I am addicted to ‘The Amazing Race.’ This year’s installation starts Tuesday night and there is a twist. In the never-ending quest to keep reality shows fresh the producers have decided to change the contestant rules.
In the past there were teams of two people, sometimes friends, sometimes family members, This year the teams are four people and all family members. Thus the show is dubbed “Family Edition.”
An interesting idea to say the least as it adds a new dynamic to the game. Kinda makes me think of the ‘National Lampoon Vacation’ movies. It also allows little kids to be on the show.
In order to prepare myself and my readers for the first episode I have decided to preview the ten teams involved in this season’s race. I have not looked at any spoilers, just read the bios on the CBS website as well as the videos available.
With four people teams I really don’t know how the challenges will work. Do all 4 members have to be involved? Everyone knows that one weak link can doom a team and with four members that means almost every team has one, if not two, potential weak links.
What I am looking for is the desire to win. The teams that just go to have fun or build their family dynamic may end up in 5th place but they never win. Look at last year, Uchenna and Joyce had the best motivation to win, they wanted to be able to afford children. Rob and Amber, the second place team, are ultra-competitive and were focused on winning and nothing else.
With that said here I go:
10. Gaghan family
Bill 40, Tammy 42, Billy 12, Carissa 9. Father, mother, one son, one daughter.
Positives: Bill and Tammy have traveled a lot. The whole family lived in Asia with their daughter actually being born in South Korea. The family are all runners, the parents do marathons, the kids do 5Ks.
Negatives: They have two very young children. Their daughter looks like she is just a normal 9 year-old-kid. The parents also seem very nice and don’t seem the type to basically drag their kids around if they are slow and whiny. Bill admits to be impatient. I don’t see the killer instinct.
Verdict: They may not be the first ones out but I would be shocked if they won. I think once they face a task or challenge the kids can’t do the parents will be nice and not force their kids into a dangerous situation. Their running ability will come into play if there are any close finishes but even a kid who can run 5k is not better than a 20-year-old who can run a faster 5k.
9. Paolo family
Tony 54, Marion 52, DJ 24, Brian 16. Father, mother and two sons.
Positives: An Italian family that has seems to have a strong mother and father figure. Tony is a self-made man who came to America as a child and works as a garbage man. This would mean he probably raised his kids to be hard workers. Two young males may be good at certain tasks and willing and able to do well at eating challenges.
Negatives: They are New Yorkers and admit to bicker a lot. DJ is afraid of heights. Neither of the kids thinks their mom will last long in the race. Brian seems to distance himself from his “embarrassing” family. Could be conflict between the mom, who seems very dominant, and the rest of the family.
Verdict: Marion and Brian are likely to drag down this team. Marion because she is older, female and does not seem to be in great shape. Brian because I get the vibe he is not really into the race and will not give his 100%. The fact the kids think they have no chance of winning is a BAD sign.
8. Godlewski family.
Michelle 42, Sharon 39, Christine 37, Tricia 26. Four sisters.
Positives: They seem confident, especially Tricia who was the one who encouraged the others to apply for the show. The sister-bond could make them super tight. They claim they are very outgoing. Tricia is attractive and can use that to her advantage.
Negatives: There seem to be competing figures for leadership in the group. Michelle seems more like a mother figure to the others. Tricia admits to be peacemaker of the family. Christine seems like the middle child syndrome, and from the video it’s clear she “wants to be heard.”
Verdict: A lack of leadership (meaning there are too many leaders) and what seems like a lack of travel experience and physical fitness should drag this team down. There are 3 women in between 37 and 42, at least one of them will not be able to keep up. If there are any challenges that require brute strength they will be at a disadvantage as well.
7. Weaver family.
Linda 46. Rebecca 19, Rachel 16, Rolly 14. Mother and two daughters and one son.
Positives: This family lost their the male figure in the household, father to the three kids and husband to the mom, two years ago. He died while working at Daytona Speedway. This might be a good motivation for them to win. Linda looks to be in good shape. Rolly looks like a kid who can run for hours and eat anything put in front of him
Negatives: The family seems to be there more to “get back what they lost” than to win the $1 million. I hope they can do this as losing a father for these kids must have been very hard. It’s hard to say anything more negative as this family. There is nothing wrong with people coming on the show not to win the money but rather win something more important.
Verdict: It’s unlikely they have the determination to go to the end. I think they will stick around for a while but I can’t see them making it to top three.
6. Schroeder family.
Mark 40, Char 39, Stassi 17, Hunter 15. Father, step-mother, one daughter, one son.
Positives: Mark looks massive and muscular. Hunter looks almost evil, focused and determined. Char seems level-headed. The whole family are in good shape. Mark and Char seemed to have worked out a joint parental leadership situation. Mark strikes me as the type of guy to do anything to win. Stassi speaks Spanish. Char admits they have studied the game from past editions.
Negatives: Hunter could be a problem if he is more of a rebel brat than a focused winner. Stassi admits to being high maintenance and strikes me as a priss. If she is forced to eat gross things or get dirty will she step up? Mark’s aggressiveness may cause other teams and his own to get upset at him. Hunter called lazy by his other teammates. The kids from previous marriage, they may resent step-mother Char.
Verdict: They are a dark house contender. I have some major concerns about them but if they can pull it together they could go far. Mark needs to maintain his competitiveness without becoming this year’s Jonathan. After that it comes down to the kids, if they aren’t 100% into it the team will fall flat.
5. Bransen family.
Walter 51, Elizabeth 25, Lauren 22, Lindsay 20. Father and three daughters.
Positives: All of the girls are hot blondes, Lauren the hottest. They can use this for alliances and to get money if need be. The girls look to all be in good shape. The dad not so much but as all dad’s will do he will probably give it his all so as not to let his girls down. The girls all seem really into the show and want to win. Beth is a hardcore fan of the game.
Negatives: Elizabeth has a fear of heights and admits to having conflicts with her Dad. Lindsay feels bossed around by her sisters. If the sisters start to get on each others nerves it could be over sooner rather than later. No strong leader. The dad seems to be deferring to his kids.
Verdict: I don’t see them winning but I think they can stick around for a while. They will be a fun team to watch for the male audience. Hopefully they stick around and get a lot of airtime as I could easily fall in love with any of these three girls.
4. Rogers family.
Danny 46, Renee 42, Brittney 22, Brock 19. Father, mother, one daughter, one son.
Positives: Seem to be a tight family who get along well. Brittney is hot, a former Ms. Louisiana. Brock looks like he is in good shape. Danny talks about not being mediocre. He seems like he wants to win. Britnney seems like a gamer who wants to get to the end.
Negatives: I’m unsure about Renee at this point. She may slow down the team. Danny admits he is an aggressive dad and a control freak. Brock should be a good competator but he may just be there to have fun.
Verdict: There are no obvious weak links at this point. I am pretty sure two of the members, Danny and Brittney, will have the drive to win, if the other two have it this team may come out on top. At the least they should be a decent middle of the road team.
3. Aiello family.
Tony 57, Kevin 31, Matt 31, David 26. Father-in-law with three sons-in-laws.
Positives: David is a cop and was a marine for 8 years. A team of all men mean they should be good on any strength-related challenges. The guys will give it their all to impress their father-in-law. Tony seems to show respect to his sons-in-law and has confidence in them.
Negatives: Tony is a bit older and may not be able to last the complete length of the race. Other than David none of the guys seem super athletic. No travel experience is discussed. Lack of a female could be important in challenges that require balance and precision.
Verdict: Definitely one of the main contenders. Tony’s health and fitness will likely be the determining factor in the race. All of the team members seem like they want to win and aren’t just showing up for fun.
2. Black family.
Reggie 42, Kimberly 40, Kenneth 11, Austin 8. Father, mother and two sons.
Positives: All of the family compete in Tae-Kwon Do. They are all physically fit and strike me as competitive. The parents seemed to have raised disciplined kids. Both parents are teachers, with the dad having a math background. That may translate well to some of the challenges. They are very confident.
Negatives: Two young children weaken their overall strength and as mentioned before a 8 year-old in good shape equals a 30 year-old in average shape.
Verdict: This may be a shocker for this team to be ranked so high. I have a good feeling about this team though. The kids want to win as much as anyone in the race. Also there may be some challenges where being small and little could come in very handy.
1. Linz family.
Nick 24, Alex 22, Meagan 21, Tommy 19. Three brothers and one sister.
Positives: Four young, athletic competitors. Tommy plays university lacrosse. They are described as well travelled. Meagan talks about not wanting to lose to an 8-year-old. They seem determined to win and push each other to their max.
Negatives: They root for the Bengals, a perpetually bad team (although they are doing well this year). The team seems split between Nick-Alex and Meagan-Tommy. Nick and Alex might be too bossy towards the other two and Meagan strikes me as the type to not take any crap.
Verdict: The obvious favourites based on the age and athleticism. If they have the brains and work together there should be nothing stopping them. I would be shocked if they didn’t end up in the top five.
So there you have it. Remember my rankings are based on nothing more than mere speculation and no doubt will change radically once I see the first episode.