The Amazing Race is back at last, ready to bring us more fun trotting around the globe! The premiere of the 14th season was enjoyable – I see that the producers are making improvements. First of all there’s a bit more honesty in the relative time positions of the teams (with convenient timestamps shown on screen). Also they have cut down on most of the airport non-drama where teams bicker and jostle for position at the counter, only to have everyone end up on the same flight.
The teams so far are a decent mix. Most interesting look to be Luke, who is deaf and racing with his mother Margie, and also Mike White (noted screenwriter of School of Rock) who is openly gay and racing with his openly gay father, Rev. Mel White. (I guess those 2 aren’t celebrity enough to be left off the show.) And miracle of miracles – one of the bickering dating couples was actually eliminated FIRST! Will wonders never cease?
So speaking of teams, I figure after so many seasons on the air…it’s time for a list! I present to those of you who are serious TAR fans my list of the most enjoyable teams of all time. They may not be the best racers ever, but they all made the show well worth watching for various reasons. In chronological order, here they are:
The Top 10 Greatest Amazing Race Teams Ever
1. Kevin & Drew, Season 1
“The Frats” may have bombed out early in the “All-Stars” season, but back in the day there was no greater comedy than the longtime buddies who made the race a fun experience for all involved. They were also true gentlemen, offering friendship and support to teams that needed it most, most notably Nancy & Emily.
2. Oswald & Danny, Season 2
How can you not love that Latin flavor brought by Team Cha-Cha-Cha? These gay best buddies were outspoken, flamboyant and great fun. What other team could charmingly decide to go shopping during some downtime on the race, and still end up not being eliminated? They also initiating the use of Fern – a friendly local to help them navigate around town. Henceforth true fans call any such local “a Fern.”
3. John Vito & Jill, Season 3
The third season was one of my favorites, and part of it was the delightful pairing of a couple thrown together by crisis. September 11th made JVJ a couple, but it was their always positive attitude that made them fan favorites. Although eliminated first in the “All-Stars” season, I will always remember them for eating all that cheese in Switzerland! And don’t say anything bad about Jill – she’ll punch you out!
4. Ken & Gerard, Season 3
Two brothers – one gay, one straight. One short and small, the other big and cuddly. Opposites sure attract, because it was impossible not to love the witty musings of this duo. Television Without Pity coined the term “Bald Snark” which is certainly apt. K&G also became infamous for switching Detour options midway through the challenge – a bad habit that is now called “Bald Snarking the Detour.” (More rare is the dreaded “Double Bald Snark” which almost guarantees a team’s elimination!) On a side note – I actually met these guys, so I can confirm that they are pretty much awesome.
5. Teri & Ian, Season 3
Ian could be a real insufferable jerk, especially to his wife. In fact, for most of season 3 they grated on the nerves and earned the nickname “Team Asshat” in honor of Ian’s ridiculous chapeau. But time and some perspective softened the old coot. They made good friends with fans of the show through the internet. And by the time they made it to the “All-Stars” season, they had become a team to like! Even one to root for. They set the standard for teams over the age of 50, never to be repeated.
6. Jon & Al, Season 4
You would think a pair of guys who are actual clowns would grate on the nerves. It started that way – remember the red noses at the finish mat? But quickly these two won our hearts with their good-natured ribbing of each other and their ability to make friends with locals in any country. Also Al is kind of my TAR boyfriend forever. I’m just saying.
7. Chip & Kim, Season 5
In prior seasons it was hard to root for a winner at the end, because the final 3 always ended up being either predictable or despicable. And then along came this wonderful married couple who defied the odds and a surprising final flight to win it all. Never have I cheered so hard! (OK, so I was in a bar full of TAR fans in New York – that helped.)
8. Charla & Mirna, Season 5
I know, I know – bear with me. I get that Mirna was hyper-annoying, and this team was full of entitlement, and nothing grated on the nerves more than hearing, “CHAR-la!!! CHAR-la!!!” But you have to admit – they made damn good television. Charla as a little person did more than you would believe was possible, all the while dragging the dead weight of her crazy cousin. Love them or hate them – “Mirna & Schmirna” were a hoot.
9. Uchenna & Joyce, Season 7
This winning couple wasn’t Chip & Kim Redux at all. They were a couple with some real challenges with each other – and for once that made them better on the race, not detestable. The truest devotion was shown as Joyce shaved her head in India…revealing a beautiful angel in tears. At that moment we knew they had to win.
10. Kynt & Vyxsin, Season 12
Yeah, there was a long break until things got really good again (is it any wonder we all hated the Family season?), but then along came the Goths. A team with names like that, pink clothes and the like just seemed to be too much for words. And yet – they were a real delight to have around! I appreciated their can-do attitude and friendlieness to the locals.
That’s my list! Who were your favorites – any I missed?