The Amazing Race season premiere recap: 'The Amazing Race' season 23 premiere recap
Welcome to a 23rd season of secondhand airport fatigue, feeling half-embarrassed and half-delighted at the way our American compadres handle themselves in foreign affairs, and watching brightly colored sneakers dart around as you sit perfectly still! It’s The Amazing Race — the next best thing to traveling on your own.
The big takeaway of Sunday’s premiere? READ THE CLUE. It’s the number-one rule of the Race! Married ER doctors Nicole and Travis arrived at the pit stop — the municipal theater in Iquique, Chile — first, but incurred a 30-minute penalty because they’d taken a taxi instead of making their way on foot. Their unlikely disregard for detail opened the door for Tim and Marie — a balloon of positivity and the needle that keeps pricking the balloon even when it does something well — to finish the first leg of the Race on top.
Meanwhile, two other teams failed to read the oversize print: Leo and Jamal and Hoskote and Naina lost time after not realizing they were supposed to put the paraglider into the rowboat to collect five giant fish in Muelle Prat, Iquique’s harbor. Shaggy-haired Jamal even read the entire clue out loud, while making sure the camera captured his best angle, and still determined it was he who had to row the boat. He was so excited for more screen time that it didn’t even matter what was happening!
An earlier detection of the rowing mistake likely wouldn’t have much helped eliminated pair Hoskote and Naina, a father-daughter team from Laguna Niguel, California. They’d had to take the second-string flight to Chile; plus, Naina’s taxi had taken her on a stunning tour of seemingly the entire Chilean highway system instead of directly to the beach to meet her paragliding pop. We get the sense we might have seen some growth in their relationship over more time and adventure, but who knows?
Hoskote wants an arranged marriage for Naina. And has anything changed, asked Phil?
“Well, father knows best.” BOOM. The Amazing Race.
Huh. A bit depressing, but nothing we can’t handle. They’re gone. I hope Hoskote doesn’t tumble off a sandy hill during their next yoga session like he almost did during their filmed intro. (“In an entirely new twist!” Phil Keoghan would have yelled. “Someone! May have already died.”)
NEXT: The 10 remaining teams and how they placed
Let’s run through the ranked racers after Leg 1…
1st team to finish: Tim and Marie, exes who right away warned us that “the second we get on each other’s nerves, it’s unbearable.” Wow, what a perfect pair of people to sic on us every Sunday night. Marie is the clear villain here — “Your opinion is usually a waste of time,” she announced to her partner — which, I mean, obviously is GROSS. She’s nasty. But then there’s Tim: “Your violence kind of turns me on.”
Something in their relationship has prevented them from murdering each other. I’m just not sure gallivanting across borders and arguing over who gets to slurp down, like, sea monster kidneys from a bacteria-filled swamp is the best method of keeping it that way. Buckle up.
Marie is ruthless: After their paragliding partners had jumped off the cliff, she stole one of the taxis Jamal had called (for himself and Ashley — Leo and Jamal have named Ally and Ashley as their “brides” by the way. Isn’t that… not cute?) and got away, with only a softly muttered “Bitch.” as punishment. The woman is unstoppable!
2nd place: Nicole and Travis, the “formidable couple” of ER doctors who should really know better than to not read the chart carefully. They’re driven, smart, Spanish-speaking, and determined. A little boring so far. But hey, not everyone can live naked in a bathtub in the forest.
3rd place: Rowan and Shane, theater performers who’ve been touring a drag production called The Queens of Bingo for the past 10 years. We’re all going to feel like we’ve seen it by…I’d say episode 6. They’re wearing “Bingo” shirts and everything. Rowan yelled “BINGO!” as he flew off a mountain. “Sally Field in The Flying Nun ain’t got nothin’ on me, baby!” They’ll be fun.
4th place: Chester and Ephraim, former NFL teammates who are very supportive of each other and keep saying “Come on, man!” They’re perfectly pleasant so far and will clearly dominate any strength-based challenges. I love how Chester screamed he was “comfortable with my width!” after Ephraim said he looked like a Jeep during the paragliding Roadblock.
5th place: Nicky and Kim, “Baseball Wives” of players Chris Getz and David DeJesus. “We do have our own personalities!” Nicky insisted, which is a huge red flag that maybe they don’t. Kim’s genuine freaked-out reaction to paragliding and her struggle with the giant oars in the fish-collecting challenge did make her endearing, I thought. I’ll be rooting for her as long as I can steer my eyes away from the perplexing softballs in her shirt. Whoops — too late.
6th place: Ally and Ashley, L.A. Kings Ice Crew Girls. Does initiation to the ice crew involve paying for the exact same face? Help!
NEXT: I refuse to call them ‘the Afghanimals’ after this week. New nickname, stat!7th place: Leo and Jamal, cousins and self-proclaimed “Afghanimals” whose parents came over to America from Afghanistan. I’m sorry to report that so far, these guys are annoying — and kind of obnoxious to boot, repeating “In a race in a race” and “My wife is pregnant” as they rushed off the second leg of their flight. Seriously, guys? In the fixed walkway? Save it for a Detour or something!
“We let girls beat us,” pouted Jamal after the girls brought it to Leo’s attention that he should have been collecting the fish himself. Get used to it, buddy!
8th place: Jason and Amy, self-satisfied daters from Boston. He rowed crew in prep school; she’s a former Miss Rhode Island. “When we’re firing on all cylinders, nothing can stop us.” Excuse me while I nap.
9th place: Tim and Danny, best friends and oil field operators from small-town Oklahoma. Nice, honest guys. They work 70-90 hours a week — yikes! Tim has a sick wife and Danny has two daughters, “so we’re just so hungry,” Danny said. Can someone get these guys a granola bar or something? Does the all-new Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid come front-loaded with snacks?
Tim mentioned the money and what his family could do with it a few more times during challenges, and ehhhh. Maybe cut that out. Once per episode is more than enough; once per segment and I may start to dislike you.
10th place: Brandon and Adam, long-haired best friends of 22 years who live in the woods (sometimes in the same bathtub) in northern California. They’ll get naked at the drop of a hat, which could save them game-changing slivers of time on the race. They’re really good at hugging each other in taxis, so I’m glad they get to stick around.
Next week: The teams “crack up” and “strip down” — there’s bikinis in a pit of muddy water. What would the Baseball Husbands say?!
Are you into the Race so far? Did you love the way Phil yelled “dusty streets”? And is anyone rooting for Marie to fail in at least one way just so Tim can have irrefutable proof that it could happen?
Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.