The Amazing Race is an American multiple Emmy Award-winning reality game show in which teams of two or four race around the world against other teams.
As the original version of the Amazing Race franchise, the CBS program has been on-air since 2001. Created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, they, along with Jonathan Littman, serve as the show's executive producers. The show is produced by Earthview Inc. (now renamed as Worldwide Production, headed by Doganieri and van Munster), Jerry Bruckheimer Television for CBS and ABC Studios (formerly named as Touchstone Television, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company). Phil Keoghan is the host.
The series has been awarded the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality/Competition Program ten times since the category was created in 2003. Although it has moved around various primetime timeslots, the program has had modest but sustainable viewership throughout its history.
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 5 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.
The present form of The Amazing Race, for the most part, has not changed from the first season. The race utilizes progressive elimination; the last team to arrive at a designated checkpoint (Pit Stops) leaves the game. The race starts in a US city. Teams must then follow clues and instructions and make their way to checkpoints in places around the world, eventually racing back to the finish line in the US. Along the way they perform tasks that represent the culture of the present country or city. Tasks include Detours (an option between two tasks of various difficulty) and Roadblocks (a task that can be done by only one member of a team); additionally, other optional markers, if reached first, can provide a team with a Fast Forward (allowing a team to skip remaining tasks and go to the checkpoint), a Yield (the ability to delay another team for a short amount of time), or a U-Turn (one team forcing another to complete the other side of a Detour). Teams race with limited possessions and are given a fixed amount of money for all travel purposes save for airline tickets, which are paid for by production-issued credit cards.
For details about the terminology, activities, and rules of The Amazing Race, including examples from the American version, see The Amazing Race.
The production of the Amazing Race is an extremely difficult aspect, given that unlike other reality TV shows, the show continues to move about the world all the time. Despite such difficulties, the show has been nominated and awarded several Emmys for Cinematography, Sound Editing and Mixing, and Picture Editing for a Nonfiction program since 2003.
Production will scope out several locations for the Race and will send people to investigate potential tasks and activities to be performed in the locations. Production also must work with the local governments to acquire filming rights and allowances for the race. Most of the tasks are attempted by production to determine the difficulty and timing with each task as well as to determine how to shoot that task.
Teams are selected through a multi-step interview process, usually starting with country-wide interviews at a few major cities. Once teams have been selected, teams are given a list of countries that they will need to apply for visas for. To avoid spoiling too much of the race, this list includes more countries than are planned to be visited, so that teams cannot plan on where they will be visiting, even countries that contestants don't have to apply for.
For clothing, teams are generally asked to plan for coordinating clothes, at least in the first few legs, to help with team identity and differentiation. Some teams have taken it upon themselves to procure custom clothes with their personal team moniker or names (examples include Joe & Bill from Season 1, Ken & Gerard and Aaron & Arianne from Season 3, Marshall & Lance and Linda & Karen from Season 5, and Erwin & Godwin from Season 10), though these are not required.
A few days before the race, teams and last minute replacements are flown into the same city (usually not the same as the actual start city) and sequestered in a hotel. Teams are asked to prepare their bags for the race, and production verifies the contents, removing any items prohibited by the race. On the day before or the day of the race, teams are then flown to the actual starting city and to the start line.
Prior to actually starting the race, teams are asked to take off by foot from the starting line several times in order to get several shots of the teams both in close-up and while racing away.
During the Race
Each team is accompanied by a two-person audio/video crew, who must stay with the team at all times, except at the Pit Stop and during certain Detours or Roadblocks. The crews rotate between teams at Pit Stops to avoid any possible favoritism that may develop between a team and its crew. This A/V crew must be able to ride with the team when they take transportation such as cabs or planes. Even though the program shows teams asking for only two tickets, they actually have to purchase four tickets to account for the A/V crew; what usually happens is that teams first ask the agents for four tickets, and then the AV crew reshoots the request, this time only asking for two.
Similarly, the A/V crew will often ask teams to redo certain actions during a leg in order to get a better camera shot (such as getting into and out of taxis), or to adjust the microphones that each team member is usually wearing. These events can lead to "production difficulties", which are usually credited to the team when they reach the Pit Stop. Along story producers keep track of any developing storylines and begin editing near the end of the race.
Many Detours and Roadblocks use special cameras to get more dramatic shots of the racers as they complete the task, such as helmet-mounted cameras for climbing, rappelling, and sky-diving stunts. The producers may also get helicopters and high overhead cranes to get wide-area camera footage when appropriate. There are also special camera crews known as 'Zone' cameras that are used near clue boxes, Detours, and Roadblocks, which take over for the team's assigned A/V crew in order to get more dramatic shots.
If a team should engage with a non-Race participant, they will need to have the AV crew get the consent of that person to be used on camera via agreement forms. Footage of people that have not consented is either not used, or with the person's face pixelated out.
The production team tends to arrive in a country a day or a half-day before the racers themselves arrive; however, there have been times that the lead production crew, including Phil Keoghan, has flown along with the Racers into that country. While the teams are racing, production sets up shots of Phil describing the various tasks, and then prepare for the arrival at the Pit Stop. In a few cases, production had barely arrived just before the teams started to arrive at the Pit Stop.
While in a country, the various production crews keep apprised of the status of each team in order to prepare the location for the arrival. For example, clue boxes are only set up minutes before the first team arrives to prevent non-Racers from getting involved or stealing clues. Additionally, any obvious penalties or missed tasks are relayed to the Pit Stop crew so that Phil can inform teams appropriately of these. Once teams have arrived at the Pit Stop, production checks with each AV crew to identify if any additional penalties or time credits are necessary.
When teams check in, they are usually requested to move to the lodging area for the Pit Stop, though during Season 1 this usually did not occur, as teams can be seen hanging around the Pit Stop to greet the other teams as they arrived. The eliminated team usually gets a chance to say goodbye to the remaining racers. Teams eliminated early in the race are then flown to a common location known as "Sequesterville" where teams are allowed to relax and sight-see (though with restrictions), until they are then flown to the final city for the very end of the Race. Beginning in Season 11, CBS began posting videos of the "Elimination Station" on its website. These videos showed eliminated teams at the location in which they are sequestered. Some teams do not necessarily get sequestered; instead, they may either accompany production through the last few legs as to meet with the rest of the eliminated teams at the final mat to cut down on travel costs, or they may be asked to perform "decoy runs", usually flying into the final city or a different city with an AV crew, a day or so before the final 3 teams arrive, as to throw off potential spoilers for the final teams.
The final mat is usually chosen in a well-isolated spot and planned so that teams are arriving mid-day during a weekday, or early on a Saturday or Sunday, as to reduce the amount of potential sightings of the final teams.
All teams are compensated for the time missed off their jobs, though the amount is undisclosed and confidential. As with most reality TV shows, teams are not allowed to reveal their performance on the race until the episode with their elimination, or in the case of the Final 3, after the final mat, has aired, with two exceptions in Season 10 and Season 11 when winning teams Tyler & James and Eric & Danielle each got to call their family and friend, respectively after both teams had won. Even after their elimination episode has aired, teams are not allowed to reveal any events, eliminations, or the ultimate winners of the race. In the past, eliminated teams have typically been asked to appear for an interview on The Early Show on CBS on the day after the airing of their eliminated episode, though this practice has been hit or miss in later seasons.
Each episode is worked on by a separate team of editors as soon as the race starts; as such, there are usually no 'arcs' unless they have developed over a previous show (for example, the dislike of most of the teams in Season 1 towards Joe & Bill, or the so-called Six Pack/Backpack alliance between David & Mary, Lyn & Karlyn and Erwin & Godwin in Season 10).
Complete tasks have been known to be cut from an episode, usually due to the lack of impact on race standings for that task. Roadblocks are most commonly edited out should teams depart in the same order as they arrive, though evidence for these Roadblocks can be found from footage still shown, interviews with racers, or from spoiler information. For example, teams arriving on Mauritius for a kayaking Roadblock in Season 10 was recorded by vacationers and posted to the Internet shortly afterwards, but the entire Roadblock was removed from the episode as shown. In another case, in the first leg in Poland in Season 11, Joe & Bill confirmed that a Roadblock involving rowing across a pond to the Pit Stop was edited out. An ostrich egg eating Roadblock was edited from the first episode in Season 1 but included as part of the extras in the DVD release. In order to keep continuity with clues, editors will use sound bites from the readings of multiple clues to mask the missing task.
The opening credits for the first season used a combination of pictures of locations in the race and teams, both posing as well as performing tasks during the race. However, many fans were able to identify the elimination order simply based on these tasks shots. Since then, the introduction sequence has used only a combination of location shots from both the current race as well as past races, and only teams posing at their residence or home city, reducing the amount of spoiler content within the introduction.
In two instances of the race, a natural disaster has occurred in an area that the race has been through but prior to first airing of that Race; specifically the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that struck Sri Lanka after Season 6, and Hurricane Katrina which struck New Orleans after Season 8. In the latter case, one of the teams racing, the Schroeder family, lost their home from the event. In both cases, the episodes which have included race legs within these areas have been given a moment to reflect on that natural disaster with text and a voice-over by Phil to send their regards to the people of the country/area that were affected.
Countries and Locales Visited
Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of The Amazing Race on CBS.
Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. Times mentioned are Eastern and Pacific.
|TV Season||Season||Timeslot||Season Premiere||Season Finale||Rank|| Average Viewers|
|2001-2002||1||Wednesday 9pm||September 5, 2001||December 13, 2001||#73||8.8|
|2||March 11, 2002||May 15, 2002||#49||10.3|
|2002-2003||3||October 2, 2002||December 18, 2002||#71||8.98|
|2003||4||Thursday 8pm||May 29, 2003||August 21, 2003||n/a||8.32|
|2004||5||Tuesday 10pm||July 6, 2004||September 21, 2004||n/a||10.73|
|2004-2005||6||Tuesday 9:00PM||November 16, 2004||February 8, 2005||#31||11.5|
|7||March 1, 2005||May 10, 2005||#25||13.0|
|2005-2006||8||September 27, 2005||December 13, 2005||#42||10.8|
|9|| Tuesday 9pm|
Wednesday 8pm 1
|February 28, 2006||May 17, 2006||#56||9.1|
|2006-2007||10||Sunday 8pm||September 17, 2006||December 10, 2006||#31||11.5|
|11||February 18, 2007||May 6, 2007||#44||10.1|
|2007-2008||12||November 4, 2007||January 20, 2008||#25||11.84|
|2008-2009||13||September 28, 2008||December 7, 2008||#27||11.14|
|14||February 15, 2009||May 10, 2009||#29||10.91|
|2009-2010||15||September 27, 2009||December 6, 2009||#28||11.14|
|16||February 14, 2010||May 9, 2010||#29||10.4|
|2010-2011||17||September 26, 2010||December 12, 2010||#22||11.93|
|18||February 20, 2011||May 8, 2011||#39||10.35|
|2011-2012||19||September 25, 2011||December 11, 2011||#34||11.13|
|20||February 19, 2012||May 6, 2012||#37||10.3|
|2012-2013||21||September 30, 2012||December 9, 2012||#29||10.68|
|22||February 17, 2013||May 5, 2013||#36||10.17|
|2013-2014||23 2||September 28, 2013||December 8, 2013||#34||9.49|
|24 2||February 23, 2014||May 18, 2014|
|2014-2015||25||Friday 8pm3||September 26, 2014||December 19, 2014||#69||7.49*|
|26||February 25, 2015||May 15, 2015|
|2015-2016||27||September 25, 2015||December 11, 2015||#58||7.56*|
|28||February 12, 2016||May 13, 2016|
|2016-2017||29||Thursday 10pm||March 30, 2017||June 1, 2017||#64||6.33|
|2017-2018||30||Wednesday 8pm||January 3, 2018||February 21, 2018|
|2019||31||Wednesday 9pm||April 17, 2019||June 26, 2019|
The Amazing Race is notable in that it is one of the few reality shows to grow substantially more popular in subsequent seasons. Even with extensive critical praise the show faced low Nielsen Ratings for the first several seasons, facing cancellation a number of times. Reportedly, it was saved by calls to CBS President Les Moonves from celebrity fans including Sarah Jessica Parker. Thanks to word-of-mouth and the Emmy wins, popularity of The Amazing Race surged in 2005, making it one of the most-watched reality shows on the air. A Family Edition that aired later that year was not received warmly by viewers, and by the end of the 2005-2006 television season, ratings had dropped by nearly 50% from the previous year. Despite this slight setback, the show has managed to maintain a steady ratings plateau, and is one of the longest-running reality series in the United States, among which only Survivor and The Real World have aired more seasons.
Starting with the 10th season, to the 24th 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 result 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. Due to decreasing ratings, the show will move starting with the twenty-fifth season to Fridays at 8pm. The 29th season initially was to air on April 21, but was bumped up to March 30th, with a 10pm timeslot.
In Australia, the Seven Network currently airs The Amazing Race. After screening the first season, it was pushed to a late timeslot. After public outcry and demand for the show, it returned in 2004 with season 5 at a more reasonable timeslot to stable ratings. The 6th Season of the show returned soon after, followed by the 7th Season. The 9th Season of the show, which premiered on 2 March 2006 in Australia was the 16th most-watched show of the week getting around 1,286,000 viewers. The 8th Season then premiered soon after at the same timeslot, Thursday 9:30. The finale of the 8th Season had 1,093,000 viewers. The Seven Network also aired Season 11, which premiered Thursday 12 April 2007.
The Amazing Race had won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program each year from 2003 to 2014 (except in 2010, won by Top Chef, and in 2013, won by The Voice), against other, more popular reality TV shows such as Survivor and American Idol, which have also been nominated each year. The show has also been nominated and won several times for technical production Emmy awards, including for Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematography, and Picture Editing for Non-Fiction programs.
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.
TARCon was a convention and viewing party held after the evening of the season finale. The event was held in New York City and is organized by Television Without Pity, a popular television website. TARCon gave fans an opportunity to meet past and present racers and host Phil Keoghan, although it was cancelled recently.
The popularity of the series has also spawned 2 board games. A DVD Board Game and a traditional board game. Plus, local homemade races, inspired by the show, have occurred, some of which have been mistaken for actual filming of the television program.
The show has also inspired a book, titled "My Ox Is Broken!": Detours, Roadblocks, Fast Forwards and Other Great Moments from TV's The Amazing Race, that is now available to purchase. It is written by Adam-Troy Castro and features an introduction from Season 8 Racers Billy and Carissa Gaghan.
- Tom Jicha at Sun Sentinel (03/11/2002): "CBS Reality Show Has Plenty To Get Viewers' Hearts Racing"
- Tara Ariano at MSNBC.com (07/02/2004): "The Amazing Race runs on its own merit: Emmy-winning CBS programis cream of reality-show crop"
- Jennifer Frey at Washington Post (09/21/2004): "Amazing Race Gets a Move On"
- Daniel Fienberg at Hitfix.com (12/04/2009): "TV's Best of the Decade: No. 28 -- The Amazing Race"
- Andy Dehnart at realityblurred (05/11/2010): "How The Amazing Race should fix itself"
- David Bindley at The Fabric of Reality (04/29/2012): "The Amazing Race: Yield, U-Turn, and Lame Variants"
- David Bindley at The Fabric of Reality (11/19/2012): "Firing On All Cylinders, Volume II: The Amazing Race, Original Recipe"
- David Bindley at The Fabric of Reality (03/01/2015): "TAR's renaissance and decline: Race in the Hole"
Despite The Amazing Race's popularity, the show is not without its share of criticism and controversy. Main problems include:
- Bunching, where teams are constantly grouped together due to bottlenecks such as chartered flights and pre-planned hours of operation of businesses.
- The confrontational, arrogant, defeatist, and sometimes abusive behavior presented by certain players, most notably Jonathan Baker.
- The stunt casting of teams where producers have tended to cast models, actors and, more recently, past reality show stars.
- Making clues less cryptic in later seasons; e.g., directing teams to a specific location as opposed to giving them a clue or picture that they must decipher in order to find their next destination.
- The design of challenges, especially those requiring eating large volumes of food or that require "needle in a haystack" searching.
- The introduction of the Yield, and the reduction in the number of Fast Forwards available.
- Over-reliance of teams on local assistance and Ferns (local people who volunteer to go along with teams to help them throughout the leg, based on the name of one of the first people to volunteer to help navigate a team, Oswald & Danny in Season 2, while they completed the tasks in that leg) instead of relying on self-navigation (although newer seasons prohibit the hiring of Ferns).
- The nature of the last leg of the race where luck becomes more important than racing skill.
- Excessive product placement, particularly in seasons such as the Family Edition.
- The amount of spoiler information generated during some seasons, most notably Season 7 and the first All-Stars season.
In October 2005, CBS optioned The Amazing Race for franchising to other countries.
- The Amazing Race (US)'s Twitter: @AmazingRaceCBS
- The Amazing Race (US)'s Instagram: /theamazingrace_cbs
- Internet Movie Database: IMDB.com/title/tt0285335/
|The Amazing Race Season Index|
|United States|| 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 ·|
16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 21 · 22 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 26 · 27 ·
28 · 29 · 30 · 31
|Asia||1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5|
|Australia||1 · 2 · 3|
|Canada||1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7|
|China||1 · 2 · 3 · 4|
|China Rush||1 · 2 · 3|
|Israel||1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7|
|Latin America||1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6|
|Norway||1 · 2|
|The Philippines||1 · 2|
|Vietnam||1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6|