Interview: Max & Katie talk ‘The Amazing Race’

One of the most common comments from contestants on reality shows is some variation on, “I didn’t come here to make friends.” Rarely has that sounded as true as when newlyweds Katie and Max Bichler warned viewers at the start of the “Amazing Race” season that people usually don’t like them (or at least don’t like Katie). 
In the early-going, it looked as if Katie’s prickly personality might cause tensions with other teams, but she quickly showed the ability to play nice and conflict never emerged, unless you count Katie mocking her husband after a speeding ticket in Africa or during his struggles with the season’s final Roadblock in Washington.
In their exit interview, Katie & Max discuss that chance-driven climactic Roadblock, as well as their in-season bickering and whether or not they built any lasting friendships on the road. They also talk about whether there’s any solace to be taken in winning money, a trip and two cars, but still finishing in second.
Click through for the full conversation. Last interview posts tomorrow!
HitFix: Are you guys competitive enough that not winning still eats at you? Or were the cars, trip and *some* prize money enough?
Katie Bichler: I mean, we’re definitely grateful about winning all that stuff, but we are so competitive that second place is just gonna eat at us for the rest of our lives. Because that final challenge, the Roadblock, was all based on chance, it’s just so disheartening.
HitFix: I was going to ask about that next. Talk a bit about that Roadblock and the sense that that particular challenge was cost you a million dollars?
Katie: The entire day, we were strong throughout the entire Leg. We were the only team that knew about the Lincoln Memorial, how to get that clue, and we were the only team that knew that 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue was *not* the White House and then pulling into the Tidal Basin and just having it completely based on chance… I think Bates found the right spy within four and it was just that it was out of our control was just the worst feeling ever. And then the rest of the day, we did everything perfectly and just to lose on that is just horrible.
HitFix: Well, it was doubly out of your control, because you were off to the side and Max was doing it. What was it like for you to watch him do that task and struggle?
Katie: It was hard to watch, because after we had gotten there first and then once I saw Bates get it, then I started second-guessing myself and saying, “Does Max know what he’s doing?” So many thoughts and emotions are just running through your head and it was extremely hard to watch, because I just knew as soon as Bates got it that the million dollars was just slipping through our fingers.
Max Bichler: And I think it was hard for Katie, too, being such a huge fan of the show and watching like she does, I don’t think she believed that it could be a chance or a pure luck Roadblock like it was, so I think that’s why she was like, “What’s he doing wrong? What’s he doing wrong?” Because she would never have believed that it was a luck Roadblock in the finale.
HitFix: Is there something *somewhat* reassuring to that? I mean that there was nothing you really did wrong there, that it was just a coin-flip?
Max: Yeah, it kind of… You know, I don’t know if it’s “reassuring,” if that would be the word or… I guess it’s disheartening, too. I would almost feel better if someone had outrun me or made a better decision somewhere or built something faster than me. It almost would be like, “Hey. You know what? They were the better team today because they kicked at our ass at that particular Roadblock or that particular challenge.” So I don’t know if it makes it better or worse, but it does give you kind of a sense of, “Hey, there was almost nothing we could do.” It was, “Run around and find the guy and when you happen to cross paths with him, you get your clue.” So yeah, I can take it both ways: It makes me feel better and worse.
HitFix: You guys were a strong team, but how big would you say that Bates & Anthony’s physical advantage, as professional athletes, really was out there?
Max: It’s big. When you have a physical Roadblock, there’s nothing on “The Amazing Race” that’s more beneficial than being two athletic males. Like a male-male team is the ultimately team, in my opinion, on the Race if they can get along, make good decisions and have smarts. Yeah, in terms of just physicality, it was a huge advantage. We didn’t do the barrels, but they were able to lift the barrels. Or on Cheese Hill, they were able to get up the hill really quickly. Yeah, the physical advantage is huge on the Race, but it doesn’t always mean that you’re gonna win. If you look at Brent & Josh last year, those weren’t two bodybuilders, but it won’t ever hurt you to be two strong guys.
HitFix: In retrospect, should you have been targeting them from much earlier on in the Race and trying to get them out?
Max: We never had a chance. Never had a chance. The alliance was loose. I wouldn’t even call it… We never never helped Bates and Anthony. We never  helped Caroline. You could see that by the fact that we didn’t tell them about the flights in Scotland. We had planned on U-Turning them in Scotland, but we didn’t have the opportunity once they got to the board first. We never had a chance to get Bates and Anthony out. We knew all along that they were strong.
Katie: Yeah, we weren’t naive in the fact that they were the team to beat. In Vietnam with the U-Turn, we knew that Dave and Connor were being eliminated, so to U-Turn Bates and Anthony would be wasteful because they weren’t going to be eliminated.
Max: And then we couldn’t use another U-Turn.
Katie: So we were aware, but there was never a chance. It was always our intention to get rid of Bates and Anthony, but the opportunity never presented itself.
Max: Yeah. We wanted to. I mean, we liked them. They’re nice guys, but it’s a game. We were dying to get rid of them. There just was never a chance. We never shared information with them about anything beneficial. I never helped them at the dry-dock with the Titanic, we didn’t help them figure that out. We just never had the opportunity.
HitFix: From the very beginning, the two of you had some concerns about how you’d get along with other teams and we got to see some amount of play-acting at being nice from Katie. When you look back, how do you think you did with your social game?
Katie: Well, with our social game, what ended up happening is that we have a self-awareness in life. We know that just from looking at us that people aren’t going to like us, just from our appearance. So we’re aware of that fact. And I guess in the game, when we started off, we were just doing so poorly that…
Max: We couldn’t worry about the social game, because we were doing so poorly. We were in the back and I think at that point, it was like, “Well, OK. No one’s gonna hate us, because we suck.” If we had won the first two Legs, then it would have been a completely different ballgame, but it’s really hard to hate the guy that’s a loser at the back of the pack. Based on the appearance, Bates actually told me, like, “I thought you were a total tool, all dressed up, you had a button-down top.” And I hear that. It wasn’t an accident that I wore a pink and purple button-down the first episode and skinny pants and yellow sneakers. We had self-awareness and Pam and Winnie kinda came around on us, too. Originally they had talked a lot of smack about us, but you saw in Vietnam that they kinda came out and were like, “Alright, we actually like Max and Katie a lot and we support ’em.” They actually wanted us to win. They said it to Phil on the mat in one of their interviews on CBS. So I think we actually surprised ourselves with how well we actually did with the social game. There were people we didn’t get along as well, but I think Katie and I kinda surprised ourselves that we did so well and we could make friends.

HitFix: Do you feel like you made genuine friendships out there?
Max: No, not out there. I would say that on the Race, I certainly did not have a friend, because I wouldn’t turn around and backstab a friend like a I would on the Race, but I think I would say that the people that I Raced with? There are some of them of that I would consider — now, after-the-fact — I would consider them to be a friend. But there wasn’t a person on the Race that I wouldn’t have backstabbed. So that’s why I say, “No, they weren’t friends on the Race.”
Katie: Yeah, after the show, we all still talk. We have to be friends with these people, because we shared an experience that’s unlike any other and that nobody else can relate. We can call Mona and Beth or Caroline and Jen and talk about whatever and they get it. No one else can get it. You tend to make life-long friends with all these people after the show, because no one else understands.
Max: But like I said, it’s really not under after. After-the-fact? Yes. But on the Race? No.
HitFix: How would you guys compare your relationship as we saw it on TV to the way that you guys interact in real life, day-to-day?
Max: I think really accurate, other than Katie looks maybe to be a little bit of a bigger ballbuster than she really is.
Katie: Yeah, I thought it was accurate.
Max: It was pretty accurate. People talk about “Edit, edit, edit,” but there kinda is no edit, right? It’s just people who are embarrassed at things that they said and that they got caught saying. So I thought it was a pretty good portrayal. We certainly became a little funnier as the show went along and a little less villainous and stuff, but I think it’s pretty accurate other than the ballbusting. Katie, she’ll tell you, she’s not as big a ballbuster as she appeared to be. Like, you know, “Oh Max, you’re an idiot.” I don’t think she’s ever said that to me in real life. I know she hasn’t.
HitFix: Why do you think that came out in this context, then, Katie?
Katie: Well, in that final episode when we were at the Tidal Basin at that point and Bates had gotten the clue right away and, you know, your emotions are just through the roof…
Max: I think she was mugging.
Katie: I don’t think I was mugging.
Max: I think she was mugging for the camera.
Katie: Yeah, I definitely wasn’t mugging. Your emotions are through the roof and I saw the million dollars slipping through our fingers and at that point, I thought he was doing something wrong. I was like, “How can a chance Roadblock be for the final episode.” It was just horrible.
HitFix: Well when you watching something like that or hear your reactions to Max getting the ticket in Africa, do you have any regrets about that, Katie?
Katie: The ticket in Africa, mocking him… I mean, that was dumb. But especially the “idiot” thing? Yeah, obviously I regret that. It was in the heat of battle and there were no hard feelings.
Max: We’ve both got thick skin.
Katie: Yeah, we’ve both got thick skin. I’m not gonna cry because he said I was dumb or we got into a fight on the show. We’re married and that’s what marriage is. Deal with it.
HitFix: Each of you tell me something that you maybe didn’t know about the other or maybe realized about the other while doing this Race experience?
Katie: I think I realized that Max was extremely strong and really good at figuring things out and socially talking to vocal people in the culture  and so I was really proud of him as to how well he did in other cultures.
Max: For me, I would say that I was impressed with just how tough Katie was, because you look at Katie and you don’t say, “Oh, that’s a girl who can go five days without a show and a bed and sleep on a beach and sleep on a plane and then sleep on a hammock.” I think for me, I knew she was tough, but thinking it and then seeing it are two different things, so I think that’s probably what I took away from it, was just how tough this girl is.
Earlier exit interviews from this season of “The Amazing Race”: