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July 3, 2013

Is Hell's Kitchen Saving the World?

(Probably not, but…hey, I like cooking competitions.  So let's see where this goes, shall we?)

“The Situation.”

If you can read those words and not feel a searing wave of disdain and hatred, then you are a more fortunate man than I.  See, my brother -- apparently, like a large enough audience -- is a fan of the reality TV series Jersey Shore.  And in one, soul-scorching instance, I watched an episode with him.
               
What did I see?  By Odin’s beard...

Let me put it this way: in order to accurately sum up my experience, I had to start by searching the internet for concrete evidence.  It’s not that I’ve forgotten or anything, but my recollection is…curious.  Not lost, but hazy.  It’s as if I remember something, and can see it in my mind’s eye, but can’t bring myself to report on the string of events that one would usually call an episode.  There’s only one possible conclusion: my brain is hardwired to prevent me from remembering.  It’s not a fault; it’s a safety precaution.
               
After turning off those limiters (pro tip: there’s no better tool than a hammer), my memories of Jersey Shore have flowed back in full.  I remember it well -- the spiky hair that, under normal circumstances would count as a new cutlery set.  The over-the-top egos, in which three out of the four male characters can’t make it through the day -- or a promotional shot -- without flexing their coconut-sized muscles.  The crippling dependency on partying, which I’m guessing is what gives this new breed of vampires their ability to step into the midday sun.  Everything that has to do with The Situation.


I guess this is him, but I'd rather not check; my eyes are already starting to melt at the sight.

Words escape me as to how to describe this man.  So I’ll let The Situation speak for itself.  Here are some quotes.
               
“I mean this situation is gonna be indescribable, you can't even describe the situation that you're about to get into the situation.”
               
“G.T.L. baby. Gym, Tanning, Laundry.”
               
“It's obvious that Sammi has a crush on me... it goes back to the days of prehistoric kindergarten.”
               
“Everybody at the Shore definitely knows The Situation. As far as I know, everybody loves The Situation, and if you don't love The Situation, I'm gonna make you love The Situation.”
               
“I knew she was 18, that ass does not look 12.”


Five quotes.  Five quotes that I stumbled upon through an online search -- no audio, just text -- and suddenly, my head hurts.  Like I can feel every neuron screaming in rage and agony at the mere thought of this man.  He defies common sense.  Rationality.  Human decency.  Virtue and humility.  And he’s a total dummy. 
               
He has also made at least five million dollars in a single year.  I say “at least” because I suspect that his semi-recent invitation to perform on Dancing with the Stars will bring in even more money.  I guess that money will go to a good cause.  Just think of how much he’ll be able to splurge at the Laundromat! 
               
There’s nothing more that I want to say on either The Situation or Jersey Shore as a whole; any preparation for such would require the ancient ritual of slamming my head through the nearest window while chanting “Let’s go party” one hundred eight times in rapid succession.  So let’s wash our hands of the show, and reality TV in general.  It’s disappointing, offensive, and -- in my brother’s delicate words -- gives other countries a reason to hate America.  Well, that, and the fact that you can order a burrito filled with a foot-long Polish sausage, bacon, chili, cheese, and bacon.
               
So why is it that I routinely watch FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen?


By definition, the series is reality TV -- one of several competition-types, but reality TV all the same.  Plus, it’s got drama in spades, not to mention showcasing would-be chefs in their natural element and at their worst (in a manner I suspect is heart-grindingly similar to Jersey Shore, but dwelling on that fact would require me to perform ritual head-slamming again).  Also?  It’s on FOX.  You know, that one channel that made a Bachelor clone with said bachelor as a dwarf…and naming said show The Littlest Groom.  Get it?  Because he’s short?  And because FOX is run by goldfish?
               
But I’m watching it.  Why, I can barely fathom -- it seems so contradictory of me.  How can I hate Jersey Shore so passionately, yet shamefully enjoy its gourmet cousin?  Why do I go out of my way to watch every episode I can?  Why would I ever decide to write an entire post about why I like Hell’s Kitchen?
               
I have two theories.  One is that, like any good -- or perhaps evil -- reality TV series, Hell’s Kitchen ropes you in with its devilish charm, while hitting all the low notes that makes a guilty pleasure a guilty pleasure.  And, no matter how sophisticated you think you are, you’ll always have a soft spot for good old-fashioned depravity.  It’s like how you can’t look away from police officers talking with someone on the side of the road, or a lion riding a horse.  It’s so beautiful in a horrifying way.


The other, slightly more plausible theory is that Gordon Ramsay and all his cooking companions are indirectly campaigning to revolutionize television as we know it…and the world will soon follow suit.  And you don’t even know it.  But by the end of this reading, you will.  Oh, you will.
               
Also, you might get a little hungry.  You might want to have some snacks on hand.

The Eliminator
The Setup:
Hell’s Kitchen (or HK) is pretty much a game show turned up to eleven, and stretched out over an entire season.  The gist of the game is this: sixteen chefs of varying backgrounds, experiences, and personalities meet in the eponymous kitchen in Los Angeles to fight for survival.  Of course, until the FOX executives approve my pitch for gladiator-style battles, said fighting is limited to the chefs organizing into teams of two and engaging in challenges -- a special task ordained by Ramsay in the first half of an episode (with fabulous prizes for the winning team and cool cruel punishments for the losers), and a dinner service in which the chefs run through a typical restaurant night, serving customers and adhering to the menu.  Of course, hilarity ensues on a nightly basis, thanks to the perfect storm of Ramsay’s micrometer-long fuse, chef shenanigans like mixing up sugar and salt, and catch phrases galore, “It’s RAW!” and “GET OUT!” chief among them.  Eliminations follow after each service, but not before another round of insults (I would say British insults, but given that Ramsay is Scottish and his burns are universally applicable, it hardly seems fitting.) 


The Expected Reaction:
A little competition is healthy, not to mention the backbone of dozens of different aspects of our lives.  Games, matches, tournaments, bowls, series, contests, fairs, even business -- it’s not only fun to watch, but a necessity for a surprising amount of people.  Why not bring that hot-blooded, competitive spirit to TV?  And why not dangle tantalizing prizes for both the contestants and the audience?  Make them say “oooh” and “ahhh” and rope future competitors in for a chance to hit it big?  Assuming, of course, that they can make a good salad.

The Earth-Shattering Reality:
The competition brings out the best in everyone.

Let’s not mince words.  Most of the competitors who are on HK -- sometimes, all the way to the final six chefs -- are assholes.  They’ll badmouth each other, beat each other down (physically, if the preview for a future episode is to be believed), and blame each other for sinking “the line”.  After an unsuccessful service, the team that performed the worst will usually spend their time chewing each other out and pointing fingers…in a competition and work setting where teamwork is vital to success.  Head, meet wall.


But there are some truly shining examples in the series proper.  A couple of seasons ago, a twenty-something chef named Dave injured his wrist in one of the early dinner services, and spent the rest of the season with a cast on his off-hand.  In a display of heroic resolve -- or a hellish determination to win more prizes -- Dave opted to stay in the competition, even in one instance where he screamed in pain and dropped a skillet.  In the same season, a chef named Kevin injured his ankle and couldn’t walk as well as the others (fun fact: HK always has medics waiting in the halls), but stayed on board and performed to the best of his ability.

The end result?  Both chefs, both injured and handicapped in comparison to everyone else on hand made it to the finals and competed against each other.  And Dave, who’d pretty much been turned into a human slot machine at that point, won.

Think about that.  This crazy S.O.B. screwed up his wrist, cooked with essentially one hand for weeks, and went on to win the entire competition.  That’s right -- he forced himself to do more with one damn arm than more than a dozen ace chefs could do with two.  If you aren’t shedding manly tears and saluting this one-armed bandit while patriotic music crescendos in the background, then I highly recommend a re-evaluation of your life.  Starting with watching Dave triumph on YouTube.


It’s like someone combined Rocky running up the Philadelphia steps, Daniel sweep-kicking Johnny out of the tournament, and Marty duping Biff into driving into a pile of manure into one epic moment of triumphant badassery.  Seeing a winner, who’s the best around, and nothing’s gonna ever keep him down.  Someone worth flashing the metal horns and nodding in quiet approval, while this culinary emperor stares down upon his men like a god.  It’s kind of cool, is what I’m trying to say.

And why wouldn’t it be?  Don’t we love seeing heroes triumph?  Don’t we love seeing the best get his reward, his moment in the sun?  Don’t we love the fanfare, the cheers, the costly mood lighting?  And most of all, finally seeing Ramsay smile and nod in approval?  The ending of every season -- seeing that moment where all that hard work and thousand-decibel swearing -- makes the journey, and the game, worth it.

Although, this does bring up another point…


The Ramsanator
The Setup:
Gordon Ramsay -- or perhaps, Gordon Ramsay’s Unfailing Rage (GRUR) -- is a marketing phenomenon in and of itself.  In the same sense that cars are gauged by how fast they can go from zero to sixty miles per hour, GRUR is measured in bleeps per minute, smashed plates, kicked trash cans, and ratio of exclamations of “You donkey!” to the number of steps taken.  Statistics show that these measures are denser than the population per square mile of China.
               
But it’s not as if Ramsay hasn’t earned his right to be a wailing inferno of fury and Britishness (again, Britishness being relative here).  He’s got an armada of restaurants to his name and credit, and several new ones thanks to his guiding hand in installing HK winners in their dream jobs.  He’s an accomplished chef who’s been cooking for more than twenty years.  He’s got cooking knowledge, a refined palate, and enough savvy to know how to trip up other chefs, to say nothing of his impossibly large network of connections in the culinary world.  He’s got at least three different TV series across the pond, and three different series here in the states.  No force on earth can resist throwing money at this guy.  It’s as if he’s got some sort of hypnotic hold on us -- even I’m compelled to stuff dollar bills into his apron.  Maybe it’s the hair?  It's entirely possible that he's gone even further beyond.


Or maybe it’s the looming threat of GRUR that dares to swallow us in a maelstrom of hellfire and soul-scorching despair.  My money’s on the former.
               
The Expected Reaction:
Remember how I said most of the contestants on HK are assholes?  Well it takes one special -- nay, magnificent -- patron saint of wrath to not only corral the chefs, but eclipse them entirely.  GRUR succeeds triumphantly in that regard, making even the slightest mistake a train wreck capable of breaking the entire Nielsen rating system and effectively punching the late Arthur Nielsen out of his grave and back on his feet. 
               
I have a sneaking suspicion that, although Ramsay is…easily excitable…sometimes it may just be a stage performance.  He’s just giving the people what they want to see: a guy losing his shit at every opportunity.  Also, my brother is under the impression that Ramsay is almost always under the influence of drugs whenever he’s on-camera, based on how he can’t seem to sit still.  I say that’s just Ramsay punctuating his words with gestures; he says that’s a surefire sign of cocaine use.


Pfft.  What does he know?
               
The Earth-Shattering Reality:
Gordon Ramsay is also standard-equipped with INGA: Incredibly Nice Guy Armaments.
               
He may rage and rampage, but it’s not like he’s doing it just for attention (well, probably).  He’s doing it to help others out, even if it is in his own, boot camp-esque way.  Given the nature and ego of many of the show’s competitors, the key to helping them up is to break them down; smash their egos, and show them how to thrive in the fine dining big leagues.  He’s kind of like a Little League coach who chews you out for accidentally calling a time out, or getting hit every time you’re up at the plate, or losing every game that season.  God my childhood sucked.
               
But more importantly, Ramsay’s more than capable of delivering ballistic assaults of kindness.  In an earlier season, a chef by the name of Ji performed admirably for her floundering team, and proved that she could cook on several occasions.  Then she lost her footing and hurt her ankle (is the kitchen not up to safety code or something?), causing her enough pain to hinder her movements.  Yet she soldiered on, and out-performed many of the less-than-savory members of her team.  When it came time for elimination, it wasn’t the team’s screw-ups who got the axe, but Ji -- for the sole reason that, with her injury, she wouldn’t be able to participate any longer.  While the newly ousted contestant rolled up to Ramsay in a wheelchair to take off her HK jacket, he fell to one knee and took her hand, explaining very clearly to her that she could have been a contender. Then he offered to let her keep her jacket -- a first in the show’s history -- and sparked a standing ovation from the other competitors as she rode silently into the night.  Immediately after she left, Ramsay turned to the remaining chefs -- those who’d so graciously screwed up dinner service -- and explained very carefully that Ji’s courage and dedication were exemplary.  And, if the other chefs were to win the prize, they’d have to step up their game a dozen notches to even hope to match their fallen comrade.


Moments like those are what make HK worthwhile.  In those rare instances where we see Ramsay at his best -- praising others, giving credit where it’s due, and being a pretty cool guy.  One could argue that it’s an out of character moment whenever he tells someone to leave with their head held high, or gives people hope and support both in and out of the kitchen, or even refuses to eliminate anyone after a good service -- a big fat screw you to reality TV conventions.  To some extent (given the GRUR) I recognize that, but argue that it’s so out of character it warps back into being in-character; it creates some sort of infinite loop of rage, kindness, and Britishness -- relatively speaking -- that transforms him from a simple TV personality into a dynamic, enjoyable character. 
               
Also, he loves his mom.  He doesn’t even curse in her presence.  Clearly, she’s some sort of world-class mage.


The Contestanator
The Setup:
Sixteen competitors.  Eight men, eight women, organized into the blue and red teams, respectively.  They live in dorms, compete in challenges and dinner services, and either win fabulous prizes (LET’S GO FLY IN JETS!) or endure brutal punishments (LET’S PEDAL A SIX-PERSON BIKE UP A HILL WHILE TOWING COOKING SUPPLIES!).
               
Hilarity.  Always.  Ensues.
               
Taking a page out of The Highlander, there can be only one winner per season of HK, one runner-up who I assume goes on to some culinary renown, and everyone else in a general assembly of fail.  Because of that simple fact, you can always count on general haberdashery to rule the day -- teammates calling each other out and so on.  Ideally no one’s there to make friends, by virtue of being rivals and cross-continental travelers (though to be fair, there was a guy one season who had every intention of sleeping with one of the ladies).  So for the sake of being the very best, it’s every man and woman for themselves as they go for the gold…risotto.  In the same vein that competition is part of what makes the show so compelling, it’s these clashing chefs that gives each episode its lifeblood.
               
And there will be blood.  Seriously, someone needs to get that restaurant checked out.


The Expected Reaction:             
The essence of drama is conflict.  And, given the conflict between sixteen people competing for culinary godhood, that’s to be expected.  Yet we viewers are clearly much savvier than the chefs; after eight seasons, we can count on a few evident truths:

1: The chefs will have to pull together to survive, and work together (which they will inevitably fail to do at first -- or in the case of season seven’s red team, until there are only two original members left)
2: The chefs will have to put everything they have into every dinner service, and cook according to Ramsay’s incredibly high standards -- as well as those of the fine diners who have come for a good meal and a show…which, again, they will inevitably fail to do at first (bonus points if Ramsay demands and expects a strong service beforehand)
3: The chefs will have to steel their souls for each and every confrontation with GRUR (which -- you guessed it -- they will fail to do throughout the majority of the season)
4: Ramsay’s default setting is “begrudging tolerance”, and goes all the way to “Pompeii-scale detonation”.  Inevitably, the knob will surpass that limit and reach “satanic cataclysm” as a result of a disagreement, screw-up, or off-hand comment.  Incidentally, the Lifetime Achievement Award in this regard goes to Boris, who mockingly chanted “It’s raw!  It’s raw!” within earshot of a man whose voice qualifies as a Force-12 tropical cyclone.
5: FOX profits and green-lights another season before the current run is even finished.


The Earth-Shattering Reality:
God help you if you aren’t rooting for at least one of the chefs by mid-season.

True, a lot of the chefs have less-than-savory qualities -- sins of biblical proportions -- but at heart, plenty of them have that underdog-style spirit that makes you want to cheer for them.  At a base level, they’re all competing for the grand prize, and the journey from zero to hero is interesting in its own right.  But spend a little bit of time watching these chefs, and you’ll realize that, despite appearing on the dreaded reality TV, they’ve got some very compelling traits.

They’re dreamers.  Youths and elders alike with passion in their eyes.  Nobodies looking to prove themselves on a massive scale.  Family men and women.  Mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and most of all, chefs.  They’re putting their pride and faith on the line to show everyone, especially Ramsay, that they’re chefs with real, ultimate power.  They develop over time, both with respect to their teammates and to themselves, their culinary skill chief among them (a key quality in winning the whole contest, FYI).  It turns them from cheap caricatures for our entertainment into the dynamic personas that we’d expect from our fellow men and women. 


I’ll concede that this development ties in with the trashiness factor of reality TV -- essence of drama, and whatnot.  But it’s handled in such a way that it feels slightly less ridiculous.  Last season, a rivalry between the blue-haired Jay (get it?  Blue Jay) and the French cuisine specialist Ben bloomed, from planted seeds as the most competent members of the blue team to quiet respect -- and even camaraderie -- in the semifinal round.  Ardent viewers got to see Jay transform from a portly guy in the background who Ramsay had taken to calling “Smurf” into the season’s strongest male competitor, and ultimately made runner-up. 

More interestingly, Ben went from a quiet and composed chef to a cockier and more confident cook, culminating in his rescue of the red team after several disastrous services, but reaching a climax when his newfound swagger landed him in trouble on more than a few occasions.  Yet, despite his meteoric rise to success, an ill-fated back injury (COME ON) endangered his contender status, and ultimately cost him the title.  Arguably, Ben’s character development reached gratuitous levels -- he even got a makeover from a 3D Shaggy to a short-coiffed combatant.  Even though he had to go home and be a family man again, his time spent showed us viewers another walk of life outside of our own, and how much a persona can change in such a short time.


Of course, if a viewer’s just looking for laughs, then the chefs are more than happy to comply.  One season had Raj, a near-fifty-year old man who’s not only overweight, but performs enough karate punches and kicks to qualify as an honorary ninja assassin.  Oh, and he wears suspenders.  Made of win.

The Editingnator
The Setup:
It takes a lot of work to get recorded film ready for TV.  Cutting and stringing footage together, adding music and pans, leaving enough space for commercials, zooming in on every fury-wrinkled forehead, etc.  And the editing wizards at FOX’s beck and call perform their job quite admirably.  From a revamped and lawyer-friendly version of “Fire” by the Ohio Players to the camera-shaking shenanigans sprinkled atop every one of Ramsay’s physical outbursts, there’s a visual and aural treat in every episode. 

Wait, did I say treat?  So sorry, I meant absolutely ridiculous.

I’m not opposed to someone mixing ominous chanting in my media -- the video game industry’s been doing it for years.  But when you add it to what boils down to a cooking show, it gets particularly…excessive.  It’s not uncommon for a sort of holy trinity of editing effects to be superimposed on a single scene: no less than seven different cuts to the other chefs, dramatic close-ups of the food that shows every grain of rice and every tissue in the beef, and nothing short of an angelic chorus on loan from heaven work their pipes in every challenge -- all before a perfect commercial cut before we find out who won the challenge or who’s getting eliminated.


And that brings up another issue.  Chances are, if two competing parties (be it a team or a pair of chefs) are in the middle of a challenge in which victory is determined by a score or a majority vote, then the challenge will always, always, ALWAYS be won by one point or one vote -- and ALWAYS in order to break a tie.  In the instances where there’s a tie and there’s no point left to give, then Gordon Ramsay will step in and decide based on -- no foolin’ -- the efforts or dish of a single chef.  If it happened every so often, then it wouldn’t really be a problem; yet, regrettably, it happens once per episode in every single season.  Fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me ninety-eight times, shame on you.

Instances like those don’t really raise HK’s credibility.  Viewers cry foul whenever they suspect that an event is scripted, and the fact that every competition is down to the wire says one thing more than any other.  Say it with me now:


The Expected Reaction:
FOX executives.  Goldfish.  Apparently, they think that viewers are the same, and have to be told how to feel based on the heavy chanting.  Or, alternatively, to understand how potent a certain action is.  Or to see someone’s face and think, “Oh, gracious!  Have a close examination of his frantic visage!  Surely his panicked state of mind suggests that this turn of events has transmogrified into a grave reality!”  Only less wordy.  Or, impossibly, more.

The Earth-Shattering Reality:
What gave you the impression that being absolutely ridiculous was a bad thing?

Consider, if you will, a man in a business suit.  Average height, average weight, brown hair, with glasses and a briefcase.  Pretty standard-fare.  Now imagine if said businessman suddenly was hit by a gust of magical wind, transforming his bland brown hair into an electric green Mohawk.  And when I say electric, I mean electric -- there’s literally voltage zipping between each stalk of hair.  Then, just when the businessman is cowering in fear, the gust of wind returns and swaps his suit for a Tron-style jumpsuit, glowing lines and all, and his briefcase transforms into a sword with a chainsaw for a blade (colloquially referred to as a “Chain Sawd”).  He’s ready to kick ass and file a TPS report…and he’s all out of ass.


HK works under the same principle.  Rather than opt for sensibility and subtlety, it goes all-out and makes every event it can a spectacle.  True, it can get particularly painful at times, but there are some genuinely shining examples where editing makes everything better.  One season, a particularly cocky chef by the name of Scott had a bad habit of overstepping his bounds and “helping” others, even though he wasn’t an ace chef by any stretch of the imagination.  When interviewed, he’d often go into a rant on how fantastic and seasoned he was, and how it was his duty to help those who so desperately needed it.  And all the while, there’s patriotic music playing in the background, adding a mocking panache to Scott’s preamble -- er, preramble.  To say nothing of the general soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond movie.

And the announcer’s jokes are all over the place.  Some are average, used for a quick transition from one team’s kitchen to another.  Others are painful.  And then there are gems; in one instance, when Ramsay chose to bang his head against a mirrored wall (hey, he’s in on the ritual as well!), the announcer said, “While Chef Ramsay takes a moment to reflect on matters…”  That…that was…beautiful?  I can’t tell.  It was so bad, yet so very, very delicious.  It’s like someone gave me cat food and forced me to eat it, and I suddenly discovered I like cat food but I’d never admit it unless trying to make an example out of it.  I don’t have any cats.


It’s all so simple.  HK doesn’t take itself seriously.  It knows all too well that it’s not the kind of show you’d watch with legs crossed while sipping delicately at tea with your pinky finger extended.  To that end, it takes on an over-the-top style all its own; it has fun with its conventions and takes them to a level we never thought possible.  And really, isn’t having a unique style better than copying someone else’s moves, or -- god forbid -- pretending to be something that it isn’t?

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “At the end of the day, HK is just reality TV.”  “It’s probably not even real; it’s gotta be scripted.”  “There’s nothing here that I can’t get anywhere else.”  In all fairness, those are valid points.  You could probably tune in for one episode, enjoy, and then walk away all the same.  Your life wouldn’t be changed.  You wouldn’t have a newfound respect and understanding of the culinary world.  You wouldn’t know just what on earth a risotto is.  HK is far from the be-all and end-all, the second coming guaranteed to bring you salvation.  But for what it’s worth, it brings something unique to the table, something that I’d be remiss to ignore.

And what might that be, you ask?  Well, I’m glad you asked.


The Universe-Rending Apotheosis
Hell’s Kitchen is, for lack of a better term, a clusterfuck.  It’s an almost haphazard mix of egos, fury, tears, raw food, challenges, edits, and swears, polished to the bone for a spiffy yet skin-sacrificing sheen.  Yet all of those qualities, good and bad, groan-inducing and awe-inspiring, come together to form a perfect storm of disgusting beauty.  A train wreck made with cars of solid platinum.  A car crash with no short supply of rocket bikes.  A lion riding a horse that is also wearing a jetpack.

But, more to the point, it offers something palpable and understandable, perhaps even appreciable.  Compelling characters, stirring moments of emotion, and a solid display of what those who dare to dream can be, all wrapped inside a unique yet fundamentally structured story arc.  Viewed from a different perspective, is Ramsay that different from an anti-hero, or the contestants as pillars of clashing ideologies?  Is the contest itself a character as well as a conflict?  Is the development of each character a result of their self-discoveries, or a byproduct of their mounting stress in the kitchen?  What sort of climax will occur in each service?  What foreshadowing can one find for the next elimination?  And perhaps the ultimate question: how much of a hand do the show’s executives have in manipulating each event?


Hypothetical question: does the show have all the necessities of a good story -- no, a novel?  A trashy novel, sure, far from Hemingway-honed sensibilities, but an entertaining and stylish romp.  It could, potentially, remind us of the qualities that make us humans so interesting: our variability, our passion, our strengths and our failings, all taught regularly by a Mr. Gordon Ramsay.  Yet HK is no novel; it’s an hour-long block of programming that features an anger-prone chef yelling at wannabe-ace chefs who bring medium rare beef wellingtons to the pass when they should be well-done.  And really, is that so bad?  It’s accessible.  Routinely honest (for a given definition of “honest”).  Making it available to the masses, and subtly educating them in ways one would never think possible.

 In other words, hearing Ramsay scream “It’s RAW!” and sticking around to see what transpires after that -- all the development and heart that you just can’t get in such a stylized package -- is a type of entertainment that outstrips many others.  And with that entertainment being broadcast almost year-round into homes everywhere, it could theoretically influence others to change their actions accordingly.  Work as a team!  Accept only the best!  Care for your fellow men!  Hold your head up high!  Virtues that we all need to be reminded of every now and then, delivered once a week on FOX oh so covertly.


And through that covert influence, we all learn something new.  Something exciting.  Something that’ll drive us to become a little bit better, be it a chef with a sharper palate, or a member of the best team of all: the human race team.

It makes for good entertainment.  And let’s face it: The Situation’s got nothing on my man Ramsay.

(MasterChef is still better, though.)

2 comments:

  1. Brilliant post. You too have the same feelings towards other reality TV shows as my boyfriend does, who, funnily enough, introduced me to this show and I have been hooked ever since on the current season.

    "Don't stare at me Mary! "

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  2. Oh yeah, that was brilliant. I don't know how that man comes up with so many hilarious moments, but I guess that's part of the charm. Spontaneity and unpredictability are vital parts of comedy...which makes me wonder what our world would be like if Chef Ramsay was a comedian.


    One can only wonder. But man oh man, the possibilities...

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