Thursday, December 2, 2010

Out of touch with reality

It's been awhile. I'm going to blame holiday-related lethargy. It radiated into the entire month of November.

Anyway, I spent all last night preparing to post about ANTM, but it occurred to me that regardless of the winner, I didn't care that much. Ann can't do commercial work, and even at her best has a weird walk. Chelsey is probably  too old to really take off, and I keep calling her "Celia" in my head, so obviously I don't have some great love of her work either. I haven't really cared about a finale since Annaleigh (completely illogically) lost to "McKee" a million seasons ago. But that left me with nothing to write about.

And then I watched the premiere of Top Chef: All-Stars. (Warning: There are spoilers ahead. But season premiere spoilers, so they barely count).

The episode itself was pretty good - the All-Stars are pretty well-selected (though I wish Nice Voltaggio or Future Santa Claus Kevin signed on instead of Mike), and the producers can be happy that most of the people known for being a-holes seem largely unchanged and unapologetic (looking at you, Marcel). Everything was exactly as it should be, including the first challenge - revamp the dish that got you booted from your season. Even better, while half of the chefs cooked, the other half ate their competitions dishes with the judges. And the chefs who cooked watched the diners on closed circuit TV from the kitchen. All good stuff. Then Anthony Bourdain called Fabio's pasta dish one of the worst things he'd ever eaten. Only, you know, in a Bourdanier (let's agree that that's a word) way. Fabio was pissed, which is fair.

Here's what isn't: at judging Fabio went off on this whole thing about how he came here to be criticized in a constructive way, not to be made fun of (question: how do you rephrase that to move the preposition? I mean, without sounding like a douche). He even implies that, if they weren't in a judge/contestant situation, he might even actually fight Bourdain.

That's where I got kind of annoyed - it's not just that I'm pretty sure Bourdain is a scrapper who could totally take Fabio. Nor is it just that I'm of that camp that thinks getting in the judges faces is petty and unprofessional. No, my main problem is that being made fun of is EXACTLY WHAT YOU CAME HERE FOR. Because, before anything else, this is a reality show. So when Tyra calls your walk goofy, Michael Kors says you made your model look like a slutty disco ball or Tom Colicchio says your food was so bad it actually offended him on a personal level, yes it sucks, but no one made you audition.

If you're looking for a bunch of people to taste your food, then focus on helping you improve it using really constructive and ego-bolstering language, you should take cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. These are judges. Their job is to judge. Preferably in a way that's entertaining. And using language strong enough that it helps the audience get really committed to the idea that this  person deserves to win, and this person should be banned from ever cooking again ever.

Not knowing this going into a competition-based reality show is naive (the format is hardly new); not knowing this going into your SECOND competition-based reality show is just plain dumb. But that's okay. Given the competition, I'm sure Fabio will only have to deal with it for a few weeks.

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