Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares: Compelling Television...If Your Cable Goes that High
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 | posted by Mike
Although you risk a nosebleed by venturing to the upper reaches of your digital cable, tracking down BBC America in order to watch Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is well worth the risk. The show may be the most compelling food program on television right now.
I know what you're saying. "He's a boor on Hell's Kitchen." "The U.S. version of Kitchen Nightmares reeks of Fox Reality Programming." Yes, I'll give you that. But, as we've come to expect from all things British, this is a much classier level of boorish behavior.
Yes, Ramsay's still the opinionated, ill-tempered person we see on American television. But the main difference is that the impatience and yelling melts away much more often. You can see that he's a rude guy, but it is done for the purpose of making the restaurants into something better. Plus, these are professionals in the kitchen, so that feeling of squeamishness you feel when he's beating up on some hapless HK contestant isn't there.
It's also an interesting show for Americans because it does give you a look at life in everyday-UK. The thing that I was most surprised at when I started watching the program -- the first British reality show I've watched -- is that, despite our familiarity with the British culture, much of what we consume through movies and television is an idealized Britain. Whether it's a Victorian costume drama or a Bond movie, we get the remnants of Britain's storied past. Or sometimes we get a glossy comedy (all those Bridget Jones look-alikes) or cheeky romp.
The thing is, we rarely get a true glimpse into British life. I'm thinking of the film version of Quadrophenia or maybe a Ken Loach film. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares focuses on the real people of the UK, not the kind that might be played by Colin Firth.
Labels: Gordon Ramsay