CBS's 'The Amazing Race' becomes second reality TV program to win "Best" Emmy
By Wade Paulsen, 09/22/2003
At 10:00 PM Eastern time on Sept. 21, 2003, reality TV history was made -- and CBS's The Amazing Race was the show that made it.
The Emmy in the "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program" (formerly titled the "Outstanding Special Class Program") category for the 2002-03 season was awarded to The Amazing Race in an upset, as most pre-Emmy predictions had installed Fox's American Idol as the favorite among the nominees. This Emmy was the only Emmy won by a reality show this year, and The Amazing Race became just the second reality show ever to win an Emmy. CBS's Survivor, the other reality show nominated for the award (along with two non-reality specials), won two Emmys (including "Outstanding Special Class Program") for the 2000-01 season.
This was the only nomination received by the critically-acclaimed CBS travel-competition series -- and no reality show needed the victory more. Unlike American Idol and Survivor, The Amazing Race has generally had mediocre ratings and, in fact, has been considered to be on the verge of cancellation. Although CBS had permitted TAR to begin taking applications for a fifth edition of the show, it was uncertain whether CBS would, in fact, actually order the edition. Some observers felt that TAR needed to win the Emmy to get another shot. Well, it did.
Interestingly, the only edition of TAR that aired during the 2002-03 season was TAR3, which was won by perhaps the most irritating team ever: Flo and Zack. Despite the show's critical acclaim, CBS pulled TAR4 from the spring schedule for low ratings and then aired it over the summer ... where its ratings only improved at the end. By contrast, both editions of American Idol, won by Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard, were aired during the season and drew strong ratings as well as a raft of imitators ... but, ultimately, ratings didn't matter to the Emmy voters.
Many observers thought that the winners of the two Survivor editions -- ex--porn star Brian Heidik (Thailand) and Playboy cover girl Jenna Morasca (The Amazon) -- would hurt Survivor's chances of winning, and they appear to have been correct. On the other hand, the Emmy voters have been known to reward deserving but low-rated shows before, and this could be another case. Whatever the reason, we applaud The Amazing Race executive producers Bertram van Munster and Jerry Bruckheimer and their talented team of assistants.
For American Idol and Survivor, which were nominated for and lost five and four awards respectively, we say "better luck next year." It still amazes us that Survivor has never won an Emmy for cinematography, especially for the 2001-02 season (Africa and Marquesas) -- perhaps the Emmy voters will correct that next time. At least Survivor remains the most honored show, with its two awards to TAR's one.
Are you unhappey with the way the Emmys came out? Would you like to make YOUR thoughts known about what was the best reality show of the year? Your favorite reality performers? The biggest blunder? The worst hair style? Then you may want to vote in the second annual Blowie Awards, sponsored by Reality TV World, which are designed to honor both the highlights ... and the lowlights ... of the reality TV season gone by. To read a description of the Blowie Awards, or to cast a vote on the 2002-03 ballot, click here.