‘The Amazing Race’ Finale

Last fall, I didn’t watch The Amazing Race. I’d gotten tired of the show after a few poor seasons, and felt no motivation to catch up after missing weeks while on vacation. But I’d heard it was a better season than ones past, and decided to return for this installment.

I was suspicious of the “blind date” twist, because I didn’t want this show to become The Bachelor. I had no reason to fear – in fact, this ended up being one of my favorite seasons in a while. The teams were great. There were a few that I really rooted for, and a couple that I really rooted against. It was actually fun to watch longstanding couples compete against total strangers. My only complaint was that the cast wasn’t as diverse, in terms of age and abilities, as usual – it was pretty much young, fit people.

The four teams that entered the final episode were good ones to watch compete. We had the villains, Hayley and Blair. Blair was pretty patient over the course of the race, but Hayley was a total nightmare. Nagging, whiney, delusional and just plain rude. She was CONSTANTLY screeching at Blair and making everything his fault. I absolutely did not want that woman to win half a million dollars.

Then there was Jenny and Jelani. I wouldn’t have been furious if they won, like I would have with Hayley and Blair. But I wouldn’t have been planning a parade in their honor, either. Despite what they said at the end of the race, they really did not seem to get along that well. They bickered a lot, and so I didn’t really root for them.

I loved Mike and Rochelle – the only established couple to make the final episode. They were a longshot to make the final three, let alone win. I wasn’t surprised when Phil eliminated them, but I was rooting for them nonetheless. They seem like such a good fit together, and Mike was such a supportive partner.

The couple I really, really wanted to win was Tyler and Laura. I’d liked them from the start, and came to like them more and more as the race went on. They both seemed to have great personalities and senses of humor, they competed well, and they appeared to develop a pretty genuine friendship. I loved how they always laughed off Phil’s questions about romance, and made fun of the other couples that I didn’t like. (Hayley and Blair for their fighting and general horribleness, and Jackie and Jeff for being that overly affectionate couple we all know and hate.)

I was so psyched that they won! What sweet justice, that Hayley made a crucial error that caused her and Blair to lose the race. She spent the whole thing criticizing him, and now she has to live with the fact that their loss rests solely on her shoulders. What just desserts.

Hayley’s blunder opened the door for one of the other two teams, who were neck-and-neck, to take the lead. Jenny and Jelani managed to solve their combination lock test quicker, but Laura and Tyler excelled when it came to placing their selfies from the race in chronological order. They stayed focused and didn’t bicker, and they worked as a team to solve the challenge quickly. Their patience, focus and team chemistry is what set them apart from other teams all along, so I’m glad it was what helped them win in the end.

I’m dying to know what Hayley thinks about her behavior and portrayal on the show. Will she own up to her flaws, or blame editing? (Or blame Blair.) I’ll certainly be reading some post-race interviews.

Did you watch this season? What did you think?