Unfortunately they weren't able to both save their relationship and win, as the Southern California couple became the eighth team eliminated from The Amazing Race's twelfth season during Sunday night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
On Monday, Jen and Nathan talked to Reality TV World about their ill-fated decision to take public transportation over a taxi; why they seemed to always be bickering; and how participating in The Amazing Race initially split them apart before making them stronger as a couple.
Reality TV World: So, let's start with Sunday night's episode's leg. What ultimately led to your decision to take public transportation over a taxi?
Nathan: Honestly, we've never been in Taiwan before and one of the things is, the locals obviously know more than we do. If we have to trust a local or us, I would trust a local any day. They told us to take the subway because the streets were really crowded and it was rush hour. Just to get to the train station from the tea shop, it took a long time in a taxi. So Jen and I thought, "Okay, maybe the park is really far away and a taxi might be disastrous. We might be able to make up a lot of ground on the subway." But in the end, he was wrong -- the local... Jen: It was a big maze under there... Nathan: It was a big maze... Jen: ... We had to change subways like five different times.
Reality TV World: How long would you say taking the subway and bus took you to get from the Night Market to the Youth Park?
Nathan: Forty-five minutes.
Reality TV World: Wow.
Nathan: Yeah. It wasn't short by any means.
Reality TV World: Nathan why weren't you more persistent in taking a cab instead of public transportation, and Jen why did you seem so adamant about taking the subway and bus?
Jen: I have to say that before I left, my dad was kind of giving me some advice. He said, "If you're ever down to the wire and you're in a crowded city, subways are quicker." That and my gut instinct -- he had told me that before the race -- and then a local... Always trust a local. That's what we had in mind. That was our motive going into it. It was like those two and two put together, I felt in my heart that was the right thing to do. And it was not at all.
Reality TV World: Why once you got above ground from the subway did you still opt to take the bus instead of a taxi?
Nathan: I don't know why we took the bus... Jen: I think we had lost it at that point... Nathan: We just were really... For us -- they didn't show it, maybe they did and you guys got to see -- but we had bad luck with cabs. We got into a lot of cabs where the driver had no idea where he was going. But they won't act like they know where they're going. They'll ask people along the way. There were plenty of times where we were like, "This guy has no idea where he's going!" We knew if we got on the bus it would take us down to this street where we knew that the park was at. We were just like, "Okay, we know that this bus stops right here. Let's just be safe." I don't know... It might have cost us.
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Reality TV World: So do you think you'd have been racing in the final leg if you'd taken a taxi instead of public transportation, or where there other factors that contributed to it?
Nathan: Jen says yes. I think that... I honestly can't even tell you. But it was really close and [taking a taxi] definitely would have helped.
Reality TV World: Did you see any of the other teams once you arrived at the Youth Park for the Detour task?
Jen: No. Nathan: We didn't see anybody.
Reality TV World: Were you confident you'd be able to finish the leg without being eliminated or did you sense the end was near?
Jen: I'm going to say -- without being too pessimistic and being optimistic -- I was hoping for the best, but I felt deep down that I knew we were the last team. Because I mean not seeing anybody...
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you overheard Christina Hsu telling the ticket agent in Osaka to not let you on the earlier flight to Taipei? Did that have any impact on not getting tickets or was the flight in fact full by that point?
Jen: It really had a huge impact. Okay, so we heard her talk to our ticket agent. The ticket agent came back and deliberately said, "Sorry. No more seats. It's full." We're like, "But you just told us that you had seats!" Nathan: She told us they had seats... Jen: So I went over to Chris, I said, "Chris, how could you do that? We know you told her that we couldn't get on!" And she lied straight through her teeth to us and said, "Jen, you know my dad and I are not those type of people. We don't play the race that way! We would never do something like that." Nathan: Jen and I might fight and look like the bad people, but we never deliberately would lie to people or were disrespectful... Jen: We didn't play a conniving game... Nathan: Yeah. We weren't really connivers. We just did kind of our own thing.
Reality TV World: Since Sunday night's episode didn't seem to show what happened, how did ["Newly Dating Couple"] TK Erwin and Rachel Rosales arrive in Taipei ahead of the flight carrying you, Nick and Don?
Jen: We were on the same flight.
Reality TV World: Okay, so you were all on the China Airlines flight that departed Osaka for Taipei at 1:15PM?
Nathan: Yeah. We were all on the same flight and I didn't even see them.
Reality TV World: Okay.
Jen: Yeah, they were on the same flight as us.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: In an apparently deceptive edit, The Amazing Race broadcast was edited in such a manner that TK and Rachel were shown going straight from attempting to buy tickets for an unspecified flight in Osaka while Nathan was noting there was "no sign" of TK and Rachel on the departing China Airlines flight to suddenly appearing, without explanation, in the Taipei terminal after only Jennifer, Nathan, Donald, and Nicolas had been shown disembarking the flight at the gate.]
Reality TV World: You two seemed to constantly bicker with one another as soon as the race began. Going into the race, did you anticipate that you two would argue as much as you did?
Jen: We definitely did not. Nathan: We definitely did not think that we would bicker as much. But after doing the race, I can't imagine -- seriously -- how people like TK and Rachel don't bicker more. Because it's just that stressful of a race.
Reality TV World: Okay, so I assume you don't normally argue that much at home?
Nathan: It's just everything at home, everything now seems so easy. It's just carefree. But on the race, everything to Jen and I was a test. Jen and I got tested every single hour it seemed like. Jen: Every minute! (laughing)
Reality TV World: Nathan you accused Jen on more than one occasion of needlessly stressing you out. How much of an impact do you think that had on the race? Did it place an added burden on you as a team?
Nathan: I'm not going to lie, it definitely did. Jen, there were times when she was the perfect teammate. She was strong and she'd get tasks done and she was better than a guy would be at some of the tasks. But then there were times when Jen would stress out and freak out a little bit, and it definitely would add pressure to me. You saw the [episode] where she said, "Nate you're the man. You need to step up." Just those comments alone cut me off at the knees a little bit.
Reality TV World: Jen, could you explain what you meant when you made that comment? What were you trying to get at?
Jen: Well I definitely regret saying that... Nathan: Jen likes to test me. Jen: What I meant was... I'm looking at this man. I've been with him a very long time. He is one day going to maybe be the father of my children and have to run the household that I live in, is he going to be able to do the handy tasks that a dad or a guy needs to be able to do? I said it mean, and that's my problem... I'm sorry Nate (laughing).
Reality TV World: How long had you two been dating before going on the race?
Nathan: We were dating -- before we went on the race -- we were dating just about two years.
Reality TV World: Just to back up a little bit, do you think the editing gave an accurate portrayal of how much you guys were arguing?
Nathan: Honestly we argued much less. There's a certain amount of air-time per team per episode, you know, it's not that long. We would race around for days and days, and they would only get to show an hour. So there's a lot where you don't get to see maybe how the whole situation was portrayed or how it started even. Maybe they'll show you the middle of it. A lot of times they did show the correctness and we did argue a lot, but there were definitely days where we'd go without arguing.
Reality TV World: Following your elimination, Jen you commented how you were unsure what the future held for you and Nathan and that the race "killed" your relationship. What did you mean by that? Was it said out of the heat of the moment?
Jen: It was a combination of both. I definitely feel like it was just not that we were losing the race, but I felt like it was a double whammy. We lost the race, and we could have lost each other along the way. We didn't even focus or concentrate one time on the entire race about each other's feelings or what would be better to empower the other person. Instead we were so caught-up in competing, we freaked out and forgot about our relationship. So that comment was kind of directed at that I wish we would have sought after our relationship so we weren't just losing the race... You know what I'm saying. So we weren't losing both, we were just losing the race.
Reality TV World: So to follow-up on that and confirm your earlier comment, are you two still dating now or have you gone your separate ways?
Nathan: We actually got back from the race and we took some time apart. But we actually are back together now and our relationship has never been better.
Reality TV World: So based on that answer you think participating in the race kind of strengthened your relationship?
Jen: I wouldn't even use the words "kind of." It is the only reason why we are still together.
Reality TV World: Wow.
Jen: It helped us crank out all the nooks and crannies of our relationship -- all the bad things that we couldn't get through before. Now it's so easy. We just find even compromises and our communication's better. It's awesome.
Reality TV World: So which one of you two would say made more of the decision during the race?
Nathan: Jen, she would love to be able to make all of the decisions. You all saw that. She wanted to be the one to make all the decisions, but as the race went along I told Jen, "You need to trust me. I know a lot more of what I'm doing than you think I do." So I'd say down the line I made a lot of the decisions.
Reality TV World: Going back to the beginning of the race, you seemed to have considerable problems with your donkey during the first leg. Seeing as how you finished second to last, what was your morale like?
Jen: After almost four hours of sitting out there, almost every single emotion was running through our body. We tried literally every type of technique that we had ever heard of to try and get this donkey to move. So we actually were laughing, we thought that all the bad things that we'd ever done -- even something as little as running a stop sign -- we were like all the bad karma's coming to nip us in the bud. "We're gonna get out the first leg!" That was our ultimate fear, was getting out first. So that was the only thing pretty much that was running through our heads.
Jen: Didn't you hear me, "We're gonna win this race like frickin' men!" (laughing) Nathan: Yeah, Jen said we're gonna win like men. But our reasoning behind all that was we weren't going to play a dirty game until it was needed. It was just too early in the race and we didn't want to have a target on our backs as being known as the dirty team. We wanted the other teams to like us and help us out, and actually that did benefit us. Jen: Plus we were in the top... Nathan: We were in the top group and we knew that we didn't need it to win.
Reality TV World: Why did you decide against using the Fast Forward during the race's seventh leg? In hindsight, are you glad you didn't do it and subsequently receive tattoos?
Jen: (laughing) Nathan: So this leg starts at 7AM, and I drove the whole night. Jen and I woke-up at 6:59AM and we were supposed to be getting ready to open the clue at 7AM. So I get out of the car and I'm bumbling around and we get dressed and I'm not even awake. Like I really have never felt insomnia in my life, but I was just kind of going through the motions. So I open the clue, and it's a Fast Forward. And the Fast Forward says, "Find your way here." All I knew was I had to drive somewhere else. My thought was "fly the Ultralights" [for the Roadblock task], the plane's here. I know that I don't need to go anywhere because I'm already here. That was my decision. I did not even want to mess around with driving.
Reality TV World: Okay, that makes sense. During the subsequent leg -- when you left the "Thread 'Em" Detour task and knew there was an upcoming U-Turn -- would you have used it on "Dating Goths" Kynt Cothron and Vyxsin Fiala if you had gotten their first?
Jen and Nathan: Yes.
Reality TV World: Okay, so how surprised were you when you reached that U-Turn and saw that not only had Kynt and Vyxsin gotten their before you, but had used the U-Turn on Nick and Don?
Jen: We were just... Nathan: (laughing) Confused... Jen: ... Really confused! We left the Detour, they were only half-way done making their flower garland. So we were like, "There's no way they could possibly catch up and beat us there." So we were just confused...
Reality TV World: What happened there? Why did it take you so long to find the traffic island where the U-Turn was? Did you get lost?
Nathan: We didn't know it, but we did. We thought Nick and Don had U-Turned Kynt and Vyxsin... For some weird reason that's what we thought. We thought that Kynt and Vyxsin did the "Paste 'Em" and then they were running back to do ["Thread 'Em"]. I don't know why we thought that... Jen: (laughing) There were a lot of different scenarios going on in our head!
Reality TV World: So how far ahead of Kynt and Vyxsin were you in reaching that Pit Stop?
Nathan: We thought that we could be last. We didn't know. Jen: Because when Kynt and I finished the Roadblock, he finished maybe a couple of minutes after I did. Let me tell you this, we sat in the worst traffic [on the way to the Pit Stop]... like 45-minutes. So our hearts were racing. Nathan: Yeah we didn't know.
Reality TV World: You two had five second-place finishes during the race and seemed to be aware that you were always short in your bid to come in first. Was it discouraging to always be second? Did you see it as a positive since you almost always avoided the back of the pack?
Nathan: It was one of those things like a double-edged sword. We were super happy to still be in the race, we were super happy like, "Yes! We're obviously doing good." But then it's one of those things like, "Oh man. Can we actually step-up and ever finish first? It could be one of those things where we're never going to get it." It turned out to be like that. But definitely, every time they said second we were to be in the race, but we also wanted to win a cool prize too.
Reality TV World: Jen, can you explain your thinking when you complained about ["Brother/Sister" team] Azaria and Hendekea Azene not letting you finish the fourth leg first? Had you made some type of agreement with them earlier, or did you just forget that it was, after all, a competition?
Jen: (laughing) Honestly, the point of that comment was speaking on impulse and not thinking before I talk. But because they had won two legs right before that, I was like, "Come on! Let us get first!" It was kind of meaning why can't we get first, it was totally reaction... Nathan: Who knows? They might have listened and gave us first! (laughing) Jen: I never would ever expect someone to give it to us -- that's not what I really meant -- but it was just frustration and anger emotion speaking. I'm so competitive!
Reality TV World: Nathan, you went to the same high school in Fountain Valley, CA as TK, Rachel and Staella Gianakakos.
Reality TV World: Did you all know each other in high school or where you in different grades?
Nathan: I knew of TK Erwin and Rachel. I knew Staella but I didn't... I don't know, I knew Staella kind of, but she wasn't my friend. TK and Rachel, I never spoke a word to in my life... I honestly knew who Rachel was -- but when I saw TK -- I had no idea who he was.
Reality TV World: So I guess it was when all the teams met that you realized it?
Nathan: Well he said, "Hey, I'm TK." I'm like, "TK? What's your last name?" Then I'm like, "Oh!" I knew the name, but I had no idea who he was.
Reality TV World: When did the other teams learn about it? Who revealed the information?
Nathan: It was one of those things where we were all like, "Whoa, this is pretty weird!" But it was also one of those things where we didn't really know each other. It wasn't like, "Hey! Oh yeah!" We didn't even know each other really...
Reality TV World: So I'm assuming it never helped or hindered your team?
Reality TV World: How were you cast for The Amazing Race 12? Was it your first time applying for the show?
Jen: Yeah, it was our first time applying for the show and actually Nate's mom, I think she saw an ad for it and she's like, "What have you guys got to lose?" She urged us to go to the auditions, and actually at the open casting call, one of the casting producers came up to me and said, " Are you a [Los Angeles] Clippers girl?" I was like, "Yeah." She was like, "Oh my Gosh! I saw you dancing at the game and we wanted to get in touch with you." It was just kind of meant to be that Nate's mom guided us in the direction there and then one of the casting producers had spotted me a couple nights before dancing at a game.
Reality TV World: Which team did you want to see win the $1 million prize? Anybody you didn't want to see win?
Nathan: After Jen and I got out... Our obvious competition -- for Jen and I -- was TK and Rachel. For some reason, we didn't want a team like us to win. Someone who was young and... You know, Don and [Christina's dad Ronald Hsu] are older. They're the first older men to get that far in the race, so we really wanted to see them win. Jen: Yeah, we were really pushing for them to win.
Reality TV World: So what's next for you two?
Nathan: Well Jen and I both, it's up in the air. Right now I'm actually a sever at a restaurant and Jen's still in school. We definitely want to keep traveling, seeing the world. After going to places like Africa and India and seeing underprivileged people, we definitely can see ourselves helping people. Your know we have it good here, and we want to get out and... Jen: Make use of our time... Nathan: ... Make use of our time in a better way.