During its first thirty-two wonderful seasons, The Amazing Race has added and/ or eliminated a fair number of gameplay wrinkles. From Double U-Turns to the disappearance and then reappearance of Yields to last season’s Megaleg, the producers are always working to tinker with the specifics and make the show more exciting. When the show returns for Season 33, however, it’s likely we will see a pretty big rule change that could have a dramatic effect on the show moving forward. There may soon be restrictions on how teams can work together.
Details are still a little fuzzy on what exactly the rule change might look like, but in reading through an interview conducted near the end of Season 32 with Amazing Race co-creator and co-executive producer Elise Doganieri, it’s clear the powers that be realize something needs to change. The conversation took place over at Reality Blurred, and in it, the subject of the much-discussed Season 32 Mine Five alliance came up. Doganieri acknowledged it didn’t make for the best television and talked about how the show needs to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Here’s a portion of her quote...
I’m going to be really honest with you. I think we’re going to have to put a rule on that in the future… We put a lot of work, months and months of research development, scouting, challenge decisions being made. It is a little frustrating to watch when somebody is giving information to another contestant, and the other team is not getting that information because then to me, it starts to affect what maybe should have been a little bit of a different outcome.
There have always been cases of teams helping each other a little here or there on challenges, and for the most part, The Amazing Race has seemingly been okay with that. Usually it’s a team giving another a heads up on where a clue box is or deciding to travel to the next location together to try and prevent anyone from getting lost. Season 32, however, took the concept of alliances to an entirely different level. There were multiple legs in which one team straight gave out the answers to detours or roadblocks. There were legs in which every single team, save one, worked together to eliminate one team. There were times in which really bizarre U-turn decisions were made that were clearly based on personal feelings. It was really frustrating at times to watch as a viewer and completely removed almost all gameplay and intrigue. That's not to say the season didn't have its moments, but it could have been so much better.
As much as I love The Amazing Race and all the basics of how it’s played, it’s important the show continues to tweak and innovate, even if all the changes don’t always work. I, for example, wasn’t a huge fan of the Family Edition in Season 8, but I absolutely loved bringing together teams of strangers in Season 29 (which united Becca & Floyd and gave us maybe the most likeable duo ever in Team Fun). Others may disagree, but the point is some level of change is good, and as contestants evolve and change how they play the game, it’s important rules are put in place to protect the watchability of the show. Hopefully Amazing Race producers are able to find the right balance here.
As for when the show will return, that’s still unclear, which isn't altogether surprising for Amazing Race over the past few years. Filming for Season 33 was underway when the pandemic struck, forcing production to halt after three legs. It’s unclear whether the show will pick up where it left off or start over. It’s not even clear if all of the cast members from last season will return. Regardless, I’ll be here for it, and hopefully, we’ll all get to watch a great season filled with exciting personalities, tough but fair challenges and maybe a little less cooperation.