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.
Somehow this will be quantified to produce a ranking for each team.
27) CJ Harris & Lebya “Libby” Simpson – TAR 26 – 10th place – 10.0 Team Average
Entertainment value: 2
Overall Racing Abilities: 0
Comedic Contribution: 4
Overall storyline and narration: 2
“Thank goodness they didn’t have to record their own intro shot.”
Ah. Cell phones.
They started off as the one thing every other country could point and laugh at the United States and Canada for falling behind in. Cell phones in America? Psssh. What a joke.
The first time I recall anyone owning a cell phone was when I still lived in Abbotsford with my mother and siblings as my dad travelled alone to find work. My dad bought a cell phone to call us, but the rates and the lack of reception made it such an awful device that he ditched it within a couple of months.
Suddenly, cell phones started to become cool thanks to my favourite scripted childhood drama–a certain TV show called 24. You thought I was obsessive about The Amazing Race, Survivor, and The Mole back then? Just ask anybody who knew me back when 24 was in its prime.
Cell phones became such an explosive industry in the mid-2000s in Canada that every single electronics based company was getting in on the craze. One of my brothers worked at Rogers Video for several years. What was once the largest video game and movie rental chain in the country was rapidly swarming the cell phone market. Heck, my brother had to drive out of town just to get training on the new Rogers gadget. They emphasized the sale of cell phones while actively discouraging any focus being put on movie or video game sales. Why, my sister’s first cell phone was a MuchMusic cell phone.
Which leads me to this question: Did MTV ever produce cell phones in the US? Because that would be the same concept.
The movie and video game rental industry was projected to be dead within a few years. Cell phones are where the money is at in electronic entertainment.
In the summer of 2008, I was bracing myself for the final year of high school. Shortly after my 17th birthday, my immediate family surprised me with a Motorola Razr. It was the hippest phone on the market at the time, and came with an illin’ Pay As You Go plan.
It was the same cell phone used by Sergei Bazhaev in the then-final season of 24.
And also carried the infamous “Motorola messages” in the one-time TAR knock-off known as Treasure Hunters.
Of course, much like any piece of electronic entertainment, a certain device called the Blackberry (Canadian made) would swarm the market to usher in the era of “smart phones”, and Motorola would fade away very quickly. Motorola and other flip phone devices would become old news.
This would lead to the popularization of selfies. Your female friends would hang out in front of the bathroom mirror producing “duck lips”. Your male friends would hang out in front of the bathroom mirror flexing their muscles and wearing some douchey flat-brimmed baseball cap.
Hopefully Matt’s followers aren’t reading this.
Even Ellen Degeneres, world leaders, your grandparents, and the cast of Big Brother Canada 2 would indulge in the selfie action. It is the only universal symbol of ‘cool’ that everyone could agree on and abide by its simple concept.
In 2016, I continue to cling to my flip phone while approximately 99% of my friends own a smart phone. Everyone is using them to take selfies and uploading them online.
Like, can I just find somebody around my age who fails to adapt to this new system?
And thanks to The Amazing Race 26, that dream would come true.
You thought TAR 26 would stop with Date Night and blind date romances as its failed concepts for the season? Nah, there would be one another major component for this very special season.
Smartphone devices are provided to every team. Every Internet and any other useful function was disabled, but there was one key thing these smartphones could do: Record selfies.
Fifteen years of franchise history would come to this–even your ancient competitive reality shows would get in on the selfie craze. They would be trailing your grandfather by only a few months.
Now, the first two episodes would be dominated by A LOT of selfies. In fact, the season premiere of TAR 26 would go down as the worst season premiere ever partially due to the dozens of selfies that were broadcast during the episode. Is this what our beloved show has turned into? Say it ain’t so, as Weezer would say.
After the first episode, the number of selfies aired would gradually decrease as the season went on. Producers listened to the audience and edited them out of the episodes. If I recall correctly, there was a stretch near the end of the season where only one selfie was shown per round.
However, there was one selfie producers were -absolutely required- to show whether the viewers liked it or not. There was one selfie that would directly affect the fate of one team and lead to their elimination.
Of course, I am referring to none other than CJ & Lebya.
Before we get to their shining moment, let’s reflect on their journey.
CJ & Libby were not projected to do well heading into TAR 26. Other than Kurt, you had a cast filled with extreme Type ‘A’ personalities with very impressive backgrounds. Not to mention even the older teams were in great physical and mental shape.
CJ & Libby were like those nice neighbours you invite over for dinner or to watch the game. You know they are not going to stir anything up, and they will be a relaxing presence. They might not have the craziest stories to tell, but you know they are up for sitting around and chatting about whatever is going on in town or on TV.
Unfortunately, these traits are not ideal if you want to be skilled racers.
Everyone’s predictions came true in the opening round as CJ & Libby had one of the most disastrous debuts. . .but still survived.
As I mentioned before, it was mainly thanks to these guys.
Oh, and those guys not figuring out who was behind them as well as confusing the macarena with the New World Order dance.
Thanks to producers instituting a Double Blind U-Turn, Jeff & Lyda not knowing who was behind them, and Jeff not being able to follow a dance sequence to save his life, CJ & Libby were saved.
The high school sweethearts were plucked from Tuskegee, Alabama and dropped in the middle of downtown Tokyo. Yeah, culture shock hit them hard.
“The hardest thing is figuring out where to go.” — That plea in their voice let you know this was going to be a quick race for CJ & Libby.
They were slow at every task, and could not solve their communication problems with locals. Neither CJ nor Libby are like a Blair Fowler where you move out to LA in your teens to pursue an online career, or be like Ron & Christina where you have several years of foreign travel under your belt.
Something like The Amazing Race is probably the most intensive and challenging event CJ & Libby have ever come across, and they are unable to adapt.
Of course, carrying into episode two just 48 hours later, everyone wanted to see CJ & Libby be saved by another miracle. However, all hope would be crushed within the first ten minutes.
After departing between one to three hours behind all of the other teams, CJ & Libby needed to hustle to the bullet train.
Thankfully, they did. A 9:04am bullet train put them within striking distance of frantic Matt & Ashley or the newly bickering pair of Hayley & Blair.
Then, well. . .
As they struggled to record a selfie with their fancy smartphone, CJ & Libby would miss the bullet train, and ensure they would be the second team eliminated from The Amazing Race 26.
Blind Dates: 2 Dating Couples: 0
Many of us were still pissed off with the selfies from the season premiere just two days earlier, but here in 2016 I can appreciate how ridiculous and hilarious this moment was.
I mean, I can’t imagine what it would have been like for the camera operator and audio technician running around with them.
VIDEO GUY: Hey Bill, this train leaves in like a minute. Why are they waiting so long to get on?
AUDIO TECH: I don’t know, Tom. They’re really involved with that smartphone.
VIDEO GUY: Look, I just want to get out of here. Ever since we went to that pit stop with the adult anime office facility, I need new surroundings. . .and a new shower drain.
AUDIO TECH: Man, are they coming over at all?
VIDEO GUY: Nope. Stillllll staring at their smartphone.
CJ: Finally! I hit ‘record’! Say something Libby to our families back home.
VIDEO GUY: And there it–
LIBBY: Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Oh god!
LIBBY: WE MISSED THE TRAIN!
(AUDIO TECH and VIDEO GUY facepalm.)
For anyone who writes Survivor or TAR fanfics, this is one of those things you could not get away with as a scene.
a) Nobody would believe you that teams would be equipped with smartphones.
b) Nobody would believe you that a team would MISS THEIR TRAIN WHILE RECORDING THEMSELVES TO KILL TIME!
It is a moment you will only believe could be possible if you see it transpire with your own two eyes in real life.
And that would be credited as the reason why CJ & Libby would be eliminated from the race–they just couldn’t put their phone away like a tenth grader who spends too much texting their friends and forgets to do their homework.
Oh, and CJ & Libby lost more time by attempting the Chair side of the Detour, but were unable to even balance on the ice skates before switching over to Share and eating noodles.
CJ & Libby are just not meant for The Amazing Race. I understand casting wants that one “fish out of water” team every once in a while just to see if they can trigger a huge upset, but here they were just asking for too much. CJ & Libby would disappear, but not before heading to Elimination Station and have fun with the other eliminated teams until Jeff & Jackie refused to keep things PG-13.
In a hilarious twist, these selfies apparently had an actual purpose; they would become the final memory challenge of the season. If producers were told beforehand that there would be a huge level of negative feedback, this challenge would have never happened. . .which also means the CJ & Libby moment never would have happened.
It becomes a personal dilemma. I absolutely hated selfies on TAR 26, but then that would come at the cost of one of the top ten most ridiculous reasons for being eliminated ever. Also, seeing CJ & Libby struggle with operating a new electronic device makes me feel better about myself. So thanks CJ & Libby. My joy came at your personal expense.
Much like Dana & Amanda, CJ & Libby are a young team from a small town who do not possess the necessary skills to hold their own at The Amazing Race. In addition, both teams have their legacies boil down to that lone ridiculous and absurd moment of comedy.
For Dana & Amanda, it was winning the Fuel Your Casual Fan Favourite prize after not being featured on TAR Canada for two months.
For CJ & Libby, it is missing a crucial train because they were messing around with recording a selfie.
These moments are the tiebreaker for this ranking of two pairs of early boots, and quite frankly the winner of this tie goes to the team that managed to convert a non-factor into becoming the most influential inanimate object in TAR history.
P.S. Why the hell are there selfies in TAR 28? Are producers hoping for that brief unlikely moment where lightning strikes twice? And how in the world could CJ & Libby’s blunder be topped? Is a team going to record themselves arriving at the pit stop, but be so distracted by how they look in the photo that another team passes them and hits the mat first? That is the only scenario which comes to mind.
Hint for #26: Don’t worry, if you hated this post then I will buy you new eyes.
34) Kelly & Shevonne
33) Gino & Jesse
32) Cindy & Rick
31) Susan & Sharnjit
30) Jeff & Lyda
29) Harley & Jonathan
28) Dana & Amanda
27) CJ & Libby