With the race not stopping for their normal break last week, the flow had more of the ‘amazing’ feel you’d expect for something called “The Amazing Race”, and it was refreshing to see.  Often times they tried to make a pretty stale leg of a race seem exciting by switching back and forth between teams real quick while playing fast music, but the excitement was always a bit lost when you see the teams hanging around an airport getting caught up and chatting until their next flight.

Glad to see he was feeling better later in race

While all that is still happening, adding the new twist of putting back to back legs in this year definitely made the opener far more exciting than it’s been for many seasons now.  Racers were clearly working up a sweat, as evidence on the cheerleaders shirts, oh and Mike nearly dying on the bus.  That was a pretty scary scene, and it was good to see him look much better later on in the episode.

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The 18th season of The Amazing Race kicked off tonight, and this one is called “Unfinished Business” due to all the returning cast members either being close to winning but falling short,  leaving in heartbreaking fashion (U-Turns, etc),  or simply just being a fan favorite I’d guess.   I covered our list of teams here, along with what seasons they came from, and noticed something major, out of the eleven teams racing, almost half of them came from season 14.  Would knowing each other from past seasons help or hurt the teams?  Which teams are going to suffer the same heart break they suffered in the past?  How many times will Mallory call from help from above?  Those questions and more will be answered this season on The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business.

Not only are former racers back, but our very anti-climactic “Express Pass” has also returned, hopefully with a little more excitement than last season when it went quietly with no real impact on the race sometime in the middle of the season.    For those who don’t know, the Express Pass is given out to the winner of the first leg of the race, and it’s a pass that allows a team to skip a challenge of their choosing whenever they want.    Pretty nice in theory, but in play it’ll likely just be used when one team gets in a panic and thinks they may finish last, but didn’t realize they were in the middle of the pack anyway and were not going home.

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There was a lot of hype leading up to the finale of The Amazing Race 17 last night, most of it was whether or not an all-female team would finally win.    I know 16 seasons is a lot when you consider there are only three different team types that can race, but The Amazing Race hasn’t exactly been super female-friendly over the years.   Looking back at some recent seasons:

Season 16 – Three female teams out of eleven (27%), and one was super weak, so it’s more like 18%
Season 15 – One female team out of twelve (8%), and they were beat by a physical detour on both sides
Season 14 – Three female teams out of eleven (27%)
Season 13 – Two female teams out of eleven (18%)
Season 12 – Three female teams out of eleven (27%); not counting Kynt and Vyxsin.  Probably shouldn’t count the 50+ year old couple either, so more like 18%

So in five seasons prior to the current season, at best 27% of the teams were all-female, and in two of those seasons, there was at least one super weak team. It’s not like the show was doing all they can to help an all-female team win, until this season.  Right off the bat, you had four female teams (36%), and even when you eliminated the token super weak team, that was still three really strong female teams left in the race.  Then when you factor in Jonathan and Connor, and Michael and Kevin as pretty weak (yet smart) all-male teams combined with generally easy challenges, this season was screaming for a female team to win.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means did the show just hand the crown to one of the remaining female teams.  Nat and Kat, and Brook and Claire still busted their ass to get where they were including one of them surviving being U-Turned, and all teams dealing with three non-elimination legs including one that really shouldn’t have happened late in the season.   It’s also to note, none of the female teams took advantage of the non-elimination legs, both female finalist teams earned their spot, and they had to finish against arguably the strongest overall team in the race, Jill and Thomas.

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