The Amazing Race
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this fast-paced reality show, in which teams of two race around the world, gives viewers a taste of both the positive and negative consequences of competition. In the heat of the moment, participants can either be supportive or downright callous to their partners. The teams often talk about other racers, sometimes disparagingly. Participants sometimes are given a choice between helping or hindering other teams, and it’s interesting to see the decisions they make. There is some mild swearing and plenty of stressful situations filmed in beautiful, exotic places all over the world.
What's the story?
From producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the wildly popular THE AMAZING RACE combines the thrill of competition with the excitement of travel. Eleven teams of two dash all over the globe, performing tasks of physical and mental skill, and aiming ultimately for a $1 million prize. Hosted and narrated by Phil Keoghan, each episode takes the participants and the viewers to one far-off destination after another. Typically, the competitors are young, strong, attractive pairs, either romantic couples, siblings, or best friends. A sprinkling of other demographics is also represented: older couples, men and women of color, gay couples, mother/daughter teams, and pairs who, on the surface, seem less athletic.
Is it any good?
In short, yes. It’s armchair adventure travel for viewers, flinging contestants from one corner of the world to the next under unusual circumstances. It’s also an interesting peek at different types of relationships placed under duress. For some, it’s a breaking point where the harsh dialogue and lack of support can be difficult to watch. (Clearly, some folks tolerate stress better than others.) For others, it’s an experience that glues them together. And how couldn’t it? While the situations are often contrived, the racers’ reactions are not. There is real stress as people try to be the first to check in at the rest stops at the end of each episode.
The show also deserves credit for showcasing unique cultural elements in the countries it visits. Racers, and viewers, always get a taste of the local flavor, often in places that are not well-known vacation destinations. (They change the itinerary every season, too.) Some participants seem more open to learning about the places they visit, while others make fun of the language, customs and food. The race may be amazing, but its contestants? Not always.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the participants' behavior. Does a competitor have a moral obligation to help another struggling team, or is it okay to leave them floundering?
Who in this competition seems to be balancing a healthy competitive spirit with good, sportsmanlike behavior?
Would you like to join The Amazing Race? Do you think you would do well in these stressful situations? Where would you like to go?