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Food Network Reality TV


About your comment about "Restaurant Stakeout" being staged, I wanted to point out that there has been similar criticism about Robert Irvine's "Restaurant: Impossible" show.  Irvine did a show near Cleveland, and the owner of the restaurant said that they basically staged things to highlight as problems on the show, and Irvine just overacted on camera:

It is also interesting from the standpoint of how Food Network used to frequently push some bullshit bio for Irvine (that he was instrumental in the creation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake) until that was blown out of the water.


Well those makeover shows are obviously staged for fake drama, from the artificial deadlines to Irvine's over-the-top personality.  Plus he's married to a wrestler, so he knows the score.  The worst by far I've seen is "Health Inspectors", which is obviously bad actors.  

But yeah, makes me miss the good old days of coming home from work and watching Emeril.  I'd lament the fall from grace of A&E too, but I'm the guy watching Storage Wars, Parking Wars, and Shipping Wars in three hour blocks on the weekends so I have no moral leg to stand on.  


  1. Other than the original Brit version of Kitchen Nightmares, all of those "turn the failing restaurant around" shows are awful. In the original version Ramsey was offering legitimate, honest advice to help people who couldn't see their own failures in a tough business (or it came across that way.) In the American version he's just a caricature of himself, screaming madly, offering very little true advice, and shoehorning a Fabulous Makeover! into the mix. And every teaser implies that THIS is the episode where someone's getting shot, and no one ever does.

    Irvine's show is just a cheaper knockoff of that nonsense.

    I do have to say that Chopped is a breath of fresh air, although the judges are sometimes too far up their own asses, even for people that you fully EXPECT to be elbow deep. Just finishing on that show is a massive accomplishment as far as I'm concerned. Seeing pickled yak's anus and bubblegum staring up at you, and doing anything but freezing, is a skill.

  2. I would like Restaurant: Impossible a lot more if he'd tone down the yelling. It's unnecessary.

  3. There are varying levels of "fake" among so-called reality shows. In a quick google about Restaurant stakeout and mystery diners, it is apparent they are as fake as the repo show. Actors, fake situations, almost nothing to do with reality. This is becoming the norm. Shows like Honey Boo Boo put the people in situations designed to elicit certain responses and even go so far as to ask for those responses. It's similar to the way a promo used to be before "creative." Reality star is put in situation, told to hit the key talking points, other wise "improvises" rest of show. This kind of thing started with MTV and the Hills and whatever that other show was that had similar people on it. Previous to that, the strategy was more like Real World and Big Brother. Put people who are combustible in a situation, film, and hilarity and dram will follow. now they don't even trust that.

    Even the "contest" type shows are somewhat "fake." Read the fine print on shows like Top Chef. it states that judges decisions are made in conjunction with the producers, otherwise known as code for, "we are going to keep the pot stirrers and the sympathetic folks with a backstory until near the end." And shows like Idol or X Factor, which seem to have a legit voting process are still using editing to persuade voters to which contestants are most likable or sympathetic and using the order of performance to push certain contestants as well. It has also become public that X-Factor was scripting contentious dialogue between Simon and contestants. I'm sure others do as well.

    99% of reality shows are just as scripted as any sitcom or drama on TV. Oddly enough the most "real" reality shows would be the longtime ones like Survivor or Amazing Race. yes they creatively edit to create heroes and villains. yes they have been known to ask to refilm a scene for dramatic purposes. But in the end, the folks compete and win on their own skills.

    I've actually stopped watching all "reality" shows. I've been known in the past to watch Top Chef, Survivor, Pawn Stars, Big Brother (waaaay back), Real World (waaaay back like in the 90s), Idol, etc. but with the new influx of blatantly faked stuff like the redneck shows, the real housewives types stuff, the pawn stuff, etc. I just decided to stop watching any of them.

    There is nothing wrong with "fake" reality shows IF the viewers no it's fake and if the participants and crew get paid like real actors. Currently, not only are reality shows much cheaper to produce than "scripted" shows, but due to loopholes, the people on them AND the crew don't have to be paid union scale wages. With the stuff being just as scripted as Big Bang Theory or CSI, that needs to stop.

  4. Very good analysis. That's what bothers me the most from these reality/fake shows, they basically loosely script them, but because it's under "reality" show and these folks don't belong to SAG, they don't have to pay proper wages. I never watched a second of Jersey Shore, nor do I care to, I'm glad the cast got together and got proper wages since the show was such a ratings hit.

  5. Bourdain's CNN show can't start soon enough...

    Oh and Top Gear.

    That's as far as I am willing to delve into "reality".

  6. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that "Restaurant: Impossible", while somewhat misleading, is more real than fake.

    For instance, the designers/builders scope out the location beforehand, gathers some materials, researches nearby shops, etc., but when push comes to shove, they really DO perform all of the construction and decorating in less than twenty-four hours. Sure, they're not going in completely blind, but the actual physical labor is performed within the stated time-constraints. Same with Robert Irvine - he doles out a few words of wisdom for the owner and employees, but is really only there to host, to be an identifiable name and narrate what we're seeing; sure, he hams it up for the cameras, but it's not like he's really DOING anything, he just gets to be center-stage while everyone else does the hard work.

    I could be wrong, but reading many interviews with past owners (I'm a big fan of the show, always look for articles about it) definitely gave me that impression; Irvine plays for the camera, but it's mostly on the up-and-up. I mean, considering some of the ridiculous and disgusting stuff we've seen on the show (including cockroaches and rats), you'd think we'd have more burning accusations.

  7. What's worse than A&E's fall from grace? TLC's. A cable network started with funding from the Department of Education and distributed by NASA is now home to Honey Boo Boo, Long Island Medium, and Extreme Cougar Wives.

    When people ask why I'm normally against privatization of organizations like PBS, I point them to TLC. TLC is the nadir of western civilization. It's fulfilling every crude prophecy of TV being the idiot box.

  8. I love the American Kitchen Nightmares, because I've worked in plenty of restaurants and the majority of the people that own them are total scumbags, so I thoroughly enjoy Gordon just going off on them and putting them in their place.

  9. it is more real than fake. We had a restaurant about 10 minutes away that was redone (Italian place in Burton, Michigan). some of it might be exaggerated for effect or timelines a bit skewed but overall they do what they say. They take troubled restaurants and remake them.

  10. If Food Network was nothing but "Chopped" and "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" 24/7, I'd be happy as a clam, whatever that means. I can marathon that shit all day on a lazy Saturday.

  11. Do you watch Kitchen Nightmares--or whichever one where he comes in and fixes a failing restaurant?

  12. I guess I'm not watching Restaurant Stakeout anymore. I watched a couple of episodes and thought it was good. Turns out it was too good to be true.

    I hope Bar Rescue isn't as fake as the others. Jon Taffer reminds me of Paul Heyman but with potential mafia connections (not that he is connected, he just seems like a guy who could order a hit on someone).

    Got to give shout-outs to Property Brothers, Shark Tank (for entertainment value), and Pawn Stars (for educational value--they actually give concise history lessons throughout the shows), too.

  13. Guy Fieri is the douchiest douche who ever douched.

  14. Ramsay is not Bourdain...

  15. Yeah, but....DAT FOOD. God help me when it's an all-BBQ episode.

  16. ...I fear for your arteries.

    And he's still a doucheslice.

  17. There are some shows where it is faked purely because of marketing. Recipe to Riches for example - they set tasks for the contestants etc but the contestants failing the tasks just doesn't matter. At the end of the day it's what the most marketable recipe is, which matters. I was on the show recently and the other 2 contestants lost the task and I was the only one to complete it, yet it didn't matter and I was voted off - and watching it when it aired, they didn't even mention whether or not any of the tasks were completed.

  18. I'll admit to being just as addicted to the 'wars' show. Storage Wars was my introduction, but I've sorta got bored with it, and now Shipping Wars is my new Saturday marathon. Came in handy too, as I'm having to transport my dog cross country, and because of the show, I thought about checking the website they use.

    Also, the epitome of fake reality show is everything on Spike TV. From their Storage Wars ripoff, to that show about people that supposedly hand out eviction notices to home dwellers.

  19. I worked in kitchens for 10 years. All kinds of places - chain restaurants, sports bars, diners, pubs, tourist attractions, fine dining, casual trats - and getting out was the greatest thing that I ever did. I miss certain things.. The social aspect, and the constantly changing cast of characters mostly.

    But douchebag owners are not one of the things that I miss. Having 100% certainty that my pay will be deposited, in the agreed upon amount, on the day that it's supposed to be deposited, every single time, is a perk.

    Have you read Bourdain's books? If not, you should. When I read Kitchen Confidential it was just like "holy shit, this is my life".

  20. Fieri is a total irritant, yet somehow still quite watchable.

    And yeah, a lot of the food on that show looks spectacular.

  21. woooops. Someone needs to pay better attention.

  22. I think this is mostly a problem with independent restaurants.

    If you work at a major hotel that has a restaurant, things such as getting paid and getting treated with respect are not an issue.

  23. Chopped is awesome. A good successor to Iron Chef.

  24. Kitchen Nightmares >>>>>> Impossible

  25. I think Bar Rescue is fairly real, but like the others exaggerated for effect. I can tell you that both bars in Framingham, MA that were featured on the show changed their names back to the pre-show name within weeks of the crew leaving.

  26. I'm a huge Storage Wars fan too. And for me (and you could probably say this with all television), it's now more about the characters than actually caring about the actual auctioning process or anything like that. IMO, that's what makes the show are the interesting characters....unlike Storage Wars Texas, which to me seems like they're trying WAY too hard.

    As far as Restaurant Impossible, I have no doubt things are probably played up for the camera, but I suspect it's more real than fake.

  27. Yeah, the pay thing is true, I worked at a major ski hill and never had to haggle over quarter hours (although the pay was actually not great, even as a manager.)
    But major tourist operations such as that, and hotels, make up a small percentage of available kitchen jobs. And even the big boys are often less than straight up. Batali and Zakarian have both been sued over tips and overtime pay recently.
    Although there are absolutely exceptions, pay as a cook sucks, even once you're well outside anything that could be considered burger flipping. Even a lot of the guys on Chopped who are executive chef of such-and-such successful restaurant in such-and-such a hot area will talk about the 10K prize like it’s life changing money.

  28. The British version is my favorite as well, because it's toned down and is truly about the food and the restaurant. The American version is so dumbed down, barely mentions food and is all about the nutjob owners acting like idiots. Although I did enjoy the Long Island meathead who spent the whole hour getting into brawls with "bill collectors."

  29. Nah, I respect the hell out of Gordon for what he's done as a chef but as a celebrity I don't really find him very interesting.

  30. what Bourdain's CNN show is this? when is it on?

  31. He's taking No Reservations to CNN, I think it starts in March or something. Basically it's the same show except now the "fixers" from CNN can get him into hotter places, like the Congo which he's said he wants to do since his first book.

  32. When PBS starts turning into Reality Show Hell, THAT will be the end of civilization as we know it.
    They are the only remaining educational TV network that hasn't devolved to such depths.

  33. They're both assholes, so I get the confusion. The difference is that Ramsay has made money cooking, while Bourdain cooked his money away.

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