I'm a sucker for a good reality TV show. It goes back to the original "Survivor" days – I remember Denis and me sitting in our apartment in Kew Gardens, NY, inviting our neighbors Tara and Rob over to watch Richard Hatch work his magic and win $1 million. I remember watching "Big Brother" that first year and being fascinated by the hamsters (as they were soon to be called) and why they'd want to be on TV 24 hours a day (of course, US networks would never devote 24 hours a day to one show like they do in Europe, so we only got 3 hours a week – but I faithfully watched those 3 hours each week!) Remember Chicken George? Even better, remember "Fear Factor?" For a good two seasons Rob & Tara came over EVERY WEEK to watch "FF." GOOD TIMES.
In addition to those kinds of game-show reality shows (including "The Amazing Race," and "The Mole" (perhaps the greatest reality show EVER that had wonderful host pre-CNN Anderson Cooper), I like shows where amateurs try to become professionals. Shows like "Hell's Kitchen," "Project Runway," "Next Food Network Star," and HGTV's "Design Star."
Let's talk about those last four. Kitchen, Runway, Food and Design. After I got laid off in January 2009 we cut our cable and lost Bravo programming. So I've missed two seasons of Runway. However, yesterday I watched disc 1 of Season 7 (rented from Netflix) and watching those first four episodes spawned this post.
Kitchen is entertaining simply because I love Gordon Ramsay, which I've said many times before. Sure he curses like a sailor, but he's passionate about food and worked HARD to get where he is now. As a result, he pushes his contestants to work hard. Knowing that the contestant isn't really winning the prize being offered doesn't matter (despite the show saying the winner becomes the head chef at an elite restaurant, they actually win the opportunity to STUDY and WORK under the head chef at said restaurant – still an amazing prize for any amateur hoping to break into the biz). What matters is that he lights a fire under these chefs who think they already have a passion for food, and weeds out those who merely like to cook. And there is a major difference. It's why I love that show.
The old episodes of Runway Season 7 were good last night. There are a couple designers who are really creative and make wonderful outfits. They are entertaining to watch as well. I look forward to getting Disc 2 in the next couple of days and continuing to ride the tide of unusual fashion.
Food still has me hooked because of Aarti. She's wonderful. She's the only person on the show whose food makes me say, "Ooh…I bet that tasted good!" And I don't even like Indian food! So for THAT to happen is impressive. I hope she wins. I'd be okay if Big Tom wins, but I'd prefer Aarti. I'd tape her show for sure.
In seasons past I LOVED HGTV's Design show. I loved seeing how the rooms would come together, how creative the contestants were, and inspired by some of their creations. This season? Other than Tera's design in the FIRST EPISODE's challenge (the White Room challenge) I have not like a SINGLE, SOLITARY design this season. Tera was booted in the second episode, so the potential for liking more designs was more than likely wiped out when they sent her packing for painting yellow walls in a bedroom.
I'm about to kick Design to the curb. This is the first season where I haven't liked ANYone's design point of view. We're down to the final four and I can't recall a single person's name other than Tera, who stood out in that very first episode and then was gone in the blink of an eye! Another thing I don't like? Not having Clive Pearse as host. Going to a non-host format has resulted in a very dull show. I love Verne's design asthetic, as well as Genevieve's, but they are not game-show hosts. Clive wasn't either, but he had a natural charisma that made him quite a good host of Design Star.
I obviously haven't mentioned all the shows I watch, but are there any you recommend I check out?