Leg 1: United States to U.S. Virgin Islands
Welcome to my very first recap of The Amazing Race. You might find yourself wondering, "Why is Isthmus covering this particular reality show?" Well, for one thing, it's because being catty about reality TV is a whole lot of fun. For another, one of the teams consists of Maya Warren and Amy DeJong, who are food science grad students at UW-Madison.
The last time a Madison team appeared on the show (Dave and Rachel Brown back in 2012), they won, so I'm banking on Maya and Amy to follow in their footsteps.
This is the 25th season of the show, which has been running for 13 years. Eleven teams compete for $1 million in a race around the world, performing physical challenges against each other as they travel from one place to another.
The contestants range from normal folks like Maya and Amy to people who are somewhat famous. This season includes Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who had her left arm bitten off by a shark when she was 14, and her husband, Adam Dirks. We've also got professional wrestlers Brooke Adams and Robbie E. Strauss, and Keith Tollefson and Whitney Duncan, who are apparently famous for appearing on Survivor: South Pacific, even though they didn't win.
According to their cast bios, Warren likes to "research the microstructure, behavioral and sensorial properties of ice cream and other frozen-aerated treats," while Amy, her lab-mate, is into sugar-free sweetener, specifically "studying polyol crystallization in confectionery products." The pair's introduction to Amazing Race viewers involves steaming beakers, the kind a mad scientist might have. It peaks with Maya proclaiming their duo's for being on the show: "to show the world that scientists are so much more than lab coats, beakers and goggles." Maya states that her biggest problem with Amy is that she talks too much, which gets the two of them off task. Amy claims that Maya is too picky. "It's like living with a crazy person," she says. Does this foreshadow a future undoing? I hope not.
Even if Maya and Amy don't claim the top spot, their Twitter hashtag #SweetScientists is the most inspired of the bunch, standing head and shoulders above the ones belonging to the other teams. The opponents' offerings range from banal (Misti and Jim are #TheDentists) to bland (Dennis and Isabelle are #TheDatingCouple) to just plain awkward (Shelley and Nici are #MomDaughter).
Sadly, there's precious little footage highlighting Maya and Amy in the first episode. But their Midwest "niceness" shines through, especially in the adorable way Maya says to Amy, "Good lab buddy!" after she's exhumed a chest of pirate booty. The majority of the episode focuses on college sweethearts Tim and Te Jay (#CollegeSweethearts). Te yells "HI, MISTER PHIL!" as they run past host Phil Keoghan as he attempts to set up some drama or other. They also complain, "I think my compass is broken. Medic!" when they can't figure out how to use the liquid compass.
I'm rooting for Maya and Amy, if only so we can get to see more of them as the season goes on. Tim and Te Jay are running a very close second, though.
It's early in the season, so there are still too many flashy personalities floating around, pushing more coolheaded contestants like Maya and Amy down into the background. The central tensions of episode one surrounded whiny Miami Realtor sisters Lisa and Michelle (#MiamiRealtors, obviously), who shoved Boston Marathon hero firefighters Michael and Scott (#TheFirefighters) out of the way when they were signing up for the sea plane that would take them to a ship captained by a bearded talk-like-a-pirate enthusiast. Not to be outdone, the firefighters got a bit pushy fighting the blond Realtors for a cab that would take them to the final destination for the race's first leg. Thankfully, Lisa and Michelle came in last, which means they'll have to pack up the 12 pounds of makeup they claimed to have brought along.
Amy and Maya finished in a respectable sixth place.
I think their absence from episode two preview clips is an indication that they'll make it to episode three.
The Amazing Race airs on Fridays at 7 p.m. on CBS.