‘The Amazing Race’: 1 Offscreen Rule Changed Because of COVID-19
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down television productions worldwide in 2020. But whereas a handful of shows were able to return to work a few months later, it was a little more complicated for The Amazing Race. The basis of the reality competition series is to race around the world for $1 million, so with travel restrictions, The Amazing Race producers had to restructure their rules to ensure the cast and crew’s safety.
COVID-19 fundamentally changed the rules of the reality series
The cast and crew of The Amazing Race 33 had filmed three legs in early 2020 before COVID-19 forced them to pause production and return home to the United States. Filming wouldn’t restart until a year and a half later, in September 2021, and by the time it rolled around, the race looked a lot different.
The first The Amazing Race rule producers had to change for season 33 revolved around teams booking their own flights. Contestants running through airports trying to catch the fastest flight to their next destination wasn’t feasible anymore. So, CBS chartered a plane for the show that transported the cast and crew between legs.
Producers also had to limit the teams’ interactions with locals, so they could no longer take a taxi. The cast did much more self-driving, walking, and biking during the pandemic to avoid exposure to the virus. And producers picked out locations that had low rates of COVID-19.
But aside from differing traveling rules, The Amazing Race contestants were required to be vaccinated and wear masks when necessary. A medical team also constantly tested the cast and crew for COVID-19.
Following season 33, it still wasn’t safe for the show to revert to its original format. So all of these rules were also in place for The Amazing Race 34.
‘The Amazing Race 34’ winners Derek and Claire reveal another rule change
Following the finale of The Amazing Race 34, winners Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss posted a YouTube video answering fan questions about their season. And during the Q&A, the couple shared another The Amazing Race rule that producers had to change because of COVID-19.
Claire, reading a question, said, “Not as applicable to us, but after you’re eliminated, what happens? Do you see those teams again? What’s going on?”
“No, like, from our perspective, they’re dead,” Derek revealed. “They’re gone. I don’t see them.” Claire interjected, “You don’t get to say goodbye. They’re not on our plane.”
“You don’t know how they went out,” Derek continued. “Sometimes, you might not even know who went out. If you were the first team to finish, you finish your interviews, you go to a hotel, and you won’t even get to see the last team. So you don’t know until maybe the next leg starts or a travel day, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, wait. Who’s missing?’ And then you’ll figure it out.”
Claire added, “They would just fly them home. In prior seasons, there was something called elimination station, which is like Ponderosa [from Survivor] or the jury house [from Big Brother], where if you’re eliminated, you just got brought to a house. But that was not applicable to our season because of COVID.”
So instead of having them stay in “elimination station,” The Amazing Race producers’ new rule was to fly teams home following their eliminations.
Will ‘The Amazing Race 35’ feature a charter plane?
Unfortunately, CBS will continue to enforce the new COVID rules for The Amazing Race 35. The cast and crew will fly via a charter plane, and they will likely have limited contact with locals.
Travel restrictions are still in place for many parts of the world, and producers must abide by them. But hopefully, fans will watch teams frantically book their own flights again soon.
All seasons of The Amazing Race are available to stream on Paramount+. And The Amazing Race 35 will premiere during the 2023-2024 television season.
Source: Cheat Sheet
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