Blind dates can be stressful enough; it’s the stress of a normal date combined with the added anxiety of having never met the person before. It might be discouraging to go on a blind date because someone may think they might not have anything in common with the other person and the date will be a disaster. Now imagine going on a blind date around the world. That’s this season of “The Amazing Race.”
Normally, “The Amazing Race” is a reality show in which pairs with pre-existing relationships travel around the world completing a series of challenges together. After each leg, a team gets eliminated. The team to come in first on the last leg wins one million dollars. However, for its 26th season, there is a new twist. Six of the teams are dating couples, and the remaining five teams are all composed of single people who met for the first time at the starting line of the race.
There have been four episodes of the season so far, the first three of which I’ve seen, and I’ve found it to be a very interesting twist. Usually, the team members know each other through various relationship dynamics (father/son, mother/son, dating, engaged, friends, etc.), but this time all of the teams are couples that are dating. That makes it more tense, because I find that the dating couples on the show always add a heightened sense of drama.
Before watching this season, I honestly thought that the blind date couples were at a serious disadvantage. “The Amazing Race” brings competitors enough challenges; the tasks they have to complete are not easy and require a lot of patience. A lot of the time, pairs end up fighting and sometimes teams almost quit because it’s so stressful. There have even been some challenges where teams took so long to complete them, that the host had to eliminate them at the task. It’s a dream of mine to be on “The Amazing Race,” but there are many people I’ve known for years who I wouldn’t even attempt The Race with because it’s so stressful, both mentally and physically. I couldn’t imagine running it with someone I don’t even know.
However, I have been proven wrong thus far. For the past few seasons, the team who comes in first place on the first leg wins the Express Pass, which is a get-out-of-jail-free card of sorts. The team who is in possession of the Express Pass can choose to use it at any time up to a certain leg to skip a task if they’re having trouble completing it. The team who wins it has a huge advantage. This season, a blind dating couple, Jelani Roy and Jenny Wu, won the pass. Another blind dating couple, Jackie Ibarra and Jeffrey Weldon, came in second place. Then, on the second leg, blind dating couple Roy and Wu took first place again with another blind dating couple, Tyler Adams and Laura Pierson, came in second.
As for the couples being eliminated, all have been dating couples so far. On the first leg, Jeff Magee and Lyda Grawn, who have been dating for four years, were eliminated. On the second leg, CJ Harris and Lebya Simpson, who had been dating for ten years, were eliminated. The third leg was a non-elimination leg, so the dating couple Harley Rodriguez and Jonathan Knight, who came in last, were saved from elimination. However, to compensate for being saved, they must complete an extra task in the next leg that the other teams do not have to complete. Unless another team severely messes up, this usually puts the team behind and they end up getting eliminated anyway.
I am pretty surprised that the blind dating couples have been doing so well. A lot of the blind dating teams said in one episode that they think the reason they’re doing so well is actually because they don’t know each other. Much like an actual blind date, these teams are putting their best selves forward to impress their teammate. There are certain mannerisms you don’t let show when you’re with someone you don’t know as well, so that’s probably why these teams aren’t fighting as much yet. They’re afraid to come off as too aggressive or rude, so they’re doing their best to just focus on the tasks and not let their personal emotions get in the way.
A lot of the blind dating couples such as Roy and Wu, as well as Bergen Olson and Kurt Jordan Belcher, have outwardly said that they are going to focus on the race instead of building their relationship as a couple. They care more about focusing on the tasks and running the race as friends so that they have a better chance at winning. I think that this gives them an advantage over the dating couples because the dating couples can’t suspend their relationship and just agree to be friends while they run the race like some of the blind dating couples have been doing.
If these blind dating teams continue running the race this way, they could end up defying a lot of the odds and dominating this season. Or, as seen from the previews for the next episode, they could end up fighting more as they get to know each other. Whatever ends up happening, I know this season is definitely going to be an interesting one to keep watching. It’s certainly the most extreme date I’ve ever seen take place.