The Amazing Race

by J.D. Roth

If you wonder why I haven’t been writing much around here, it’s not because of my personal-finance blog, and it’s not because I’ve been spending time promoting my book. Yes, I’ve been doing these things — and I’ve even begun to exercise again — but the real time-suck in my life lately is The Amazing Race.

Kris and I aren’t really fans of reality shows. Yes, we watch The Biggest Loser, but that’s because it’s about fitness, and because the first season we watched featured Tara Costa, who, quite frankly, kicked ass. We loved watching her outcompete the other contestants every single week. The Biggest Loser is actually pretty lousy television, for the most part. It’s excruciating how the show repeats stuff over and over and over again. (And I hate how they always show contestants doing stuff while there’s a voice-over describing exactly what’s going on — as if we cannot see.)

Anyhow, around Christmas, I read a rave review of The Amazing Race in some mainstream publication like Newsweek or The New York Times. The article mentioned something that piqued my interest: Since the Emmy Award for reality show was instituted, no show other than The Amazing Race has ever won it.

Now, I concede that “best reality show” isn’t exactly high praise. Still, I decided to take a look. I found some clips on YouTube and was intrigued, so I bought a season from iTunes. I watched the first three episodes and thought, “Wow! I love this.”

When Kris got home from work that cold December day, I suggested that she watch the show with me. “I don’t want to watch it,” she said. “It’s going to be lame.”

Fine. I continued to watch the show myself. Eventually, she watched part of an episode with me. When the show was over, she asked sheepishly, “Can we watch the first episode of the season?” And so we did. And we haven’t stopped watching since.

Note: For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, here’s how The Amazing Race works. Around a dozen teams of two gather at the starting line in a major U.S. city. Each team is composed of members with an existing relationship: best friends, sisters, “dating long-distance”, and so on. (There are certain “stock” couples every season, such as the gay couple, the Christian couple, the geeky couple, the black couple, the models, and the loudmouths.) Teams are given clues to find their next destination, which could be anywhere in the world. They have to figure out where they’re going, booking their own travel. Along the way, teams have to stop to perform certain challenges, such as bungie jumping or building a bicycle or eating raw octopus. At the end of (nearly) every leg, the last-place team is eliminated. At the end of about a dozen legs, the final team wins a million dollars.

We watched the three seasons that we could buy from iTunes (seasons 13, 14, and 15) between Christmas and New Year. Then we used Netflix to get seasons 1 and 8 (the only seasons available on DVD).

“I want to watch more,” Kris said when we’d finished.

“There isn’t anymore,” I said. “Only those five seasons are available to purchase. If we want the rest, we’ll have to get them illegally.”

First up, we asked Chris G. if he could check for bootleg copies of the other seasons as he traveled through southeast Asia in February. He checked, but couldn’t find them. Meanwhile, Kris and I watched seasons 13, 14, and 15 again.

“I want to watch more,” Kris said when we’d finished.

I sighed. “You know, there’s a guy online selling all fifteen seasons on DVD, but it’s surely not legal,” I said.

“Is there a legal way to buy the other seasons?” Kris asked.

“No,” I said.

“Then we don’t have any other choice. Buy them.”

And so I paid $150 to get all fifteen seasons on DVD. For the past two weeks, our evenings and weekends have been spent watching our favorite teams (and less-than-favorite teams) race across the world. We’ve watched seasons 2, 3, 4, and 5, and are now on season 6. (Man, Jonathan needs to put a cork in it. We’re hoping he and Victoria get eliminated soon. He’s an ass.)

So, that my friends, is why there hasn’t been much to read about here during the month of March. It’s not because of the book. It’s not because of the other blogs. It’s because of The Amazing Race.

Updated: 03 April 2010

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
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