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The Amazing Race

Winner of the last three Emmy awards for best reality TV show, CBS’s The Amazing Race has quickly become a staple in the reality television world.  Although many reality TV shows attempted to take the blueprint of Survivor of combining challenges with an exotic location, The Amazing Race has been able to take this premise and add something new to make it one of the most unique shows on television right now.

While many popular reality TV shows like Big Brother and Temptation Island attempt to win viewers by showing risqué behavior in an effort to shock viewers, The Amazing Race has been such a success due to its simple intent.  Similar to American Idol, The American Race is so compelling because it is essentially a competition.  Just like how sports has always been so successful because the drama involved is irresistible to watch, The Amazing Race is one of the most addicted reality TV programs because viewers can’t resist being drawn to melodrama of a competition where losing teams get dismissed and winners are rewarded fantastic prizes.

The premise of The Amazing Race is extremely simply and tracks a competition that everybody is at least a little bit curious to see.  Twelve pairs of contestants congregate at one location and then compete against each other in a global race that covers over 25,000 miles and will take between 30 and 40 days to complete.  Throughout this race, the competitors have to face a series of mental and physical competitions that they are required to finish before learning of where their next destination will be.

Additionally, the contestants on The Amazing Race are not able to bring their cell phones with them and are only able to take a limited amount of cash with them on their journeys.  Due to these restrictions, air travel is restricted and the competitors are required to travel by buses, trains, taxis, bicycles, and even camels.  Throughout the race, contestants are required to undergo a series of competitions and complete a number of tasks that often bring reward or additional tasks.  At several points throughout the race, the last team that completes the task is the eliminated.  However, if it is not an elimination challenge, the last placed team still is punished in some way – often having their money taken away from them.  The winning team of The Amazing Race wins $1 million dollars, although each set of contestants are able to win prizes throughout the show by winning individual competitions.

Considering how high the stakes are, you could imagine a lot of petty activity occurring between contestants.  Although this may be true on other reality TV shows that focus on competition, The Amazing Race is different.  All of the contestants genuinely seem to be having way too much fun going to countries that they never thought that they would have the opportunity to go to and completing tasks that they never thought that they could or would have to do.  This amazing experience means that even when contestants lose or eliminated, they are still happy with the entire experience.  In a way, The Amazing Race is so successful because it essentially shows a good, clean competition of a very high magnitude.