Midseason report card: Why ‘The Amazing Race 23’ set the series back on track

Take a look -The Amazing Race” is at this point definitely an old show. Anything that lasts longer than ten years is ancient, especially when you’re talking about something in the reality genre. While the CBS hit is able to draw you back in thanks to a new cast and locations every season, they still need to be very good if they want to keep you invested in the long run.

This is why season 23 has to be the show’s best since the likes of Brendon & Rachel, Mark & Bopper, and Vanessa & Ralph raced in the 20th installment of the show. There was a truly diverse cast, some great challenges, and also probably one of the better last legs of the season for a number of reasons. It reduced the amount of taxi riding as much as possible, and it also happened in a place where there would theoretically be fewer spoilers.

Now, let’s get a little more in-depth.

The shining stars – The Afghanimals, Tim & Marie, Chester & Ephraim, and Brandon & Adam. These are four teams that we’d love to have on another season (even if some left early), and anytime that you can say that about a cast of only 11 teams, that’s a great thing. You had a really diverse group of people, and there was great drama as a result. The Afghanimals were polarizing, and you even had a team in Travis & Nicole who took a turn to the dark side in the final episodes, as Travis started to reveal himself to be a bit of a jerk.

Probably something else that was particularly interesting from this season was the overall increase of strategy on the show, especially when it comes to either helping teams, bartering for an Express Pass, U-Turns, or thinking about flights. While we like it to be about racing in the end, anytime that you can add more intelligence is definitely a bonus.

What needs work – There were good locations, but we also went to Indonesia and Chile again, and not necessarily parts that were incredibly exciting in any way. It feels like there are still parts of Europe that could be explored, as well as Australia, Wales, Hokkaido in Japan, or Eastern Russia. There are also all of the Pacific islands, but we don’t think too many of them are going to get much love.

Also, the challenges are still inconsistent these days. We know that some of this is due to budget, but watching people go to the Middle East only to build a cage and arrange food on a tray is pretty boring. Why not try to make a better effort at really educating viewers about the culture? “The Amazing Race Canada” did an excellent job of this without leaving its country.

Overall – A very good improvement for the modern “Amazing Race,” but it probably still misses some of the charm of the original where the story was probably a little more organic and you felt less producer manipulation. We do miss the Pit Stops where teams mingled, and the visiting a new place almost every episode. But it’s still a very fun show, and one of our favorites to watch every week. Grade: B+.

This is the latest piece in our Midseason Report Card here, where we highlight a show for all of its highs and lows throughout the month of December. If you want to check out more of these, just be sure to visit the link here.

Photo: CBS

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