The Amazing Race TV Show, History, Facts and Interesting Bits!
January 2, 2020
The Amazing Race reality show is an unscripted program where selected teams of two are pitted against each other to race around the world and take on many physical, mental and cultural challenges for a shot at a $1 million top prize. With its enigmatic, competitive, highly energetic, and globetrotting elements, it’s endeared an ever-widening base of fanatics worldwide. It’s replete with drama, controversies, epic come-backs, romance, and education.
The show was first aired in 2001 and has been in production for a total of 29 seasons. It’s also gone on to become franchised in 14 different countries, including the Philippines, Ecuador, Australia (to name a few are Amazing Race Perth, Amazing Race Melbourne, and Adelaide's Amazing Race), and New Zealand. In these international versions, contestants also travel to the U.S and other countries. But their prize money is usually not on par with that of the original version. For instance, the top prize for the Australian version is AUD 250,000 ($175,000).
A Breakdown of the Show
Contestants apply for the show by sending in a video where they display their unique personality as well as their physical abilities. According to the producers, selected contestants are those that show enigmatic personalities and unique characters that mark them apart from a pool of “hundred million applications”.
The chosen contestants then gather in a designated city in the U.S to get some juicy tidbits from the show’s host, Phil Keoghan (called just Phil by the contestants). Also, this is the first time teams get to weigh up each other. The teams of two are normally couples, relatives, or best friends.
As with all other races, “The Amazing Race” begins with a countdown. The teams bolt off to get their first clues once they hear “ready, set and go!” In most cases, they race off to a car that takes them to their first location, and in some instances, they get to jet off to another country.
The clues are contained in envelopes and presented at various stops, and they reveal upcoming journeys, legs, road blocks, or detours. Sometimes, the contestants are given the choice to skip tasks and fast-track their way to the Pit Stop, the official name for breaks. The clue can come from Phil, or in some instances, locals from the destination. The locals are always enthused to participate in the show.
The contestants go through a wide range of challenges ranging from the adrenaline pumping to downright spooky, and the mentally tasking. In some instances, contestants need a sharp memory or guts to ram some bizarre items down their throat. And in some instances, the challenge can be downright mundane like just counting. But no matter the situation, contestants always feel the heat of the competition and are pushed to their wit’s end. This is done to test their ability to excel and collaborate with their partners under extreme stress.
Phil normally waits for the contestants at the end of a leg, where they enter their Pit Stop, which is a mandatory 12-hour period of rest (sometimes it can be as long as 36 hours when team members and the production crew really need to take a deep rest). Each of the legs comes with prizes ranging from cash to cars, treats, etc. Contestants who don’t win the prize will at least hope that they’re not the last to make it. The final leg is the most important, and the winner here isn’t usually determined by the number of legs won along the way.
But despite the heat of the moments and the fiercely competitive atmosphere, contestants can still take out time to revel in the memorable sights and sounds of the adventure. They meet up with interesting people at amazing places around the world. The viewers at home also get to feast their eyes on amazing sites and learn about cultures and fun facts of countries across 4-5 continents, including China, India, the Caribbean, etc.
The season finale always takes in a U.S city, with all the contesting teams lined up on the finishing line. The final showdown is between the last three teams, and all of them get to win prizes. But the first team to cross the finish line takes home to $1 million grand prize.
Amazing Facts about “The Amazing Race”
A Mixed Bag of Contestants
Contestants are usually pooled from many different categories ranging from high strung models to aggressive athletes, tech geeks, and even countryside boys and girls. But they’re usually eccentric in one way or another.
A Massive Crew on the Go
Each team of contestants is usually accompanied by a team of over 100 crew members consisting of creators, producers, cameramen, and costume/makeup artists. On a normal day of a season, as many as 3,000 personnel race with the competitors across various parts of the world.
Team Briefs about Culture
Before each team goes off on a leg, they’re given a heads up of things about the culture, climate, and environment of the country they’re heading to. This is besides the clues they’re given to complete the challenges of a leg. They’re informed about the dress codes and demeanor appropriate for a locality.
Team Members are Never 20 Feet away from Each Other
The main priority of the teams is obviously to win the top prize money, and they base their movements and motives on that. But even when they decide to stray from their paths to take some moments off, they’re never allowed to go beyond 20 feet of their teammates. This ensures that teams don’t get separated and also that the camera crew can always easily captures each couple in one frame at any point in time.
There’s No Shortage of Sneaky Surprises
The sight of Phil is usually associated with the end of a leg and the Pit Stop. But in some instances, Phil misleads the contestants into thinking that they’ve arrived at their Pit Stop, and then they soon realize he’s only just cueing them in on what’s still remains of the leg. Also, teams who arrive last may end up landing extra tasks that only they have to complete. Unsettling, right?
All 12 Episodes are Filmed within 21 Days
Phil once stated on a Reddit thread that as hectic and feature-rich as the season usually is, the entirety of it is filmed within just 21 days. That means that there’s usually no idle moments for any member of the 3,000+ strong production crew.
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