So, it turns out I may be slightly addicted to television...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

10 seasons later I'm still hooked on The Amazing Race

So it's been 10 seasons and you want to know something - I still love The Amazing Race. This fact is probably more amazing than the race itself and as I watched tonight's leg I asked myself why it is that I keep tuning in - despite the fact that the family edition almost made me puke.

I will say this - my allegiance was born the day I watched, completely by accident, and the teams were traveling through Scotland. I had just returned from going to uni in Scotland and was suffering from a severe case of reverse culture shock and anything remotely Scottish had my full attention. But that was season 2 (I think) and almost 4 years ago and not really a reason to keep watching (since they haven't been there again).

It's not really the contestants because, let's face it, they've all been the same from day 1: married couple with kids, older couple, recently dating, recently split up and hoping to reconcile, couple deciding whether they should get married, best friends, moms, dads, models/actors/beauty queens, the token gay couple, parent/child. This year they did at least try to spice it up by adding 2 Muslim men and a Hindu couple but by the end of the first episode the ethnic cleansing had already begun and we were still left with our traditional teams of 2.

It's not the challenges because, let's face it, they've all been the same from day 1: heights (going up or going down), eating gross stuff, finding landmarks in foreign cities, navigating with taxi drivers who speak little or no English, putting puzzles/buildings/things together, searching through things to find something small, boats and water, local manual labour.

And the yields, fast forwards and non elimination rounds are all confused in my head and may as well be the same.

And Phil, well, his accent is cute but he's not really a reason to watch for 10 straight seasons.

Maybe it's because in my offline world I own a tour business and travel is near and dear to my heart. I can tell you that (almost) every episode I watch gives me a bad case of wanderlust. And my views on certain countries have changed from watching the show (for the better). And I cheered with the best of them when teams raced through Calgary in the final leg of season 5 and again through Toronto and Montreal in season 8 (which proves I did watch the family edition - even with one hand covering my face).

It's certainly not typical of my viewing habits to still be watching a reality show (though at least one of my friends would argue strongly that this is a game show, not a reality show - so let's call it a reality game show and have a truce shall we?).

Survivor only held my attention until season 2 and after Colby lost so did my interest (though I did tune in to at least the finale of Survivor All Stars where Rob proposed to Amber and I watched "Rob and Amber Get Married" and cheered them on all the way on the Amazing Race season 7).

The Apprentice was never the same after Kwami, Bill and the infamous Omarosa. Though I watched season 2 it felt much more commercialized after the success of season 1 and I felt used and dirty just watching it. I didn't even bother with Martha Stewart. And I never watched any of the knock offs - whether it was Tommy Hilfiger choosing a protege or Richard Branson and a hot air balloon or Debbie Travis and a big painted house (no offense to Debbie - love her work but she's no Ty Pennington)

Dancing With the Stars held me the entire first season, but I'm sorry to say I haven't even watched Mario Lopez strut his stuff. I may have watched half an episode of Skating with the Stars and I tuned in and out of So You Think You Can Dance but that was really only for Cat Deeley and once for a performance by Nelly Furtado.

I never watched Big Brother after the season I watched in Britain. I have it on good authority the American version isn't up to snuff. Likewise for American Idol, though I did watch my first ever Canadian Idol this summer (go Eva!!)

The Bachelor had me in season two, Trista and Ryan captured me for my most devoted season ever and I had an on-again/off-again relationship with Dr. Travis in Paris. But the romance is pretty much over for me.

So, now that I've upset the devoted fans of all those reality/game shows let's get back to the topic at hand - The Amazing Race. Since going through all those other shows all I can say is that, even though I know the couples and the challenges will be stereotypical since season 1, the scenery is gorgoeus and when it's over I feel like I learned somethign new and that, if I pushed myself enough, I really could do anything I set my mind to. I never get tired of people using their brains and brawn in a race that at least helps us understand each other, rather than exists solely for the humiliation of the people on TV. And there's just something about a race that has me on the edge of my seat, rooting for the underdog (or a coalminer and his wife) and yelling at the screen. Anything that stirs me up like that makes for good television in my books.

Plus it's not like I get tired of listening to Phil's accent.


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