On Sunday (December 9) night, “The Amazing Race” wrapped up its 21st installment with possibly the most unlikely winner in the show’s history.
And on Monday morning, I talked with each of the final four teams, including the million dollar winner. Counting down from fourth to first, HitFix will be running one interview per day. [I’ll do the same thing next week with the “Survivor: Philippines” winner and remaining contestants.]
Up first? The season’s fourth place finishers, the last team eliminated before that climactic Leg, which took the Top 3 to New York City.
No team on this season’s “Amazing Race” produced the diversity of opinions that greeted Sri Lankan twins Natalie & Nadiya Anderson.
To fans, the Twinies were boundlessly enthusiastic and endlessly quotable and, in the early going, brought energy to a potentially dull season.
To detractors, the Twinies were shrill, loud and bullying. And depending on your definitions for “find” or “steal,” they helped separate James & Abba from a chunk of money, leaving the Rockers begging in the streets of Bangladesh.
But what did viewers expect? As one twin observed in the finale, “We’ve always been evil. We’ve never been nice.”
In our conversation, the Twins were unapologetic about the money incident, but admitted that they gave the show plenty to work with when depicting them as villains. They also talk about their current friendship with all of their fellow Racers and their surprising enthusiasm for the season’s winning team.
Click through for the full conversation…
HitFix: I guess my first question is the obvious one: Did the right team win “The Amazing Race” this season?
Natalie Anderson: Yes! Yes, the right team won “The Amazing Race.” We figured, “You know what? If they beat us, fair and square, and took our space, they might as well win the whole damn thing.”
Nadiya Anderson: Yeah, we were so happy. We were so angry at ourselves. We were angry at the entire world when we got kicked off in France. And then waiting in New York for the winning team to walk in the door, we had no idea who it was and when the Beekman Boys walked in, we were just overwhelmed with joy. And, at that point, none of it mattered. We were so happy for them. Absolutely the right team won.
HitFix: Given the tensions before, were you surprised by how happy you were for them?
Nadiya: We were surprisingly, unexpectedly so surprised at how we felt so happy for them. We didn’t expect to feel that way because we were still so angry and our wounds had still not healed, but seeing them walk in the door, just everything made sense and we were just so happy that if they beat us out and they took our spot, that they didn’t waste it. They took it all the way. It was just amazing.
HitFix: What does it say about the structure of the Race and what’s special about “The Amazing Race” that a team could win no Legs up until the very end and then win the million?
Natalie: Me and Nadiya were doing kick-ass the entire time and we never felt like we ever were scared of losing. We were always in the Top 3. And then it just shows how volatile this race is and how quickly everything can change because each Leg is literally — unless you have a time gap that gives you a great advantage — it’s like a fresh start. And when we went to Spain, just the circumstances of the boat ride put us all on the same playing field, so it’s like: Final 4. Here we go. Starting Line. Let’s go. And everybody just guns it. So I don’t have any problem with a team not winning anything and taking the whole thing. It’s part of why “The Amazing Race” is pretty amazing.
HitFix: You guys seemed to polarize fans to some degree. There were people who loved you and then a lot of people who weren’t such fans. What sort reactions have you guys been getting from friends and loved ones, but also from strangers online and whatnot?
Nadiya: Our friends and the people who know us know our personality and know that we’re just joking, crazy, out-of-control people and we mean it always with a good attitude about it. It’s never meant in any sort of negative way. The fans? Like you said, they’re either extremely to the left or extremely to the right. Our Twinie Fans have been so supportive and they love our quotes and they love the good, bad and the ugly of us. The other extreme? They’re always looking for something to pick on us about. All that matters to us is that our friends and family and the Racers — and all of the Racers we’ve gotten to know extremely well and they love us and the Beekmans love us now and we love even Ryan and Abbie, we’re very good friends now — and that’s all that matters, that the people who really matter to us know us well enough.
Natalie: Online, it’s pretty crazy. We get both extremes. People are so supportive and then some people are really nasty. Luckily, Nadiya and I, we have a thick skin and we take everything with a grain of salt.
HitFix: What did you guys think of yourselves when you watched the season? You know what you’re like, but that’s not the same as watching yourselves on TV? How do you think you came across?
Natalie: I feel like most of the time, we would leave and me and Nadiya were wrapping and everybody would be so amused by the way we would come off and our attitude and everything. Some moments weren’t my favorite. Obviously the show tends to focus on me and Nadiya as being the quote-unquote “villains’ or “bullies” of the season. I would love to say, “Oh, they should have shown this and they should have showed that,” but in reality, there was so much of the “this and that” and me and Nadiya brought the completely other aspect of the Race, so obviously that is going to get more shine on TV.
Nadiya: And I think with the other Racers all being very PC, all being very nice, all being very hunky-dory about things, me and Natalie being one of the only… I would say there were two outspoken kind of teams that were left, Abbie & Ryan and me and Natalie always laid it out the way we felt like saying. So when they were gone, it was easy to focus on us as the villain of the show, almost. And you know what? We gave them enough reason to do that. So you know, we can’t do anything about it. There were no regrets on our end.
HitFix: You guys did say on last night’s episode “We’ve always been evil. We’ve never been nice.” How much of that was serious and how much was all part of a joke or character?
Natalie: That whole conversation, Josh, Brent, Nadiya and I were just hysterically laughing and sitting around watching, because so much more was said that was so funny. For us it was just funny. But it true that even from the start, we never pretended that we were the “nice” team on the Race. We weren’t Josh & Brent. Josh and Brent are so nice. Even on the final Leg, if Brent said something mean, Josh would be like, “That’s not nice.” Me and Nadiya are not like that. Just from the start, we were the bullies and the crazy people and we owned it. We never pretended to not be.
HitFix: I did just talk to Beekmans and they had many nice things to say about the two of you. Was any of that hostility in the last couple Legs serious? Was it even heat-of-the-moment serious?
Natalie: It was serious, as in we were racing for a million dollars and it came down to the Beeks or us, so obviously emotions were flying high. The Beeks, that was the most charged I saw them the entire Race, was when they were racing against us and when they came to the finish line and they won, it was really loud last nice, but they said something along the lines of “The Sri Lankans stoked their fires and gave them that drive.” Me and Nadiya brought it out in them and I feel like it was good TV when then Beeks finally… when the sleeping giant was awoken. I thought that was amazing, so it’s all in good fun. It’s all just part of the Race and TV.
HitFix: And continuing along those lines, how about the hostilities with Abbie and Ryan?
Nadiya: Yeah. Abbie and Ryan? None of that was manufactured or fake. Me and Natalie, when we feel a certain way about somebody, we’re gonna express it and I think Abbie and Ryan were perfect in that aspect, because they were able to go back and forth and hand it out and dish it and take it. And, you know, now after the Race, even though we’re the ones who got them U-Turned, we’ve kinda moved on and we’re actually very good friends with them, too. So it goes to show that while racing, it’s just business. You don’t take things personally while you’re racing, unless of course you do things in a way that is… Like you go behind people’s backs or stuff like that, but we always kept it up-front that we were not fans of them and we kept it up-front with the Beekmans that we were going for their throats in that last Leg.
HitFix: You guys were so anxious to take Ryan & Abbie out and you concocted that whole U-Turn plan that got rid of them. That, of course, kept the Beekmans in the Race. Have you spent any time subsequently thinking about what might have happened had you let nature take its course?
Natalie: We don’t have any regrets on the Race. But if we did think about it, we got Abbie & Ryan out, because forged this Dream Team and we said, “Alright. If the Dream Team is gonna go into the Finals, we have to make sure the strongest competition is out,” and that was Abbie & Ryan. We never expected the Beekmans to be a threat. Like we said during the Race, last Leg, we said, they were like a non-factor in me and Nadiya’s head until they started kicking ass and then we were like, “Oh. Holy s***. Now what do we do?” Either way, we can’t say, “Coulda, shoulda, woulda.” We wanted them out because they were our biggest competition, but in the end the Dream Team didn’t go through anyway, so who knows?
HitFix: And what interpretation do you guys want to give for the money incident with the Rockers? People have been very vocal about that…
Natalie: Me and Nadiya, we found money. We didn’t steal it, although a lot fans like it dub it as stealing so they can have something to b**** about, but me and Nadiya found the money fair and square and we OKed it with production, kept it and shared it because we found it with another team. We felt bad for Trey & Lexi because they were so much more sensitive than Nadiya and I when it comes to how people treat them and comment on stuff on Facebook. Me and Nadiya are much more thick-skinned. The only people that I care about know me as a person outside of the Race and we know that competing in “The Amazing Race” is different from real life. The people who find it difficult to separate the two are the people that have a huge problem with it and I really don’t care what they think.
Nadiya: Yeah, like Natalie said, no regrets. I thought it was so ridiculous that people were saying that we needed to be arrested in Bangladesh and it was a felony we got dubbed “The Thieving Twins” after that. It was so ridiculous and over-the-top and, in fact, when the next episode came on, people were commenting like, “Who’s to say that the Twins didn’t take the Rockers’ passport?” To me, it was just complete rubbish and I have no regrets. If I found it, I’d take it again.
HitFix: You sound very in-synch here and you were mostly on the same page through the Race. Did you guys learn anything about each other out there or do you know each other so well that it was all familiar?
Natalie: I don’t think we learned anything, but when we watched the show, all of the things that we already knew about ourselves were just basically plastered on the TV. The things that we said that we shouldn’t do on the Race with each other, we did. And watching it is so difficult, because going in, we knew and we said, “We can’t do this. When do this with each other, it ends up being a bad thing.” But watching it and not being able to control some things, it was difficult to watch.
Nadiya: Yeah, it confirmed all of the things that we already knew.
HitFix: As a last question: Give me a favorite moment from the Race that we didn’t get to see on TV…
Nadiya: I think our softer side. Me and Natalie, people were very weirded out that Trey & Lexi and us were so close. It was a completely organic relationship. There was no business talk with Trey and Lexi. It was always just us having a really good friendship with them and I think to see our softer side, because you saw so much of the abrasive, blunt sides of me and Natalie. There is a softer. sweeter side of us that nobody got to see. It would have been nice to see some of that on TV.
Natalie: My favorite moment that probably wasn’t shown was when we all spent the night in the Bangladesh airport, which was cool with the team and everybody. for better or for worse. just getting along and talking it out.