As you wait patiently for the premiere of Amazing Race Canada 3, I’m sure the biggest question on your mind is, “where can I find a podcast where a couple of Americans analyze my nation’s most beloved reality franchise to death, possibly as a means of sublimating their latent Canada envy?” And of course the answer is, as it always has been, Rob Has a Podcast’s Reality TV RHAP-Ups channel, on which the amazing Dan Heaton and I will be regularly recapping TAR:Canada all summer long.
TAR:Canada premieres on CTV on July 8. Last year, CTV was kind enough to lift the region-blocking on their website so that non-Canadians could join the party; here’s hoping they do again, but if not, never fear: we’ll still find a way to bring you coverage.
Dan and I will start our podcasts with a more extensive cast preview show later this week. By popular demand, I’ll also be blogging regularly about the show (apart from a couple of weeks in there where I’ll be on an amazing adventure of my own, albeit one that isn’t being filmed for network TV). But since the whole cast has already been revealed, why not take a quick moment to share some early impressions?Is extreme youth an advantage or a disadvantage?[/caption]
Hamilton Elliott and Michaelia Drever (Engaged Couple from Centreville, Nova Scotia)
US Counterparts: Meghan and Cheyne (Season 15) + Kris and Amanda (Seasons 14/18)
I’m really excited to see The Amazing Race cast its first transgender contestant, and I think these two are an adorable couple. Hamilton and Michaelia have known each other since they were kids. Actually, they still kind of ARE kids. But even at the tender age of 19, they’ve been through a lot together, including a stint as military cadets.
My initial concern was that given their youth, their small stature, and the tiny town they come from, they may be a little out of their depth here. But then again, I skimmed through Wikipedia’s big list of contestants to find an example of a very young couple who went on the show and were totally outclassed …and honestly, there just weren’t very many. More often than not, youth is an advantage when it comes to Amazing Racing. (And really, when you think about it, that makes sense. At 19, you can pull all-nighters and still function the next day, or drink without getting hung over. Not so much at 35, no matter how your stamina is otherwise.) So coming into the Race, I think they’ve got a lot of advantages. But while this show has had plenty of very young contestants, it’s never had a team where both members were too young to drink legally in the U.S., and it is entirely possible that Hamilton and Michaela’s youthful naivety will get the better of them.
Max Altamuro and Elias Theodorou (Dating Couple from Toronto)
US Counterparts: Tim and Marie (Season 23) + Brooke and Robbie (Season 25)
He’s an MMA fighter; she’s in retail. He describes himself as tough but tender; she’s a total girly girl who loves Chanel handbags and all things Disney. They seem high maintenance for sure: Max’s makeup is on point, and Elias apparently occasionally models for the covers of romance novels (yes, this is in his bio; no, I don’t think he was kidding). But they also seem like they’ve come here with their sights set on first place and nothing less. Which isn’t to say they’re total gamebots, or whatever the TAR analogue of gamebots is; they threw a hilarious, ironic self-comparison to Hal and Joanne into their bio, and they’ve got a couple of drama buzzwords like “stubborn” and “cries on command” in there as well. Add to this the fact that they weren’t seriously dating when they applied (Elias described their relationship as a “secret side-ride,” though he implies they got more serious as time went on) and you’ve got a recipe for good television.
The question is: are Max and Elias the comic relief team, the intense villains, the arguers, or some combination of all three? However you slice it, I would guess we’ll be seeing a lot of these two over the course of the season.
Gino and Jesse Montani (Brothers from Hamilton)
US Counterparts: Jaymes and James (Season 21) + Eric and Jeremy (Season 9)
I’ve got an exercise for you. Look at Gino and Jesse’s photo. Don’t read their bio or watch their video, just spend a moment contemplating the countenances of these beefy, tatted-up brothers. Now, go ahead and guess: which previous TAR: Canada team do they think they are most like? (Hint: it’s the one pretty much everyone thinks they’re most like.) But these guys may actually have a legitimate case for making the comparison, at least physically. It’s too soon to tell if their senses of humor will be as pronounced as Jet and Dave’s.
Based on their physical fitness alone, there is absolutely no way these guys are the first team out. My guess is that they, like Max and Elias, will go deep into the game, and we’ll be seeing a lot of them along the way. The fact that they seem to be superfans is another big plus in that column.
Dana Hayward and Amanda Johnston (Co-workers from Wabush, Newfoundland)
US Counterparts: Nary and Jamie (Season 20) + Kym and Alli (Season 25)
Please hold all Newfie jokes until the end of the article. The more salient point here is the fact that these women are law enforcement officers currently stationed in a remote area of Labrador. That spells “tough” to me. Dana and Amanda have said they’re most like Mickey and Pete (the rural connection certainly makes sense), but I don’t know how you look at them and don’t get a little hint of the team that Mickey and Pete beat in the finals.
Young? Sure (they’re both 23). Fit? Absolutely. Cosmopolitan? Maybe not so much. Once we hit the international travel portion of the program, these two might hit a snag.
Nic La Monaca and Sabrina Mercuri (Dating Couple from Montreal)
US Counterparts: Terence and Sarah (Season 13) + Trey and Lexi (Season 22)
Couples from Montreal have historically done pretty well on TAR: Canada, and if you squint, you might get both a Brett and Holly vibe AND an Alain and Audrey vibe from Nic and Sabrina. (If the six of them don’t wind up getting brunch together to welcome Nic and Sabrina to the TAR family sometime before the end of the season, I will be shocked. In fact, it may have happened already.)
Multilingual, young, fit (Nic used to play pro soccer), and well-traveled, I think this team’s a contender. However, a year and a half is not very long in the grand scheme, and the fact that they both have an extreme fear of water means that the first aquatic task might knock them to the back of the pack.
Brent and Sean Sweeney (Brothers from Toronto via Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia)
US Counterparts: Sam and Dan (Season 15) + Kurt and Bergen (Season 26)
Oh, Brent and Sean. Never make your Amazing Race team introduction anything to the effect of “don’t count us out.” It broadcasts from the start that we should think of you as non-contenders. You can totally own your underdog-ness, but don’t make it your lead story. The brothers Sweeney hail from a tiny town near Halifax, but both have recently moved to Toronto to pursue a career in design.
If these two are prone to bickering — which I could totally see happening — they will at least be good TV. But the fact that they seem a little bit less fit than most other teams, combined with their self-acknowledged underdog status and the fact that Sean’s high school classmates voted him “worst driver,” makes me fear for their longevity in the race.
Susan Hayre and Sharnjit Gill (Besties/Corrections Officers from Vancouver)
US Counterparts: Karen and Linda (Season 5) + Natalie and Nadiya (Season 20/24)
I know, I know, I compare everyone to the Bowling Moms. I blame the casting at TAR:US, who’ve managed to cast about two iconic “tough mom” teams and then a whole lot of cannon fodder. Susan and Sharn are among the oldest teams this season. Note, however, that at 38 and 39, they don’t exactly have one foot in the grave yet, and they, like fellow racers Dana and Amanda, have a lot of experience on a very tough, law-enforcement-related career path. They’re loud, blunt, and high-energy, all of which can be pluses or minuses, depending on circumstance.
Like the Twinzz (and the Twinnies!) before them, I could see Sharn and Susan going out early. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could become the dark horse contenders ala the aforementioned Bowling Moms or, more recently, Amazing Race: Australia vs. New Zealand‘s Carla and Hereni, who made it all the way to the Final Four and were the last Kiwis standing.
Brian and Cynthia Boyd (Married Police Officers from Winnipeg)
US Counterparts: Art and JJ (Season 20) + Fran and Barry (Season 9)
Okay, I have to know, TAR: Canada: was ANYBODY holding down the fort up there in May, or did every law enforcement officer in the entire country take a month of leave to go on your show? Well, let’s roll with it. I know better than to provoke the ire of cops. At 46 and 41, respectively, Brian and Cynthia are also on the old side of this cast, but they don’t seem to think age is going to be a factor. They’re aiming high with their self-comparison to Meghan and Natalie (are they intense competitors or just really big hockey fans?) and they’re pretty sure the skills that serve them well as cops will serve them equally well on the race.
Which might be true if every single other freakin’ team on this show didn’t have some kind of military or law enforcement background. Brian and Cynthia can’t coast on their cop skills alone. And age and physical fitness could definitely be obstacles for them. They seem like nice people, and I’ll definitely be rooting for them, but I don’t know if I’d pick them to go all the way.
Dujean Williams and Leilani Ross (exes from Toronto)
US Counterparts: Tim and Marie (Season 23) + Ray and Yolanda (Season 9)
Professional dancers “Lei” and “D” have youth, athleticism, and positivity on their side, which tends to be a winning combination, although given how much youth, athleticism, and positivity this cast is packing on the whole, they’ll have their work cut out for them. Still, I think they’ve got a good shot at staying in the front of the pack, at least for awhile, provided they’re good communicators.
Exes can be a tricky relationship dynamic on the Race, whether or not either of them is harboring any residual feelings (of love or resentment). And who among us was an expert at breakups at the tender age of 25? I think the fact that they were friends first, and stayed friends afterward, will certainly help them get past that obstacle, but it’s equally possible that the reasons they made a bad couple could also be the same reasons they make a bad team.
Nick Foti and Matt Giunta (wrestling teammates from the Toronto suburbs)
US Counterparts: Chuck and Ryan (Season 7) + Kevin and Drew (Season 1)
Known to the wrestling world as “Asylum & Burns” or “The Flatliners,” Nick and Matt have wrestled on the same bill as the likes of Hulk Hogan. They’ve done a fair amount of traveling on the pro wrestling circuit, which will probably help them acclimate to the fast pace of the race (although, as Brooke and Robbie taught us, well-traveled doesn’t always equal travel-savvy). Matt’s choice of the touristy-but-remote Roatan, Honduras as his favorite travel destination points to a sense of adventure and a willingness to explore.
Their potential Achilles heel? I don’t think these guys are exactly superfans. You can’t throw a rock in most parts of Canada without hitting a diehard Amazing Race fan, so the casts have tended to be pretty packed with folks who are familiar with the show. If you haven’t digested the JL Rules and your opponents have, you might be at a pretty big disadvantage. (What am I basing this hunch on? Well, I learned from Survivor that anytime folks say the previous contestant they’re most like is “nobody, because there’s no one like us!” it usually means they can’t actually think of any previous contestants. Prove me wrong, Nick and Matt!)
Neil and Kristin Lumsden (Father and Daughter from Burlington, Ontario)
US Counterparts: Steve and Allie (Season 16) + Mel and Mike (Seasons 14/18)
At 62, Neil is the oldest person ever to run The Amazing Race: Canada, though he’s far from a geezer. To Canadian sports fans, he may be a familiar face — he was a three-time Grey Cup winner as part of the Edmonton Eskimos, and his son, Jesse, also played in the CFL for awhile before switching sports to serve on the Canadian bobsled team. But Neil’s partner for this endeavor is his free-spirited daughter, Kristin, a makeup artist.
It may appear that these two are polar opposites, but the Lumsdens claim that they’ve got all the same strengths and weaknesses, which could be a liability for them. Whether they struggle because their shared fear of crawly things has them both repulsed by a Roadblock or they clash because he’s a know-it-all and she’s too loud, I think it’s a bit of an uphill climb for them. But if they can get into a good groove, their athleticism might take them far.
Simi and Ope Fagbongbe (Father and Daughter from Burnaby, British Columbia)
US Counterparts: Gus and Hera (Season 6) + Kevin and Michael (Season 17)
So what sets this team apart from the other father/daughter team? Well, youth, for one (they’re 21 and 46). At 21, I would suspect that Simi is a little less independent than Kristin, which could be helpful to the team (less potential to clash) or it could be detrimental (she might not feel as free to challenge his decisions). The parent/child dynamic is always tricky.
Simi and Ope moved to Canada from Nigeria in 2006, which means that they’ve had a bit of an inoculation to culture shock, and they’re used to traveling together, so I don’t think a win is totally out of the realm of possibility. But by citing “home” as his favorite travel destination, is Ope saying he’d enjoy returning to Nigeria for a visit, or is he saying he likes going home better than he likes exploring? Because if it’s the latter, he’s gonna have a bad time.
So who are my picks for likely winner and sentimental favorite? For that, my friends, you’ll have to tune in to Reality RHAP-Ups.