There is no doubt that the mother and daughter team of Shelley and Nici Porter butted heads on The Amazing Race this season. The pair is perhaps best known for their ‘Mat Meltdown’ where Nici took issue with her mother not wanting to compete with her and the pair had it out in front of Phil Keoghan. It didn’t take too long for the super fans to work out their issues and push forward.
On the show, Shelley and Nici also clashed with Keith Tollefson and Whitney Duncan and it was Shelley and Nici’s use of the U-Turn resulted in Team Nashville’s elimination. In the end, not being able to get accurate directions in Morocco led to Shelley and Nici’s exit from the series.
I managed to catch up with both Shelley and Nici as they were still running around and trying to catch flights in their day jobs as flight attendants and they talked to me about their issues with each other, their problems with Keith and Whitney and what they plan on doing next.
MJ: Shelley, can you talk about all of the driving problems in Morocco? What went wrong?
Shelley Porter: It would have been easier if we got a map and unfortunately we took that moment to not fight with each other so neither one of us wanted to exert any control over where we were going. I was like, “what do you think well, I don’t know. What do you think? Maybe we should do this, maybe we should do that?” I think if one of us had just step up and taken control of the situation, maybe it would have gone a little better for us, right?
MJ: Nici, it seemed like you guys were hours and hours behind the other team. How tough was it to get directions over there?
Nici Porter: The language barrier actually was very hard because their first language is Arabic, their second language is French and their third language is Spanish. And so we were trying to find somebody who we could communicate with and we found somebody in the hotel, but it’s just really hard to find people to communicate with and to understand where we needed to go and to explain us properly how to get there.
MJ: Shelley, I think one of the stories from this season will definitely be your argument with Keith and your decision to U-Turn him. Can you take me back to that moment and describe your side of what happened?
SP: Our side is pretty simple. We believe in fair sportsmanship and if you have a set of rules, you’re supposed to follow them. He decided that we should wait to get the clue. As in wait for Whitney to join us at the mat (because you can’t have the clue until both of the teammates are there). And he wouldn’t move from the mat in front of us which blocked us from receiving our clue. Because of that, I pushed his arm out of the way, and said ‘you can’t do that, your partner is not even here.’ That’s it in a nutshell. And as for what happened in the mat, once we got to a U-Turn board, it wasn’t a question of U-Turning them because we needed time to go back and get our bags and pay our cab driver. And so I looked over the wall and the first person I saw was him, so they got it. Whoever would have been in the square in my line of vision at that time would have been the U-Turn recipient. So it wasn’t, it didn’t have anything to do with him, that just made it an easier execution if you will.
MJ: Nici, I have seen some other interviews where you guys said that the reason you U-Turned Team Nashville wasn’t just because of the fight with Keith but because he was the first one you saw who was still head twirling. Was that part of the reason you decided to U-Turn them and not Maya and Amy?
NP: Yes, it was the reason why they got picked and honestly he’s what? Six-foot three, six-foot four? He also had a bright yellow shirt. The thing is Maya and Amy are really short and they blended in with all of the other locals. I didn’t even realize that they were still down in there until we came down and saw them and we ran past them. By that point, the damage was already done.
MJ: Shelley, in terms of karma on the show… do you feel like it was karma that got Keith and Whitney back for the argument they had with you and them getting U-Turned, and conversely, do you think karma had anything to do with you guys get eliminated in the leg following the one where you U-Turned another team?
SP: I do believe karma got them U-Turned definitely because again we could have just as easily spotted Maya and Amy and not them. It’s just because that’s who I was able to see first. As far as the next day goes, the whole point of karma is the universe is punishing you for doing something wrong. We didn’t do anything wrong so why would we be punished? We got out the next leg because that’s just the evolution of the game. If that’s the case, then I guess that it was karma that the real estate agents got out first leg because of whatever or Dennis and Isabelle got out the second leg. Every leg, someone has to go home. Karma just sometimes makes the decision on which one it is. For Keith and Whitney, that was a karma choice because it was between them and another team, and they got it. For us, that was just our turn to go.
MJ: Nici, can you give me your opinions on Misti and Jim? They seem to be a really polarizing team this season. You either love them or hate them. What were your impressions of them?
NP: I actually love the dentists; they’re one of my favorite teams actually. Misti is an angel, a sweetheart. She knocked me over but it was completely an accident… she didn’t do it on purpose. The whole thing was chaotic in and of itself and she apologized the remainder of that episode. Everytime I ran into her, she just kept apologizing. She has nothing but good things to say about everybody. The worst thing that I can say about is Misti is that she is your classic Southern belle.
MJ: And what do you think about Jim, Nici?
NP: Oh Jim is just competitive and I can respect that because I’m competitive too.
MJ: Shelley, I know you guys are big fans of the show. When Nici said she had to go to the bathroom, did you have visions of Jen and Kisha all over again and was there a part of you that was worried that you would be eliminated because of it?
SP: No, because we are fans of the show, we had already seen that episode and we had already agreed that if one of us had to go to the bathroom, we were just going to go. We were not going to stop to find a rest room or we would be late. I just wasn’t clear on the instructions of “go secretly.” I should have shouted at her “keep it to yourself!!!”
MJ: Nici, I want to talk a little bit about the ‘Mat Meltdown’ that everyone is referring to it as. Can you talk about the issues you had with your mom at the time and how you managed to get past them?
NP: For me, I honestly didn’t realize there was an issue in that episode until we were driving to the pit stop and she led me right by it. And when I figured out that she said that she was hoping we got eliminated, that was really frustrating to hear that because we have waited for so long to be on this show…
SP: We have argued about that, I didn’t say that.
NP: We have waited for so long to be on the show and she was willing to sabotage us just to prove a point so I walked away from the mat because I didn’t feel it was right for us to be able to check in and continue racing if she didn’t want it. Why would I want to race with somebody who didn’t want to race with me? For a time, that’s where my feelings were at and so we opted back-in and calm down and they told us we went in sixth, which surprised us. That was one of my frustrations but we got over it and we talked about it and you know it’s not like what she’s trying to get across to me is wrong. It helped us work on our communication. I definitely have some things to sort with my delivery that could have been better. Instead of me taking the time and realizing that I was talking with my mom (and not just a random stranger), I continued to act all military and drill-sergeant like. I was like barking orders at her like she was my subordinate which was not a great way to communicate and especially not with my mom.
MJ: Shelley, do you feel like you guys were portrayed accurately on the show?
SP: It definitely could have been worse, it’s not a hundred percent accurate, but it’s pretty close to the truth. And if you keep an open mind and take it for what it’s worth, it’s TV. We’re under stress, we have a very short amount of time to get a lot of stuff done. You can’t just take it too seriously. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. People think that, “Oh well it must be real because I saw it on television…”
MJ: Do you think it is easier to do the Amazing Race with a loved one or is it more of an advantage to run it with a friend or someone you are dating because you don’t run the risk of someone who is in your family getting offended?
SP: I’d say a loved one. I just have to do it with a loved one because with loved ones, there’s an understanding level. There is an unspoken level of forgiveness that comes with being family that a friend or a significant other may not have.
NP: And I will have to agree with that. After that episode, we are sitting at the mat, and I’m like “that didn’t happen, we have to move on.” As they say blood is thicker than water. I only have one mother and I would gladly do the Race again with my mom.
MJ: What’s next for you?
SP: I’ve taken back to the friendly skies so I’m working like normal. And Nici, during the time we did the Race, she was with a different airline. I’m happy she graduated today. I got to pin her wings on her. She’s now not only my daughter but my Sky Sister with the same exact airline as I am now. So I’m really excited, nothing but good things. I’m hoping to not only run the race with her again on All-Stars but work with her soon.
NP: Well what’s next for me is getting settled in my new state and hopefully All-Stars. I also got my new wings today so that’s obviously what’s next. And I don’t know, I’ll see which way the wind blows and I’ll go that way.
MJ: Amazing! Well guys, thank you so much for your time. I know you’re both been working today so I really appreciate it.
NP: Thank you so much for understanding. I’m so sorry for all my craziness.
MJ: Well, it’s all good. Thank you so much, we’ll talk soon. Hopefully I’ll see you at the finale.
SP: Okay, bye Murtz.
Tags: murtz, Murtz Jaffer, The Amazing Race