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We Should All Be Watching ‘The Amazing Race’

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Since the pandemic has prevented many of us from traveling these past couple of years, I have been on the hunt for something to satisfy this itch. I recently rediscovered “The Amazing Race” after seeing an ad for their newest season and I have been watching non-stop for the past few weeks.

For those of you who have never watched, “The Amazing Race” follows 11 teams of two in a race around the world, where they compete in challenges and work together to reach designated “pit stops.” Along the way, teams are eliminated, and the first team to reach the final destination first wins one million dollars.

The show has been airing since 2001 and has stayed fairly consistent since then. While it may not seem as exciting or dramatic as other reality television shows, here are some reasons to give it a watch:

The Locations

One of the biggest selling points of “The Amazing Race” is the race itself, specifically all the locations the contestants travel to. It is the perfect way to satisfy your itch to travel, all from the comfort of your home.

The average distance traveled on each season is around 35,000 miles, with contestants visiting around nine countries. The countries are vastly different and each episode is a completely different experience. Teams could be paragliding down the mountains of France one episode and stitching a rug in Armenia the next.

It is almost impossible to get into a rut while binging a season because the locations alone make each episode fun and exciting. Since it’s a bit hard for college students to afford to travel the world, “The Amazing Race” is a good alternative.

The Challenges

During each leg of the race, contestants must complete challenges in order to know where they need to go next. These challenges reflect the culture of the country they take place in and require physical strength, mental competence or even bravery.

Although the show rarely repeats challenges, there are a few “challenge tropes” to look forward to every season.

There is typically some sort of heights-related challenge, where racers need to bungee jump or skydive to receive their next clue. Another challenge that pops up frequently is eating-related, where contestants eat a local delicacy, like an ostrich egg in Tanzania or caviar in Russia.

These challenges, though exciting to watch, do a great job of showcasing the country the contestants are in. You get a feel for the culture without the show getting too educational and you can walk away feeling like you actually learned something.

The Drama

If your biggest issue with reality television is the unrealistic drama, then you are in luck. This drama is as slice-of-life as it can get, with many of these problems being things that average people deal with while traveling.

Teams scramble throughout the airport, trying to find the best flight to their next destination. You can see the sheer terror of the racers when they realize that the car they need to drive is a manual transmission and they don’t know how to drive a stick shift. Another challenge they face is being unable to communicate with the locals because of the language barrier.

While there are the occasional fights between teams, it’s refreshing to see a show that does not rely on gimmicks or forced drama to be interesting. Travel is no easy feat, and it makes it exciting to see the payoff when it comes to all these obstacles.

The Racers

Although they sometimes tend to fall into stereotypes, the contestants are one of the best parts of the show. They are typically in established relationships, such as lovers, family or friends, and they make the show more relatable and human.

Not only are there amazing teams of average people, but many celebrities have competed on the race. Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack, raced with her husband, Adam, on season 25. Stassi Schroeder of “Vanderpump Rules” fame competed alongside her family on “The Amazing Race: Family Edition” in season eight.

Similar to other reality TV shows, cameras are filming the racers for the entirety of each leg. This means that we really get a deep look into the relationship, how they crack under pressure and how they overcome obstacles. You are constantly rooting for these teams to succeed and their journey keeps you hooked until they get eliminated or cross the finish line.

“The Amazing Race” recently finished its 35th season, and you can watch most seasons on Hulu or Paramount+. Although the pandemic presented challenges with filming, it’s (hopefully) not going anywhere any time soon.

Emma is a junior from Randolph, New Jersey, double majoring in journalism and human development and family studies with a minor in addictions and recovery. When she's not writing you can find her watching "Big Brother," drinking Diet Coke or trying to explain internet drama to her dad.