It may surprise you to learn that I’m not a fan of food-focused reality TV shows. I am genuinely distracted at what seem to be arbitrary rules, so that even with the shows I can watch, like Chopped, I find myself more involved in the mechanism of the show than with the actual content.
As with all reality TV, I am profoundly distracted by what I know are coached dramas. Keeping with the Chopped example, the contestants frequently blurt out personal hardships and dreams in an attempt to garner judge’s favor. It’s not at all uncommon for an otherwise douchbaggy, competitive moron to suddenly burst into tears while telling a judge about their mother — and I assure you, it is never sincere. Of course, our favorite thing of all to lose our minds over: judge Scott Conant, who cannot stand the taste of onions¹, dislikes meatballs and doesn’t like black pepper.
And don’t even get me started on how much I can’t watch Bobby Flay, or as Anger Burger friend Aaron put it:
“I’d fight Flay. That guy just seems like a dick. I always thought the premise of ‘Throwdown’ was real shitty: ‘Hey we want to do a feature on you. Psych! Bobby Flay is here to embarrass you in front of your friends and family.’”
I have to struggle with turning the channel when he’s chosen to compete on Iron Chef America, in all his tantrummy, equipment-smashing glory, and if he ever gets through a competition without insulting, berating or otherwise bullying his sous chef, I’ll eat my hat².
And non-food related reality contest shows? I can’t watch them at all. I cannot watch American Idol, not even a minute of it. So imagine my total shuddering, nightmare-inducing discovery of the new NBC show America’s Next Great Restaurant, the final amalgamation of all things I find terrifying and repugnant about food media. Bullshit contests! Lauding of things with negative social and economic values (YOU WIN A CHAIN RESTAURANT, FOR FUCK’S SAKE)! Bobby Flay! The CEO of Chipotle, a company recently under fire for “flushing out” all of their illegally employed Mexican kitchen staff! That Australian guy I don’t actually have a problem with! And lastly, this terrible ad:
And in case you’re not sure why I hate it, let me adjust it a little to how I normally see this ad on billboards every day:
¹ And who later claimed in an interview that his repeated complaints against onions in the show were “a misunderstanding about some of the dialogue” as though we’d believe that his near-Hulk-rage was merely a semantics gaffe.
² In preparation for the event, I will construct a hat made of cookies.