The Amazing Race is 10 today

CBS’ third major reality series, The Amazing Race, debuted 10 years ago today, on a Wednesday, when 11 teams of two started racing from New York City. Its second episode was delayed by a week because of the events of Sept. 11, a Tuesday.

That Thursday also saw the debut of a similar series, NBC’s Lost, which had no smoke monster nor frustrating character development but instead dropped six pairs of people in a remote location (Mongolia) and challenged them to return to the United States. The CBS show did better in the ratings, and survived: Lost was cancelled after airing only part of its second set of episodes, when the teams started in Bolivia.

The show was originally called Race Around the World, which just happened to be the name of a Fox Family series, but changed its name after a lawsuit was filed to Global Adventure, and while a judge initially stopped production on CBS’ show, it was eventually allowed to be produced, and was filmed in the summer of 2001. Travel Channel host Phil Keoghan (“Phil Keoghan’s Adventure Crazy”), who was attached to the show since 2000 when he lost the job of hosting Survivor to Jeff Probst.

The Amazing Race has gone on to air 18 seasons and won seven consecutive Emmys and, just last month, the first-ever TV critics’ reality TV award. The show moved timeslots, from Wednesdays at 9 to Thursdays at 8 to Tuesdays at 10; season nine was even in three different timeslots. But it found and grew an audience and eventually grew frustrating.

Season one is on DVD, and you can watch the start of episode one here. It’s similar yet also very different (for example, the pace was a lot slower than what we’re used to now, with very little of the insistent, constant music). Watching this first episode, I’m stunned at how much of a better show it used to be:

Survivor San Juan Del Sur's dark cloud is lifted

John Rocker

In its third episode, Survivor San Juan Del Sur improved significantly as John Rocker faced off against an Amazing Race villain. But the Exile Island reward challenge remains a drag on the series.


Why Dick Donato left Big Brother 13

Dick Donato

The Big Brother villain known as "Evel Dick" has finally revealed why he left the show during its 13th season: he learned he was HIV positive.

Also: Dick claims he had no choice but to leave the game.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.