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Travel Reality Show “The Amazing Race” Is Back!

The Amazing Race is a fast-paced reality TV show featuring 11 teams of two who travel around the world doing adventurous (and sometimes frustrating) physical and mental challenges for a chance to win one million dollars. Siblings, friends and lovers are common relationship dynamics found within the duos. The show captivates its audience not only through the teams’ relationships with one another but also through their interactions with various cultures and scenery that the viewer likely has not experienced. In previous seasons, teams have raced through over 90 countries including the Dutch countryside, Japanese cities, Zimbabwe’s savannahs and lesser-known Kazakhstan. As a result, the viewer vicariously experiences the world from the comfort of their home.

Phil Keoghan, the host, has announced his well wishes: “The world is waiting for you. Good luck. Travel safe. Go” to thrilled contestants 32 times so far. However, Phil and the crew were unaware that their 33rd embarking would come with complications. Filming began in Feb. 2020, weeks before alarming news of the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. Three episodes were completed in Europe when, for the first time since the show’s beginning in 2001, everyone was sent home due to obvious health concerns.

An article on the topic by Variety stated that executive producer Bertram van Munster attempted to counteract the threat by mapping out “alternate routes to shift the race to ‘Plan B’ countries, and ultimately an option that would just go through South America, as parts of the world started going into lockdown.” Still, the show was put on pause for over a year and a half.

When filming began again, adjustments were made to protect the contestants and locals. In previous seasons, teams explored the world through public modes of transportation such as boats, tuk-tuks, taxis and commercial airlines. Rather than getting to select their flights as usual, season 33 teams flew in “a chartered 757 jet, complete with The Amazing Race logo on the side, [that] was brought in to shuttle contestants and crew from place to place without having to enter crowded airports.”

Furthermore, van Munster selected countries with low coronavirus rates (a list of destinations can be found here in paragraph eight), interactions were only permitted with those who were both vaccinated and tested and there was a lot more self-driving. Besides handling physical and social technicalities, the almost two-year-long “pit stop” kept four teams from returning. To fill in the gaps, the show made a special exception and allowed two fan-favorite eliminated duos to rejoin the race for leg number four in Zurich, Switzerland and onward.

When asked “Do you think some like race loyalists are gonna say these contestants had it too easy? They didn’t have to deal with the plane tickets and the stress of taxis and that kind of thing,” in an interview with CNN, Phil Keoghan had this response: “In a regular race, you’ve got more access to go into places and to interact with people to get more information. But the playing field is even. Driving a stick shift, if you don’t know how to drive a stick shift, it is still challenging for people. We did have some public transportation. We just knew that the drivers were COVID-free. There’s still hustling for vehicles. You can’t get rid of the stress of learning how to read a map and getting lost. There’s plenty of that.”

Phil also assured that “it’s the race as we know it and we love it. You’re gonna see that it’s a different world, the world that we all know, so it’s not a surprise. It’s just a different world.”

Season 33 premiered on Jan. 5 on CBS. Future episodes air on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern time and past episodes can be viewed on various streaming platforms including Amazon Prime, Paramount+ and Hulu.

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Left-handed writer from South Florida on her way to becoming a fiction novelist. Her favorite works include adventure, magic, and unique twists.
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