11. Lisa & Michelle – Miami Realtors (11th place)
Glory be that next series is a great big dating couple fest because I’m not sure I could take another inessential team of interchangeable boring blonde women, even lesbian ones. No matter how many episodes they last, none of them ever seem to develop a personality worth watching (or at least not in their original series – it took Caroline & Jennifer two). Lisa and Michelle’s brief grab for relevance came when they decided to start a death feud with a team of Boston Firefighters (good job girls, America will just love that) by snatching a pen off one of them at a sign-up board and talking constant smack about how dumb and useless they were. They then tried to steal a taxi off them and got shoved on their arses and then were eliminated first, the end.
10. Keith & Whitney – Country Singer & Boyfriend (8th place)
So, as the show is moved off its prime Sunday night slot for Friday night death and inevitable eventual cancellation, so the reality show castoffs it pulls in to pick up shine off other franchises get more and more low rent. Where the show has previously played host to Survivor and Big Brother USA winners, or at least runners-up, this series…opted to cast the 11th and 9th place finishers from one of the less-beloved Survivor seasons. Keith and Whitney were notable partly for finding ILLICIT EXTRAMARITAL LOVE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC and also partly for being (a very minor) part of an “evil” “bullying” mactor alliance that tried to run a poor harried ginger law-student out of the game. And here they continued that journey, as they sniped constantly at everyone around them and Whitney was edited as a sneaky man-teef shrew who was constantly perving on other women’s men. And just like on South Pacific…they were forgotten almost as quickly as they were eliminated. Meanwhile, on Survivor, Natalie (of LET’S GO TWINNIE!) fame was winning the whole damn show. Score one for the Survivor casting team over the Amazing Race one I guess…
9. Michael & Scott – Firefighters (9th place)
And various other shots of injury porn. I’m fairly sure these two were just the firefighters of Series 22 (whatever their names were) invited back with a palette swap to try again because…who remembers anything about those guys? Michael & Scott marginally improved on their previous showing, escaping their second first-booting by shoving one of Lisa & Michelle over (<3) but then received a karmic ankle injury and tumbled out a couple of legs later. If I remember them in future, it will be for their comic inability to toss a pancake.
8. Tim & Te Jay – College Sweethearts (6th place)
I like pretty much everyone from here upwards so this is a tough one. These two squealy femmes were running the race to prove to Te Jay’s mother that Tim was worthy of his love (or…possibly the other way around), to win that million dollars, and also to yell “YAHHHHHHHHHHHHS!” in as many countries as possible. They were fun, and sweet and as much as they developed personalities (Te Jay seemed kind of bossy, and was also the one that inevitably was a drag queen) I liked them quite a bit, but really their most iconic moment came when they were eliminated because of Tim’s inability to mound a giant greasy pole in Malta. Which…possibly answered some germane questions about their relationship.
7. Dennis & Isabelle – Dating Couple (10th place)
Dennis & Isabelle spent the entirity of the year running up to their Amazing Race appearance watching all the previous series, and taking up intensive lessons in all the skills shown to be required on previous tasks. Spanish, archery, Kubb, ox handling, knowing what a battlement was…then they got eliminated two legs in because Isabelle had shit cardio. Tee hee. As if this anti-nerd propaganda storyline wasn’t enough, their elimination was also memorable for their being part of the most histrionic footrace to the finish of all time, as Isabelle, the scientists, and Team Mother/Daughter all gimpily ran around the streets of Woodstock in bowler hats weeping and crying and running their make-up and screaming about how it COULDN’T BE OVER JUST YET. Oxford has never seen the like before.
6. Misti & Jim – Married Dentists (2nd place)
Misti & Jim served as de facto antagonists for most of the series for a number of reasons, despite not really being up to the job. As a brief list :
- Jim’s face
- Jim’s buggy-out eyes in Jim’s face
- Misti’s hair
- Jim’s FACE HAVE YOU SEEN IT
- They won the Save for placing first on leg number one, a twist mechanic so unfair that it basically guaranteed them a shot in the final right from episode one.
- JIM’S NIGHTMARISH FACE
- They talked about their ultimate victory as though it was so certain that the real test of their skills was how many legs they’d win along the way.
- JIM’S EFFING FACE
Anyway, they were kind of intense and not-here-to-have-fun and if this series was being run as usual they probably would have won, but the lords of Amazing Race pointless twists intervened and inserted the eventual winning team into the finale despite every previous precedent saying they should have been eliminated at Final Four. Still, there were upsides, mostly revolving around Misti’s occasional lapses of sanity, like giving herself the secret spy codename “Cuspid”, melting down over getting Danish restaurent orders correct to an utterly indifferent ICON OF DANISH CUISINE, or the following exchange
Filipina Local : “You are going the wrong way! You need to go the other way!”
Amy : “Guys, we need to get out the bus and go back the way we came”
Misti : “BUT IS IT WORTH THE RISK?”
Amy : *looks at Misti aghast*
Misti : *twirls hair*
Amy : “WHAT RISK? WE’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!”
Misti : *twirls hair*
5. Amy & Maya – Scientists (Winners)
It’s hard to pin down exactly which other team from TARs past Amy & Maya most remind me of. A less competent Brooke & Claire? A more competent Dandrew? Nary & Jamie with a personality? A Gay Goat Farmers whose win doesn’t leave me naggingly disappointed? Regardless, Amy & Maya were undrdogs with style, clinging on through every leg, only twice finishing above third place, and when they did so only via fortitous luck tasks or lopsided Detour choices, landing in the final only because the show decided to have its first four-team finale ever. And then they won because Amy was best at a memory puzzle. It’s nice at any rate that it was Amy that got to definitively clinch the team the win, as she spent most of the series trailing exhausted in Maya’s peppy wake, all crampy legs and screams of agony during any remotely physical challenge, as Maya screamed “I LOVE THE AMAZING RACE!”, did unnecessary victory laps, and acted like a hyperactive Muppet Baby. I only hesitate to put them higher because they were *so* invisible for the first half of the series, and I will only accept that it set up the surprisingness of their eventual win so much.
4. Brooke & Robbie – Dating Wrestlers (4th place)
If the show’s pull on other reality shows has weakened over the years, they did at least show this year that they can now attract a marginally better class of wrestler than leathery backyard brawlers like Series 5’s Lori & Bolo. Both Brooke and Robbie are champions with a televised wrestling promotion (called TNA, bless it) and for the majority of their careers have played heels/bad guys/evil secretaries/overly tanned Jersey muscleheads. They brought their grounding in playing to the cheap seats to the show with aplomb, particularly Brooke who struck a nice line in elbow-dropping, one-liner-popping, light-hearted villainy, culminating in starting a mission to eliminate the cyclists, whipping the entirity of the rest of the cast along with her, then deciding at the last second that she wasn’t that fussed really. On such caprices are my favourite reality show contestants rooted. (Robbie was kind of hot as well, in a meathead sort of way).
3. Kym & Alli – Cyclists (5th place)
Probably one of the strongest female teams of all time, the cyclists so easily could have been unbearable. Alternachicks stomping around flexing their muscles and getting drunk in the middle of legs, dancing to the wafted-in tunes they can sort of hear from neighbouring bars, branding other teams TEAM NO-FUN and in fact writing TEAM NO-FUN (with a frowny face) in the rear windows of their taxis, noisily braying about how they need to get layed by a guy with a HARD BODY like, RIGHT NOW NO FOOLING…actually there’s no way that ever could have been unbearable right? They were amazing. For most of the race they seemed like the best hope to stop the dentists reign of terror, but then they decided to get insanely over-confident and take on the surfers in a surfing challenge and well…it’s the way I would have written their exit if I had to.
2. Shelley & Nici – Mother/Daughter (7th place)
Imagine going on this race with your own parent. Imagine every possible way that could go wrong. Them randomly picking fights with the other teams for no reason, getting to the level of threatening them with implied violence. Them deciding that you’d had enough missy and that if you couldn’t speak to her nicely then we’re going to stop this race right here. With a REALLY smug passive-aggressive look on their face. Having to pee in a river in front of them in order to carry on the race without a break. Her constantly talking about how she was in the army and therefore going to absolutely nail this marching task before screwing it up spectacularly. Nightmares of that order. Such was the journey of Shelley and Nici. It was compelling.
1. Adam & Bethany – Dating Surfers (3rd place)
Now if I don’t know which team Amy & Maya could best be described as a retread of, I’m damn sure I know who Adam & Bethany are “done right”. Way back in Series 6, everyone in America was in love with Kris & Jon, dating sweethearts, but I maintain that that’s only because the Series 6 cast was a nest of psychotic vipers, and Kris & Jon only stood out by virtue of their complete lack of personality. Adam & Bethany on the other hand were so genuinely constantly upbeat and cheerful and just plum nice that I fell in love. Running the entire race in a haze of good vibes, unironically saying things like “it’s really great when we’re going in the right direction!”, giving constant props to the love of our good lord Jesus Christ, and chirpily talking about how it’s great to still be alive after having your arm eaten by a shark. The show has touched on the inspirationally disabled before, but most of them been kind of bitchy and unpleasant (Sarah ❤ Luke ❤ CHARLA <3) which is nice for confounding Hallmark Channel stereotypes, but it’s about time we had someone who ploughed on through life genuinely merrily, almost as though constantly dosed up on medicinal marijuana. Especially after a series of “DID I MENTION THAT I HAD CANCER ONE TIME?”, CONNOR AND DAVE. Also Adam has a hot body. I’m not made of stone people. I’m sorry they didn’t win, but at least Bethany got to honk “THANK YOU FOR KEEPING OUR NATION SAFE” right in the face of a confused LA coast guard in the finale.