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Amazing Race 35 keeps getting better and better

Amazing Race 35 keeps getting better and better
TAR 35's Rob smiles while watching Corey perform a roadblock, though he could also be thrilled at what a great season of The Amazing Race this has been (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

The penultimate episode of CBS’s The Amazing Race 35 was yet another strong episode, and not just because Phil Keoghan and team members said “penultimate,” my second-favorite word.

This season of The Amazing Race started slowly for me, with two episodes that couldn’t really fill their 90 minutes.

Starting with its legs in Vietnam, though, it recovered, finding its way not only into a better use of the 90 minutes, but back to its old self.

A person standing on a grassy field in a stadium, holding a paddle in one hand and a ball in the other
Greg performs a hurling drill at Croke Park in Dublin on The Amazing Race 35 episode 11 (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

Commercial airline travel hasn’t done much besides introduced the dreaded but logistically necessary equalizers. Navigating cities on public transit, by foot, and by car? Those have all offered Amazing Race-worthy challenges.

And the challenges set up by the production have been excellent: serving dinner to Nobel laureates, scraping barnacles from fish farm floats, learning and performing 30 seconds from Riverdance, building an apiary, going for a frigid swim at the Forty Foot.

A single optional challenge—retrieving the Express Pass by climbing approximately six trillion stairs up a ski hill—was some of the best reality TV I’ve seen this year:

Todd and Ashlie running past the entrance, Rob and Corey racing up the stairs; Todd and Ashlie finding the stairs and then bailing; Greg and John in hot pursuit of Rob and Corey, only to give up, not realizing that there were even more stairs; Anna Leigh dragging her dad’s body up all the stairs only to realize they’d run right past the sign that said the Express Pass had already been claimed.

Two people in yellow t-shirts stand on a street and gesture
Greg and John memorize passages written by James Joyce during Amazing Race 35’s penultimate episode (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

That trend continued through India, and into the most-recent episodes, which visited Slovenia, Sweden, and Ireland.

Okay, sure, the Ireland episode had an inauspicious start as the teams acted as if they were using the Expedia app to book their flights and hotel rooms, though they had fun with pretending to book the most-expensive room possible.

Once in Dublin, though, teams faced two Roadblocks and three tasks, one of which (rappelling into the Croke Park) was edited out.

Those tasks emphasized memorization and coordination. If only the producers had the teams drink a pint of Guinness or three before they had to memorize their passages from Ulysses. (How much fun were those pub-goers having mocking the teams for getting it wrong?)

Two people looking at maps on a car hood
Garrett and Joel prepare to navigate through Dublin on The Amazing Race 35’s episode 11 (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

The leg design has allowed for considerable movement all season (well, except for Greg and John’s four first place finishes in a row).

The Roadblock and Detour challenges have contributed to that, but the challenge of self-driving and navigation in cities has really helped, too. In Ireland, teams had cars with manual transmissions, and had the extra challenge of using a stick shifts that was on their left.

All of this has really reminded me of early Amazing Race seasons, where the stress of travel on relationships provided most of the drama as they visited places around the world.

It’s also shown how the the show and reality TV itself has changed, with Rob’s deafness just being an attribute that is there, not the defining characteristic of his personality nor his relationship with Corey.

And we’ve now built up to a TAR 35 finale where I’d be happy to see any of the three teams win, and that seems like it will be pretty competitive.

Three strong teams will compete for the TAR 35 win

Two people looking at maps on a car hood
Corey and Rob look at a clue and a map on The Amazing Race 35 episode 11 (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

Going into a finale with six men and zero women isn’t ideal, and I wish Jocelyn and Victor were still here, and that Morgan and Lena had made it farther.

But Greg and John, Joel and Garrett, and Rob and Corey are three very strong teams and great television characters. Three of them are in their 20s, and three in their 40s.

The two 20-something brothers, Greg and John, seem like they “are an unstoppable force,” as John said.

But the other two teams have each placed first once. As Joel said, “We’ve beat them both before.”

All six are really lovely people and functional partners—at least from what we’ve seen on the race—approaching the challenge with good cheer. As Joel said, when he and Garrett thought they were last, “we chose to laugh about it instead of whine about it.” SHADE

I mean, just read what they said during the penultimate leg:

  • Joel: “The thing that I’ve learned, not just in this race, but in life—is that it’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
  • Corey: “This race gave us a really strong opportunity to connect on a deeper level as adults.”
  • John: “We’re really driven by just showing off what we think is a really great brother relationship, one that is rooted in understanding and compassion.”
  • Greg: “Our relationship blossom out of this”


A person wearing a backpack and standing on a street looks at another person, who has her arms crossed
A rare moment on The Amazing Race 35 when Anna Leigh wasn’t yelling at Steve (Image from Amazing Race via CBS)

Yes, Steve and Anna Leigh’s elimination at the end of the episode was a relief.

That’s mostly because I’ve been quite anxious that Steve might to collapse into the pavement while Anna COME ON DAD Leigh is screaming at him.

I appreciate her competitiveness; I don’t need to hear them yell at each other anymore.

By the way, Steve and Anna Leigh had a watch party for their final episode, where someone turned “come on Dad” into a drinking game. I hope everyone enjoyed having their stomachs pumped.

Enough about the past. For Wednesday’s finale and final leg in Seattle, I hope whatever The Amazing Race 35 puts in front of the final three teams continues to deliver what the previous legs have. I hope they can all remain competitive and win or lose not based on a bad cab driver, but based on their own adroit navigation and/or perseverance in the tasks.

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Bad Mitten

Wednesday 13th of December 2023

Lmao that rotting turtle line had me cackling


Wednesday 13th of December 2023

Rob should give lessons to fathers across the country on how to raise a son. Corey loves his father so much. I just want them to win for that reason alone.

I like brothers Greg and John because they support each other and exude positive energy.

Joel and Garrett have to be the underdogs, but I would be happy if they won too. They're friends who aren't afraid to show how much they care for each other. And Garrett's special needs daughter is going to get an emotional support dog if they win! I'm all for that.

My issue with Anna Leigh was that I kept expecting her to stop racing and tell her father to sit down and drink some water. I wanted her to say, "Dad, you're more important than this race. Let's stop and take a break." That never happened. I'm glad her father didn't have a stroke or pass out from heat exhaustion. When she was yelling at him repeatedly during each episode I often wondered if she had taken out a million dollar life insurance policy on her father before the race.

That would explain her behavior.


Monday 11th of December 2023

I have to disagree that this has been a strong season --- it's been incredibly boring with no drama and the all male teams dominating. They all seem like nice guys, but that doesn't make for entertaining TV. There was no reason for TAR to cast 5 male/male teams when they rarely provide the entertainment that once made the Amazing Race a strong show.


Monday 11th of December 2023

I think it has been an amazing race!!! I especially loved seeing Slovenia. I I'm really rooting for Rob and Corey! It's been really good this year for me I really enjoyed it. Good luck Rob and Corey!!!


Sunday 10th of December 2023

I so agree on Anna Leigh and Steve. I was so worried that Steve might have a heart attack trying to keep up with Anna Leigh. I also found her constant complaints and rants more than annoying. Very, very relieved to see her go. I don't really admire her brand of competitiveness.

I admit to having a particular fondness for Greg and John, but will be happy with whichever team wins this one.

I find Athena's comment about the "niceness" very strange to say the least?!


Monday 11th of December 2023

@Joan, Honestly, I find Athena's entire comment very strange. Why keep tuning in to a show you've "absolutely disliked" and find "tremendously boring." I've loved 99% of this season, and I like every one of the last three teams. Rooting for Rob and Corey, but very fond of the other four people as well. Not a single person to root against in this final.