Roughly two-thirds of my “Amazing Race” exit interview with Caroline Cutbirth and Jennifer Kuhle was a ruse.
Yes, I wanted to discuss the challenges in Belfast that led to their elimination, specifically Jen’s Bog Snorkeling struggles and the subsequent directional misadventures.
And yes, I wanted to talk about their close alliance with Hockey Brothers Bates & Anthony, who won this season’s million dollar prize with frequent assists from the two country singers.
But no matter where the conversation with this season’s fourth place finishers went, I made sure I was leaving enough time to ask about the very strange story that Jen recounted when the teams were in Bali.
“She kept her pet flying squirrel in her bra, and it died of loneliness,” Jen said of Caroline.
Now, the truth about Joey the Flying Squirrel can finally be revealed.
Click through for Jen & Caroline’s full exit interview. And stay tuned over the next three nights for the remainder of this season’s “Race” interviews…
HitFix: For all the assistance you gave them along the way, how much of that million dollars you would say Bates and Anthony probably owe you?
Caroline Cutbirth: [Laughing.] I think they owe us at least 10 grand each.
Jennifer Kuhle: You went way down, Caroline! This morning you said it was the whole million dollars.
Caroline: I know, but that’s probably a little bit unreasonable, but 10 grand each is totally fair. We saved their hide so many times.
Jennifer: I would take 10 grand. when you talk to them, would you tell them that please?
HitFix: Unfortunately, I talked to them earlier. But I have to say that 10 grand sounds fairly reasonable.
Caroline: Did they agree also that they need to give us some money?
HitFix: Unfortunately, I didn’t phrase a question to them in exactly that way, but they definitely seemed appreciative for your assistance.
Caroline: Awww. I’m gonna go beat ’em up.
HitFix: Did it strike you guys either during the Race or after that you maybe should have been trying to knock the professional athletes out of the Race rather than trying help them.
Jennifer: You know what? To be honest, we never thought about that. We really enjoyed racing with them. They were good guys and it’s tough out there, so to have friends that you feel like are really genuine friends is nice. And then when it started getting down to like five teams left, we were like, “Uh-oh. We’d better start thinking about ourselves and not giving away so many hints and everything.” So we kinda had to strange our strategy.
Caroline: But that’s just Jen and my personality. We really love people and we love friends and we’re really open people in general, so it’s very hard for us to withhold information, especially from people who we truly just love. So I don’t think we would change anything. We had a great Race with them and our alliance paid off. They’re a strong team, but they were looking out for us and so I don’t think we’d do anything different.
HitFix: How would you say that the alliance benefited you both in the competition, but also just in the psychological way of having a friend along the way?
Jennifer: I think it was more psychological for us, because even with the U-Turn situation, we still were so far ahead of the other teams that it wouldn’t have mattered, because we all made the pact to save each other. But we were still there so early that it didn’t matter. But I think just psychologically, just knowing that we had that and knowing that we had people that were gonna help us out along the way and vice versa, I think that is a good feeling when you’re out there, because it’s tough. You kinda feel like you’re in the Hunger Games sometimes.
Caroline: You do!
Jennifer: So to have friends out there is really nice.
Caroline: We didn’t go into the game saying, “We’re gonna make alliances.” It sorta just happened naturally, because we just really hit it off. Yeah, I think it was a good thing. Like Jen said, you feel safe.
HitFix: Were you aware throughout of all of the times they were following you guys and sticking with you when you knew the right ways to get places and whatnot?
Jennifer: Oh yeah.
Caroline: Yeah, we were fine with it at the beginning and then, like we were saying earlier, when it started getting down to… Like I think it was in Berlin when we were racing for last place and the guys chose the same Detour as us and we were like, “Great.” Like of course, we like doing stuff with them, but if it’s down to Bates & Anthony or us, they’re gonna win every single time. You know? Because it’s a race to the finish line. So definitely, as teams were dwindling down, it got scarier.
HitFix: You guys had a pretty bumpy last Leg. When you think back on the Bog Snorkeling and then going to the wrong Thing with the Ring and then trying to get to the Detour, which of those missteps do you think played the biggest role in sending you home?
Caroline: I think something that Jen and I, we knew this, but it’s really hard to do this when you’re in the middle of it all: Directions. We struggled with direction and we were in such a panic and we were struggling from the bog to make up time and we went into this little hole-in-the-wall, cute little hardware store and this guy was so confident that he knew what we were talking about that we just trusted him. If Jen and I every get invited back for All-Stars, which we really hope happens, we would always go to the Internet, always. Always go to the Internet and print out a map and look it up and just be 100 percent sure, because honestly you can’t really take someone’s word for it and we learned that the hard way.
HitFix: How long would you say that that misdirection took you out of your way?
Jennifer: It probably took us out of the way by an hour or an hour-and-a-half and that meant the whole Race. We saw watching it back that Mona and Beth were really struggling on their Detour and we went through the graffiti so fast. If we hadn’t gotten lost, we probably would have gotten third place, so that was a big mistake.
Caroline: It was a big mistake. That was hard to watch back, because you’re just kicking yourself in the head going, “Shoot! We knew to get directions from the Internet,” but you have to cut yourself some slack, because it is so hard out there and you’re in such a panic and your mind’s not totally true-on straight, so we were really proud of our Race. And, you know, that’s just our Race overall. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles, unfortunately.
Jennifer: Yeah. Know what? When you’re doing the challenges, sometimes things happen. Like, for example, the bog. I did not want to get back in there. Physically, I thought there was no way I could do. And the thinking with Caroline and the bagpipes, she physically said, “I really can’t do it.” So when you’re in both kinda situations and you power through it, we would never look back and say, “Shoot, that really screwed us up,” because there’s nothing you can do about that. That’s just something you have to get through. But on the direction, the mistakes you make are what really kills you when you think back on it. You know? You don’t think back going, “Oh shoot. I really screwed us up in the bog.” I would never think that, but on the directions, I’d be like, “Shoot, now that was a mistake that… we could have gotten that one right.”
HitFix: You mentioned that you both had those difficult Roadblocks, with Jen and the bog-snorkeling and Caroline and the bagpipes. In the moment, I assume those things drive you nuts and you’re freaking out about them long after. You’ve had a couple months to get past them. Were you able to watch those episodes will a cool head?
Jennifer: Watching it for me, I had anxiety all over again last night. I was dreaming about the Race again. I don’t ever want to think about that bog ever again for the rest of my life. So no. It doesn’t matter how many months later, I still hate it.
Caroline: The bog and the bagpipes are similar in this scenario. If we both would have achieved the goal the first time, we could have been fine. It would have been fine. The problem with the bagpipes was that my mouth started going out and it only happened after I’d been blowing the bagpipe for a while. If I would have just gotten it the first time, I wouldn’t have had that problem with my mouth. And the same with Jen. If she would have just not jumped over that little extra wedge and gotten through the bog the first time, it would have been fine, but doing those kinda challenges for a second and third and fourth and, for me like a thousand times with the bagpipes, that’s when you start to lose it, because your body starts shutting down. And once your body starts shutting down, it’s like, “Oh my gosh. We’re screwed.” It’s hard. You don’t know what to do, because it’s like you’re at a total disability at that point.
HitFix: How hard is it to be the other person at a Roadblock like that, where your partner and friend is struggling and there’s nothing at all you can do?
Jennifer: Gosh, Caroline was just the best friend that anyone could ever ask for. She was walking all along the bog, supporting me and saying I could do it. Honestly, if it was just me and I was competing for myself, I don’t think I would have gotten back in and finished it. I did not care. The only reason I finished it was for Caroline and just, you know, our friendship. We promised each other we would never give up and we didn’t. We pulled through together.
Caroline: I think that’s so true. Jen was the same for me when I was struggling with the surfboards in Bali and the bagpipes in Scotland, she was so support. That’s the beauty of our friendship. We’ve been in a band for seven years. We’ve worked together in such hard, hard situations and we totally trust each other that in any situation we’re going to get in, we know that we’re gonna do the best we can. I trust that Jen was doing the best she could do in the bog situation. Although, I mean, she was having a full-blown meltdown and it was because it was so hard for her in that situation. We never mad at each other or tear each other down, because we truly believe that each other was doing the best they can and I think that’s why we had such a good time on the Race.
HitFix: How close did either one of you come to getting mad or impatient?
Jennifer: We never actually got close at all. If anything, when one of us was struggling, we felt so bad for the other other. We weren’t close. The only only times we got frustrated with each other were driving.
Caroline: And I will say that I was scared for a second with Jen, because I’ve never heard Jen say she’s gonna quit something and that actually just made me feel worried and I was like, “Oh no. This is really bad if she’s saying she’s gonna quit this.” So I think that the only fear I had was at that point. But then she pulled through.
HitFix: Now, I have to get to an important question. Caroline, did you actually have a flying squirrel as a pet?
Caroline: Yes! I love rodents! I had rats growing up my whole life. I had like six different pet rats. I had pet mice. I always wanted a ferret and a hedgehog. And then when I was in college, I went to the fair and I’m kinda an impulsive pet-buyer anyway — which I’ve grown out of in my older years — and there’s a flying squirrel there and I just had to have it, so I bought it and I would take it to all my co-writers with me and take it to school and it’d pop its little head out, because it’d be sleeping between my boobs.
Jennifer: The funniest thing is Caroline, we’d be writing with people and it would literally be in-between her boobs, so when it would pop out, people were staring at her and they were like, “What in the world?” And they were so embarrassed, because they didn’t want to be staring at her boobs, but how could you not when there’s a squirrel inside of them.
Caroline: It was pretty funny.
HitFix: And what actually happened to it? It couldn’t really have died of loneliness, right? I need to know the truth here!
Caroline: No, it did. It died of loneliness.
Jennifer: Her boobs were not enough.
Caroline: My boobs were not enough friends for Joey and he died. He had a little sock that he slept in in his little house and then one day he was just dead in the sock. It was really sad. Really, ready sad. Thank you for bringing these really sad memories.
HitFix: Oh no! OK. We can’t end the interview on this. Quickly, give me a favorite moment from the Race that maybe we didn’t get to see on TV.
Caroline: One of the really great moments we had was a guy gave us $200 on the airplane on the way to Botswana and I couldn’t believe that this guy gave us money. We were like, “Oh my gosh, we’re gonna be rich! We’re gonna buy a bottle of water in every airport and we’re gonna buy meals!” And then our ticket the next day was $180 dollars. So in that sense, you didn’t see that on the show.
Jennifer: There you have it.