Amazing Race 9

Posted by Chika On 12:26 PM

Bill Bryson

One of the few commercial TV programs I attempt to follow is Amazing Race, which combines the love of quirky characters with exotic destinations that remind us all of how exhilarating travel can be in our packaged world. Last night's kickoff for season 9 looks promising with the first visit to Sao Paulo and the introductions of the core participants.

Can you come back from jumping the shark? Of course you can. Last season, the Amazing Race had its "Cousin Oliver" moment when the show turned into an unwatchable "Family Edition" format. But we are a forgiving group here at Jaunted, and we welcome back our beloved "classic mode" Amazing Race, warts and all.

This week's premiere started off per usual, with Phil introducing the race, and each team introducing themselves. These intros quickly put the teams into nice, manageable, stereotypical boxes: Southern racists, bickering couple, gay dudes, your token sexagenarians, oh, and don't forget the always entertaining mother/daughter action.

After his usual race preamble, which this season took place at Red Rocks, Colorado, Phil sent the kids off to São Paulo Brazil.

Before the eleven teams headed to Brazil, the dentist and his subservient wife informed Ray that his name was Lake, "like the ocean", and then once Ray was out of earshot, began to mutter what sounded like racial slurs. Way to make a first impression, Ocean.

Jaunted Link

The last few seasons of Amazing Race have also been well covered with excellent commentary provided by travel wizard and fellow writer Edward Hasbrouck.

The Amazing Race is back!

Back in Sao Paulo for the second time. (Don't be surprised if you've forgotten their first visit four years ago -- they didn't actually do much in Sao Paulo.) Back to teams of two adults, instead of teams of four that include children. (Too bad: As I've said repeatedly, the television producers missed a huge chance to show the world as children experience it, and to teach adult viewers how much more quickly and easily children adapt to unfamiliar settings.) But most importantly, back to travelling around the world (or at least to many continents), rather than just around North and Central America as in the most recent flop of a season of the reality-television race.

The lack of audience interest in the previous season of the race, as host Phil Keoghan has admitted in recent interviews, suggests that the excitement and education we get from travel is as much about diversity of people as of places. Yes, the USA has both tropical jungle and arctic mountaintops. Yes, the USA is a melting pot of peoples. But the world is still a lot more culturally diverse than the USA or any one country, and changing scenery outside the window of your SUV is no substitute for cultural encounter and immersion.

Edward Hasbrouck Link

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