The world of travel can be riddled with stressors, from last-minute Uber cancellations to seemingly endless security lines and elusive rental car shuttles. Throw in unfamiliar road signs, and you’ve got a recipe for a travel nightmare. Now, imagine compounding all these unexpected challenges with fellow travelers racing to beat you to your destination in pursuit of a million-dollar prize. For most, that level of stress might make the journey seem unbearable. Fortunately, for nearly two decades, ‘The Amazing Race’ has allowed us to vicariously experience these hair-raising moments, all the way to the finish line, without the actual tension. Well, at least not enough tension that a snack on the couch can’t cure.
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For those who haven’t had the pleasure of watching or for those looking to relive the adrenaline-pumping Detours, nail-biting U-Turns, and Phil Keoghan’s trademark smiles, every season of this exhilarating reality show is available to stream.
And to make your viewing experience even smoother, we’ve compiled a list that’ll fast-track you to the very best seasons of ‘The Amazing Race’.
1. Season 5
Season 5 pushed the boundaries of distance, sending teams on an epic journey that included a thrilling trek across Egypt. In fact, it was a season of firsts, as Season 5 took contestants to every populated continent on the planet. From the never-ending ox-pulling competition to the mountain of caviar that needed devouring (just to name a couple of the memorable challenges), this season truly stands out.
But that’s not all; Season 5 amped up the drama with a twist – all eleven teams consisted of people with pre-existing relationships. You had twins, a couple who had been engaged before, and even newlyweds embarking on a one-of-a-kind honeymoon adventure.
And if that wasn’t enough excitement, this season introduced a brand-new gameplay element: the “Yield” option, allowing teams to halt their competitors in their tracks for a set amount of time. Plus, tiebreakers were a thing of the past – no more sharing first-place finishes.
2. Season 19
Season 19 was quite a unique season with a crossover from another reality show, Survivor. Former Survivor contestants Ethan and Jenna joined the race, but their reality show background put a target on their backs right from the start.
What really stood out this season was the introduction of the Double Elimination leg, a first in the show’s history. This twist added an extra layer of excitement as two teams were eliminated before reaching the finish line. But even without these surprises, Season 19 delivered heart-pounding action, with nearly every leg of the race coming down to thrilling footraces to the finish line.
3. Season 17
Season 17 introduced some exciting new elements to the game. The Express Pass allowed teams to skip a challenge without facing a penalty, adding a strategic twist. Then there was the U-Turn, a powerful tool that let a team force their competitors to complete both Detour tasks before progressing.
In terms of locations, this season took the contestants across the Arctic Circle, delivering some chilling drama. But what really made Season 17 special was the strong female representation. Viewers were eager to see if team Kat and Nat could become the first all-female winners. Did they achieve that milestone?
4. Season 2
With a successful first season under their belt, the producers ironed out the wrinkles and demonstrated that this hit show was no fluke; it was here to stay. The Roadblock competitions became tougher and more enduring, unexpected challenges kept cropping up, and the chaos of connecting flights left horrified fans at home watching through their fingers.
Season 2 took the contestants on a whirlwind tour of eight different countries in just 28 days, covering a total of over 52,000 miles, including exciting stops in Australia and Brazil. With one of the most thrilling final legs in the show’s history, this sophomore race delivered edge-of-your-seat excitement from the very beginning… all the way to Phil.
5. Season 14
In 2009, this season brought back a familiar face for long-time fans, along with a significant end-of-race controversy. The familiar face was Mike White, a Hollywood writer and actor best known for School of Rock. Mike and his father provided comedic relief and a captivating family dynamic that quickly won fans over.
Season 14 was not without its controversies. Contestants Marc and Michael received 30-minute penalties each for maliciously damaging bike pumps and concealing them from other contestants. Additionally, there was discontent among fans about the final leg being located in China, which gave brother and sister contestants Victor and Tammy an arguably unfair advantage due to their ability to speak Chinese.
6. Season 7
Season 7 of The Amazing Race treated fans to an exciting reality-show crossover when former Survivor contestants and power-couple Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich joined the competition. The duo appeared to be cruising smoothly until they encountered a meat-eating Roadblock challenge, where one team member had to consume over four pounds of various meats. This became the first instance of a team intentionally throwing the competition by accepting a four-hour penalty as a strategic move. Demonstrating his knack for reality show strategy, Boston Rob not only took the penalty himself but also convinced other teams to do the same, leveling the playing field. The race journeyed through breathtaking parts of Europe in the second half of the season, making it one of the show’s most scenic adventures.
7. Season 1
Here’s your chance to revisit where it all began. The first season carries a special feeling, as teams genuinely seemed to savor the different places and cultures they encountered, perhaps a bit more than focusing solely on the race. It was here that audiences first tasted the thrill of frantic travel, without having to experience it themselves.
This inaugural season featured best friends, a new couple, a mother and daughter, and even a pair of memorable villains known as Team Guido. With the future wide open to possibilities, Season 1 set the bar and laid out the blueprints for all the races that would follow. A thrilling finish with three teams racing for the very first million-dollar prize left fans more than satisfied, and it concluded with the perfect ending for Team Guido.