The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The Amazing Race is an American multiple Primetime Emmy Award-winning reality game show in which teams of two or four race around the world against other teams. As the original version of the Amazing Race franchise, the CBS program has been on-air since 2001 and its most recently aired season was the show's eleventh season (the "All-Stars" edition). Created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, they, along with Jonathan Littman, serve as the show's executive producers. The show is produced by Earthview Inc. (headed by Doganieri and van Munster), Bruckheimer Television for CBS and Touchstone Television (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company). Phil Keoghan is the host.

The series has been awarded a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program every year since the category was created in 2003. Although it has moved around various prime time timeslots, the program has had modest but sustainable viewership throughout its history.


The original idea for The Amazing Race began as a bet between current producers Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, with van Munster challenging Doganieri to develop a concept for a TV show in less than five minutes while both were attending a trade convention. With Doganieri's suggestion of a race around the world, the two refined the concept and sold it to CBS.

The present form of The Amazing Race, for the most part, has not changed from the first season. The race utilizes progressive elimination: the last team to arrive at a designated checkpoint (Pit Stop) leaves the game. The race starts in a US city. Teams must then follow clues and instructions and make their way to checkpoints in places around the world, eventually racing back to the finish line in the US. Along the way they perform tasks that represent the culture of the present country or city. Tasks include Detours (an option between two tasks of various difficulty) and Roadblocks (a task that can be done by only one member of a team); additionally, other optional markers, if reached first, can provide a team with a Fast Forward (allowing a team to skip remaining tasks and go to the checkpoint) or a Yield (the ability to delay another team for a short amount of time). Teams race with limited possessions and are given a fixed amount of money for all travel purposes save for airline tickets, which are paid for by production-issued credit cards.



The production of The Amazing Race is an extremely difficult aspect, given that unlike other reality TV shows, the show continues to move about the world all the time. Despite such difficulties, the show has been nominated twenty times for Primetime Emmy Awards, winning seven times, not including those yet to be awarded at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards.


Production will scope out several locations for the race and will send people to investigate potential tasks and activities to be performed in the tasks. Production also must work with the local governments to acquire filming rights and allowances for the race. Most of the tasks are attempted by production to determine the difficulty and timing with each task as well as to determine how to shoot that task.

Teams are selected through a multi-step interview process, usually starting with country-wide interviews at a few major cities. Once teams have been selected, teams are given a list of countries that they will need to apply for visas for. To avoid spoiling too much of the race, this list includes more countries than are planned to be visited, so that teams cannot plan on where they will be visiting.

For clothing, teams are generally asked to plan for coordinating clothes, at least in the first few legs, to help with team identity and differentiation. Some teams have taken it upon themselves to procure custom clothes with their personal team moniker or names (examples include Joe & Bill from Season 1, Ken & Gerard and Aaron & Arianne from Season 3, Marshall & Lance and Linda & Karen from Season 5, and Erwin & Godwin from Season 10), though these are not required.

A few days before the race, teams and last minute replacements are flown into the same city (usually not the same as the actual start city) and sequestered in a hotel. Teams are asked to prepare their bags for the race, and production verifies the contents, removing any items prohibited by the race. On the day before or the day of the race, teams are then flown to the actual starting city and to the start line.

Prior to actually starting the race, teams are asked to take off by foot from the starting line several times in order to get several shots of the teams both in close-up and while racing away.

During the race

Each team is accompanied by a two-person camera crew (camera operator/sound mixer), who must stay with the team at all times, except at Pit Stops and during certain Detours or Roadblocks. The crews rotate between teams at Pit Stops to avoid any possible favoritism that may develop between a team and its crew. The camera crew must be able to ride with the team when they take transportation such as cabs or planes. Even though the program shows teams asking for only two tickets, they actually have to purchase four tickets to account for the camera crew; what usually happens is that teams first ask the agents for four tickets, and then the camera crew re-shoots the request, this time only asking for two.

Similarly, the camera crew will often ask teams to redo certain actions during a leg in order to get a better camera angle (such as getting into and out of taxis), or to adjust the wireless microphones that each team member is wearing. These events can lead to "production difficulties", which are usually credited to the team when they reach the Pit Stop.

Many Detours and Roadblocks use special cameras to get more dramatic shots of the racers as they complete the task, such as helmet-mounted cameras for climbing, rappelling, and sky-diving stunts. The producers may also use helicopters and high overhead cranes to get wide-area camera footage when appropriate. There are also special camera crews known as 'Zone' cameras that are used near clue boxes, Detours, and Roadblocks, which take over for the team's assigned camera crew in order to get more dramatic shots.

If a team should engage with a non-Race participant, they will need to have the camera crew get the consent of that person to be used on camera via agreement forms. Footage of people that have not consented is either not used, or is used with the person's face pixelated out.

The production team tends to arrive in a country a day or a half-day before the racers themselves arrive; however, there have been times that the lead production crew, including Phil Keoghan, has flown along with the racers into that country. While the teams are racing, production sets up shots of Phil describing the various tasks, and then prepares for the arrival at the Pit Stop. In a few cases, production had barely arrived just before the teams started to arrive at the Pit Stop.

While in a country, the various production crews keep apprised of the status of each team in order to prepare the location for the arrivals. For example, clue boxes are only set up minutes before the first team arrives to prevent non-racers from getting involved or stealing clues. Additionally, any obvious penalties or missed tasks are relayed to the Pit Stop crew so that Phil can inform teams appropriately of these. Once teams have arrived at the Pit Stop, production checks with each camera crew to identify if any additional penalties or time credits are necessary.

When teams check in, they are usually requested to move to the lodging area for the Pit Stop, though during Season 1 this usually did not occur, as teams can be seen hanging around the Pit Stop to greet the other teams as they arrived. The eliminated team usually gets a chance to say goodbye to the remaining racers. Teams eliminated early in the race are then flown to a common location known as "Sequesterville" where teams are allowed to relax and sight-see (though with restrictions), until they are then flown to the final city for the very end of the Race. The 4th, 5th, and 6th place teams do not necessarily go to Sequesterville; instead, they may either accompany production through the last few legs and meet up with the rest of the eliminated teams at the finish line (in order to cut down on travel costs), or they may be asked to perform "decoy runs", usually flying into the final city or a different city with a camera crew, a day or so before the final three teams arrive, in order to throw off potential spoilers for the final teams.

The finish line is usually located in an isolated spot, and planned so that teams will arrive mid-day during a weekday, or early on a Saturday or Sunday, in order to reduce the amount of potential sightings of the final teams.


All teams are compensated for the time missed from their jobs, though the amount is undisclosed and confidential. As with most reality TV shows, teams are not allowed to reveal their performance on the race until the episode with their elimination has aired (or, in the case of the final three teams, until after the season finale), with an exception in Season 10 when Tyler and James got to call their families after they had won. Even after their elimination episode has aired, teams are not allowed to reveal any events, eliminations, or the ultimate winners of the race. In the past, eliminated teams have typically been asked to appear for an interview on The Early Show on CBS on the day after the airing of their elimination episode, though this practice has been hit-or-miss in later seasons.

Each episode is worked on by a separate team of editors as soon as the race starts; as such, there are usually no "story arcs" unless they develop naturally over the course of the season (for example, the dislike of most of the teams in Season 1 towards Joe and Bill, or the so-called Six Pack/Backpack alliance between David and Mary, Lyn and Karlyn, and Erwin and Godwin in Season 10).

Complete tasks have been known to be cut from an episode, usually due to the lack of impact on race standings for that task. Roadblocks are most commonly edited out should teams depart in the same order as they arrive, though evidence for these Roadblocks can be found from footage still shown, interviews with racers, or from spoiler information. For example, teams arriving in Mauritius for a kayaking Roadblock in Season 10 were recorded by vacationers and posted to the Internet shortly afterwards, but the entire Roadblock was removed from the episode that aired. In another case, in the first leg in Poland in Season 11, Joe and Bill confirmed that a Roadblock involving rowing across a pond to the Pit Stop was edited out. An ostrich egg-eating Roadblock was edited from the first episode in Season 1 but included as part of the extras in the DVD release. In order to keep continuity with clues, editors will combine sound bites from multiple clue-readings to mask the missing task.

The opening credits for the first season used a combination of pictures of locations in the race and teams, both posing as well as performing tasks during the race. However, many fans were able to identify the elimination order simply based on these task shots. Since then, the introduction sequence has used only a combination of location shots from both the current race as well as past races, and only teams posing at their residence or home city, reducing the amount of spoiler content within the introduction.

In two instances of the race, a natural disaster occurred in an area after the race was filmed going through it, but prior to the first episode of the season airing; specifically the 2004 tsunami which struck Sri Lanka during Season 6, and Hurricane Katrina which struck New Orleans during Season 8. In the latter case, one of the teams racing, the Schroeder family, lost their home in the disaster. In both cases, the episodes which included race legs within these areas were preceded by a message, read by Phil, which addressed the situation and expressed solidarity with the people in the affected regions.

Countries and locales visited

Continent Countries
North America Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, United States (including Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico)
South America Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay
Europe Austria, Finland, France (including Corsica), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy (including Sicily), Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom (including England and Scotland), Vatican City
Africa Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Tunisia, Zambia
Asia People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong and Macau), India, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia (including Sabah), Mongolia, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam
Oceania Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii (USA), and Guam (USA)
Note: The table does not include airport stopovers such as Bahrain, Denmark, Qatar and Taiwan. It only contains countries that fielded actual route markers, challenges or finish mats.

Public reception

Television viewership

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of The Amazing Race on CBS.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

Season Timeslot
Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Rank Average Viewers
(in millions)
1st Wednesday 9:00PM September 5, 2001 December 13, 2001 2001-2002 #73 8.8
2nd March 11, 2002 May 15, 2002 #49 10.3
3rd October 2, 2002 December 18, 2002 2002-2003 #71 8.98
4th Thursday 8:00PM May 29, 2003 August 21, 2003 N/A 8.32
5th Tuesday 10:00PM July 6, 2004 September 21, 2004 2003-2004 N/A 10.73
6th Tuesday 9:00PM November 16, 2004 February 8, 2005 2004-2005 #31 11.5
7th March 1, 2005 May 10, 2005 #25 13.0
(Family Edition)
September 27, 2005 December 13, 2005 2005-2006 #42 10.8
9th Tuesday 9:00PM
Tuesday 10:00PM
Wednesday 8:00PM
February 28, 2006 May 17, 2006 #56 9.1
10th Sunday 8:00PM September 17, 2006 December 10, 2006 2006-2007 #31 11.5
February 18, 2007 May 6, 2007 #44 10.1
The Amazing Race is notable in that it is one of the few reality shows to grow substantially more popular in subsequent seasons. Even with extensive critical praise, the show faced low Nielsen Ratings for the first several seasons, facing cancellation a number of times. Reportedly, it was saved by calls to CBS President Les Moonves from celebrity fans including Sarah Jessica Parker. Thanks to word-of-mouth and the Emmy wins, popularity of The Amazing Race surged in 2005, making it one of the most-watched reality shows on the air. A Family Edition that aired later that year was not received warmly by viewers, and by the end of the 2005-2006 television season, ratings had dropped by nearly 50% from the previous year. Despite this slight setback, the show has managed to maintain a steady ratings plateau, and is one of the longest-running reality series in the United States, among which only Survivor and The Real World have aired more seasons.

Starting with the tenth season, which moved the show to Sunday nights, The Amazing Race has seen further increases in its numbers. It is believed that part of this increase is due to "sports overruns" (football, basketball, or golf) that result from games played earlier on Sunday pushing the airtime for The Amazing Race back by some amount on the East Coast along with other CBS programming.

In Australia, the Seven Network currently airs The Amazing Race. After screening the first season, it was pushed to a late timeslot. After public outcry and demand for the show, it returned in 2004 with the fifth season at a more reasonable timeslot to stable ratings.The sixth season of the show returned soon after, followed by the seventh season. The ninth season of the show, which premiered on 2 March 2006 in Australia, was the 16th most-watched show of the week, getting around 1,286,000 viewers. The eighth season then premiered soon after in the same timeslot: Thursday at 9:30. The finale of the eighth season had 1,093,000 viewers. The Seven Network recently finished airing the eleventh season, finishing on June 28.


The Amazing Race has won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program each year since the creation of the award in 2003, against other, more popular reality TV shows such as Survivor and American Idol that have also been nominated each year. The show has also been nominated and won several times for technical production ("Creative Arts") Emmy awards, for Cinematography and Picture Editing for Non-Fiction programs, whereas it has only been nominated for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing for Non-Fiction programs. The show has been nominated in the same five categories for three years consecutively, a trend which continued with the 2007 Primetime Emmy Awards.

Summary of Emmy Nominations and Wins
Year Type Category Result Record
2003 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 1 for 1
2004 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 2 for 2
Creative Arts Primetime Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Could Never Have Been Prepared For What I'm Looking At Right Now"
Nominated 0 for 1
Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Could Never Have Been Prepared For What I'm Looking At Right Now"
0 for 1
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Could Never Have Been Prepared For What I'm Looking At Right Now"
0 for 1
2005 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 3 for 3
Creative Arts Primetime Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "We're Moving Up the Food Chain"
Won 1 for 2
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "We're Moving Up the Food Chain"
Nominated 0 for 2
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "We're Moving Up the Food Chain"
0 for 2
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "We're Moving Up the Food Chain"
0 for 1
2006 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Won 4 for 4
Creative Arts Primetime Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Here Comes The Bedouin!"
Won 2 for 3
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Here Comes The Bedouin!"
1 for 3
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Here Comes The Bedouin!"
Nominated 0 for 3
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "Here Comes The Bedouin!"
0 for 2
Total (as of 2006) 7 wins, 15 nominations
2007 Primetime Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
Creative Arts Primetime Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Know Phil, Little Ol' Gorgeous Thing!"
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Know Phil, Little Ol' Gorgeous Thing!"
Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Know Phil, Little Ol' Gorgeous Thing!"
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)
for the episode "I Know Phil, Little Ol' Gorgeous Thing!"

The production staff of The Amazing Race has been nominated each year since 2004 for the Producers Guild of America's Golden Laurel award for Television Producer of a Non-Fiction Program, and won this award in 2005.

Bert Van Munster was nominated for, but did not win, the Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs award in 2006.

Due to its favorable portrayal of gay couples, The Amazing Race has been nominated in 2004 and 2006 for, but not won, the GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Reality Program.


TARCon is a convention and viewing party held after the evening of the season finale. The event is held in New York City and is organized by Television Without Pity, a popular television website. TARCon gives fans an opportunity to meet past and present racers and host Phil Keoghan.

The popularity of the series has also spawned two board games: a DVD Board Game and a traditional board game, as well as local homemade races, some of which have been mistaken for actual filming of the television program.

The show has also inspired a book, written by Adam-Troy Castro, titled "My Ox Is Broken!": Detours, Roadblocks, Fast Forwards and Other Great Moments from TV's The Amazing Race, which features an introduction from Season 8 racers Billy and Carissa Gaghan.


Despite The Amazing Race's popularity, the show is not without its share of criticism and controversy. Main problems include:

  • Bunching, where teams are constantly grouped together due to bottlenecks such as chartered flights and pre-planned hours of operation of businesses
  • The stunt casting of teams where producers have tended to cast models, actors and, more recently, past reality show stars.
  • Clues becoming less cryptic in later seasons; e.g., directing teams to a specific location as opposed to giving them a clue or picture that they must decipher in order to find their next destination.
  • The design of challenges, especially those requiring eating large volumes of food or that require "needle in a haystack" searching.
  • The introduction of the Yield, and the reduction in the number of Fast Forwards available.
  • Over-reliance of teams on local assistance and Ferns instead of relying on self-navigation.
  • The nature of the last leg of the race, where luck becomes more important than racing skill.
  • Excessive product placement, particularly in recent seasons such as Season 8.
  • The amount of spoiler information generated during some seasons, such as Season 7 and Season 11 (All-Stars).

Foreign versions

See The Amazing Race Asia for more information In October 2005, CBS optioned The Amazing Race for franchising to other countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment's AXN bought the rights to air and produce regional versions of The Amazing Race for Asia and Central Europe. The Amazing Race Asia is currently seeking applications for its second season and The Amazing Race Central Europe has yet to air.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.It uses material from the Wikipedia article "The Amazing Race (US TV series)". Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions this article may contain.

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