By Jean Bentley, Hollywood.com Staff
After 21 seasons of anything, it's difficult to be surprising. But not for The Amazing Race, which ended its 21st installment in 11 years with a legitimately shocking ending that saw underdogs Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, a.k.a. TV's The Fabulous Beekman Boys, defeat their uber-athletic competitors (including a pair of beefy Chippendales and two perky Sri Lankan twins) by crossing the New York City finish line first to win the $1 million prize. Maybe that's why the stalwart CBS series keeps winning Emmys.
""We never thought of ourselves as the underdogs,"" Ridge tells Hollywood.com the morning after his victory finally aired. ""We knew going into the race that we weren't going to be the youngest team and we weren't going to be the physically strongest team, but we knew what our strengths and our weaknesses were. And we knew that at some point in the race we were going to have challenges that played into our strengths, just like the other teams had challenges along the way that played into their strengths. We just knew that we had to hang in there until those opportunities to shine came along.""
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Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell already had reality TV on their resumes thanks to their show about the farm the engaged couple owns and operates together in upstate New York. The Beekman Boys say their on-camera experience helped them jump into the race comfortably, but that's about it. ""I think it gave us an advantage for about three minutes just because we knew what a microphone was and were comfortable with it right away, but the race is so high-adrenaline and so fast that every racer forgets about the cameras and the microphones within minutes,"" Kilmer-Purcell says.
The other teams didn't really view the Beekmans as a threat, which probably allowed them to squeak by in the middle for so many legs -- something that really got to the ""Twinnies,"" Natalie and Nadiya Anderson, during the second-to-last leg. The twins had formed an alliance with two of the other top four teams, and their trash-talking against the Beekmans got pretty intense.
That drama wasn't a product of editing: ""The Twinnies wanted to win,"" Kilmer-Purcell says. But the trash-talking wasn't as hurtful or as it might have seemed on-screen. ""Trash-talking each other was no different than teams on a football field or any athletes that are trash-talking each other,"" he adds. ""Yes, you're trying to unnerve the other team and you're trying to win, but you're not trying to hurt the other team. The Twinnies are so smart and so strong and such good competitors that trash-talking was just part of the game.""
Besides, they're all friends now. ""We made peace at the finish line,"" Ridge says. ""The twins were thrilled to have us win because they're great competitors and great sportsmen. The mark of any great sportsman is getting the best out of the person you're competing with, and that's exactly what they did. If they had not been there at that moment and competing against us with such ferocity, we would not have had the fire that we needed to win.""
But did the Twinnies get a little homophobic with their insults? ""Out of context, it comes across that way, but the truth of the matter is we liked the twins throughout the entire race. They kept us laughing,"" Ridge says. ""So when they were making those comments, we knew they weren't coming from a place of negativity. We knew it was just them being the Twinnies.""
The twins' competitiveness might've stood out as more intense than normal simply because all the contestants were so nice to each other throughout, something Kilmer-Purcell attributes to the intelligence of everyone competing. ""I think that this season had a cast of extremely intelligent and strategic racers. There is definitely a strategy to work together with the right people at the right time. To run your own race and never talk to anybody, that's not the best strategy,"" he says. ""An example of that is when Ryan and Abbie and we were so far behind in Moscow, we realized the only way that we would remain in the game, or one of us would remain in the game, is if we ... worked together.""
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Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell are the second gay couple to win the race, after Chip Arndt and Reichen Lehmkuhl in Season 4, but the Beekman Boys say their sexual orientation was really a non-issue on the show. ""We get a lot of support from the LGBT community, but to be honest I really think that America doesn't make note of it as much as the media makes note of it anymore,"" says Kilmer-Purcell. ""I think that just by being visible -- Brent and I were the first real gay couple with their own reality television show, The Fabulous Beekman Boys -- we've seen just in the short time that was on the air that it's complete non-factor for a lot of America.""
Adds Ridge, ""For us it's just proof that things are changing in America and people aren't as closed- or narrow-minded as the media would like to portray them.""
The Beekmans said all along they wanted to win the money so Kilmer-Purcell could leave his 9-5 job in New York City and live on the Beekman farm full-time with Ridge, something that they plan to do in January once they get the check with their prize money from CBS. In the meantime, they're also planning a spring wedding with a little help from their Race-mates. ""Last night right before we started watching the finale, I guess Jaymes Vaughan [of the Chippendales team] had read an article that said we were planning our wedding for next spring,"" Ridge says. ""We have granted him the ability to throw our bachelor party, so we'll see how that turns out.""
Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean
[PHOTO CREDIT: John P. Filo/CBS]
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