It's been a while, but The Amazing Race is finally back on the air with new episodes this week. The show's looooong-awaited 32nd season premieres Wednesday with an episode that kicks off in Los Angeles and take teams to Trinidad and Tobago on the first leg of their race around the world.
If the concept of a globetrotting race seems like an implausible dream these days, that's because it is. Fortunately for CBS, this season of The Amazing Race was filmed long before the COVID-19 crisis, making it a very valuable piece of programming. At a time when the jewel in CBS's reality crown, Survivor, hasn't yet been able to return to production, The Amazing Race is filling Survivor's fall time slot, and perhaps it will give people who either never watched the show or have lapsed from it a chance to connect now that the network TV landscape is so barren.
So how long, exactly, has this season of Race been sitting on the shelf? And what can we expect from the new season? Here's everything you need to know about Season 32:
The 32nd season of The Amazing Race kicked off on November 10, 2018, and since it takes a little over a month to tape a whole season, we can assume it wrapped up a little before Christmas of that year. So it's been nearly two full years for the Racers between when they first took off to when their exploits will finally make it to air.
From 2008 until 2016 (the show's 13th through 28th seasons), The Amazing Race had been filming two seasons a year, one which filmed in early summer and aired in the fall, and one filmed in the late fall and aired the following winter. Then, for Seasons 29 and 30, CBS pulled back to only one season per year. However, CBS was clearly happy with the viewership numbers for the show, and two seasons were ordered to be filmed in 2018. Season 31, which was cast with all-stars from CBS's three big reality shows — The Amazing Race, Big Brother, and Survivor — taped from late May to early July 2018, followed by Season 32 in November/December.
CBS originally planned a summer 2019 release for Season 31, before ultimately plugging it into the post-Survivor timeslot in April after Million Dollar Mile flopped. By that point, there were two full seasons in the can, so no further seasons were filmed in 2019. But it left Season 32 sitting on the shelf, waiting a whole other year for a planned summer 2020 airing. However, with the pandemic halting production on this fall's edition of Survivor, The Amazing Race was delayed another few months. Now, after nearly two full years, Season is finally airing.
The gimmick is that there is no gimmick. Some of the most recent seasons of The Amazing Race have featured big casting stunts, some of which changed the nature of the show entirely. In addition to Season 31's CBS Reality All-Stars concept, there was Season 28, which featured teams entirely comprised of social-media notables (in a pretty blatant bid to capture youth viewership), and Season 29, in which the teams were actually all strangers who were paired up with each other at the beginning of the race. For Season 32, according to host Phil Keoghan, the show is going back to basics, with eleven teams of two, each with a pre-existing relationship.
While a far cry from last season's returning players, there are a few familiar names among this cast. Fans of the NFL's Carolina Panthers will recognize their former All-Pro running back DeAngelo Williams and former tight end Gary Barnridge as one of the teams. Olympic bronze-medal hurdler Kellie Wells-Brinkley will partner with fellow Olympic hurdler LaVonne Idlette for what should be a very formidable team. We'll also get pro volleyball brothers Riley and Maddison McKibbin.
We know from the first-episode description that the teams will kick off the Race from Los Angeles and travel on their first leg to Trinidad and Tobago, in the southern Caribbean. It will mark the first time that the show has reached that country. Over next several weeks, the Race will take them to France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and more. This season, the show will reach a significant milestone as they cross one million total miles traveled over the course of the series. To wrap your head around that vast measurement, imagine one thousand Vanessa Carltons singing "A Thousand Miles."
The show premieres after Big Brother this Wednesday October 14th, and will air weekly on Wednesdays at 9:00 PM ET.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.