This just leaves Wales as the only constituent nation of the UK not visited by the race. Unless you start counting the Isle Of Man or wacky stuff like that, obviously.
11. Joey & Meghan (Youtube Hosts) – 5th place : I mean, lord knows I’m all for people faking interesting personalities if they don’t have one, but I’d prefer it if it was less obnoxious, and also more convincingly acted. I think it was somewhere around the fifteenth knock-kneed limp-wristed lisping surface-level transparently phony freak-out over…I don’t know, a scorpion, or dirt, or the very concept of Switzerland, coming off a two episode stint which he spent narrating everything entirely in the voice of Snarf, for whatever reason, that my interest in tolerating this team just about ran out. This was also around the time they started high-handedly lecturing all the other teams about how stupid they were for aligning with one of the strongest teams in the race…having just spent three legs aligned with one of the strongest teams in the race, who were only eliminated because they BLEW UP. More of them later.
10. Matt & Daniel (Firefighters) – 11th place : I honestly don’t think there has ever been a more irrelevant team in the history of the show. Even Eric & Lisa were a first.
9. Mona & Beth (Roller Derby Moms) – 3rd place : Needless to say I was very excited to see a couple of hard-drinking, fighting, rough and tough roller derby women on the cast list, glorying in the names of “Triple Shot Misto” and “Fiona Grapple”, and giving cast shots like the above picture. And then they turned up and the show was absolutely hellbent DETERMINED to focus on the “mom” part of their designation, so we got endless interviews about how proud their kids would be of them, instead of them…I dunno, beaning Max with a beer bottle and shoving Katie off a train. Also, the formed an alliance with all the worst teams, and occasionally randomly bickered in a quite dull way. And then they became the 8th female ream to reach the final leg, and the 3rd one to bumble around in third place the whole time, never even coming close to the win.
8. Dave & Connor (Father/Son) – 8th place : I’m not sure if the show caught lucky with this team’s set of circumstances or unlucky, but the drenching in syrup that comes with “father & son testicular cancer survivors” and “crippled in the second leg but continues to run on crutches, still winning two legs, before being ordered by a doctor to just stop it” was just too much for me. Maybe when they inevitably eventually come back for Unfinished Business 2 it’ll be a bit easier to handle.
7. Caroline & Jennifer (Country Singers) – 4th place : This is probably an overly harsh placement, but Caroline & Jennifer were the second female team this series not to live up to my own pre-show hype for them. They were just so damned funny in their “Meet The Team” video, Caroline perkily upbeat and Jennifer snarkily dry about Caroline’s perky upbeatness. As identikit TAR blonde teams they seemed like they might have more to offer than ditzing around the world giggling at boys and going out in 9th place. Caroline is JOHN WAYNE’S GRANDDAUGHTER DAMNIT! And yet on the show, undeniably hilarious story about the flying squirrel that died of loneliness in Caroline’s bra aside, they were just kind of…there. Tomboyish and scrabbly enough to somehow make it to 4th place, but kind of generic and eventually too exhausted to even see straight. You could tell that, by the time Jen almost drowned whilst bog snorkling in Northern Ireland, they were kind of over it.
6. Idries & Jamil (Twin Doctors) – 10th place : Imagine being a team of physically fit, hyper-competitive, well-travelled, highly educated twin doctors, ready to go on The Amazing Race. You only have one weakness – you can’t swim. Then imagine that for its first destination, the race chooses to go to French Polynesia. Where it chooses to spend two legs. Almost entirely on the water. Given that the producers must have known there was precisely zero chance that the twins would get out of the first country, this has to be the meanest, and most hilarious trick they’ve ever played. By the time they were bogged ankle deep in sand, flailing around and calling everyone else bitches, I was already laughing. And it went on for two whole legs before they were mercy-killed.
5. Jessica & John (Dating) – 9th place : So initially, Jessica & John seemed like your prototypical bland dating couple that makes it a long way, being blandly nice to one another, and picking up a sizable fanbase by just lying there whilst all the other team got about their business of being annoying. The fact that they were handed two Express Passes in Leg 1 didn’t exactly do much to dispel this notion. But then somewhere around Leg 3 it started to become obvious that John was…kind of cracked in the head. Max & Bates constantly made fun of his uptight pinchedness, but even that didn’t give a clue as to the utter meltdown that came in Indonesia, as he steadfastly refused to play his Get Out Of Free Card, as an ever increasing mound of distended fruit and discarded surfboards built up around him, CONVINCED that there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY he could be eliminated. And then he was eliminated, because it was obvious he was going to be, and went on a heatstroke induced boggle-eyed freak out that went on FOREVER, whilst Phil stared at the camera and said the defining words of the series : “oy vey”. Jessica & John will also be remembered for their creation of the “First Flight” alliance, the single most disastrous alliance in the history of the show. An alliance that became so bad that it actually was more like a voodoo curse.
4. Bates & Anthony (Hockey Brothers) – Winners : Seriously, I bet the producers were really ecstatic when their designated team of burly eye-candy kept on removing their teeth. I mean…I’m sure there are some women who find the toothless look sexy, but I’m fairly sure it’s a niche. Anyway, every time an Alpha Male team get near the end, everyone starts SCREECHING that their win is SO PREDICTABLE, and so it was with Bates & Anthony, even thought the least team of burly males to win were those meth-heads from Series 10. That isn’t to say that their win wasn’t predictable but…well, it was about time that brute strength took this home again. Bates was kind of funny, and smart, and also bitchy (his impersonation of John’s “snivvely rat face” <3) and Anthony was kind of…there, and I have no problem at all with them winning, even if it was in the worst finale the show has ever had by some margin. NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR FAKE OBAMA, SHOW!
3. Max & Katie (Newlyweds) – Runners-Up : Not since Brian & Ericka got screwed over that chip-counter in Las Vegas been a team so screwed over for a win. Effortlessly skating ahead of the other two teams in the final leg (and indeed for most of the final stretch of the race) and then sunk below the waterline by not one but two utterly random luck tasks. I know they were the cigar-chomping, Rush-espousing, Republican villains with ice-water running through their (particularly Katie’s) veins, but damnit they deserved better. They were certainly one of the few things keeping the last run of episodes entertaining. I hope they enjoyed their honeymoon, and also how the show managed to milk the fact that this was their honeymoon by having her scrunched up hostile face loom over the credits every week resplendent in her wedding gown, whilst he stood at the side, tanned to the colour of a Snickers bar. Max’s post-show balance of trying to come across as not being bitter whilst simultaneously pointing out how screwed they were is one of my favourite shows of post-series grace. Much better than when Jet called Jordan a fag in front of his mother anyway. I have many favourite Max & Katie moments (her not giving a shit about winning a car, him not giving a shit about meeting Obama, they bickering around the streets of Stuttgart almost dressed as a “69”) but I think the most emblematic was when they got arrested in Bostwana and she took it as YET ANOTHER opportunity to impugne his masculinity. And their surname was Bichler. Too perfect.
2. Chuck & Wynona (Married) – 7th place: So these last two teams are ranked by how fun it is to say spoonerisms of their names, because I otherwise couldn’t put a cigarette paper between them. And whilst “Wuckin’ Chynona” is fun to say, it’s not QUITE as fun to say as “Wham & Pinnie” so they’re at second. You have to question the wisdom of Chuck bringing Wynona along on The Amazing Race when she :
- didn’t really want to go
- couldn’t even walk for more than 4 minutes without blowing up wheezing
- didn’t take too kindly to being told what to do
but whatever reason informed Chuck’s choice to bring her over…anybody else…in the world, I found their constantly exasperated relationship stupidly fun to watch most of the time. He clearly wanted to be running around, kicking ass, taking names, and shooting animals in the face, but was constantly reminded by her nagging somewhere in the back of his head, from 50 feet away, hanging off the side of a boat, that there was supposed to be another person on the team as well. Also, THAT MULLET. GLORIOUS.
1. Pam & Winnie (Best Friends) – 8th place : Two series in a row of glamorous sarcastic Asian women. Truly a golden era for TAR casting. Obviously The Mindy Project has had more of an effect on the heart of American pop culture than its complete unmitigated unfunniness would let on. A little piece of this series of the show died when Pam & Winnie got eliminated on a “Smarts” task, naturally about 5 minutes after bragging about how much smarter they were than everyone else. They just had a sense of perspective about the whole show, and their part in it, that was refreshing. That this sense of perspective allowed them to play the game ruthlessly hard whilst taking the piss out of all the other teams made it all the better. I hope that their getting a Montage Of Dreams when they left, with the twinkly-winkly music and the sepia overlay, despite having finished EIGTH, augers well for their return for an All Stars series in the near future. In the end, this series was the reverse of the last, as all the really great teams were eliminated early on, leaving us with an end-game that was mostly beige overlayed with Joey’s shrieking. I hope for better from our next run.