NOTE: Thirty-four English speaking teams competed in TAR during 2015 (TAR 26, TAR Canada 3, and TAR 27). Now it is time to evaluate how they all did. This is primarily being done because it is going to be at least a few years before I get to these seasons in my TARstorian rankings, and I doubt you want to wait until 2019 or so before you hear my opinions on contemporary racers.
We will be ranking these teams based on various criteria.
Overall racing abilities.
Overall storyline and ability to narrate the actions of what goes on.
29) Harley Rodriguez & Jonathan Knight – TAR 26 – 9th Place – 6.75 Team Average
Entertainment value: 2
Overall Racing Abilities: 1.5
Comedic Contribution: 3
Overall storyline and narration: 1
Before we dive into Harley & Jonathan’s storyline on The Amazing Race 26 (and before a bunch of their fans scream at me for ranking them too low), there are two topics I want to cover.
I remember it like it was a lifetime ago or in other ways it was just like yesterday ago.
During the 12th grade, my sister and I tuned in to watch music videos for the first time in several years. In Canada, our equivalent of MTV is called MuchMusic. There is a spin-off of MuchMusic called MuchMoreMusic which is essentially music for people over the age of 30.
Anyways, months before I graduated from high school, we were watching a show called MuchMoreRetro where they would play “classic” music videos. One of the music videos that played was a song by the Backstreet Boys.
“Are you kidding me? Backstreet Boys are considered retro now? I remember when they first started.”
“Trust me, it only gets weirder and scarier as you get older, Logan.”
This is coming from my sister who is ten years older than me.
Right around 2009 is when everyone was really into nostalgia and the whole idea of “wow, this takes me back”.
Random music groups would come back together, more and more shops would open up for those who are suckers for the past, and dormant franchises like Punchout and Mega Man would see sequels being released. Fast forward to the present and the video gaming market is littered with remasters and unexpected sequels (Rare Replay, Mighty No. 9, Yooka Laylee, Fast Racing Neo, Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess/Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask/Wind Waker).
But put the effort into releasing an original title for the Wii U? Nah, not a priority.
Hell, I am a sucker for nostalgia too. In fact, the current consoles plugged in my bedroom are a Super Nintendo and a Playstation 2.
I would apply this nostalgia exploitation to Survivor and TAR. Whether it be the inclusion of Gervase and Kelly Wiglesworth, or TAR 25 and 27 where they revive old relics in the form of Zambia, Flushing Meadows, Frank & Margarita, Rob & Brennan, and “swing you fat bastard, swing!”
b) Boy bands.
And this is the other point I like to bring up. Boy bands. America loved this sh-t back in the late 90s and in the new millennium. Even Canada made a half-assed attempt at producing their own talent.
First they went up. . .then they went down. Really far down.
They’ll get down on you tonight!. . .then probably be arrested.
But seriously, as somebody who visited my aunt’s house in Washington state for two weeks each summer, I can recall the posters of N*Sync and other boy bands that my cousin had in her room.
And yeah, N*Sync were the absolute biggest. They were able to extend their life because they ultimately stuck it to the man in the form of Lou Pearlman and Lieutenant LT Smash.
A guy who tried to be as notorious and powerful as Suge Knight, but miserably failed in every way imaginable. If only Lou had a pitbull named Damu.
Anyways, it made them come off as being badass by the genre’s low standards, and helped them clobber the boy band market. In addition, they appeared on my favourite cartoon at the time, The Simpsons. Wurd.
The fun part about N*Sync is that there was a fight amongst fans as to who is the most popular one in the group. Some would say it was Lance Bass in the beginning, but Justin Timberlake would dethrone him and become the megastar he is today.
JC Chavez and Joey Fatone would be respected and each find their own gigs to do over the years. Neither of them got to put their dick in a box, but hey, they found some success.
And as for Chris Kirkpatrick?
Yeah, better luck next time buddy.
J-T would date Britney Spears. Then come into his own with being heavily involved with Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d. Then release a ridiculously popular solo album that peaked with getting Janet Jackson naked by the end of a song. Then, as mentioned before, put his dick in a box. Then become a great actor as well as a great comedian.
Even those who hate boy bands love Justin Timberlake’s media presence. -Nobody- in my family ever got into the boy band craze, but we all find J-T to be hilarious and a likeable dude.
As for Lance Bass? the best he could go for was to be a guest on a celebrity version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Things were looking up for Lance, though. Really high up. He wanted to go to space. The mission was all about putting Lance Bass into space for a TV special and make him the youngest person ever to accomplish this feat.
Unfortunately, Lance’s dreams were crushed as everything went wrong and Mr. Bass’ lessons in the Russian language would all prove to be a huge waste of time.
How could you say ‘no’ to that face?
So yeah. Two opportunities were in front of Lance to make J-T jealous, but neither one worked out.
In 2006, TAR producers were preparing to film The Amazing Race 11: Real All Stars. This was great for Lance Bass because he was dating TAR 4 winner Reichen Lehmkul (yeah, that’s his last name).
Producers loved the idea of an actual celebrity finally participating on The Amazing Race. I mean, he is a little washed up, but not exactly a D-list celebrity. Lance was C+ at best.
Reichen received the phone call for him and Lance to do All Stars. In a hilarious twist, Reichen declined because he did not want to do the race without Donkey Kong as his partner. Producers wanted an ex-boy band member to play, but forgot that this would only be possible on the basis of Lance receiving any good luck since N*Sync disboybanded.
Fast forward nine years later and producers finally get an ex-boy band member to be on The Amazing Race. Who is it?
Yeah. . .who is it? Really? The guy on the left?
Apparently Jonathan Knight was a member of New Kids on the Block. Seeing how TAR dominates the 49+ demographic, this was a perfect fit. Older women who delve into nostalgia would probably go crazy over Jonathan Knight’s inclusion in TAR 26.
And the funny part? They did. The comments were everywhere online from women over the age of 35. Sure, they hated the dating theme for the season but OH MY GOD IT’S JONATHAN F–KING KNIGHT!
As to what a 24 year old guy like me knows about New Kids on the Block? Well, they had a bunch of hits, Chinese food makes me sick, I think it’s fly when girls stop by for the summer, I like girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch, I’d take her if I had one wish, and she’s been gone since that summer. . .since that summer.
And that’s what it was like for Harley & Jonathan for four weeks on The Amazing Race 26. Just everyone taking their crack at making a joke regarding nostalgia and boy bands. Hell, editors got in on this too by playing remixed NKOTB tunes whenever they arrived at the pit stop mat.
During the Detour in the 2nd round where Harley & Jonathan ate noodles, I even tweeted them saying “it’s more like #NewKidsonTheWok”. It truly was a game to see who could make the best puns.
A battle which I think I won, according to Harley.
Personally, it would have been awesome if Harley & Jonathan had a camera operator, a sound guy, and a DJ who just plays their songs wherever they travel.
At the end of episode two, Harley & Jonathan found the first Date Night card for TAR 26. For those who have already forgotten what this was, it was a twist for this season where one team would go on a romantic date during the pit stop while accompanied by dozens of camera operators who are hoping you do it on film.
Well, this concept fell so flat that it would eventually be edited out of most episodes after the March Madness break, but Harley & Jonathan lucked out by having theirs shown during the start of the third round.
Which was a wise decision because we got to see Harley wear a hat inspired by the Mushroom Kingdom.
(NOTE: This is a screencap I had to find in Google. This didn’t come from my collection of 30, 000+ screencaps.)
Sadly, things would go downhill for Harley & Jonathan from this moment onwards.
Do you recall how older seasons in TAR placed an emphasis on your ability to find the best flight possible to get from Point ‘A’ to Point ‘B’? Well, booking a flight from Japan to Thailand would prove to be the only flight that actually matters for all of TAR 26.
Harley & Jonathan would screw this up so badly that they end up 12-19 hours behind all of the other teams.
Thankfully, a selfie equalizer would knock off about fifteen hours from this deficit. Furthermore, this round was a NEL which nearly eliminated their whole flight blunder.
Sorry Harley & Jonathan, but your elimination is in another Metal Castle!
In round four, a godsend would come down from the heavens for them–The Save. It would be unaired on television, but whoever was the first team to complete both sides of the Detour would earn The Save.
Producers would face an unexpected twist in the form of the water skiing task being too dang difficult for everyone. Thus, nobody would collect The Save including Harley & Jonathan.
They could not make up for lost time and were out of the race within four episodes. It was a good thing TAR would take a three week break after this episode because the nostalgic women needed this time to cry over their boy band crush being gone, and overcome the emotional distress of Jonathan Knight’s absence.
After the race was over, Harley & Jonathan did not go into the Kelly & Shevonne DoucheMobile escape route. Instead, Harley & Jonathan preserved their relationship with many of the teams, and to such an extreme that many of the TAR 26 teams would go to Jonathan’s concerts and hang out with him.
That’s where Harley & Jonathan get my respect. They could have easily gone down the “we’re kind of a big deal, and view TAR as our own private experience”, but chose to take the high route and treated everyone else as equals.
Although Jonathan going around to the other teams shouting “I am Jonathan Knight, BITCH!” would have been hilarious.
They may not have given us much material while racing, but being the open target to bad puns by me, wearing a funny hat on a date, and taking their embarrassing elimination like a champ, grants them a spot at #29 on this list. That’s not bad for a team that was primarily a product of nostalgia and faded boy band stardom.
34) Kelly & Shevonne
33) Gino & Jesse
32) Cindy & Rick
31) Susan & Sharnjit
30) Jeff & Lyda
29) Harley & Jonathan
Hint for #28: The most popular team ever.