Why ‘Amazing Race’ Is Amazing

How they can possibly coordinate a television production while documenting a frenetic international race with 12 teams is beyond me.

Last Updated: September 28, 2009 @ 7:04 AM

For those of you whining that “The Amazing Race” has won too many Emmys, I say grow up! (That includes you, Jeff Probst.) Not everyone gets to win a trophy. That is, unless they participate in some sort of Generation Y tee ball league.  

Even though gems such as “Rock of Love Bus” were shut out of this year’s Outstanding Reality Competition category, I have to admit that “Project Runway” and “Top Chef” were deserving of recognition. Both are amazing shows … though not quite as amazing as “The Amazing Race.” 

Let me tell you why.

First of all, the show must be given accolades on sheer logistics alone. There is no time for “take it back to one and re-herd the flock of ducks.” How they can possibly coordinate a television production while documenting a frenetic international race with 12 teams is beyond me.

It should come off looking as chaotic as a bedroom on “Hoarders” but the end result is a cohesive story, complete with character building, suspense and fanny packs.

Another thing that really makes this show stand out is the diversity in the casting. Yes, you’ve got some interesting characters on other reality shows. But most of those players have key things in common. For example, “SYTYCD” features dancers, “Real World” is a showcase for drunken skanks and “Wife Swap” gives the spotlight to insane extremists raising families. 

Sure, shows like “Big Brother” and “Survivor” offer a variety of personalities and occupations, but it’s only on “The Amazing Race” that you will hear the tags “pageant queens,” “gay brothers,” or my personal favorite, “dating goths.” You instantly have a preconceived idea of who these people are, good or bad, and you also know what their relationship is, which brings me to my next point.

The real star of this show is not Japan or Brazil. It’s the relationship between the teammates. Season after season, through trials involving everything from heights to cows to dancing, we have seen parents grow closer to their children and couples grow closer to marriage. 

Upon elimination, almost every player ends up tearfully proclaiming that the real prize is not the million dollars but the experience of racing around the world with his or her deaf son/midget cousin/fellow divorcee.

“Oh, that’s what losers say,” you protest.  But, funny, the winners end up saying the same thing.

So while I would never badmouth “Project Runway” or any of the other “high-brow” reality shows, I must say that we can’t all be fashion designers or gourmet chefs. “The Amazing Race” deserves the seven Emmys it has received.  It gives us something to aspire to, whether it’s planning an adventure to Africa or simply being a better friend or family member.