Friday, April 18, 2008

Reality Show Round-Up
So yesterday I went to a new hairdresser, and the hairdresser working at the next chair is a big TV gossip. "Awesome!" I thought, until her first question to the customer was, "So... did you catch The Hills??" That was followed by discussions on Laguna Beach, American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars. None of which I watch. (The customer mentioned that Priscilla Presley totally burned Kelly Ripa on Regis yesterday, so I naturally had to check that out on YouTube...)

The thing is, I DO watch reality TV, but it's either about fashion, or features Gordon Ramsay.

Yes, Hell's Kitchen has started up again, and I hate it as much as I ever did. So I have to watch it, of course. The Fox overblownness is there in full force, and Gordon comes off as a hotheaded Nazi. It's completely ridiculous. He has the contestants sort through garbage to pick out the food and show how much they discarded the night before; he puts one team in farmer's overalls and forces them to pick vegetables in a hot field all day... you know, all things I'm sure Gordon Ramsay has done. Ahem.

And, as I say every time I bitch about Gordon Ramsay on Fox, the problem with his depiction on that network is that it's not the Gordon Ramsay I know and enjoy. And that was all too evident on the most recent season of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares... the BBC version, not the stupid Fox version. This one was presumably done after the Fox monstrosity, and it was as charming as ever. The Fox version had definitely influenced it -- in one episode, the establishment got a brand new kitchen that the show paid for (that hadn't happened on the BBC one, but was a regular staple of the Fox one); there were intermittent moments of the staff talking about how awesome Gordon was and how without him they would die (again, previous to the Fox version Gordon's awesomeness was something we could figure out for ourselves, but maybe his ego has grown). But unlike the Fox episodes, which consist of about 20 minutes of footage played OVER AND OVER with the Hell's Kitchen voiceover saying ominously "Next... on Kitchen Nightmares!" to the point where when the moment finally DOES happen, it's pretty anticlimactic... the BBC one just lets the action speak for itself. In one episode, he goes to Paris and finds a vegetarian restaurant run by a whiny Scot whose daddy is paying for the thing, and she's a complete idiot who is more interested in being on the TV than actually making her restaurant succeed. The best Nightmare episodes are where Gordon finds someone he truly respects, and in this case it was India, the woman brought in to become the chef, who is out of a job when the Scot pisses the business away. Gordon ends up taking her and sticking her in one of his own restaurants, which is awesome.

The BBC episodes are again proof that Gordon is still a chef at heart... but if he'll accept the money to do Hell's Kitchen, then my respect for him is depleting almost as fast as it is for JK Rowling at the moment.

America's Next Top Model is on again, and while I'm thinking Tyra's ego coupled with Rowling's and Ramsay's could actually cause the planet to explode, this cycle is definitely an improvement over the last one. Jay Manuel is as charming as ever, Miss Jay is as annoying as ever, and the addition of Paulina Poroskova (aka Mrs. Ric Ocasek) is a vast improvement over Twiggy. The girls aren't incredibly interesting, and the one I really liked in the beginning (Claire, who had left a baby behind and was pumping breastmilk and worried that her milk was depleting and was genuinely gorgeous and sweet) seemed to undergo a massive personality transplant partway through and launched an attack on a fellow contestant that was so Grade 3 my head was spinning. Luckily, she was booted the following week, but that leaves me with not much to vote for. I kinda like Whitney, but she's a little too princessy for me. So instead, I'll just sit back and watch it on fastforward for the rest of the season.

Tyra's show is fun, but it pales in comparison to Project Runway, which is fascinating and fun, and never has a bad episode. Even the blatant product placement ("Made use of the accessory wall, and you have 15 minutes before you need to be in the Loreal Paris makeup room") isn't nearly as irritating. Unfortunately, Bravo in Canada airs the damn show 5 weeks after it airs in the US, so the spoilers of bratty little Christian being the winner were all over the place before the finale actually aired, but it was still fun to watch. I liked Christian in the beginning, and then he became irritating beyond words, and near the end he became fun again. He's full of himself, but he should be -- his clothes were FIERCE (or, as Posh Spice said near the end in my favourite cameo yet... they were may-jah). I love this show.


K J Gillenwater said...

I like the BBC version of "Kitchen Nightmares," too, but I did see an improvement in the FOX version as the season progressed. What I like to hear are Gordon's personal comments about he sees and thinks. They started out with way too much narration from bodiless voice on the American version, but cut way back by the end of the last few eps.

Since I Tivo all my shows, I always fastforward through the "coming up next" for ANY show, because it always gives away the good parts. You might want to try that yourself. :-)

On "ANTM" I'm rooting for Whitney, only because I would like to see a normal-sized woman win for once. The 'plus-size' (i.e. size 10, which is TOTALLY NORMAL for someone her height!) girls always get the boot early. So glad to see she's going to Rome and is handling the discrimination in, visiting any designer's place to book jobs and they eye her like she's an elephant and pooh-pooh her as being 'too large' for their size 2 clothes.

However, I also really like Lauren, the Awkward. I am totally like this girl. Can't walk in heels. Kind of a clutz. Totally not graceful or girly. And she's taken the best pictures so far. A real natural. And who says every model has to do runway? She could just be a print model and totally rock it.

Nikki Stafford said...

Kristin: The Fox one improved slightly, but for me it was akin to saying, "well, the garbage bin doesn't smell so bad anymore now that we've aired it out... but it still smells like garbage." I won't be watching a second season if there is one, heaven forbid.

I PVR everything too, and I do fastforward the coming up next... but it doesn't change the fact that when you do that, you seriously have about 25 minutes of show left, which is ridiculous, and bad editing. I HATE FOX.

I think that's my reason for liking Whitney, too... I was so annoyed at the go-see when that one designer said, "Um... yeah... we don't really let cows as big as you clomp down our runway." I just wanted to throw something at the TV. Nice to think a size 10 is plus-sized. How ridiculous. The show always "allows" a plus-sized model on there, but they never make it far, and I'm glad she's made it this far. I just wish the show would make more of a comment about that. Tyra was never skinny, and when she was a model, she really changed the face of the runway. Now that she's not, I wish she'd do a little more to try and maintain that.

K J Gillenwater said...

In a way, I'm wondering if they will 'allow' her to win, because they feel they need to let a plus-size girl win. I just don't feel much about the judging is fair or makes sense sometimes. Especially the last season when Miss No Personality won over some of her better competitors....I truly think she was a ringer b/c she knew Tyra before the show.

But I do wonder WHY Tyra forces the plus-sized girls to visit places who don't use plus-sized models? Just to make them feel bad? Just to see if they crack under pressure? Plus-sized models are sent to job that WANT them. Why would a modeling agency send a girl to a job she will never get?

I was glad to see that at least one designer told Whitney that she likes to use all different types and sizes in her show. Wish more designers would do that.

Sorry you're dumping the American version of "Kitchen Nightmares." I still enjoy seeing how cruddy the menus are, how gross the kitchen, and how ignorant the owners can be. No matter what.

Stamford Talk said...

This February, I got to be a diner on a Kitchen Nightmares show in my town in CT. It was awkward to eat with cameras in my face, but fun to see the panicked staff and imperious Gordon. He is just gorgeous in person.

Unfortunately I can find NO INFO online about the upcoming season! 'm afraid I'm going to miss the show when it airs.