Remember back before I had Nikki when I talked about TV around here all the time? I had to clean up the archives on this blog when I got hacked (still not done, BTW, let me know if you find any erroneous links anywhere) and I was reminded VERY CLEARLY that 80% of the content here was about TV.
Well…let’s go back to our roots baby!
Donnie and I used to watch The Amazing Race religiously back in it’s early days. We actually watched it with E and we’d all discuss various team combos of ourselves that would do well in which challenges. We even talked about applying someday! But then we gave had two more small kids (which cut our TV watching by a lot) and then we gave up cable (which lost us CBS because it was the one channel that wouldn’t offer episodes on things like Hulu) and we just fell away from the show.
BUT! I am very much a fan of The Holderness Family (Kim and Penn Holderness) who I have been keeping up with since they did their Christmas Jammies video and then quit their jobs to do family videos full time many years ago. Their two kids are just a year’ish below Nikki and Wes and AND Kim and Penn are the same age as me, so I found tons of their content hilariously relatable. Donnie’s sense of humor matches Penn’s and Kim’s reaction to that humor matches mine!
Also? Penn has ADHD and Kim has Anxiety so…it checks all my boxes!
When I learned they were going to be on this season of The Amazing Race I told Donnie, “WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WATCH CBS! I HAVE TO SEE THIS SEASON OF TAR!” To which he said, “Um…we’ve had access to CBS for awhile. I needed it for football.”
Y’all. I can’t keep up with our various TV watching options. How was I supposed to know?
ANYWAY! So I actually watched The Amazing Race every night…LIVE…WITH COMMERCIALS…LIKE AN ANIMAL.
And it taught me two things: 1) I enjoy The Amazing Race but I don’t think I would watch it if I didn’t have a team to root for going in because I totally forgot how FREAKING STRESSFUL that show is and 2) The Holderness Family held up through a competition reality TV show which I was worried about. What if they were really assholes and I discovered it watching them on this show? Then I would find my love was wasted on them which I now call, “Pulling a JK Rowling.”
It feels silly to try to avoid spoilers because if you follow them on any social media you know how the race ended. BUT! I’m going to avoid telling you how it ended anyway and just tell you why I think this season was unique.
You see, this was their Pandemic Season. They actually started filming in February of 2020 I believe, and production shut down around the 3rd leg. Kim and Penn both said they didn’t think they’d be brought back at all and just assumed it would be a funny story to tall after their NDA expired. You know, “Did we ever tell you that we were on the unaired season of The Amazing Race?”
But in the summer of 2021, during that sweet spot when people were getting vaccinated and things were opening up but Delta hadn’t popped up yet, they brought them back! NINETEEN MONTHS LATER.
Y’all. I can’t even Christmas gifts a secret if I buy them in October, I can’t imagine a secret that big for almost 2 years!
So, I’m going to tell you what made this season unique and why I loved it. Most of this is because of the pandemic accommodations, but not all!
- No frantic scenes in airports trying to get tickets. Both my husband and I agree this was our least favorite parts of the previous seasons. You hated seeing a strong team set back because of a bad flight. But with Covid restrictions they actually chartered a plan and they all traveled together!
- You can tell they all liked each other. Because they traveled together all of the teams got to know each other more than in previous seasons which meant you could tell they actually liked each other which I adored.
- No Yields or U-Turns. I don’t remember exactly when we stopped watching the show but I remember the addition of the opportunities to screw over other teams and I’m so glad they didn’t do that this season. I kinda think that was probably intentional, not wanting to screw up the good chemistry the unique conditions was creating with the teams. But I hate watching one team screw over another.
- Not too many ugly relationships demonstrations. I don’t know if they edited out the ugly fighting but I always hated that part. I felt like they actually did the opposite. Especially with the top three teams they really showed how good they all were together. They showed how much they loved each other. They showed how good friends can be as stabilizing and supportive as spouses. I loved the focuses on how they tried to build each other up even if a team member messed up. ESPECIALLY WITH THE TOP 3 TEAMS. The show really edited them to show the ways you can be there for someone who is beating themselves up.
- Good focus on mental health. Kim and Penn talk about their Anxiety/ADHD a lot on their YouTube channel and podcast, and it was so nice to see the show keep in those conversations to demonstrate the many facets of those conditions. I really enjoyed especially Penn talking about how sometimes his ADHD comes in handy! And I enjoyed Kim talking about how she was coping with her anxiety along the way.
- No yelling at Taxi drivers. I hated that almost as much as I hated the scenes in airports trying to get flights. But to keep the contestants safe from Covid exposure, they made them drive themselves everywhere which was definitely stressful (and an advantage for Kim and Penn because Kim was great with maps) but at least I didn’t have to watch people yelling at Taxi drivers who were going “too slow” or something.
- An excellent final 3. Seriously, I don’t think there’s any point in trying to pretend like you could avoid finding out who won but I’m going to try to keep it a mystery in case you want to watch the show yourself. However, I will say this: The final three was amazing. I don’t remember specifics from the seasons we watched but I didn’t love when people kinda lucked into the final three. A million dollars is a lot of money, I didn’t want to feel like the winner just lucked out. But this season felt like it ended with a very sold competition that was honest-to-god a nail biter (not the edited nail biters of previous season) with three teams who were all VERY STRONG. It was just one of the most satisfying ends to a competition show I’ve ever experienced.
I have no idea how you could watch the show. I just don’t keep up with the offerings of streaming apps or anything. BUT! If you want just a fun competition show with wholesome people worth cheering on, then I say you should give it a try.
I’m including this press photo from the show because while it’s Penn’s nightmare memory, I found this moment SO VERY RELATABLE. I overthink things when I’m under pressure and the look on his face in this photo holding the clue (while basically looking for the clue) is so hilarious, because THIS WOULD TOTALLY BE ME.
NOTE: I think I’ll write more about Kim and Penn later, but if you’ve never heard of them, they’re more than just a goofy YouTube family. If you find their YouTube content a little too much (which is too bad because I love it) then their podcast may be more up your alley. They talk a lot about their mental health challenges and how they navigate keeping their marriage successful and it’s all very loving and kind and I actually learn quite a bit.