Tim Tsao and Te Jay McGrath were the sixth team eliminated from The Amazing Race after they arrived at the show’s eighth pit stop at Fort Manoel in Malta in last place. The college sweethearts effectively completed their speedbump but were hung up on the detour task where they chose to go for the FLAG option instead of trying to finish the SHINE selection. I caught up with the pair to discuss what went wrong.
Murtz Jaffer: Tim, I want to start by asking you guys how you got on the show. Did you submit a tape or go to an open call?
Tim Tsao: Te Jay and I, we submitted a tape right when I turned 21 and that was almost two and a half years ago. The first time around we didn’t get selected, but they said they just wanted to wait for the right time. About a year later, they called us back and said to reapply (especially since we’re still together), and now we were a little bit more mature. So we re-applied and went through the whole process again and made it the second time round.
MJ: Te Jay, usually when a team finishes last in a non-elimination leg, it is the speedbump that costs them in the next leg. I don’t think this applied in your case as it was really the detour and not the speedbump that you had trouble with. Do you blame choosing the wrong side of the detour?
Te Jay McGrath: At the time, no because we really thought we could do it and finish it. But, of course, when you look back and see how everyone went to polish instead, yeah, we made the wrong decision.
MJ: Tim, I know that initially you didn’t know what the two sides of the detour were as it just said ‘FLAG’ or ‘SHINE.’ But when you saw that the other task just required teams to polish armor, why didn’t you switch earlier? It seemed like you guys didn’t and you were completely married to finishing the flag task that you initially chose.
TT: Yeah, by the time we finish our speed bump, for some reason we had it in our mind that we were last and the only way to advance would be to complete the faster challenge and that was to do the flag. If I knew that the SHINE task only involved just shining the heck out of those armors, of course we would have switched but I just think it was an all or nothing move for us to do the FLAG.
MJ: And also Tim, I thin what also played a role was the fact that you had already retrieved the first flag, right? You kind of didn’t want to leave because you had already done some of it.
TT: Yeah, Te Jay got the first flag and then I was required to get the red one which was pretty difficult.
MJ: Te Jay, the most interesting thing about this episode for me was how all the teams seemed to turn on Kim and Alli. I thought that the Cyclists were friends with everyone and that the teams didn’t like Jim and Misti. Can you elaborate on that and how everyone agreed to U-Turn the Cyclists at the next opportunity?
TM: Yeah. We were actually kind of close with Kim and Alli on the Race. They just like to do their own thing. Instead of sleeping at the airport when there’s downtime they would go and check out the scenery or they’ll look at some local stuff. But at the moment of that “alliance” thing we kind of just stumbled upon a conversation that all the other teams were having and they just offered us this idea of, ‘hey, since you guys have a speed bump, this is a good way to cushion yourself instead of being eliminated.’ That’s what happened there.
MJ: Many of the teams seemed reluctant to use the U-Turn on Adam and Bethany and Jim and Misti despite those teams having an Express Pass and a Save respectively. Do you think that the teams should have worked together to eliminate these teams because of the advantages that they had?
TT: Yes and no. In Jim and Misty’s case, I feel like it would be putting a target on your back by trying to U-Turn them, because they are the strongest team. Throughout the Race, you could tell that they were a really strong team. So to use the U-Turn on them and them to burn their save, it would only put them at the back for one leg and they would still be in the Race. It’s kind of like, to us, it’s pointless because they would still be in the game and they would still probably finish before you. Amongst all the teams, that was kind of the consensus. And then as far as Adam and Bethany, yeah you can try and U-turn them but most of the times they showed up before you, so the opportunity just wasn’t there even if we wanted to.
MJ: [Laughs]. We haven’t really seen many alliances this season. Were you working with any teams? I know you mentioned the Cyclists earlier, but anyone else?
TM: Yeah, I guess we were just all a little too friendly this season. We were really close with the wrestlers, and we were really close with Amy and Maya on a lot of the down time.
MJ: Did you notice that the teams were sort of doing their own thing this season? That seems to be the vibe from people that are watching the show… that this season is different from the other seasons because there’s not really like a group of two or three teams that are working together and then another group of two or three teams working together. It just seems like everybody is racing on their own.
TM: Yeah, basically. Especially since it’s the top six, there’s really no point to be in an alliance anymore at this point.
MJ: How important is being an athlete on the show. The teams that are doing well this season like the Cyclists, the Dentists and the Surfers all seem to be very athletic and is this something that future teams should prepare for?
TT: Athletic-wise, you need to be fit for the Race, because all the challenges require something physical. I think more about it is being like… just you have to be healthy. You don’t really have to be so physical or a bodybuilder kind of thing.
TM: I think it’s more of a mental and physical thing about being able to do the length of the Race and racing every single day, like kind of the lifestyle of that. So, even though we’re not physically strong, we know how to travel, we’re able to fail and not get stressed about it and there’s a good mental state in that. Does that make sense?
TT: Be prepared to run. Be prepared to run a lot.
MJ: Te Jay, what has your mom’s reaction been to the show and what does she think about your roommate who is more than a roommate now?
TM: Yeah, she loves the show. She has seen every single episode. We’re actually going to try and see her at Christmas in Hawaii. I think she totally understands now.
MJ: Tim, what’s next for you guys?
TT: Well I am a flight attendant so I am going to continue flying all over and travel. I want to see the world. That is why we wanted to be on the Race. It allowed us to travel together and keep exploring, and then for Te Jay…
TM: I’m just going to focus on my drag career, you know my impersonations. Since the Race, I have gotten a lot more attention for it and I think it’s a good thing so I’m going to be able to travel around America and perform in places I haven’t performed before.
MJ: Te Jay, will your mom ever check out one of your drag shows?
TM: Oh gosh! The Amazing Race is one thing, I’m going to kind of ease that on her and go a little slower.
MJ: All right guys. Well, thank you very much. I will definitely be seeing you in the finale in LA in a couple of weeks. Thanks.
TT: Thank you so much Murtz. Bye-bye.
Tags: murtz, Murtz Jaffer, The Amazing Race