I went into full-throttle mourning today when my browser interface got bombarded with a new wave of "The Amazing Race is cancelled" headlines in dozens of variations. Is it really the end for the race around the world, tongue-roll and all?
I don't think big American network TV moguls will be reading my little blog, but let me state my case as to why TAR deserves to survive all the brutal cancellations of the cutthroat entertainment industry.
1. It's an educational experience. Take that, "Survivor" and "The Bachelorette." I'm not trying to pull any sentimental mischief here. I speak only from my own experience. Half of the cities on my list of must-visits came to my acquaintance through TAR. Any anthropological knowhow that get thrown into the mix also elevates the general intellectual development of the viewing public.
2. It's good rep for America. While some may argue that TAR encourages the "rude American tourist" stereotype, the rest of the world may disagree. Many countries around the world are taking pride in being featured on TAR. They know, more than media CEO's, just how much it means to be given that kind of national and cultural acknowledgement. Given how TAR executives generally treat local cultures with a high level of respect, the show's existence breeds the kind of "entertainment diplomacy" that makes the world a better place. It also gives many nations the hope that maybe America is not as self-absorbed as many think it to be.
3. It represents excellence in television production. Count the Emmy's. They're not just won by default ("Top Chef" and "The Voice" have proven as much). This show represents hard work, quick thinking, dedication, and wide knowledge. Budget cuts have undeniably made roadblocks and detours less intriguing in recent years, but the production team can be seen doing their very best to maximize their resources.
4. It's anti-entitlement. In a reality TV scene where scheming, backstabbing, gossiping, and sensationalism dominate, it's incredibly refreshing to watch a show where people actually earn their wins and where victory comes more from personal achievement than sabotage. Rumors of rigging may abound every year, but no one can accuse the show of not letting its winners work for their pay. No one wins TAR by doing nothing.
5. The show is a survivor. To think that season 2 almost didn't exist is crazy. The show may have neared the end several times, even temporarily demoted to a midseason replacement in 2007; but at the end of the day, its proven how much it deserves to stay. Networks should realize that saving the show now would be much less trouble than reviving it after their next new toy flops.