This is season No. 21 for “The Amazing Race.” It has been on CBS since 2001 and has won nine out of 10 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Reality Competition Program since the category was created in 2003. Eleven years is a long time to watch teams of Americans race around the world for a cash prize yet the series has consistently averaged around 10 million viewers per season. If you’re not one of these viewers, you should be because “The Amazing Race” is still pretty amazing.

 

 

This is season No. 21 for “The Amazing Race.” It has been on CBS since 2001 and has won nine out of 10 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Reality Competition Program since the category was created in 2003. Eleven years is a long time to watch teams of Americans race around the world for a cash prize yet the series has consistently averaged around 10 million viewers per season. If you’re not one of these viewers, you should be because “The Amazing Race” is still pretty amazing.   The show is literally a race around the world where teams of two follow clues and complete tasks that take them through various countries. They must move through checkpoints and ultimately make it to a final pit stop at the end of each leg of the race. This is where host Phil Keogh is waiting to greet them. The last team to reach Phil is eliminated.   In 21 seasons, two things about the series have stayed the same: 1) More than one team will have an “ugly American” moment where they will insult a native of whatever country they’re racing through in a way that will make you cringe and 2) The constant shrieking of: “Hurry! Hurry! Fast! Fast! We’re in a race!” (or versions of the same in different languages) will be yelled at every taxi driver in every country. What doesn’t stay the same however, is the team dynamics.   This can change over the whole season, but usually it changes several times within an episode as the stress of racing through foreign places while completing physically exhausting challenges takes its toll. Teams get lost, get mad, breakdown, breakthrough. That loving married couple who sweetly supported each other through eating frog intestines in China will be on the verge of divorce as they scrape paint off buses in Bangladesh. Best friends are ready to kill each other because one of them can’t make balloon animals fast enough. It’s these tense and let’s face it, funny, moments that are one of the reasons the series is as entertaining now as it was in season one. Guessing which team is going to lose it is as unpredictable as the random luck that allows one team to pass another simply because they got in a taxi with a driver who knew where he or she was going.   This season the teams collect rats, carry ice blocks, sort through baskets of fish, perform traditional dances and refurbish broken down public transport. It’s a travel experience most of us will never have and a fascinating picture of the real life of a city. But unusual challenges in exotic locales only take the show so far. Without the perfect blend of personalities, the series would grow stale. Calm, rational teams mix with loud, brash teams so that you never get tired of either type. So cheer on your favorites (Go Team James and Jaymes!) and continue to be amazed.     “The Amazing Race” is on Sundays at 8 p.m. EDT on CBS.

Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing.’” She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.