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Around the World in Eleven Episodes: The Amazing Race. A Geographic Overview. Quote from Edward R. Murrow. “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire…” (RTNDA Convention, Oct 1958)

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quote from edward r murrow
Quote from Edward R. Murrow
  • “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire…” (RTNDA Convention, Oct 1958)
  • Richards’ corollary: “And if it involves some back stabbing, fights and human drama, better still.”
the format
The Format
  • Eleven teams begin in one area (usually in the US) and starts racing around the world. They are given “clues” telling them where to go, how to get there and what tasks they’ll need to do when they arrive. At the end of every episode, there are “pit stops” where one team usually gets eliminated from the race. Winner gets $1 million, and (I hope), a new outlook on the world.
team diversity
Young married couple

Young engaged couple

Young dating couple


Best/childhood friends

Older retired couples

Iraq War POW/beauty queen

Couple on verge of separation (before the race)

Gay couples

The “nerds”

The “hotties” (both male and female)

The “hippies”

Former reality stars (Rob & Amber)

Team “diversity”
part travelogue part social commentary
Part Travelogue, part social commentary
  • The show takes viewers to places they are most likely never going to get to go to
  • Delves into the lives and customs of nations visited
    • Refining sugar for fuel in Brazil (TAR 9)
  • At the same time, the show sometimes, even subtly, takes on major social issues while in certain areas:
    • Brazil (TAR 9): Massive overcrowding in Sao Paulo
    • South Africa (TAR 7): Orphans near SOWETO
interactive globetrotting
Interactive Globetrotting
  • Main website:
  • Fan Sites:
    • Culture report:
  • Interactive Maps:
    • (includes photos and info on the places visited)
the family edition debacle
The Family Edition Debacle
  • TAR 8 was a family edition, with teams of four family members in a race….
  • Across North America….
  • Ratings were way low….many diehard fans complained about the lack of global locations!
  • The Edmonton Sun reported that [host Phil] Keoghan told TV critics “starting the show by saying, ‘Teams must now travel 8,000 miles to South Africa,’ is always going to beat saying, ‘Teams must now travel eight blocks.’ ”
why has this show caught on
Why has this show caught on?
  • Has won three straight Emmys for best reality show
  • “I enjoy the show because of the travel, as you state in your article. It's the main reason I watch, just to catch of glimpse of the breathtaking Greek countryside, or wherever they happen to be. If it looks that good on your television, think how marvelous it would be there in the flesh. The sights and sounds, the smells and the culture of the people. Those are memories you'll never forget, win or lose.”
While it could be agreed upon that TAR has some educational value, is it possible to use it in the classroom?
  • There is the possibility of creating a lesson where students would keep track of the race and do research on the nations they visit. If the teacher is able to view the episodes ahead of time, they can find key sections of the show, present them to the students and have them do some sort of assignment based on the clip (descriptive essay, pulling of facts, etc.) There is some meaningful “nuggets” in the program; it takes a creative mind to mine the nuggets and present them to the students. Hopefully, in the end, they will find that even reality television itself can be educational.
amazing race re runs
Amazing Race re-runs
  • Game Show Network began running all available seasons (eight of them- 110 episodes in all) of TAR in 2004 to amazing success.
  • Seasons 1-4 on DVD
  • (Murrow quote)
  • (Greece Quote)