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Why Amazing Race 35 switched with TAR 36, plus its teams and twists

Why Amazing Race 35 switched with TAR 36, plus its teams and twists
The Amazing Race 35's teams (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

CBS announced The Amazing Race 35’s cast today—the largest ever with 13 teams—and details about its game play and twists, which undo some of the changes it made over the past few years.

TAR 35 will, however, retain some recent changes, such as the elimination of non-elimination legs (which was sort of interrupted by COVID last year).

CBS said “the show returns to commercial travel and will bring back no non-elimination legs, the race-changing Express Pass and a twist on the infamous U-Turn, making this season one of the most competitive.”

Those make me a little nervous because I’ve enjoyed the lack of the social game the past few seasons. The Amazing Race I fell in love with got its drama from teams of two facing the stress of travel with each other.

There was general collegiality and lack of drama between teams the past few seasons, so I can see why someone might want to have more drama.

As to travel, I loved the production’s use of a charter plane during the pandemic-era seasons. It actually led to less bunching because teams were released in the order they arrived.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the return of commercial travel. If it’s just teams getting on pre-assigned flights and bunching up, meh. If it’s back to teams paying for whatever flight can get them where they need to go, woo hoo!

There’s one other major change that we won’t notice—at least until season 36 airs.

Why Amazing Race 36 is airing as TAR 35

A person gesturing behind them while smiling at the camera
Phil Keoghan at the start line for The Amazing Race 35, which filmed in summer 2023 (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS)

The new season of The Amazing Race starts at the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles and will travel to a European country the show has never visited before, Slovenia, though teams will first fly to Asia.

You may recall that when season 35 filmed last year its teams went to Mexico first. There’s a good reason for the disconnect: That season isn’t airing this fall.

One thing that CBS did not include in its press release is that The Amazing Race 35 is actually not the 35th season filmed.

Instead, The Amazing Race 36—which filmed earlier this summer, from mid-June to early July—is airing first and taking over the number 35.

Why swap seasons? This isn’t like Survivor: Second Chance, when CBS let viewers choose the cast, filmed the season, and aired it first to capitalize on that publicity and excitement.

When I heard about TAR’s switch, my guess was that CBS’s decision to expand Survivor and The Amazing Race to 90-minute episodes had to do with it. It’d have been easier and less-expensive to film and edit a season for 90-minute episodes rather than re-edit a season.

That is exactly what happened: When CBS asked for expanded episodes, the season that filmed last November was already edited. But the next season of The Amazing Race had not yet been scouted.

TAR co-creater Elise Doganieri told Variety’s Michael Schneider,

“When Bertram and I started scouting locations in March, we went out there knowing that we were going to have these mega-sized episodes. We wanted to put more locations in, include more creative. We’re going to let the story play out a little more, get to know the relationships between contestants a little better. We always feel that there’s so much that we don’t get to show in the series because we have to cut it down for the one hour episodes. Now we have a little more breathing room.”

Knowing that the show’s producers planned episodes to fill 90 minutes is the part of the season I’m most looking forward to. That makes it far less likely The Amazing Race 35 will just be padded to stretch to 90 minutes, and much more likely that the season will give us more of what we love about the show.

Amazing Race 35’s teams

The biggest season ever actually has fewer couples than usual, and instead has more siblings and friends:

  • 4 sibling teams
  • 3 friend teams
  • 3 parent/child teams
  • 2 married teams
  • 1 engaged team

Here are those teams, from CBS’s announcement:

  • Jocelyn Chao (49, Grocery Store Manager) and Victor Limary (49, Grocery Store Manager), Married from Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Liam Hykel (23, Navy Veteran) and Yeremi Hykel (24, Marine Corps Veteran), Brothers from Cheyenne, Wyo., and San Marcos, Texas
  • Malaina Hatcher (45, Tax Examiner Technician) and Andrea Simpson (44, Director of Credit Management), Best friends from Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Joe Moskowitz (35, Head of Business Development for a Commercial Real Estate Tech Platform) and Ian Todd (40, Sr. Director of New Business for a Marketing Tech Start-Up), Engaged from New York, N.Y.
  • Steve Cargile (54, Residential/Commercial Paint Contractor) and Anna Leigh Wilson (28, Speech Pathologist, Private Flight Attendant, Influencer), Father and daughter from Petty, Texas, and Royse City, Texas
  • Morgan Franklin (31, Marketing Executive) and Lena Franklin (29, Marketing Executive), Sisters from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Ashlie Martin (38, Hospitality Account Manager) and Todd Martin (38, Special Education Teacher), Married from Chino, Calif.
  • Robbin Tomich (41, Stay-at-Home Mom) and Chelsea Day (41, Stay-at-Home Mom), Childhood best friends from Kirkland, Wash., and Shoreline, Wash.
  • Greg Franklin (25, Software Developer) and John Franklin (27, Product Manager), Brothers from New York, N.Y., and Mountain View, Calif.
  • Rob McArthur (48, Teaching Assistant and Assistant Football Coach) and Corey McArthur (25, Senior Manager of Client Strategy and Analytics), Father and son from Riverside, Calif., and New York, N.Y.
  • Joel Strasser (42, Auto Claims Training Specialist) and Garrett Smith (43, Delivery Driver), Best Friends from Kuna, Idaho, and Meridian, Idaho
  • Elizabeth Rivera (52, Retired Lieutenant) and Iliana Rivera (27, Entrepreneur), Mother and daughter from Tampa, Fla.
  • Alexandra Lichtor (34, Consultant) and Sheridan Lichtor (29, Consultant), Siblings from Chicago, Ill.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!


Saturday 23rd of September 2023

Imagine being the winning team of season 35. They can't tell a soul. God how awful that'd be.


Thursday 21st of September 2023

Three teams where one lives in California and the other in New York. I expect to hear about that often in the confessionals.

Jeff Metzner

Thursday 31st of August 2023

Here's a quote from the Variety article ( that maybe(?) implies that the teams have to book their own flights:

“Right out of the gate, they’re fighting to get on the best flights,” Keoghan said. “That aspect is something that the viewers missed. I’m definitely excited to have that element back, that randomness, the ability to change up the lead. Instead of just guaranteeing them a comfortable seat on charter.”


Thursday 31st of August 2023

@Andy Dehnart, i think you're right.. its going to be pre determined flights that the first 2 teams on flight 1, then next 4-5 on flight two and the rest on flight 3 type of fighting.

the randomness for the film crew, and flights and cancellations of all airlines and destinations can get very complicated for the crew. especially with how expansive the seasons have become versus before. not to mention the specific dates and times of permits for filming and use of locations

Andy Dehnart

Thursday 31st of August 2023

I hope so! I do think “fighting to get on the best flights” can be read as fighting for the best of three flights, for example. And Phil’s counterexample is not pre-booked flights, but a charter.


Thursday 31st of August 2023

Well, I would be upset if I was on the original season 35, but I understand why they switched it up.

I was trying to pick out the gay engaged couple from the group photo. It's either the blue t-shirt team, the black t-shirt team or the yellow t-shirt team. I'm guessing the black t-shirt team. Though the yellow t-shirt team looks very, very happy!

Claude Mac

Friday 8th of September 2023


The original season 35 has been filmed late last year and premiere is postponed indefinitely due to writers' strike, being already an all 60-minute episodes with no further plans to re-edit to 90-episodes.

At least CBS and WRP will make plans to be sent to Paramount+ as to become Paramount+ original and being still to be part to the show despite the title will be changed. There is another planned season going on which the casting is still currently ongoing, filming of that season will be taking place in late October or early November as the 37th season to be filmed, that could become actual season 36, and could be also a 90-minute episodes like in the actual season 35 filmed over the summer.

Andy Dehnart

Thursday 31st of August 2023

You got it right: they are the black shirt team in the center. The yellow team are very happy siblings!