Watching the season premiere of the show last week, I was left with just one thought: Has “Hell’s Kitchen” completely jumped the shark?
It’s become obvious in recent seasons that the show isn’t looking for executive chef material anymore. They’re interested in characters. I can’t imagine the winners are really running those restaurants as anything except figureheads. Someone else in the organization is pulling the strings, I bet. But the lack of cooking talent grows worse every season, and this season has grown so bad at the start that it’s like watching a cartoon show. These people can’t possible be real, can they? They go beyond the usual self-delusional personalities and stretch out into the outright bizarre and psychotic.
The juvenile antics between the winning and losing teams are, no doubt, egged on by producers. The backstage fights between puffs on omnipresent cigarettes are fueled by the ample supplies of nicotine and alcohol, as well as some probing questions no doubt aimed in specific directions during the one-on-one interviews.
The show has always had moments that break the veil of “reality,” mostly anything involving J.P., particularly when the wedding planner shows up who is his arch-nemesis. I believe J.P. is Belgian, but that’s about it. Everything else might as well be scripted, though I have a feeling it’s mostly improv.
Nowadays, I wonder how much of anything else is “real.”
The topper of the season premiere came from the ex-military chef who vowed to Chef Ramsay that we wasn’t anyone’s bitch when Chef Ramsay asked him the probing question, “Who’s your team’s first nominee and why?” When he then attempted to provoke a physical fight with the Chef before the dramatic “TO BE CONTINUED” flashed on screen, I knew something was up. This guy is either camera-hungry or outright psychotic and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
I really really really want to like the show and enjoy it, but their attempts to make it “bigger” and “better” every season are fast breaking the show.
I’ll give the show this: The little animated graphics going into commercial have been very clever in the last couple of seasons, as they’re tying directly into the outro from the show.
I almost yearn for the “documentary” series that is “Kitchen Nightmares.”