It took a very long time and a notable amount of drama, but The Amazing Race 29 has finally been announced by CBS for April 21, 2017. As fans of the long-running show prepare for the upcoming return of the Emmy-award-winning reality TV series, longtime supporters of TAR have begun expressing their reservations about Season 29, and the future of the franchise as a whole.
Over the past few years, The Amazing Race has seen a decline, both in terms of quality and in ratings, with the once-dominant reality TV show resorting to gimmicks in order to boost its viewership. Unfortunately for TAR, most of these gimmicks have largely failed, culminating in the trainwreck that was The Amazing Race 28. While its concept was undoubtedly an attempt by CBS to tap into the always on, social-media-driven demographic, the ratings of TAR 28 were sub par at best.
If there is anything that The Amazing Race franchise should have learned by now, it is that the quality of its contestants is something that can translate to a boost in viewership. The franchise saw this very thing happen on Season 26, which is considered by numerous TAR fans as one of the most surprising seasons of the fast-paced reality TV show. While The Amazing Race 26 had a pretty underwhelming theme, it is the quality of its racers that eventually managed to keep the interest of millions of viewers.
Unfortunately, the next two seasons of TAR, especially Season 28, largely failed in terms of audience engagement, with numerous longtime fans of the series criticizing the show for blatantly patronizing the younger, social-media-obsessed generation. This could be addressed by The Amazing Race 29, which would feature a unique system where teams of racers would be selected through a schoolyard pick, depending on the results of a pre-race event.
Fortunately, leaks and speculations about TAR 29 have been pretty encouraging so far, with racers for the 29th season being a departure from the gimmick-centered personalities from The Amazing Race's previous contestants. From leaked photographs in Reality Fan Forums alone, it could be determined that some racers in The Amazing Race 29 would feature veterans, with at least one participant being an amputee. This has so far struck a pretty optimistic chord among fans of the long-running reality TV series, with many appreciating the show's departure from gimmicks and simply returning to its roots. If any, the concept of a schoolyard pick resulting in two complete strangers traveling around the world together seems to have it the right notes for longtime fans of the series. As much as this is great, however, the series still remains on unsteady ground.
One thing that The Amazing Race 29 definitely needs to accomplish this time around is to provide a scenario where racers are relatable and the route is memorable. The reality TV show has already committed blunders in these aspects in the past, especially with The Amazing Race 21, which featured a lot of rather unattractive destinations and tedious, menial tasks that ultimately turned off a lot of viewers. Season 28 was the complete opposite of this, with numerous TAR fans stating that it had one of the best routes in the franchise, but some of the worst, least engaging racers in the history of the reality TV series.
Thus, The Amazing Race 29 would need to balance itself out very carefully in terms of its participants and the route the epic race would traverse. While this might seem like a very steep challenge, the TV series has actually managed to pull this off in the past. TAR 25 is the perfect example of this, with the season being filled with compelling racers and a route that is very memorable to viewers, culminating in an intense finale that rivals the best episodes in TAR's prime.
With The Amazing Race 29 already being postponed for next year, the future of the reality TV series seems a bit bleaker than usual. While its ratings have been dropping steadily over the last few years, it has never really reached the point where it was canceled and simply moved for the following year. Considering that the exact scenario just happened to The Amazing Race 29, the franchise appears to be treading on dangerous waters.
The Amazing Race 30 has already begun casting this fall, with rumors stating that filming for the next season of the reality TV series would begin sometime between October 2016 and January 2017. While this is good news, speculations are high that the 30th season of the franchise would most likely feature racers from previous seasons once more. With this in mind, many fans fear that with Season 30's possible concept, The Amazing Race franchise might be singing the first lines of its swan song. After all, while TAR 30 might finish filming, its production and release date are a completely different matter.
There is hope for The Amazing Race, and that is its upcoming 29th season. If TAR 29 does end up performing very well and it racks up ratings reminiscent of its prime, CBS would most likely order the production and eventual release of The Amazing Race 30, with more seasons to come after. If Season 29 fails due to a stale cast and a substandard route, however, TAR 30 might very well end up banished to CBS All Access, the network's place where aging shows are placed to die. For now, it would be up to The Amazing Race 29 to prove that it is still a formidable show comparable to reality giants such as Survivor and Big Brother.[Featured Image by Jemal Countess/Getty Images]