The primary by-product of my TV addiction is that I am a fairly good judge of what makes the grade in the Reality TV genre. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a snob or anything, I’ll totally watch a whole season of a sub-par reality show (Joe Millionaire, anyone?) but the point is that I dole out my enthusiasm and praise sparingly.
Last night, the third season of Hell’s Kitchen got off with a bang….or a snivel, as seemingly 80% of the contestants melted in tears at various points during the broadcast. This, I know from experience, is unheard of in the genre. The producers must have blisters from the high-five fest that surely followed the initial screening. What makes this premier episode even more amusing is that Mr. Ramsey (the notoriously fastidious/ornery chef) barely had to look cross-eyed at the contestants before they literally pissed themselves with tears!
To back up a bit, the basic 5 components that I need to check off before dubbing a “Reality Show” successful are:
1. A contest of some sort – however ‘token’ it may be (e.g. the fictitious modeling contract in ANTM)
2. One or two clinically insane contestants (they don’t have to be formally diagnosed, but the dementia must manifest during opportune times).
3. A minimum of one dullard/lazy bum to serve as a catalyst for all the ‘A’ types who want to win, yet have to prod the lump into pulling some kind of effort for the sake of the team. (This contestant type is sadly expendable, usually within the first voting-off/out cycle).
4. Crying. Lots.
5. Physical harm (e.g. Survivor contestants falling into fire, Apprentice sycophants spraining ankles, ANTM hopefuls coming down with ‘exhaustion’ and ending up in hospital, Top Chef’s assaulted while resisting an impromptu head-shave, etc.).
While the above list may seem a bit callous to the uneducated (in the school of obsessive TV watching) reader, I assure you, nothing is more boring that watching ‘real people’ (a.k.a. unattractive folks) waddling through their basic, ordinary day without a whiff of drama (e.g. avoid the house-hunting or ambush/trading house/budget decorator show garbage on HGTV or TLC).
The trailer montage for the rest of the season of Hell’s Kitchen (dangled like catnip last night) references ambulance trips, confrontation, more tears, tempers and complete meltdowns. If it is a true harbinger of things to come, Hell’s Kitchen is shaping up to deliver on all counts.