SINGAPORE — After just one episode of frantic people rushing on planes, tearing open envelopes and the dreadful elimination, I’m hooked to The Amazing Race.
Now synonymous with Amazing Grace, The Amazing Race is CBS’s God’s gift to Earth. The debut episode was wow!
Eleven teams gathered in New York City, bright smiles and silly grins plastered on their faces for the cameras, all vying for the elusive $1 million prize in cold, hard cash (Bill: “And there’s a million dollar paycheck at the end of it.”) CBS, creator of the series, certainly knows that money makes the world go round. Shameless audiences, like me, lap it all up, whetting our appetite for reality-TV more.
Flying nearly 8,000 miles from NYC to Johannesburg, South Africa, these eleven teams, comprising of mother-daughter, fraternity mates, married, separated and engaged couples etc. carried backpacks, armed with little cash and made their way to JFK airport. En route, anxiety, suspicion and the fear of elimination were evident — the air thick with anticipation of what was going to happen next.
Sadistic, I felt sheer pleasure watching the teams break out in cold sweat (Paul who took one look down the gorge and exclaimed, “Are you kidding? I can’t do that!”), curse, grumble and criticize rival teams (Frank: “We made it second. I totally expected to be first. I was just so pissed. I couldn’t believe that they were just standing there with that stupid grin on their face.”) This was better than Survivor. There were no bitchiness, alliances, catfights or ogling fests. The Amazing Race was a true test on physical and mental strength. Now, this is fair. Editing is of course, another matter.
Making their way to small Songwe village overlooking the Zambezi River in Africa, the teams drove in the hot humid weather, tore open envelopes in excitement to reveal their next destination and screamed their lungs out as they free-fell from a rope swing to the bottom of the gorge 300 feet below. This was no small feat. All eleven teams took up the challenge, even grandparents in their 60s.
The heart-thumping music and adrenaline-rushing scenes were great. With Jerry Bruckheimer (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) at helm as executive producer, the cinematography was astonishing. Skillfully capturing the beauty of South Africa’s waterfalls, gorges and wildlife, this was a page out of a National Geographic documentary, without the boring bits.
I have been a couch-potato fan of reality TV, since Survivor I came out. A dedicated fan, I tuned in every week, checked out the websites and rooted for my favorite. Still, I admit I’m chicken. I only relish watching others do daredevil stunts, backstab, suffer and encounter frayed relationships on reality TV.
One million dollars is a huge sum. …Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll have my 15 minutes of fame on reality-TV? On Who wants to be a Millionaire, that is.
Kaishi Lee is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.