An Amazing Race 20 Ranking Post

A post created solely because somebody said they missed my Amazing Race entries. Well after this they won’t!

11. Elliot/Andrew

11. Elliot & Andrew – Twins (9th place)

Oh what could have been. This season the show branched out from the “parent-child”/”mixed sex siblings” rut it had got itself into recently and returned to family-casting wells that had been left untapped in a while. Sadly the Identical Twin Magic of Kami & Karli (<3) and Derek & Drew (<3 <3) was not revisited with Elliot and Andrew, as they were the victims of a now standard issue “Early Boot InvisiEdit”. Apparently they fought a lot in the Additional Website Footage, both with the other teams and with themselves, and also hilariously incompetent, but approximately none of this made it to air. All I was left with was them running well, then reappearing 20 minutes later suddenly 5 places lower than they had been, seething with resentment and with no explanation given why. Just wasted potential. Especially as they were quite hot. And also went to the trouble of styling themselves so I could distinguish between them from the off. Oh well.

10. Art/JJ

10. Art & JJ – Border Patrol Agents (Runners-Up)

For the first few legs I was kind of fascinated by their dynamic. Seeing someone run the race with their boss is potentially interesting, especially as JJ seemed quite keen to subvert the manager-managed dynamic by acting like an overbearing douche to Art at all times. Then it just turned out that JJ was like that to everyone. And that Art kind of was as well. I came to view those early days, when they didn’t really notice that any other teams existed with wistful nostalgia, after Art & JJ went on a tear why they spent every single second of their air-time in their episodes complaining about how other teams were running the race. They weren’t using their U-Turns right, they weren’t using their Fast Forwards right, they were following cabs when they shouldn’t, they weren’t splitting their Detours efficiently, that they were LYING to them about their jobs. I didn’t even have the pleasure of rooting against them, because their edit was so one-note and bad (except when they randomly gifted their prize to Mark/Bopper that one time) that I didn’t buy them as a credible threat to win even as they squeaked into first place in the final leg with one task to go.  Some villains are devilishly wicked and fun to root against. Art & JJ were just annoying kibbitzers.

9. Misa/Maiya

9. Misa & Maiya – Sisters (11th place)

Running right up to the Pitstop and not even seeing it isn’t even as great a First-Leg Fuck-Up as losing your passport before you’re even out of the country am I right? Maybe in a time when they actually cast smart people for this show they’d stick out, but as it is, they’re just kind of lame.

8. Jamie/Nary

8. Nary & Jamie – Federal Agents (6th place)

LOL at everyone assuming these two would be the new Nat & Kat based on their ethnicities (one White & Blonde, the other…Miscellaneous) and their professions. And then they turned out to be just as boring but also utterly incompetent. Whether it be boiling a kettle or putting up a tent, there was no task too mundane that Nary & Jamie couldn’t screw-up so thoroughly that they wound up hours behind everyone else. And they didn’t even screw up in a flamboyant way – it just all happened off-camera because they were that dull. They get some bonus points both for their random OTTLESBIAN Boot-Episodes (“ALL THE MEN ON THE FORCE WANT TO SEE US IN THE SHOWER!”) and then points off again for the fact that they pretended they were kindergarten teachers to distract people from their secret status as Federal Agents. A fact that was gleefully followed up by an anecdote about how Jamie accidentally shot herself in the leg in basic training (and Nary was there for her, stroking her hair and tending to her needs, always). SUCH THREATS.

7. Dave/Cherie

7. Cherie & Dave – Married Clowns (10th place)

CANCER CLOWNS! I was so worried that these two were going to be obnoxious OTT camera-hogs, just for the fact that they were clowns. I was wearily anticipating a whole season of wacky faces, flower-squirting, face paint and giant squeaky shoes. Then they spent their entire two episode stay crying and moaning and crying and getting lost and CRYING and moping that they sucked at everything and were old and talking about how Dave only just recovered from cancer AND NOW THIS. It was kind of hilarious. Ambassadors Of Laughter indeed.

6. Joey/Danny

6. Joey “Fitness” & Danny – Trainer & Club Promoter (7th place)

It’s not that I object to his nickname for its own sake, it’s more the pointless use of finger-quotes. What’s the point? Joey Fitness works just as well. Anyway, Joey & Danny’s thing is that they were from the Jersey Shore and one of them is Snooki’s personal trainer or something. It comes to something when the least abrasive and most laid-back team of the series are the ones representing the genesis of the current wave of trash tv, but really, it was that sort of series. Joey & Danny’s run on the show was truly a roller-coaster. Almost eliminated in the first two legs, saved only by Misa & Maiya’s hysterical blindness and their “YEAH! FUCK THE CLOWNS!” alliance with the twins, then suddenly front-runners, then eliminated suddenly when they picked a Fast Forward Fight with Rachel & Dave. All whilst wearing glasses without the glass and accompanied by their own house music theme tune. First The Situation was sort of not hateful on Dancing With The Stars, and now this? Who knows where it ends? Certainly not with me watching Jersey Shore though. Ever.

5. Brendon/Rachel

5. Brendon & Rachel – PhD Student & Event Hostess (3rd place)

Yet another reality show cross-casting that caused strong feelings in the fanbase, none of which I particularly shared. Rachel and Brendon apparently picked up lots of fans and HATAHs during their respective stints on Big Brother, none of whom seemed to be able to shut up about things they did on that show. None of which I cared about. It did amuse me greatly that all her most obnoxious fans claimed the editors weren’t letting her be the HILARIOUS POWER-BITCH she was on Big Brother because she was clearly being softened up edit-wise for being a winner. Then she came 3rd, and it turned out she was just that middle-of-the-road. LOL. Anyway, Rachel produced a few memorable quotes (“I THOUGHT THE AMAZING RACE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN AND GOOD!” being the most note-worthy) but otherwise was just kind of whiny and defeatist. And Brendon was just…there. Nice sparkles though.

4. Kerri/Stacey

4. Kerri & Stacy – Cousins (8th place)

Like Elliot & Andrew, Kerri & Stacy were a return to a family casting spot that had been neglected recently : awesome cousins! Admittedly it’s only been Charla & Mirna before, but frankly that’s enough for me to want them to cast cousins on every series. And just like Elliot & Andrew, Kerri & Stacy got a semi-invisible Early Boot edit. The difference being that Kerri & Stacy were so aggro and volatile that their madness could not be contained, and leaked through into the main show. Sure, their full insanity wasn’t showcased, but there was enough to suggest that under their positive “WE’RE DOING IT FOR OUR KIDS!” heart-warming, sky-diving, sunny, sexy ba-donk-a-donk exteriors were psychos. And then it turned out post-series that they got into fights with everybody, over nothing, and everybody else hated them. Amazing. Truly Marianna & Julia done right.

3. Vanessa/Ralph

3. Vanessa & Ralph – Dating Divorcees (4th place)

OK, for starters, she is probably amongst the fakest people I’ve seen on reality tv ever. And I don’t normally go in for the f-word, but there was very little that Vanessa said or did during the race that wasn’t contrived for screen-time. From her scripted quips to her randomly starting fights with people for no reason, Vanessa was the apex of inauthenticity. And in the end I didn’t care, because she was hilarious, and she brought Ralph with her, the most adorable man-child the race has seen in a long time. His constant brow-furrowed patience as Vanessa went off at everyone. His determined hauling them through all the tasks with his man-strength and patience. And, best of all when he got distracted by the product-placement auto-parking car and completely forgot he was on the race. And in the end, even Vanessa couldn’t avoid providing a moment of authenticity forever, as she gritted her teeth, girded her ankle, and powered through the pain to finish that Japanese Gameshow roadblock. It wasn’t enough to keep them in the race, but it was enough to win my respect. Which is, you know, totally worth a million dollars.

2. Mark/Bopper

2. Bopper & Mark – Best Friends (5th place)

Oh my, can it be? A one-note Fan Favourite all-male team that I ACTUALLY LIKE? After suffering through (in descending order of awfulness), the Cowboys, the Snowboarders and the Globetrotters finally the show found a team that connected with the American Public that also connected with me. And all it took was repeated shots of Mark spraying vomit out of the taxi windows of the world, whilst Bopper jabbered incoherently in Kentuckese. Sure there was nothing very subtle about their pimping, and I would have liked it it the second half of “I’m doing this for my sick daughter…so I will screw over every other team, REPEATEDLY AND HARD” had come out more often, but they both did all that can be asked for of a Fan Favourite team that falls short towards the end, up to and including their amazing Bollywood Non-Elimination episode. Scripted or not, that whole sequence was compelling television. Mark pushing himself to the edge even though the pair of them were falling to bits, with limbs on the verge of dropping off, just to keep themselves in for one more leg. All via the medium of Bollywood Dancing.

1. Dave/Rachel

1. Rachel & Dave – Army Wife & Combat Pilot (Winners)

I feel like the general opinion of these two is that they’re lacklustre winners, which I just don’t get at all coming off the back of Ernie & Cindy. I guess it’s partly because dominant winners are never popular, and leaping to unfounded abuse accusation at dating/married couples is the new fun thing to do now, but for me? Rachel & Dave are my favourite winners for a good long while. She’s such a no-nonsense ass-kicker (not giving a shit that Art & JJ decided that they didn’t want to be friends with her anymore ❤ Greeting Dave’s clenched homily of “silence is golden” with a hearty “THEN WHY DON’T YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP?” ❤ ❤ ❤ The first words out of her mouth as soon as they were more or less guaranteed the overall win being “I am going to take this stone and smash your skull in if you don’t shut up” <3) and he’s such a tightly-wound, hyper-verbose, control freak. Who wouldn’t want to watch that for three months? And under it all was heart, of a sort, as Rachel confessed on the finish line that when Dave had returned from a year in Iraq that she wasn’t sure if their marriage would survive. And they did (if you ignore all the parts where they were cheerily threatening physical violence to one another), and won 8 out of 12 legs whilst doing so. Another succesful example of Amazing Race as couples counselling.


21 thoughts on “An Amazing Race 20 Ranking Post

  1. Carl

    I like some lackluster teams, and dominant teams, if they have the right attitude. I didn’t think Rachel and Dave were that bad, but I didn’t really care about them either. I just mostly felt like Rachel and Dave spent their time arguing with each other and I often got the impression he hated her – even at the end, it was more about his accomplishment and she was just there. They also seemed to have no real interest in their surroundings, which has been a theme on TAR for a while now. All the main teams hated just about everything for the entire season.

    I think casting BB Rachel and Vanessa in the same season was a bad choice. Their conflict came out of nowhere and was not fun or entertaining (for me), because Rachel never fights back and Vanessa was so fake and callous. I will say I don’t understand why people were shocked at Rachel’s TAR edit – she was the exact same way in the Big Brother house. The one who got a VERY kind edit was Brendan.

    I hope that they change up their casting and stop focusing so much on who hates who. This series ended with interviews over whether or not Rachel and Brendan called Vanessa a baby killer. What fun.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I think Dave is the sort of man who would NEVER talk about his feelings on the tv, especially not towards his wife, which I guess makes him odd casting, but given this series was so full of crying and inter-team bitching it was kind of a welcome respite. Also him grinning and saying “Operation Amazing Race was a success!” at the end was the height of adorkability.

      The race these days seems to veer from having no drama at all to having too much, as they constantly course-correct on the casting. This run wasn’t quite at TAR 16 levels, but Vanessa’s random popping off did get to be a bit much.

      1. Carl

        I know that was the big complaint last series – no drama. I actually enjoyed last series for that reason, although I wasn’t thrilled with the winners. This time had a lot of drama but it was never anything which seemed to fit into any story arc, the way it did in the old Twin Hunt days.

      2. monkseal Post author

        I think expecting anything as well cast and edited as Series 3 these days is probably a hiding to nothing.

    2. Carl

      I forgot to ask – do you know if the border patrol guys actually gave Bopper and Mark any money? Or was that just for TV?

      At first I thought Bopper and Mark were just way too contrived and the show was so patronizing, but when I learned about their lives I did feel sorry for them. I can’t say they ever entertained me, but I didn’t hate them the way I hated the cowboys.

      1. monkseal Post author

        I think they must have given them the money – I can only imagine the unholy shit storm if they hadn’t. I do think at the time they anticipated winning more prizes than they ended up getting, but it was pretty much the only positive I can remember them doing, so I wouldn’t like to take it away from them.

  2. Carl

    Thanks for letting me know. I wasn’t sure if they did, since they fell out later in the race.

    I enjoyed your rankings – if you ever do any for the first few series I’d definitely read those.

  3. min

    Ah, TAR series 3 <3.
    Always had a soft spot for Teri and Ian – mainly due to the incredibly creepy lizzard king head turn in the credits.

    1. monkseal Post author

      Teri & Ian are hands down my favourite team in Amazing Race history. Probably. Well Top 10 at least. The head turn is amazing, but Ian riding along in his boat with the binoculars dressed in an old-man wetsuit is AMAZING. Capital letters. Best intro shot ever, apart from maybe the Goths in the ever-whirlnig playground.

  4. Neio

    Judging by the way a word was bleeped out, I don’t think it was Dave’s skull that Rachel was saying she’d smash in with that rock… Even though Dave was kind of a stick-up-his-arse pill, I did feel like their win was deserved, especially as she was a lot more impressive at racing and key to their win than he gave her credit for. I didn’t even mind their arguments, as they seemed like a regular couple when they argued, rather than annoying famewhores desperate for camera time.

    Speaking of which, I absolutely detested Big Brother Rachel. Her annoying toddler-style whining and fake-crying every leg made me feel violent. If only she had thrown herself in front of a truck like she threatened to in Turin.

    I loved Vanessa and Ralph. They weren’t the best racers, and often seemed to bleed time and miss things really easily, but Vanessa cracked me up and Ralph seemed like a great guy too. And much respect to Vanessa for powering through that gameshow task on that ankle.

    1. monkseal Post author

      Rachel has to be the best (in terms of racing) individual female winner ever yes? Cept maybe the Megbot.

      I liked with Vanessa & Ralph the show always bothered to show you why they bled time. It’s kind of how I figured they made it towards the end of the race, despite the fact that they kind of sucked : they never just disappeared

      I still don’t get having strong feelings either way about Rachel. Then again I felt the same way about Boston Rob (I am I think the only person to have stronger feelings about Amber than about him).

      1. Neio

        I definitely agree about Rachel being the best individual female winner. The Megbot was impressive at racing (albeit in quite a weak field of competitors, if I remember rightly), but so, so dull. It’s difficult to imagine her telling over-hairgelled Cheyne to shut the fuck up for instance. I might have liked her more if she had. Of course, he was just as dull as she was.

        I actually liked Boston Rob, but the problem his critics seemed to have with him were that he used sneaky tactics and was helped by people who recognised him and Amber or whatever, whereas with Rachel I think the people who dislike her do so just because of her awful, nails-down-a-blackboard personality, which you just couldn’t escape from. On certain forums I’ve seen lots of people do seem to like her, but I’m mystified as to why. I guess I’ll never understand it.

      2. monkseal Post author

        I think he was duller than her actually – at least she did random things like pretend to quit the Haybales-Redux, and burst out crying at that Fast Forward for no reason.

        My problem with Boston Rob was always that he wouldn’t stop talking about Boston Rob, which to be fair was my problem with the entire cast of TAR 7. I don’t even know what half those people do if he’s not in the cast. I don’t think they even move.

      3. Carl

        I think Rob had some basic charisma, but, like you said, the show became about him, not the race. They weren’t helped by some mediocre casting, but I don’t think the editing did any favors, as we were so clearly supposed to boo and hiss at the teams who didn’t like Rob and Amber. The only team I remember liking was the brothers.

        Rachel was just an odd casting choice for Amazing Race. None of Big Brother translates to Amazing Race, but even then, Rachel just sat around depressed most of the time when she wasn’t faking some type of meltdown, or going DON’T MESS WITH MY MAN! and promising to avenge HER MAN! The only time she was active was when she would win some type of absurd challenge which only worked in the confines of Big Brother. All the popular Big Brother women fit this same profile (Janelle, Jordan). The only one who might have been entertaining on Amazing Race (Janelle, who went into drunken rages) was the one who wasn’t cast.

      4. monkseal Post author

        I liked Meredith & Gretchen, but then I have a soft spot for insane old people.

      5. stevenperkins

        I loved how desperate they were for Rachel to say “no one gets between me and my million dollars!” They prodded her into saying it before the finale, and she could barely keep a straight face – which I ended up finding quite endearing.

  5. stevenperkins

    I’m amazed that people found Rachel and Dave to be lacklustre winners. I get why they’d be polarising in terms of likeability (personally, I liked her and couldn’t stand him), but I think they’re probably the most solid winners the show has had in ages, both in terms of race skills and in actually having some sort of personality hook to dangle those skills from. (Nat and Kat were great racers, but all I can remember about them is that one of them was diabetic, and I can’t even remember which one.) They even had the obligatory leg in which an otherwise strong team just crumbles spectacularly, when they completely failed at both the roadblock and the detour in Paraguay and ended up having to use their Express Pass AND take a penalty.

    Thank you for reminding me of my absolute favourite moment from this season – Ralph continuing to be bewitched by the charms of the auto-parking system in the car, long after he was contractually obligated to act like that for product placement purposes. I bet the sponsors LOVED him.

    1. stevenperkins

      Also your comment about everything Vanessa did being contrived for maximum camera time reminded me of that brilliant bit during the helicopter crash training roadblock in Azerbaijan where she and Rachel totally forgot they were supposed to hate each other and just stood there calmly chatting and sympathising with each other while watching whoever was taking part at the time (Brendon, I assume).


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