As Tim Sweeney hit the mat on Sunday night’s “Amazing Race” finale, a spontaneous cheer broke out. “Tim! Tim! Tim!” the other Racers yelled.
Had Tim and partner Marie won “The Amazing Race”? No. Marie completed the Million Dollar Flour Drop Roadblock well behind eventual Race winner Amy of Jason & Amy, as she and Tim settled for second place and the split of two exotic trips won for topping different Legs.
The cheer that went up?
“I think that was in appreciation for what I had gone through in sorta managing Marie’s outbursts and anxiety and yelling and screaming, being able to handle that stuff,” Tim said in his “Amazing Race” exit interview.
Indeed, Tim won many fans throughout the season for his ability to handle Marie, though Marie was not without some fans, appreciators of her bluntness and competitiveness.
How long have Tim & Marie been like this?
How close did they come to imploding on the Race?
Is Marie still mad at Nicky & Kim for getting on a standby list ahead of her?
And what was the showmance that we somehow never spotted during the season?
Click through for the full and amusing Q&A…
HitFix: Marie, by my count over the season you announced that three different teams were dead to you. Is that more or less than you might have predicted coming into the season?
Marie Mazzocchi: [Laughs.] That is less than I predicted. I figured by the time we got to the end, everybody would have been dead to me.
HitFix: So is it a good sign or a bad sign that it was only three, ultimately?
Marie: No, I think was good. We said from the beginning, it’s a little cliched, but we’re not here to make friends and I knew the way that we were gonna race and how brutally honest I am with my feelings and my opinions and everything like that, that we were just gonna be scratching friendships off right off the bat. I’m actually surprised that we could get along with some of the teams and work with them. I figured each Leg, I probably could have just counted somebody out, so I think I was surprised that we weren’t enemies with more of the teams.
HitFix: And also by my count, only one fellow Racer called Marie the Devil. Tim, is that more or less than you might have predicted coming into the season?
Tim Sweeney: [Laughs.] Well, they didn’t show me calling her the Devil, but I’m sure I called her the Devil a couple times, so let’s make that count “two.” No, I wasn’t sure how anybody was gonna perceive Marie, because you can appreciate a lot of what she brings to the table and when you look her you’re like, “Oh, it’s a pretty girl” and then “Oh my gosh, she has this personality and this strong will and everything like that” and then it’s like, “Oh my God, she just called someone an asshole right to their face.” I just figured that there were gonna be people that she rubbed the wrong way, but if people understood that we were in a race for a million dollars, they would sort of appreciate it as someone who is uber-competitive and someone that was there for the right reason.
HitFix: And Tim, I was really amused by how when you reached the Final Pit Stop, the other Racers spontaneously broke out in, “Tim! Tim! Tim!” What did that feel like to you?
Tim: I think that was in appreciation for what I had gone through in sorta managing Marie’s outbursts and anxiety and yelling and screaming, being able to handle that stuff. The funny part about it is that that I’ve been doing this for five years. This is our relationship. So I didn’t think anything was out of the norm and people were like, “What? How do you even?” and I’m like, “I don’t know. Listen, this is just the way we are.” I’ve said it before, but maybe I’m a glutton for punishment or maybe it’s just that I have the ability to be patient when she kinda gets up and yelling and be able to decode some of the yelling into useful information and just communication altogether.
HitFix: Five years you’ve been dealing with this. Was this always your dynamic, right from the very beginning?
Tim: Yes. 100 percent. Since the first day we met we’ve been like this.
Marie: People are constantly, even in our regular everyday life, they just don’t get it. They don’t understand why we have the relationship that we have. Some people when they first meet us, they’re like, “Oh my God! You guys are such a cute couple. Why aren’t you together? You’re perfect for each other. You should be dating.” They don’t get why we’re not dating. And then the other half doesn’t get why we would even spend time with each other because of the way that we fight. Our relationship has baffled people for more than five years now, but it just works for some reason. In some weird, twisted way, we just get each other. I don’t know. We can’t explain it and we’ve been trying for years now to explain it, but it is what it is.
HitFix: Did having that familiarity with the dynamic make it easier for you guys to deal with it when the bickering starting in the heightened circumstances of the Race?
Marie: 100 percent. We’ve been saying over and over again that we make a terrible couple in real life, but we make an amazing team when it comes to a competition, because we’re able to filter out any of the emotional stuff, hurting each other’s feelings, having different decisions that effect our relationship, that doesn’t happen for us. That’s not part of the equation. So going on the Race, we already don’t get along. There’s nothing to lose for us. We went there not really liking each other and it couldn’t really get any worse. The only thing that you do is compete and that worked to our benefit.
HitFix: Obviously when you say, “We don’t even like each other,” that’s not really true, but when you’re out there and you’re bickering, were you also having fun out there?
Tim: I was having a blast! Marie, not so much.
Marie: He drove me crazy! You guys see like five minutes from 24 hours worth of footage. Tim was an awesome, awesome Racer when it came to physical tasks and performing on Roadblocks and Detours, but every single time we get through a Leg, you’ve gotta remember the fact that there was 30 hours of travel before that. He’s disappearing at the airport. He losing our passports. He’s just driving me completely nuts, so it was stressful for me. He’s very laid-back, he’s very much a show-up-and-go-with-the-flow guy and that’s not exactly the mentality of somebody on “The Amazing Race,” so it was more me just going, “Go! Go! Go!” and kinda dragging him behind me during all the traveling portions of the Race and that really got to me. That really wore on me and that’s why when we would get to a challenge, the second he said something that bothered me or was wrong or got under my skin, I would just totally explode on him.
HitFix: But how much of that is just the way you have fun, Marie? Tim, have you seen Marie have fun where she isn’t like this?
Tim: You know, she has a quick trigger, so I’ve seen her right in the middle of having the best night of her life snap on somebody and then go back to having the best night of her life. I know when she’s really hurt. She blacks out and listens to The Fray by herself. You know? Other than that, it’s just the way she communicates. It’s a stressful situation and this is the thing people don’t get: It would be foolish of me, even as a male or a female, it doesn’t matter, it would be foolish of me to be yelling back at her. It was a stressful situation and she was wearing a lot of that stress on her shoulders. And so be it! If that means she has to yell and scream to get that stress off, then I’m be the sponge and I’ll be like. “Alright. No problem,” because it didn’t bother me and I knew that that would provide balance for us. And it did. She can yell at me all she wants. If that’s the way that cures her anxiety, then fine.
HitFix: On the Race, what was the closest that the dynamic came to actually being truly toxic? Most of the time it seemed like you were really managing out there, but how close did it come to truly falling apart?
Marie: When we did the dates, the date challenge in Abu Dhabi. We got to a point where we couldn’t come to an agreement on the technique as far as how to do it and he was more adamant than than he had ever been about, “Let’s do it my way, this is the right way” and we kinda just went at each other and I got to the point where I was like, “You know what? Fine. I give up. Let’s do it your way.” But that was after 20 minutes of us just screaming back and forth. And before that Leg in Indonesia, it was right after Abu Dhabi, before we got the second place in Indonesia, we had one of the worst fights we’ve ever had on the plane and we basically just said, “Fine. That’s it. We’re over.” I said to him, “I give up. I’m done trying to micromanage you. I’m done arguing about stuff. We made it this far. If we go home, we go home. I don’t even care anymore.” And that kinda lifted the the stress from us and we went in and we had fun in Indonesia and we had a good Leg and we barely fought. Obviously I don’t know how to boil an egg, but I got it done and we went and we did that Detour and we had fun with the makeup and it worked out for us. But we kinda had to give up a little bit and just let whatever happens happen and that kinda helped our relationship and things kinda toned down a little bit.”
HitFix: Could you guys talk a bit about your approach to working with other teams? You had a couple alliances, but they rarely lasted very long. Was that part of the plan, to be mostly alone but to occasionally have these brief bonds?
Tim: Absolutely. The alliances are only as strong as when your back’s against the fall and then obviously an alliance is gonna break. That’s just the way it is. Alliances, I feel like, are overplayed. I think Amy & Jay really hurt themselves with the alliance they were trying to form with Nicole & Travis and helping. They were sacrificing too much of their Amazing Race for Nicole & Travis.
Marie: They could have eliminated them in Indonesia and then there you go. You’re racing against the Ice Girls in the Final 3 instead of the Doctors. It worked out for them, but it was a stupid move to help them.
Tim: So our goal was to use the “alliance” word if we could find a way to quickly find the leverage we could find in a relationship like that, but other than that, we knew that alliances don’t last. They just don’t last. And someone’s gonna get burnt and you’re gonna trust somebody when you shouldn’t. So we just kinda felt like I would do a little bit of the management of teams and be nice to them and see if we could get some stuff out of them and Marie would try to scare and we would stay just one step away, but close enough where if we needed them, we could reach out to them.
HitFix: Marie, speaking of one of those short alliances, are you still annoyed by the Bunnies getting on that standby list early?
Marie: No! I love the Bunnies. The only thing that we were upset about is that first we thought they actually cut us and then when we found out later that they went to a VIP room and got on the thing, the reason we were mad is because, “Hey, if we have an alliance and we told you that we were gonna give you the Express Pass, how come after you got your tickets, you didn’t tell us about it?” Maybe we could have bumped Travis & Nicole off the flight instead. We were just a little mad that they didn’t share that information with us. But as soon as we got to the next Leg, it was over and done with. We love them and we had an alliance with them again.
HitFix: And while we’re looking back, how do you guys reflect on the cab-stealing incident with Jason and Amy and the way that played out?
Marie: We just looked back on it like it wasn’t a big deal. If you watch previous seasons of the Race, just five or six or seven seasons ago, that’s standard. People steal cabs all the time. We just happened to be on a season where all these cooke-cutter teams were best friends and goodie-goodies and holding each other’s hands and everybody was appalled by us stealing a cab. Had we been racing alongside Boston Rob, we would look like angels. I think it was overplayed and made a bigger deal than it was to make us look bad to play up the rivalry between the two teams. The reality of it was that the second we got off that mat, we were friends with Jason & Amy again.
Tim: She understood it. Amy said, “Oh. Well if that was the case” — meaning we didn’t touch their bags and the cab was essentially open — “it was fair game.” They realized and that’s what I was speaking to before alliances. We loved Jason & Amy. We had a great time. We were hanging out. But the problem is that our backs were against the wall and we needed a cab and that was a legal cab for us to take, so we took it. Actually once they found out that we didn’t touch their bags, they were like, “Hey, we probably would have done the same thing.”
HitFix: Tim, this was just something I was wondering watching the show. There were a couple episodes in the middle of the season when you seemed really quiet and sort of out-of-it. Were you sick? Or exhausted? Or was it a choice of some sort?
Marie: He just didn’t give a s***.
Tim: I was exhausted, but to be honest with you, I’m a big believer in just trying to accomplish the task at hand and it became really stressful when we started trying to predict and plan and prepare and now, all of a sudden, the million dollars is more in view and I just kinda felt like I needed to take a step back and just relax and appreciate where I was and what we were doing, still compete my hardest and still prepare and still communicate with Marie, but I was a little bit tired and I felt like that’s what we needed, that’s what I needed and it actually kinda wore a little bit on Marie to the point where she even backed off a little bit and we both took one step back, took a break, looked at what was going on, realized that we were close to winning the million dollars, regained our breath and then we came back real strong.
HitFix: And my normal last question: Each of you give me a favorite moment that we didn’t see on TV.
Marie: S***. That’s just hard to think about. My favorite that you didn’t see was when we were on our way out of the zoo in Indonesia, I stopped at every single animal cage and was talking to the animals. When we think back on it now, if I didn’t waste 20 minutes leaving the zoo, we probably would have won the Leg, because we were only like a minute behind Leo & Jamal, but I just love animals and I was so excited to go to the zoo and I knew that whether we were gonna go home or get first or second or third, I kinda wanted to take that in and I think Tim was yelling at me a little bit like, “What the heck are you doing? Let’s go,” but when am I ever gonna get the chance to go see these crazy animals in a zoo in Indonesia again? So I wanted to take advantage of that. That was my favorite moment?
Tim: My favorite moment might be the romance between Ally and I. [He laughs.]
Marie: Oh my God. 30,000 feet!
Tim: When the show was alluding to maybe there was a little bit of romance between Ally and I, it was kinda true. We had a little bit of an alliance. You can catch it quick in Abu Dhabi. I actually helped them out with putting the dates together and Marie was screaming at me because I was helping them. But we actually had a little bit of a good friendship there and I was glad to catch up with her last night. That was something that nobody really got, but I thought it was pretty interesting, because there definitely was something there between us.