There is honestly only one show in which I'd be interested in participating: The Amazing Race. How much fun would that be? Exotic travel, teamwork, competition, exercise, and minor fame, all in one. Plus, you know, a million dollars. Now, these desires hardly set me apart from most people my age, which is exactly what I've been thinking about for the past few days: is The Amazing Race the most millennial reality show out there?
One of the main reasons we watch television is to escape, but sometimes the best escape is not the most far-fetched or fantastic (think Game of Thrones), but the one to which we can most closely relate. Are there that many millennials that want to travel like the participants of the show?
Absolutely. The millennial travel market is so large that it earns its own distinction from the United Nations World Tourism Organization: "Youth Travelers." Youth Travelers comprise 20% of international tourist arrivals every year, or 160 million people. Seventy percent of these travelers say they travel with a purpose, such as volunteering, learning a foreign language, or adventure. That means The Amazing Race is vicariously tantalizing for about 112 million millennials, not to mention the millions more that have never traveled but are interested in doing so.
Now, there are plenty of travel shows. There's an entire travel channel. So what makes The Amazing Race more appealing to millennials? I think it's that it has the perfect blend of competition, excitement, drama, and exotic travel. No Reservations is exotic and Anthony Bourdain is funny, but the show isn't thrilling. Man vs. Wild is thrilling the entire time, but there's no interpersonal drama and honestly, who among us that is reading this can actually relate to his experiences? Parachuting directly into the Canadian wilderness and then surviving off of berries and small animals? Not really in my realm of probability. The Amazing Race is inherently a competition, set in exotic places, with consistent challenges and excellent editing that keeps the show moving quickly. Which means we want to still be there after the commercial break. Additionally, the drama isn't mind-numbing, the way it is on so many other reality shows.*
Of course, everything I just said is simply my opinion, but The Amazing Race's quality and appeal speak for themselves through the show's success. It is consistently one of the top rated programs in the coveted 8:30pm-9:30pm time slot and has won 13 Primetime Emmies, including “Outstanding Reality Competition Program” nine times, losing only once between 2003 and 2012, to Iron Chef in 2010. That's domination.
As a millennial, it's refreshing to see a show that can combine our interests in drama, travel, and competition, such that the show is fun to watch and classy at the same time. As a generation who loves travel, a spot on The Amazing Race is coveted not only for its cash prize or its 15 minutes of fame, but for the journey on the show itself. If you make it through most of The Amazing Race and lose, you've still gone on a hell of an interesting trip. If you make it through most of Wheel of Fortune and lose, you spun a wheel for about a half an hour and met one mediocre celebrity.
In fact, the more I write about this, the more I'm wondering why I haven't applied for the show. I'm currently thumbing through my iPhone's address book for friends that speak more than three languages. I suggest you start doing the same.
*By the way, I just saw my first ten minutes of Jersey Shore this week and...can someone explain to me the appeal?