The Amazing Race is one of the most popular reality competition programs
in the world today. It is not a simple race to the finish line. Rather,
it is a race around the world-literally. This means an advantage in a
particular location may be a disadvantage in the next. Furthermore, it
is a game played with a partner or a group, making the challenges more
interesting to watch.|
The main reason why it is a reality show and not just a plain contest is the dynamic of two people who are supposed to work together to complete tasks and reach locations ahead of the others. Sometimes this partnership is put to the test when confusion and fatigue start to arise. Viewers are often excited to see if a recently engaged couple will be able to emerge unscathed in an ordeal, or if best friends can do a better job.
In fact, the exciting locations found in different countries take a back seat from the various partnerships that have appeared in the different seasons. Best friends, married or engaged couples, and parent-child teams are always present. Nevertheless, producers try to add some drama by including divorced couples, models, comic book fanatics, beauty pageant contestants, and even members of the lesbian and gay community.
Now to the Actual Race
All teams, wearing their travel gear, start at an American location and are given instructions before the beginning of the race. The teams are given the location of the first clue, and then, at the signal of the host, they all race to find them first. The clues are written in a yellow envelope and stored in a box with an official marker. Most of the time, the clue simply gives directions on where the first leg of the race will be. Once the teams would know, they would head over to the airport.
A certain amount of cash is placed in the envelope and can only be used to complete assigned tasks. The bulk of the cash mostly goes to transportation costs; and the rest for food, supplies, and admission to tourist attractions. The teams are also handed a credit card to purchase airplane tickets, though it can't be used for transportation.
After arriving at the first location, the teams are made to perform challenges to be given the next clue. All the tests are often patterned on the tradition or culture of the destination they're in. This creates a "fish out of water" experience for all of the teams. Moreover, they have to rely on a map to get to places they haven't been to even once in their lives.
A popular challenge is the Detour. In here, teams need to decide which of the two challenges they want to complete. One of the challenges is usually difficult physically or mentally but requires lesser time, while the other task is easier but will take a longer time to finish. Teams then face a Roadblock, a challenge that only one member of the team can perform. Another variety is the Fast Forward where teams need to complete much harder tasks to directly proceed to the pit stop of a particular leg of the race.
The process is often repeated for every leg, eliminating the last teams to arrive at the pit stop. After going around the world, the final three teams then race back to America to bag the million-dollar prize.