Can ‘The Amazing Race’ make a return to the Emmy race?

2020 marked the end of one major era at the Emmys. Because it did not air in the 2019-20 cycle, “The Amazing Race” was ineligible for the first time since the Best Competition Program category was created in 2003. Its streak of 17 consecutive nominations was over, but now it can make a grand return for No. 18.

“The Amazing Race” is contending for its 32nd season, which itself was delayed for almost two years after it filmed. The category will have five nominees just like last year, but one fewer than when the 10-time champ last competed in 2019. Last year, the nominees were “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which won for the third straight year, “Nailed It,” 2010 champ “Top Chef,” four-time champ “The Voice” and first-time nominee “The Masked Singer.”

This five can easily repeat this year since voters are creatures of habit with this category, but you’d be a fool to count out a show that never missed a nomination for 17 years and won for the first seven years. The former note is key. “The Amazing Race” has never been outright snubbed by voters; it was just ineligible last year. When voters are done with you in this category, they are done with you for good, but that’s by their own volition. Former nominees like “Project Runway” and “Dancing with the Stars” were snubbed when eligible and have yet to make it back in since their last bids in 2018 and 2016, respectively. No show that has been dropped when eligible — versus a forced absence from ineligibility — has been able to return yet.

SEE Phil Keoghan on ‘The Amazing Race’s’ heartbreaking delays and why fans have connected with ‘Tough as Nails’

Voters literally could not vote for “The Amazing Race” last year, so the question really is: Will they flock back to it after a one-year gap? It could be a familiar name-check, but the sheer scope of the show will always make it a worthy and dangerous contender. And after a year during which we were locked up in our homes, watching people race around the world is a piece of wistful comfort.

Phil Keoghan recently told Gold Derby that Team TAR was bummed to have sat out last year’s Emmys, but it’s only made them hungrier to try to return. “The show is still setting a standard for excellence as far as reality television goes,” the host said. “Of course, we wanted to be in the mix because, again, you want to be relevant. My biggest concern through all of this is to just keep us in the zeitgeist. It’s managed to do it for so many years. You want to be part of it. You want to keep striving to be better and every year improving and … trying new and different things. Yeah, frustrating not to be there, but also I think it’s inspired all of us who make the show to be like, ‘Right! We’re coming back! We’ll be there again. Let’s see if we can get back again.’”

In the early odds, “The Amazing Race” is in fifth place, behind “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “The Masked Singer,” “The Voice” and “Nailed It.” Even if it does return this year, it will likely miss again in 2022 because production has yet to resume on Season 33, which shut down last year in the early days of the pandemic.

Emmy odds for Best Competition Program
RuPau's Drag Race is out front

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