In the past week, two of my favorite reality TV shows have ended. Surprisingly, I was happy with both of the season finales, and my top choices for winners won on both shows! Overall, I believe that both shows had memorable contestants, realistic-unrealistic drama, and noteworthy reality TV show twists that made these seasons unique and entertaining.
The Amazing Race – Season 26
This season’s noteworthy twist: Five of the 11 teams were blind date couples that were paired up based on common careers, personalities, and hometowns. This was the first time that TAR producers put together teams themselves as people were casted as individuals rather than teams of two. The season preview used the phrase “the most extreme blind date ever” and I couldn’t agree more. I would never even consider applying to this show as a “single” applicant. The risk of not knowing who your partner is when you show up on the starting line is bizarre to me. What are his/her strengths/weaknesses? How does she/he communicate under stress? Will he/she take just five seconds to calm down, reevaluate the situation, and create a game plan rather than haphazardly rushing through things inefficiently? These are all things I would want to know prior to starting the race; therefore, I, personally, would never apply to this show as a “single”. Ironically, three of the top 4 teams were blind date couples who had only knew each other when they started in California twenty-one days prior to the final leg of the race. The producers probably didn’t expect that to happen!
Realistic-Unrealistic Drama: Upon finding out that this season would contain teams “searching for love” I predicted that the season would contain plenty of corny lovey-dovey drama. I’m not into chick-flicks and I’m constantly rolling my eyes when it comes to drama between couples on TV. The season started with what I would call “forced dates” in which teams had to participate in certain Roadblocks that set them up for romantic opportunities (i.e. In Japan, teams had to feed each other noodles. In Germany, teams had to serenade their partner in song while standing on a ladder leaning against a balcony (sounds very Romeo & Juliet, right?)). I also predicted before the season even began that there would be at least one mid-race proposal. By Leg 3, in Thailand, Matt popped the question to his girlfriend of three years, Ashley. (I swear I can write this show!) Although the season was A LOT better than I ever expected it to be, I still miss the typical parent-child teams, best friends teams, etc etc.
Memorable Contestants: To begin, a HUGE congrats to TeamSoCal, Tyler and Laura who reached the finishing mat in Dallas, Texas first after traveling around the entire world together as a blind date couple. They were a strong team from the beginning and their athleticism, stress management skills, and attention to detail brought them to the finishing mat before the other two blind date couples. I idolize their teamwork and success in the Roadblocks and Detours and I believe they enjoyed their trip around the world as much as they focused on the competition itself. Tyler and Laura are officially members of the elite Amazing Race winning circle and I can only dream of joining them on the list of winners in the future. The majority of the drama came from one particular blind date couple – Hayley and Blair. Hayley was constantly yelling and critiquing Blair, oftentimes blaming him for the team’s mistakes. She repeated multiple times throughout the season that she was always right…until the final leg when she made a million dollar mistake (she jinxed herself!). Although their relationship seemed more like brother and sister with their constant arguments (they were appropriately nicknamed, “The Bickersons”), they claim to still remain friends and have weekly FaceTime sessions to chat. There were multiple times throughout the season where I would have personally eliminated Hayley and substituted myself in to be Blair’s partner. He seemed like a guy that deserved better than a nagging blonde girl he didn’t even know. Regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hayley and Blair returned for an All-Stars season because of their bickering – after all, they add drama to the show which is what producers of reality TV shows are alway looking for.
TAR26 Grade: A
Although this season exceeded my expectations, I do believe that the producers tried a little too hard to push the whole relationship-lovey-dovey stuff. There were too many instances where the teams had to do “typical date stuff” and there were times where I accurately predicted what was going to happen – but perhaps that’s just because I’m a super fan! I am glad that #TeamSoCal won because I believe they were the strongest team of the entire season despite being one of the 5 blind date teams.
This season’s noteworthy twist: This season began with three tribes – no collar, blue collar, and white collar. I instantly began to relate to the blue collar tribe because they seemed to have a good work ethic, weren’t too cocky like the white collar tribe, and weren’t too laid back like the no collar tribe. After a few episodes I began to pinpoint specific members of each tribe that I approved/disapproved of. There was also a first-ever advantage given out at the traditional Survivor Auction – an extra vote that could be used at any tribal council. Dan bought this advantage but his advantage actually sent him home after Mama C (Carolyn) used her Immunity Idol to save herself from her torch being snuffed – the tribe had spoken.
Realistic-Unrealistic Drama: The discovery of immunity idols always seems to be way too easy and convenient for the people who are at risk of getting voted out. Mike, who was repetitively at the bottom of his alliance(s), found the Idol when he needed it the most. Coincidental? You make that call. There were also far too many sexist jokes for my comfort level which resulted in uproarings on the beach and at numerous tribal councils. Rodney’s constant whining about his “worst birthday ever” and how he never got to participate in a Reward got old really quick. He whined too much, spoke too much, and oftentimes caused way too much unnecessary drama. He also wasn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch.
Memorable Contestants: I was pleasantly surprised with the final three (I had predicted either Mama C or Mike, Will, and Rodney). In awe it actually ended up being Mama C AND Mike, and Will. I chose Mike to win because he played hard, he won challenges when he most needed it, and somehow deflected multiple times in which his torch was at risk of being snuffed by Jeff. He also made the risky decision to split the vote between Mama C and Rodney which caused them to make fire to determine who would stay in. If I was Mike, I would have voted Mama C off in a heartbeat because she had the greatest chance to win the jury’s votes. Like they all said, “do you really want to sit next to someone at the final tribal whose nickname is “Mama”?” So, congrats, Mike! You definitely deserved the win! I was also thoroughly impressed with Joe from the no collar tribe who was a very strong competitor. Luckily, he was voted into Survivor’s future season of Second Chances (I really hope that Joe and Spencer form an alliance because I love them both!).
Survivor 30 Grade: A-
This season contained a lot of unnecessary whining, sexist comments, and personal attacks towards fellow competitors, but the final two or three episodes were entertaining and intense. There were plenty of “ohmygosh” and “what just happened?!” moments. I was extremely happy with the end result of the show since my choice of winner won. I was also ecstatic that two of my top choices for Survivor Second Chance were chosen; I’m looking forward to seeing Spencer and Joe play again! Who will outwit, outplay, and outlast their tribemates next? To be continued…