sarah Jessica Parker who had called in directly to CBS President Les Moonves asking to save the show.[29][50][51] The fifth season of the series, which aired from July to September 2004, had very high viewership numbers for that time of the year, averaging 10.7 million with a finale of nearly 13 million, doubling the viewership in the 18-to-34 demographic and won its time slot for every episode.[29] The improved ratings are credited to the particular teams selected for that season.[50] As a result, CBS began airing the sixth season during the "high-profile heart" of the November 2004 sweeps.[29]

A temporary setback struck The Amazing Race after a Family Edition that aired later that year was not received warmly by viewers, which resulted in lowered viewership.[52] The change in format, with teams of four and allowing for young children to race alongside their parents, hampered the travel ability of the show.[53] Keoghan, though pleased they had tried something different with the show, attributed the poor response to the Family Edition due to too many people to follow and lack of exotic locations.[54] This spilled over to Season 9 where it experienced dismaying ratings of only an average of 9.1 million viewers per episode, a drop from 13 million just 2 seasons ago in Season 7. The timeslot changing for Season 9 was also attributed to the drop in ratings.

Since the tenth season, which moved the show to Sunday nights, The Amazing Race has seen further increases in its numbers. It is believed that part of this increase is due to "sports overruns" (football, basketball, or golf) that resulted from games played earlier on Sunday pushing the airtime for The Amazing Race back by some amount on the East Coast along with other CBS programming.[55][56] In the Sunday timeslot, The Amazing Race follows 60 Minutes; Variety states that, while both shows have different target demographics, the crossover audience between the shows is very high based on the average household income of its viewers, and is part of the Race's success.[57] In the 2010 season, another reality television show, Undercover Boss, was scheduled following The Amazing Race; the overall impact of these three shows have helped CBS to regain viewership on Sunday nights.[58] According to Variety, the average age of Amazing Race viewers that watch the show live in 2009 was 51.9 years, while for those that time-shifted the show, the average age was 39.2 years.[59] In a 2010 survey by Experian Simmons, The Amazing Race was found to be the second-highest show proportion of viewers that identify themselves as Republicans, following Glenn Beck.[60] The season 16 finale, however, was the lowest-rated finale since season 4.[61]

Although season 18 averaged over 10 million viewers and finished in top 40 most watched shows of the 2010-2011 television season, the ratings dropped and the season 18 finale was the lowest-rated finale in the show's history.[62] Ratings also dropped during the season 21 finale, which was down 31% from the season 19 fall finale on December 11, 2011. It tied as the show's lowest rated finale ever.[63][64][65]

The success of The Amazing Race has led other networks to attempt to develop reality shows in a similar vein; CBS Vice President for alternative programming Jennifer Bresnan stated that many of these shows pose themselves as "The Amazing Race mixed with 'X'" to try to vary the format.[66] Such shows include Treasure Hunters (NBC, 2006), Expedition Impossible (ABC, 2011), and Around the World in 80 Plates (Bravo, 2012).[66] The Great Escape (TNT, 2012) brought van Munster and Doganieri to help with production, and was considered by critics as a "lite" version of The Amazing Race.[67]

International broadcast and versions[edit]

The United States version of The Amazing Race is rebroadcast in several countries around the world. Airings in both Canada and Australia are very popular. The Canadian showing on CTV is commonly one of the top ten most watched shows each week, according to BBM Canada,[68] Australian broadcasts of the episodes on the Seven Network often fall into the top 20 programs for the week.[69][70] Episodes of The Amazing Race also air in several other countries shortly after the American broadcast, including Latin America, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

AXN Asia broadcasts The Amazing Race across southeast Asia; the popularity of the show though the service led to CBS allowing for the option of creating international versions of the show in October 2005. The Amazing Race Asia was one of the first versions created, following essentially the same format as the United States version. Other international versions of the show have been produced out of Latin America and Australia.

Critical reception[edit]

Part of the show's success is considered to be the relatively simple formula of following several teams on a race around the world. Because of this, viewers can live "vicariously through the people on the screen", according to Andy Dehnart of the RealityBlurred.com website.[29] The show is often considered to be "travel porn", offering locations that most people would never get to see in their lifetimes.[71][72] Keoghan offers that:

"[The Amazing Race] exposes particular Americans to a world they don't see in primetime TV. Most of what they see is a war here, a person killed there, a natural disaster over here. We present a world that seems inviting, with people who are warm and helpful, not this big scary place that if you get in a plane you're going to be killed by traveling to some foreign land.", Phil Keoghan[11]

The show is also considered to be successful in it does not rely on the typical tropes of reality television, where players are trying to avoid becoming too much of a target to be voted off by their fellow contestants; in The Amazing Race, a team's success is primarily based on their own performance.[73] At the same time, the reality show setting can bring out unbecoming behavior, often leading to the stereotypical idea of ugly American tourists.[71]

Latter seasons of the Race have been more critically panned. One factor is the predictability of the show, with little variety in the construction of specific legs and foregone outcomes of which team would be eliminated. The media site The A.V. Club, which had covered the Race for several seasons, opted to end its Race recaps mid-Season 21, with editor Scott Von Doviak stating that the show "has become so stale and predictable".[74] Though Denhert was a supporter of the show in its earlier seasons, he has criticized latter seasons for becoming too predictable, as "failed to grow and evolve, it seems stale".[75] Denhert does acknowledge that budget cuts for all CBS programming, including the Race, are likely causes for simple tasks and lackluster legs;[75] Keoghan does state that the reduced budgets has made the timetable for filming "really brutal", but also considers that the difficulty of filming also reflects on the difficulty of the Race for the teams as well.[76] Denhert further points to the lack of time given for the viewer to learn about the individuals on each team, and instead has added elements like the U-Turn and the Yield to create inter-team drama.[75]

The show is known for a dedicated fan base that keeps in touch with the show's producers and contestants.[77] While a race is being run and filmed, fans of the show watch for news or spotting of the racers and attempt to track their progress in real time, enhanced by recent social media tools, leading production to figure out ways to masquerade their presence in any city.[11][29][78] Despite this, fans readily track the Race as it is being run across the globe. In the 19th season, one contestant had lost her passport at a gas station while getting directions to Los Angeles International Airport. Though spotted by their A/V crew, they could not inform the contestant but instead alerted production, who prepared for an early elimination of the team at LAX. A bystander found the passport, and after he posted about it on Twitter, he was directed by a fan tracking the Race's progress to take the passport to the airport, returning it before the scheduled flight and keeping the team in the race.[79] Coinciding with the broadcast finale for each season, fans from the website Television Without Pity arrange for a "TARCon" event in New York City along with the season's teams and other former racers.[26]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The Amazing Race won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program for the first seven years after the creation of the award in 2003 against other, more popular reality TV shows such as Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, and American Idol. Its streak was ended in 2010 when Top Chef won the Emmy for this category.[80] Host Phil Keoghan revealed in an interview that the show's loss that year made him and the producers realize that they will have to try harder to win the Emmy again.[81] In 2011, the show won in the category again for the eighth time.[82] After its seventh consecutive win, some in the media, including Survivor host Jeff Probst suggested that The Amazing Race willingly drop out from the competition in future years, similar to Candice Bergen declining any further nominations after her fifth Emmy win for her role in Murphy Brown. Donald Trump, host of The Apprentice, has stated that he feels that The Amazing Race does not deserve to win the number of Emmys it has won, believing that "they know how to politic the Emmys".[83] Van Munster has stated that it is "not likely" he will pull the show from future Emmy awards, considering that it reflects on his and his crew's hard work and high standards.[84] The show has also been nominated and won several times for technical production (Creative Arts) Emmy awards, for Cinematography and Picture Editing for Non-Fiction programs, whereas it has only been nominated for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing for Non-Fiction programs. The show has been nominated in the same five categories for three years consecutively, a trend which continued with the 2007 Primetime Emmy Awards.

Summary of Emmy nominations and wins
Year Type Category Result Record
2003 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 1 for 1
2004 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 2 for 2
Creative Arts Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Could Never Have Been Prepared For What I'm Looking At Right Now"
Nominated 0 for 1
Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Could Never Have Been Prepared For What I'm Looking At Right Now"
0 for 1
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Could Never Have Been Prepared For What I'm Looking At Right Now"
0 for 1
2005 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 3 for 3
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "We're Moving Up the Food Chain"
Won 1 for 2
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "We're Moving Up the Food Chain"
Nominated 0 for 2
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "We're Moving Up the Food Chain"
0 for 2
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "We're Moving Up the Food Chain"
0 for 1
2006 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 4 for 4
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Here Comes The Bedouin!"
Won 2 for 3
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Here Comes The Bedouin!"
1 for 3
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Here Comes The Bedouin!"
Nominated 0 for 3
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Here Comes The Bedouin!"
0 for 2
2007 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 5 for 5
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Know Phil, Little Ol' Gorgeous Thing!"
Won 3 for 4
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Know Phil, Little Ol' Gorgeous Thing!"
2 for 4
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Know Phil, Little Ol' Gorgeous Thing!"
Nominated 0 for 4
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Know Phil, Little Ol' Gorgeous Thing!"
0 for 3
2008 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 6 for 6
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Honestly, They Have Witch Powers Or Something"
Nominated 3 for 5
Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming
for the episode "Honestly, They Have Witch Powers Or Something"
0 for 1
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Honestly, They Have Witch Powers Or Something"
2 for 5
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Honestly, They Have Witch Powers Or Something"
0 for 5
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Honestly, They Have Witch Powers Or Something"
0 for 4
2009 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 7 for 7
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Phil Keoghan
Nominated 0 for 1
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Don't Let A Cheese Hit Me"
Nominated 3 for 6
Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming
for the episode "Don't Let A Cheese Hit Me"
0 for 2
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Don't Let A Cheese Hit Me"
2 for 6
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Don't Let A Cheese Hit Me"
0 for 6
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Don't Let A Cheese Hit Me"
0 for 5
2010 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Nominated 7 for 8
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Phil Keoghan
0 for 2
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Think We're Fighting the Germans. Right?"
Nominated 3 for 7
Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming
for the episode "I Think We're Fighting the Germans. Right?"
0 for 3
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Think We're Fighting the Germans. Right?"
2 for 7
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Think We're Fighting the Germans. Right?"
0 for 7
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Think We're Fighting the Germans. Right?"
0 for 6
2011 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 8 for 9
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Phil Keoghan
Nominated 0 for 3
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "You Don't Get Paid Unless You Win"
3 for 8
Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming
for the episode "You Don't Get Paid Unless You Win"
0 for 4
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "You Don't Get Paid Unless You Win"
2 for 8
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "You Don't Get Paid Unless You Win"
0 for 8
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "You Don't Get Paid Unless You Win"
0 for 7
2012 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 9 for 10
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Phil Keoghan
Nominated 0 for 4
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Let Them Drink Their Haterade"
3 for 9
Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming
for the episode "Let Them Drink Their Haterade"
0 for 5
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Let Them Drink Their Haterade"
2 for 9
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Let Them Drink Their Haterade"
0 for 9
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Let Them Drink Their Haterade"
0 for 8
2013 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Nominated 9 for 11
Creative Arts Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Be Safe and Don't Hit a Cow"
3 for 10
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Be Safe and Don't Hit a Cow"
2 for 10
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Be Safe and Don't Hit a Cow"
0 for 10
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Be Safe and Don't Hit a Cow"
0 for 9
Total 13 wins, 59 nominations

The production staff of The Amazing Race has been nominated each year since 2004 for the Producers Guild of America's Golden Laurel award for Television Producer of a Non-Fiction Program, and won this award in 2005.

Bert Van Munster has been nominated six times for the Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs award for The Amazing Race each year between 2005 and 2010, and winning the award in 2007.[85][86][87][88]

Due to its favorable portrayal of gay couples, The Amazing Race has been nominated in 2004 and 2006 for, but not won, the GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Reality Program.[89] It has received a similar nomination for 2009,[90] and won in 2012.[91]

Home media releases[edit]

Complete seasons on DVD

Seasons 1 and 7 were released in stores. The remaining seasons have been released exclusively on Amazon.com through their CreateSpace manufacture on demand program. Only region 1 is available at the present date.

DVD name Release date
The First Season September 27, 2005
The Second Season January 24, 2011
The Third Season November 22, 2011
The Fourth Season November 29, 2011
The Fifth Season April 24, 2012
The Sixth Season April 24, 2012
The Seventh Season December 20, 2005
The Eighth Season: Family Edition October 23, 2012
The Ninth Season October 23, 2012
The Tenth Season May 1, 2013
The Eleventh Season: All-Stars May 1, 2013
The Twelfth Season March 24, 2014
The Thirteenth Season April 8, 2014
Complete seasons on iTunes
Currently available
Season 13
Season 14
Season 15
Season 16
Season 17
Season 18: Unfinished Business
Season 19
Season 20

Other media[edit]

Two board games have been made based on The Amazing Race: a DVD Board Game[92] and a traditional board game. A video game for the Wii home game console has been also been produced as well as an iOS version.[93]

Two books have been written by fans of the show; the first is written by Adam-Troy Castro, titled "My Ox Is Broken!": Detours, Roadblocks, Fast Forwards and Other Great Moments from TV's The Amazing Race", which features an introduction from Season 8 racers Billy and Carissa Gaghan.[94] The second book is "Circumnavigating the Globe: Amazing Race 10 to 14 and Amazing Race Asia 1 to 3" written by Arthur E. Perkins Jr.[95]

Legacy[edit]

"The Amazing Alphabet Race", a segment shown during Sesame Street's 38th season as previewed on NBC's Today Show, is played by Elmo and hosted by "Amazing Al", the muppet version of Phil Keoghan.
  • The format of The Amazing Race has led to much smaller scale events for local cities and towns, having teams race through the area with clues and tasks.
  • Countries and cities that are featured on the show often see the exposure as a boon. A member of the Icelandic Tourist Board noted that after their country shown as one of the locations in The Amazing Race 6, their website saw an increase in information requests, and they worked to develop a "Trace the Race" travel package to allow visitors to see the same locations shown on the show.[96]
  • "Competitours" was created by Steve Belkin to create 8 to 14-days European tours in the style of The Amazing Race; the tourists are only given instructions each night on where they will be traveling next with a Race-like task to do the next day (such as encouraging locals to dance with them at a tourist location), to be demonstrated by recording themselves with a video camera.[97]
  • The Amazing Race has inspired popular culture, with notable references to it in such shows as Robot Chicken,[98] MadTV (in which Charla and Mirna of Season 5 participated),[99] 30 Rock[100] and even Sesame Street.[101][102] The Canadian cartoon/reality show Total Drama World Tour also has similarities to The Amazing Race. And also an episode titled "The Amazing Model Race" of the twelfth cycle of America's Next Top Model, where it has a race-themed challenge.[103]

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