Prolonged Televised Job Interview=Entertainment?
Whoever said “it’s more about the journey than the destination” must have been talking about reality television.
…ok that’s a bit unlikely since that saying is forever old and reality television has been around for only about twenty years, but you get my point.
Format: 1-hour television show
Premise: Michelin star chef Gordon Ramsey spends 12 episodes screaming at a dozen cooks of various backgrounds (from housewife to executive chef), eliminating them one by one based on skill challenges and service performance. The last remaining contestant generally wins an executive chef position in a fancy schmancy restaurant.
Original Broadcast Channel: FOX
Off the Wire Location: Hulu.com, Hulu Plus (Seasons 1-9)
I started watching Hell’s Kitchen in Season 2, when my favorite contestant ever, Heather, walked away with a restaurant at Red Rock resort in Las Vegas, and I’ve been hooked on this guilty pleasure ever since. As season 9 wraps up, I’m amazed at how I can keep watching this show and actually look forward to new episodes. It is essentially nine seasons of lying, cheating, bickering, and chef Ramsey crushing the spirits of earnest culinary hopefuls. How can I be so vicariously cruel?
Then again…how do they come on a cooking show and not know how to roast chicken? That’s their bad life choice, not mine.
But…I suppose I should try to turn my smug satisfaction at other people’s failures into something helpful for future HK hopefuls. So, after much analysis, I have determined 4 easy steps to follow for certain success:
1) Have some cooking skills. Seriously. This should probably go without saying, but past performance makes me feel the need to mention it. Having some experience in a professional kitchen would also be a good idea. If you don’t meet one or both of these criteria, don’t even bother showing up.
2) Shut your mouth. The contestants that end up winning are generally less featured in the beginning of the show, and the reason for that is because they are not at the heart of any drama. Focus on the competition and your own performance. Don’t be so worried about standing out right away–being a solid cook will not go unnoticed and it will not get you kicked out.
3) Don’t backstab. In the beginning of the show, the chefs are split into 2 teams (Blue and Red) which are eventually culled down enough to be joined into one (Black). Every season, the members of the Blue and Red Teams vow THEY won’t be like the teams in the past, that THEY will work together no matter what until they all make it to Team Black. And EVERY season, that never works. So…make sure that YOU don’t screw it up. Be honest, be reliable, be a team player.
4) Backstab. Once you get to Team Black, do whatever it takes to win. Now’s your time to shine, so feel free to completely bludgeon the competition into submission. Plus, having an honest player do a 180 into a totally two-faced snake would be AWESOME television.
Ironically, after watching this entire season, I don’t have much of an opinion about the winner, Paul. Don’t get me wrong–he is talented and passionate and worthy and blah blah blah. That’s not the issue. The problem is that, if you look up all the past Hell’s Kitchen winners (as I have), you will see a disturbing trend: almost none of them has lasted more than a year in their “prize.” First season winner Michael only lasted a few days, in fact.
Now, knowing the true final standing of the “winners,” it’s really hard to care about the outcome of the show. But I know I’ll keep watching it just the same, because in the end, the point of shows like Hell’s Kitchen isn’t who ends up winning–it’s how they get there and all the drama that goes along with it.