The Amazing Race Season 22: Preview
By Daron Aldridge
February 17, 2013

Here's a bunch of people we'll mostly hate in a few hours.

An Amazing Race haiku to kick off the season:

Racing ‘round the world
A new Amazing season
Of Phil’s arched eyebrow

It’s time for you to get ready for a new batch of dysfunctional teams of Amazing Racers seeking a million dollars and damaging America’s international reputation. What better way than with our seasonal round of introductions and knee-jerk reactions/predictions? If you thought that after 21 seasons of the show that there is a sure-fire, can’t miss way to predicting a winner for the Race, then you would be wrong. At this point, predictions remain equal parts “educated” and “guess,” with a pretty liberal definition of “educated.”

Let’s dive right in and give the teams vying for screen time and cash a proper introduction (in order of how I think they will fare this season).

Pamela & Winnie (Friends): Wow. This team had the least dynamic or memorable welcome/intro interview of the bunch. These ladies lack much enthusiasm at all and embrace their lack of patience as if it were a prize. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. They apparently both have short tempers too. When it comes time for their good qualities, they offer not actual examples of their strengths. Rather they list off the standard “we’re smart, we’re not afraid to try anything” go-to line. Being multi-lingual would be very useful for them but since I predict they will be the first team eliminated, I doubt this skill will get much use.

Charles & Wynonna (Married): Tentatively named Team Big Bad Hair. Charles (or Chuck as he calls himself) can’t stop smiling. He seems like a giddy kid on Christmas morning about being on the Race but Wynonna seems more irritated than excited. She is quick to point out that this was all his idea and comes across happy to fill the role of negative naysayer on the team. I envision her losing her cool and throwing out “Whatevers” with reckless abandon in Charles’ general direction. They do appear to have a pretty strong grasp on the pitfalls of the Race and the need to “think and then run.” This could serve them well if Wynonna doesn’t just get overwhelmed and throw her hands up in defeat. Tenth place seems to be their destiny.

Matthew & Daniel (Friends): Tentatively named Team SCFD. These South Carolina firefighters (SC + FD = their nickname) are just a couple of good ol’ boys who have been best friends forever. The physical demands of their profession should have prepared them for some elements of the Race but I am not convinced that is enough for these guys. Even they don’t think that they are equipped mentally to endure on the Race and think that will be their biggest downfall, plus with an "Aw shucks" attitude, the travel to foreign areas (which is to say anywhere outside the South Carolina state line for them is “foreign”) is equally problematic. Since we are all in agreement with that, let’s say they are eliminated in ninth place and call it a day.

Caroline & Jen (Friends): Tentatively named Team Cowboy Royalty. Why such a name? Simple…Jen’s the granddaughter of John Wayne and Caroline is a direct descendent of Daniel Boone. Plus they were in a country band Stealing Angels together for years. The years in the band and constant travel should serve them well on the Race but Caroline (straight blonde hair) admits that the pressures of airports will stress her out while Jen (curly blonde hair) is the calming voice of the team. But in the challenges themselves, the roles will likely reverse with the more gung-ho Caroline willing to take the risk and Jen being the one needing encouragement to do things out of her comfort zone. In my opinion, all it takes is the more hesitant Jen to mistakenly volunteer for a Roadblock that is too much for her to handle emotionally and they will be eliminated. I'm going with an eighth place finish for them.

Joey & Meghan (Friends): Tentatively named Team YouTube. This pair of Internet personalities are best friends from Los Angeles, who have parlayed YouTube into their careers and have separately amassed pretty substantial followings of subscribers. They are admittedly in it for the adventure because they feel there is nothing like The Amazing Race in the world. Citing their history of having to work hard for their success, Meghan admits that they may not expect to win but they will work hard every step of the way. In their introduction video, they seem more grounded than I expected but they do have a high probability of “Hey, look at me…aren’t I so clever/witty/zany?” annoyance. As a team that I really want to like, I hope I’m wrong but these hopes of mine are usually dashed before the end of the first leg. Their spunk and enthusiasm should carry them for a few legs but not too deep into the Race. Give them seventh place.

Katie & Max (Newlyweds): Tentatively named The Honeymooners. For a team that has only been married for a month when this season was taped, they are more than happy to be touted as this season’s villains. They have the perspective that they’re in the race to win and not make friends. Max declared that they will do anything to win, as long as it doesn’t penalize them on the Race. Their collective hyper-competitive personalities could work for them but given an admission that communication is their biggest hurdle, it doesn’t matter how much of a competitive streak you have if you can’t work together. She is a former NFL cheerleader and has a doctorate degree. They are choosing not tell people about her education because they view Katie as the secret weapon on the team. I suspect that they will align themselves with another team and spill their secret pretty early on because egotistical people like them LOOOOVE talking about themselves. They have it in them to give a decent run on here but they are probably not as great as they think, so I predict they end up a middle-of-the-pack sixth place.

Jamil & Idries (Brothers): Tentatively named Team Dead Ringers (minus the being evil part). These brothers admit they represent various cross-sections and Race-indentifying labels: African American, Muslim, twins, and doctors. They strategize that they will be a "flying under the radar" team because people typically underestimate them. On the Race, they will simply play into those assumptions but quietly make their way to the end. They acknowledge that being so similar means they share similar strengths and weaknesses. It’s refreshing to have a pair of twins with self-awareness and that I want to do well after the nightmare that was last season’s Sri Lankan sisters. I am optimistic for Jamil & Idries to make it to the fifth place.

Mona & Beth (Friends): Tentatively named Team Sock ‘er, Moms. Both Mona & Beth have the common thread of being mothers of three kids, as well as years of experience in the competitive, stressful and physically demanding sport of roller derby. I love that Beth describes the Race as “Your bucket list consolidated down into three or four weeks.” While not in the heat of the Race, they appear like two average moms but they do give an air of confidence but not arrogance in their ability to be competitive and hopefully they will perform at the level that their roller derby years have pushed them to perform at. If that competitiveness kicks in and proves valuable, I am predicting a fourth place finish for them.

Anthony & Bates (Brothers): Tentatively named Team Slapshot or Team Lockout. It looks like these hockey brothers made the most of the NHL lockout by squeezing in the Amazing Race while they waited to get back on the ice and their chosen profession. These guys are going to be physically imposing figures on the Race but browsing 21 seasons of Amazing Race history, it’s not always the strongest team that wins. In fact, it is rarely the physically strongest team (cough* Team Beekman * cough) that wins. On the plus side, these guys seem genuinely nice, which could serve them very well with the other teams. Plus, you can add in that they acknowledge that when it comes down to them or teams they are allied with, they are going to look out for number one. My gut feels they could stake a claim to a spot in the final three.

David & Connor (Father/Son): Tentatively named Team Livestrong. Clearly this season was filmed before the Lance Armstrong bombshell rocked the Livestrong organization because this team of cancer-surviving father and son proudly wear Livestrong gear. Because I’m not a cold, callous person, I will do exactly as the producers want and root for this team to win. The compelling aspect that both men have underwent and came out on top of cancer is reason enough to want to them to excel on the Race but then they speak and their appreciation for life is front and center and admirable. It just makes me want to root for them even more enthusiastically. Despite the physical trials of disease, both appear to be in excellent shape and the combination of a strong body and strong, positive outlook should push them to the end. Possibly even as the first ever parent/child winning team, if they can stave off…

John & Jessica (Dating): Tentatively named Meghan & Cheyne 2.0. This Minnesota couple that relocated to California has all the signs of being a Race reincarnation of dominating force/winning team from a couple seasons ago, Meghan & Cheyne. John & Jessica are proud adrenaline junkies, who have marathons, rock climbing, scuba diving, skydiving, white water rafting, etc. under their belts already. They may be the most physically fit team on the Race and during their introduction video, they give an air of likeability that seems genuine without a hint of egotism. Plus, their resume of thrill seeking pastimes seems to be have been unofficially prepping them for the Race for years. If that balance of athleticism and likeability are the reality, then I will pick them to win it all.

There you have it and now it’s almost time for use to begin our other annual tradition of seeing how incredibly wrong I am with my guesses. It’s only a little bit longer until our lovable host Phil unleashes these people on the world, treating us to a few months of entertaining adventures.

So, when the clock strikes 8 p.m. (EST) tonight, it’s time to “GO!”