Ethan and Jenna reveal behind-the-scenes details about their Amazing Race elimination

In post-elimination interviews yesterday, Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca discussed details of The Amazing Race leg that eliminated them and one other team–and the manipulative editing. Most significantly, they talk about how their clue contradicted the sign that most teams missed, and discuss how their elimination was due not to the sign or the clue they left behind (which was edited to seem like it was the reason), but instead a bad cab driver. So yes, the race came down to a bad cab driver. Again.

First, the editing highlighted conflict between them when they left their clue behind at the Detour. Jenna told TV Guide that “it was just with a pile of clothes. It was literally one minute away from the cab. It didn’t affect [the outcome] at all.”

Jenna and Ethan described a challenge cut out of the episode that split the teams into two groups, one of which was 20 minutes behind the other, and at that point, they picked up a cab driver who sucked.

In an interview with reporters transcribed by Reality TV World, Jenna said, “I blame the cab more than the sign because I don’t think that would have been a problem if we had not have been lost the whole time. We could have run and made that up, I think, just like everyone else did.”

As to the sign clue, Jenna told TV Guide, “I don’t think it’s fair to have two different clues. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, so, yeah, it was fair. [Laughs] The fans can decide for themselves.” (In the call with reporters, Jenna also said, “if we say it’s unfair, we’re going to sound like we’re bitter. But I’ve just never heard about doing a challenge where they give you the reward if you do it right or wrong. And the teams that got it wrong, like they’re not stupid teams. These are really good teams.”)

Ethan told TV Guide, “To be given a clue and then a separate clue when you get there is interesting,” and also said that it was for “drama. I guess it was to confuse us. I mean, when eight out of 11 teams get a clue wrong, it’s tricky. Usually in any other situation, when you do a challenge correctly, you get a clue.”

Even though the sign suggested they’d receive a separate clue for handing in all their money, Ethan said they did not receive anything else. “We basically ran back to the orphanage, gave them the rest and ran all the way back [to the Pit Stop]. … It was probably a mile and a half.”

Jenna told reporters, “we’re always told we have these clues and the information that we’re supposed to go by in our clue — we were told to turn in all our rupiah from the dancing challenge and when we got to the challenge, it wasn’t underlined or marked in red like you guys saw, and it also wasn’t marked with any Race flags. So, it was just like any other sign. I mean, if someone was holding a sign that said that, was that a challenge? So, I figured it said, ‘Turn in all your money that you raised and any additional money.’”

She added, “we actually turned in all of our additional rupiah because on the clue, and I checked the clue, it didn’t say anything about your converted money. Everything that it said was only about rupiah. So we only had like 20 dollars that we didn’t convert.” She added that, “If you don’t do a challenge right, you don’t get the clue. So, I figured that probably other people missed that, but we wouldn’t have gotten the clue if we would have gotten that challenge wrong.”

In other words, they actually read the sign! But they misunderstood because they gave the most weight to the official clue (that race rules say they’re supposed to obey). And because they received their next clue from the kids at the orphanage, they assumed they did the right thing.

Ultimately, this seems like a big misstep on the part of the producers, who tried be clever and got drama but only because the injected a significant dose of unfairness into the competition.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.